Short Stories


The black liquid seeped out of the pit we were going to bury Rex in and soon enough we forgot the dead dog and started writing all the ways we’d spend the money. First on our list was to buy Ma a new house. A huge house that’d show her all she meant to us. I wanted a boat, a mighty seafaring vessel that I’ll run all over the Gulf.

After that, Louie wanted a lollipop red cadillac and matching suit, one he said he’d ride in along all Louisiana. To sow his royal oats as he tell it.

Darlene said she’d use the money to build a house of worship. She’d prophesied to me once, long ago, and sure enough it came true today. “I’m gonna be rich someday Lyle,” she’d said, “because I gave what I had to the Lord.”

Ma said she wanted to buy Ms. Olivier’s Bakery and keep it in business, with minor recommendations to the menu and free cakes for life. Don’t know why she wanted that for, that place is a trash pile.

We all waited around the stinking black hole for the oil man to look it over. Darlene and I crouched, bouncing on our tip toes. Louie stood with his thumbs in his belt, Ma fanned herself from a lawn chair. The oil man stood up and climbed out of the hole. Black-green muck sloughed off his arms and hands. His pants looked like he just painted in them. We gathered around like he held a nugget of gold in his hand. He held his oil-mometer or whatever gadget he called it in the sun. He spat back into the sludge.

“Algae,” he said.”

The bird stopped chirping and the wind stopped blowing.

“What that mean,” Louie asked.

Ma scoffed. “Big waste of time is what that mean.”

The oil man looked at his hands. “If y’all will excuse me,” he said, “I need a wash. You probably shouldn’t drink the water here.”

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