by Dave Margoshes
Decades ago, when bands like the Everly Brothers rode the airwaves and vacancy signs shone like beacons in the night, a young man gets his first taste of love, loss, and the ethereal satisfaction that comes with knowing that the world is turning and life is being lived.
THE YEAR I WAS nineteen, I was in love with a girl for the first time, but it turned out badly. This was years ago, when things were different between boys and girls, men and women. Were they simpler then, or more complex? I don’t know.
There had been other girls I’d dated or liked or mooned over, but this was something else, adult love or something close to it, that transforming love they show us in the movies.
Her name was April. She was a desk clerk in a pink sweater, pleated grey skirt and black flats at the summer hotel in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains where I was a waiter. My mother had sewn a black satin stripe sewn along the outer seam of my black chinos to make it official. April was blonde, brilliantly blue-eyed, always smiling. Her face poured out light. She was as different from me as day is from night, but she made me shine like a new penny. We didn’t get together until late in the season, just a week before she was to go home to Long Island early. Her parents had promised her a quick tour of Europe so she could decide if she wanted to spend her third college year there. It should have been a summer romance except that already it was something more.
At night, the basketball and shuffleboard court below the patio outside the bar became a dance floor, propelled by the music of bands on the weekends, crackling, hissing records the other evenings. We danced, the Everly Brothers and Dion and the Belmonts and the Five Satins tinny through the loudspeakers, then wandered down the moonlit path to the dock, the strains of “The Great Pretender” still in our ears. We walked along the lake, where night birds called from the bordering trees, to a sandy beach. We kissed and I put my hand on her thigh. She said “I don’t” or “I won’t” or perhaps “I can’t.” She was speaking so softly I couldn’t be sure, but without her actually saying so I understood she was a virgin, and I hesitated, drew back. “It’s okay,” I said, kissing her again, and in my hesitation—in that moment between things—something happened I wasn’t familiar with. The arc of my desire rose and rose and was transformed into something else. It surprised me, the feeling that welled up, not just then but later, as if my lungs had rapidly inflated with pressurized air and were bursting, a sensation I couldn’t put a name to.
In the fall, back at school, me in Vermont, she at Penn State, we wrote to each other, almost every day, and phoned, once a week, our letters and calls filled with news, trivial and urgent, and sweet talk. Neither of us had said the word, but I understood I loved her, and that she felt the same. The fact that we were apart, that there was so much distance between us, and that hesitation stood between us like a wall, made it all the sweeter.
At Christmas, my vacation began a few days earlier than hers. That timing allowed me to go home, just outside New York City, talk my parents into loaning me the family car, an old Chrysler, and drive to Pennsylvania. It was a long trip, through New Jersey on one Interstate highway to the Delaware Water Gap, then straight west on another halfway across Pennsylvania to State College. She lived in a dormitory and she was waiting in the lobby when I drove up—I’d called from a rest stop an hour or so away and said I would be there at three.
“Hurry,” she had said, and the briefness of our exchange struck me, yet it seemed in every way authentic.
The sun was still shining brightly in a blue sky that was clouding over as I began the last leg of the drive. The first flakes of snow started to fall only as I took the freeway exit. I followed her directions and found the building quickly and pulled the car up beside a sign that said “10-minute loading zone only” and got out, shaking my stiff legs. April came running out, an oatmeal wool cardigan over her shoulders, a yellow skirt swirling around her bare legs. It was certainly not an outfit for winter driving. She would have to change, slowing us down, but I understood that she had dressed for me, that it was a gift. We kissed and held each other in the gently falling snow, our cheeks growing wet, but we didn’t feel cold. No, we burned.
about the author
DAVE MARGOSHES' books include three novels, five volumes of poetry and a biography. God Telling a Joke and Other Stories will be his seventh collection of short fiction. He's had stories and poems published in dozens of magazines and anthologies in Canada and the United States (included six times in Best Canadian Stories), had work broadcast on CBC, and given readings and workshops across the country. He was a finalist for the Journey Prize in 2009. Along the way, he’s won a few awards, including the Stephen Leacock Prize for Poetry in 1996, the John V. Hicks Award for fiction in 2001 and the City of Regina Writing Award twice, in 2004 and 2010. His Bix’s Trumpet and Other Stories was Book of the Year at the Saskatchewan Book Awards and a finalist for the ReLit Award in 2007, and his poetry collection, Dimensions of an Orchard, won the Anne Szumigalski Poetry Prize at the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Awards. His A Book of Great Worth was one of Amazon.Ca’s Top Hundred Books of 2012.
by this author
Having lived a long, eventful life, Charlie Weinheimer’s only regret is that he has no one to carry on after him. After a near-death experience, he resolves to find out whether a secret buried in his past is proof he has a legacy after all.
