the latest issue of the literary magazine Salamander. I'm pumped full of hot, jazzy blood-confetti over this news because I'm a long-time fan of Salamander and the high-quality fiction and poetry that can be found on its pages. (I'm not sure why they'd want to lower the bar by including my work....but I'm not complaining.)
I'm grateful to editors Catherine Parnell, Jennifer Barber and Peter Brown for their red pens as they got "The Bridge" prepped for publication. Their careful scrutiny of the story challenged me to tighten sentences and carefully weigh word choices. We've been working together on "The Bridge" for about 18 months and it's been a joy every step of the way.
I'm also excited to be joined by my friend Siobhan Fallon in this issue. Her story "Tips For a Smooth Transition" is cut from the same excellent cloth as the stories in her collection You Know When the Men Are Gone which describes the uneasy reunions between soldiers returning from war and their families. As she writes, "the worry doesn't end when the deployment does." You can read the first few paragraphs of "Tips For a Smooth Transition" here.
My story, "The Bridge," is a sort of Waiting for Godot account of two soldiers pulling a hot, lonely shift at a checkpoint on the edge of an Iraqi marsh. It's told in short, hour-by-hour vignettes full of profanity and boredom. Here's how it opens:
0845hrsIf you'd like to read the whole thing, visit this page for information on how to subscribe or order individual copies. Or pay a visit to your friendly local bookstore to see if they stock Salamanders.
Worthington goes, “You want some beef jerky?”
And I go, “Sure, thanks.”
And Worthington goes, “Well, too bad, suckah! I don’t got none!”
Worthington’s like that. A real asshole. We tolerate each other. That’s about the best can be said for us.
Even this early in our shift at the checkpoint, the heat beats down and I think for the thousandth goddamn time about sitting on an iceberg in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Life would be good on that big chunk of ice. I’d have cable TV and a big-tittied Eskimo feeding me Doritos one at a time. It’s the only way I can keep from going ape-shit out here.
Worthington goes, “What time is it?”
I go, “What’s wrong with your watch?”
“Nothing. Just wanted to see if you had the same as me. I got 8:48.”
I lift my arm, pull back my sleeve. “I got 8:47.”
Worthington goes, “Ha! Looks like I get off shift before you today, suckah!”
“Yeah, well enjoy your minute, asshole.”
He laughs and leans out of the chest-high opening cut in the tin wall. He gets a good sight picture with the tip of his M-4 and scans the highway, a full 180 all the way back across the marsh to the other side of the bridge. Nothing moves, not even a stray piece of wind-blown trash.