From the streets of American cities

From the streets of American cities

The girls are chain-smoking cigarettes outside waiting for someone to notice them. The air is a perfect 80 degrees. Winter is over. The people around us are musing, eternally, how much of their lives they’ve spent sitting in cars. There’s trash on the street. Everything is concrete; the city is winning its war on nature. But weeds still come up through the cracks in the sidewalk. We live in the north. We spend our time in the sun. We drink iced tea from plastic cups. We walk the streets in new sneakers dropped online at early hours from secret sites before anyone else can get them. This is what we do while the rest of the world crumbles. Beauty is still the greatest currency. Except, perhaps, the ability not to feel or care. Flippancy is gold. Time is money and it is on our side. To care is to die drowning in everyone else’s problems. This is youth, and it is the only thing we have. People don’t know anything about us more than that. We’re near corner door in the alley where Bella went to get her baby cut out. There wasn’t anywhere else she could go, no one to help, a sister far away, a mother who told her she shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place. She wakes up early in the morning to run. She spent her paycheck on new running gear: shoes, pants, headband. I sleep in late and wait for her to call. We wait for something to happen. She’s sweating and smiling when she’s finished. We were raised by wolves, she says,...
Saturday syncopation

Saturday syncopation

Saturday syncopation A short story by Katelin Hogard   We got food dying on the pass, guys! I need fucking runners! Kyle, you got four ribeyes, 3 hanger and a cauli. Heard, chef. Billy, I got 1, 2, 3… eight poussin all day and three scallops. Heard! And boys after this pick we’re gonna start plating the party. Yes, chef! Owen! 42, 53, 64, 27, 24 and 82. Heard, chef.   It’s like every single table is full of eighth grade math teachers. Rose for days tonight. My god. Do we still have snapper or has that been 86’d? Of course, ma’am. Yes. No, the cabernet is a blend. Yes, Bordeux is the region. Poussin? That will be a young chicken. Think teenager. Let me get you a new fork, sir. No, I will not forget. Oh, I apologize. Let me get that for you right away.   Billy, poussins. Now! Plating now, chef. Owen, start running. Hands!   Ribeye, one. Hanger, two, Cauli, table. Fuck, what Susan? No we’re not splitting the scallop entree. Because that’s stupid. Bring share plates. Anna, I need hands! Scallops, three. Poussin… fuck. Billy! Poussin. Now! Just go with the scallops. Poussin follows. For fuck sakes, dude. It’s fucking chicken. Lets go! Hands! Poussin’s going to four, five and six. Cody, can you carry three plates tonight? Brandon, hands, now! Scallops, one. Ribeye, two. Snapper, three. No, fuck. Just take two. Billy! Poussin for 24! Now! I need a follow! Stay here. Don’t move. I don’t care. Do not move.   Sure. Yes. Of course. No, dessert is not free. Your birthday was...
Smile

Smile

Smile A short story by Katelin Hogard   “17 adults, six kids.” She rolled her eyes, the shriek of children pulsating into her temples without any remorse. It was Sunday, day five of a 60 hour week at the little supper club that’s been around since before her own father could walk. This meant mediocre steaks, a bar full of drunk’s and a dining room that was empty by 8pm. It was year 15 for her. 15 years of this small supper club in this small town that she always promised herself to get out of but never had. A pregnancy at 18, divorce at 22, another pregnancy at 24 and a foreclosure at 27. This place was the only consistent in her life. “Four shots of polish and a vodka press.” Before the words could come out of his mouth a chair fell over, echoing throughout the whole neighborhood. “Hello…? I’ll need those drinks today.” She looked up and just smiled, trying to suffocate him with her eyes. There was a group that had been drinking since 11am in the bar and a private party in the back. Along with that, all of four tables were full in the dining room with daughters taking their crippled fathers to dinner at the only place familiar to them. The sadness within them exaggerated her own but she understood why they always kept coming back. The steaks that were always overcooked, the carpet that turned a darker tinge of shit grey every year, the familiar faces. Everyone always wants familiar. “I’d like a riesling, Mich Golden Light and a white zin.”...
Cake in the morning

Cake in the morning

The wedding cake sits uncut in the grand hall. Lights twinkle and dance around the room, through gold streamers hanging from the ceiling. But on my wedding night I find myself conversing with myself. Only myself. Those thoughts not worth sharing, or too personal, or too embarrassing to share. With friends or anyone else. Age has never been a hindrance to me. Nor would I let it be tonight. Not wearing (dad)-blue jeans and New Balance shoes with a hoodie stamped with my daughter’s college. Not… ravaged by divorce, bittered by tragedy, lost completely in the unending march of time. That is not me. But she, a beautiful 19-year-old bride, so pure in white, glowing so earnestly in the center of the room. Still young enough to understand that you must give off light, not reflect it. Most people have none. She, so young, is willing to be my wife out of the innate respect that come from connection; the deep feeling inside that transcends millieu, that should be called love (though, certainly not of the natural, meet-cute kind Hollywood would have us create from dreams and fantasies). And I, myself, being the only person with whom I can discuss it. I have no desire to be… used up? Not at all. Well one might think that it isn’t really their choice. Time has a funny way of taking everything from you, including your youthful vigor. If I might be so bold? You might. Focus not on how you might stay young. Focus instead on who you are no matter what your age. I am seventeen years her senior....
The future

The future

We spent the summers out on the island, and our winters we spent in the city. In the city we were packed in together like sardines (sardines come from Sardinia, I know this because I went to Italy once long ago with my mom) in an apartment building that smelled like onions. But on the island we stayed with grandpa and it was nothing but air and wide open spaces. The sky and the water met somewhere far, far away. The sand on the beach was all we knew. Grandpa stayed inside the hut pretty much all the time, taking pain pills for his back, sleeping until he needed to eat or shit. We were pretty much on our own. The old man in the hut next to Grandpa’s was so wrinkled by the sun he looked like a raisin. He was the same color as a raisin too. He didn’t have many teeth, so it was hard to understand him.  He drank rum and he gave us some, even before we were old enough. “No rules here,” he would say to us. “You can drink anything on the cay.” My brother Ty drank too much one time. He started stumbling down the beach singing to himself. He stripped down to his bare bottom and went swimming. He was whooping and hollering from the water, but then his head disappeared beneath the waves and he didn’t pop up again. I was starting to get worried, but before I could jump into the water to save him the old man was already there, swimming like a fish (but not a...