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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 1, March 2015

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Glenn G. Coats
Prospect, Virginia, USA


Jackie

An old uncle says that he works too much, one job after another, needs to catch his breath; calm down. After supper, the old man drives him to a brackish bay and teaches his nephew how to gig for flounder. The two of them wade in the shallows; stab their pitchforks down to the bottom where the flatfish lie pressed like palms against the sand. The nephew stabs one sixteen inches long. "No rules here," the old man says. "It's hit or miss."

It is three in the morning. He wakes to find his wife gone. She is in another room, her head hot to the touch, lips dry. He gets a glass of ice water and feeds her little sips. The woman's steady breathing turns to gasps and he dials for help. The medics find her in his arms and he will not let go. "Life is full of surprises," the uncle says. "Hold on to something when the sadness hits."

From a garage window, he can hear the boss talking to the homeowner. "He's not one of our regulars but can do most anything we need, crawl under your house like a snake and rip out the old ductwork, doesn't mind the dust or the heat. Hope you are all right with a colored man."

Spring. Flounder in the river stir in the mud, make their way down to the bay then swim out to sea. No one knows how far or where they go. "One of those mysteries," the old man says. "Come back in the fall—sure as clockwork, and we know where to find them."

hint of autumn
he climbs a tree
to remember

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