Archive for August, 2008

Allan Bivans

Allan BivansI spent most of my
life struggling for the
control over my
family’s chain of gas
stations. My brother
resented me because
our father sent me
to college, while he had
to stay home and work
the business. When Dad died
and left it all to
us, he did everything
he could to force me
out and make my life Hell.
Every day was filled
with arguments about
oil and gasoline.
One day, I was in a
restaurant, looking
at the salt shakers on
all the tables, and
recalling that once, salt
was the most valued
substance in the world. And
I imagined two
Silk Road-trading brothers
locked in a never-
ending feud over their
salt, and how silly
that would look to modern
folks. At that moment,
I decided to sell
him my half of the
business. I was on my
way to tell him, and
imagining how I
would use the proceeds
to start a whole new life
for myself far from
here, when I had the stroke.

Rev. Clay Halty

Rev. Clay HaltyOf all my
accomplishments
in the decades I
preached in Spoon
River, of all
the sermons and the
conversions
and retreats, the
one thing I’m most proud
of is how
I was able
to keep the Schneiders,
with God’s help,
from succumbing
to the secular
temptation
to rip their whole
family apart.
Each time I
saw their children,
and their calm, quiet
faces, I
said a prayer of
gratitude to God.

Mrs. Mitzi Schultz

Mrs. Mitzi SchultzSometimes, the
only thing that helped
me get through it was my set
of tapes of
the old Twilight Zone.
My husband had nothing to
do with how
Deegan’s investment
bank collapsed. But he had a
big title
and no true friends, so
he took the fall. He went to
prison and
left me alone to
raise our children. I did my
part, and they
grew up the best they
could. What kept me going was
watching that
program again and
again, and the idea that
there is an
ultimate justice.
I prayed for that justice to
fall on those
who stole him and the
life we had planned. I still pray.

Mrs. Schneider

Mrs. SchneiderI dreamed of
divorcing him. But I stayed. For the
children. That’s
what Judge Goldhamer advised him. And
I got the
same sermon from Reverend Halty.
Marriage is
sacred. So I stayed. For the children.
But feelings
can never be totally repressed.
So we raised
them in a home full of poison and
misery.
They grew to hate us both equally
and fled as
soon as they could. I don’t really blame them.

Joanie the Musician

Joanie the MusicianI had to learn to use
my sorrow,
to turn it into my music.
I wrote songs about the
sadness my
entire life. And now I can’t
believe all the things that
I didn’t
see, all the joy I turned away
from. What I was feeling,
it wasn’t
despair. This, this here, is despair.

Kathy Folds

Kathy FoldsYou stayed with me through
all the chemo, the
radiation, the
surgeries. Ten years
of hacking pieces
of your wife away.
And you tried to stay
strong for me. But I
saw you shriveling.
When the cancer came
back to eat at me,
and I saw I would
never again be
the woman that you
married, I let you
go. I let me go.

A Powerful Lawyer

A. Randolph ScalesI
counted myself among the most
prosperous attorneys
in
the state. I spoke for the mighty:
the Second Spoon River
Bank,
Development Authority
Partners, and Limited
Re,
who insured the Galleria.
I knew all the pressure
points,
where to apply the leverage,
how to make things happen.
I
never lost a case. They rarely
even made it into
court.
I kept even the smallest claim
from reaching my clients.
When
I died, there were memorials
and tributes, and a front
page
obituary. Now, I lie
here, and I can feel all
the
insects scuttling across my
dead skin, every maggot
that
squirms to life from gnawing on my
desiccated remains.

Nathaniel Terrel

Alejandro MejiasThe confusion does not surprise me.
Very few actual
remains were recovered from the pit,
so how were they supposed
to know that the investment banker
Nathaniel Terrel is
not entombed here, just parts of me, a
minimum-wage busboy.
I wonder if they sent his ashes
to my family in
Guatemala. Or if we are both
scattered across the world.

Matthew Twombley

Matthew TwombleyI got Doctor Centrone to
give me Viagra, but didn’t
tell him about the heart meds
I’d gotten from Doctor Golden.
I wanted to be able
to give Saskia everything,
especially after the
pain of her first two marriages.
She deserved it all, and I
deserved to finally live, no
matter how my complaining
children tried to persuade me that
I didn’t belong with a
woman thirty years my junior.
What they never understood
was that she asked me for nothing.
So I gave her everything
I had without reservation.

Park Shin Min

Park Shin MinMy tiny town
outside Wonju
so stifled
me, I left as
soon as I could.
I worked in
the clubs near the
American
bases. I
waltzed with Majors
and traded shots
with Privates.
But I always
knew it was a
short-term gig,
and I saved my
money. At age
thirty-six,
I bought myself
a one-way plane
ticket to
America.
And who should be
in the seat
next to mine, but
old Sergeant Pat,
who I knew
quite well from the
old days. We struck
a deal and
I lived with him
in Spoon River.
For more than
twenty years, they
all believed we
were married.
We did nothing
to dissuade them
from that thought.
When the cancer
came, I forbade
Patty from
sending me back
to Korea.
This is home.

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