“Margoshes gives us the life of Charlie Weinheimer: quadruple bypass patient, widower whose children all die tragically young, but not a whiner. In his hospital bed at age seventy-seven, he’s seen it all, right? Well, maybe not. Watch as Margoshes calls upon his raconteur skills to thicken the plot.”
— David Carpenter, winner of the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Award for A Hunter’s Confession
from the library
In a suburb that is nowhere and everywhere, Jorgen deals with the feelings of alienation and frustration from his collapsing relationship by getting into his car, putting on Patti Smith, and searching for meaning and belonging anywhere he can — regardless of whether he is welcome or wanted.
A small-time internet scammer is shaken from her somewhat safe new life when an investigator arrives with questions to do with her erstwhile "period of moral decline" — specifically, the whereabouts of a young woman whose brief, bright friendship nearly steered her from the stability she now craves.
Catherine wants what Richard has: a richly decorated house, and a perfect, lavished-upon baby. Catherine also wants Richard: a disaffected diplomat whose true passion is for cinema. But Catherine is only the babysitter, and her envy—and its fallout—come to the fore when Richard is accused of a crime, and she must decide whether to help exonerate him.
“Laure Baudot’s prose is exquisite, patient, and sophisticated. In the Afternoon immerses you in the fascinating and complicated mind of a babysitter who is wise beyond her years, yet dangerously impulsive at the same time. This story is irresistible and heartbreaking.”
— Sarah Selecky, author of the 2010 Giller Prize–shortlisted collection This Cake Is for the Party
Portraits of people marooned within themselves, trapped by their past experiences, by uncertainty and anxiety — individuals for whom each new situation is a grueling journey towards the present, a place where action and choice are possible. In Second World, Matt Cahill illustrates, with honesty and empathy, how the most important breakthroughs are not the life-altering revelations, but rather the minor miracles that get us through each day.
In this unexpectedly dark character study, Jessica Westhead puts you in the shoes of an apprentice forced to listen to a seasoned wedding DJ as he lectures on the tricks of the trade. Emboldened by the captivity of his audience, the DJ's 'humorous' observations and grievances claw deeper and deeper, betraying ugliness at the core.
“In the still-frothing wake of And Also Sharks, here’s another sadly hilarious and hilariously sad Jessica Westhead story with bite. The self-deluding wedding DJ in The Lesson is a perfect addition to Westhead’s bent gallery of sympathetic sad sacks blustering their way through work and love ever after.”
— Zsuzsi Gartner, author of All the Anxious Girls on Earth and the 2011 Giller Prize–shortlisted Better Living Through Plastic Explosives
Some time after the incomprehensible death of his son, Joan Miró has settled into his new job working the overnight shift at a Hasty Market in Toronto. He has plenty of time to think beneath the fluorescent lights of the convenience store: of ghosts and late nights, of downtown living and dying, of customer service and self-preservation, of the beauty of the night sky, and of the attempts people make to connect with one another despite seemingly insurmountable distances. These fragments of life prove as difficult to make sense of as any code—until one night, when an extraordinary series of events suddenly teases a pattern from the dark.
“In this graceful, dark, and nuanced piece, Lana Storey reveals a private man unhinged by grief. These are events—and this a narrative—that will stay in my mind for a long time. Never one to shirk from difficult truths, Lana Storey writes in the tradition of George Saunders: an original, at times disturbing, but ultimately transformative worldview.”
— Carolyn Smart, author of Hooked: Seven Poems and At the End of the Day
“Cross Yourself is Lana Storey’s gorgeous swirling image constellation, a story about a man becoming unhinged from the universe and finding redemption in a downtown Hasty Market convenience store. A vibrant, beating heart of a short fiction, Cross Yourself is a vortex worth being pulled into.”
— Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, author of the 2005 Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award finalist The Nettle Spinner
As a boy, Timmy (Sir Timothy Brian F. the Fantabulous) tells tall, tragic tales to get attention from the adults in his life - particular his busy mother and Dr. Bass, his nerdy-cool neighbour. As a young man, his escalating lies destroy his relationships, alienate his loved ones, and land him in hot water with police; but that doesn’t stop him from crying wolf again and again.