By Joshua McKinney
Featured art: Maine Landscape by Preston Dickinson
Folks said it was about the worst thing anyone in our town had ever done. Afterward, friends stopped calling and wouldn’t answer their phones. Coworkers avoided me. My accounts folded and the VP asked for my resignation. I moved out, rented an apartment on the bad side of town. Had my food delivered. Only went out at night. That was months ago. Lately, I’ve taken to going out days. But in disguise: dark glasses, Raiders cap, knee-length trench coat. I sit on a bench in the park and feed popcorn to the pigeons and squirrels. I never have to wait long. Somebody will amble by and make small talk. Ask if I’ve heard about it. An old man tells me my wife cried so hard a vessel burst in her eye. A girl in a tracksuit says a neighbor chased me down the street with a tire iron. A red-haired woman, who looks vaguely familiar, says she heard that after it happened we had to put our German shepherd to sleep. That the crepe myrtle by our front gate blighted and died in the span of a week. I’m not sure how much is true. “One thing’s for sure,” she says, “folks around here aren’t going to forget any time soon.” I tell her I probably don’t want them to forget. I say that I probably feel more alive than I did before, and some people will do anything to feel alive. A pigeon flutters to rest at the end of my bench. I tell her I’ve heard I lost my job but still live in town. I say I’ve heard I have taken to venturing out during the day. That I might be wearing a disguise.
Joshua McKinney’s most recent book of poetry, Small Sillion (Parlor Press, 2019), was short-listed for the 2019 Golden Poppy Award. His work has appeared in such journals as Boulevard, Denver Quarterly, Kenyon Review, New American Writing, and many others. He is the recipient of The Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize, The Dickinson Prize, The Pavement Saw Chapbook Prize, and a Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Writing.
Originally published in NOR 9 Spring 2011