Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Excerpt: On Blueberry Hill

Her name was Bret.
“Like the woman in the book,” I said. “By Hemingway.”
She popped her gum and shrugged.
I stuck out my hand. “I'm Jason.” Her handshake was half-hearted, or maybe just unpracticed, but I savored the brief contact with the salt-sweat warmth of her fingers. “I saw you on the bus this morning. You got on at the Superette.”
“I saw you, too,” she said. “You parked your car near the laundry place.” She slid her right hand into her back pocket and cocked her head. “You got any cigarettes?”
“Don't smoke. Sorry.” I held up my jar. “You want some coffee?”
She reached down to scratch a bug bite on her inner thigh, just below the ragged hem of her cutoff jeans. My eyes followed her hand reflexively, loitering for a few seconds alongside my imagination on the inside of her tanned leg. I jerked my eyes back up to her face, ready for a scowl, but if she'd seen me dreaming, she didn't care one way or the other.
“I'm all set,” she said. She gave a little wave. “See you later.”
She walked back toward the winnower and scales. I watched the straps of her camisole riding her tan shoulders away from me, and took a long drink from my jar of coffee. A big chunk of the ice inside hit my lip. I jerked my mouth away, spilling some of the coffee on my t-shirt. I looked back toward Bret to make sure she hadn't seen. She hadn't, but she'd gotten a cigarette from somewhere and was lighting up.
The trick to a good ice coffee is to brew it the night before, add the sugar, pour the coffee in the jar, then put the jar in the freezer. That way the coffee stays cold all day and there's no melting water ice to dilute the taste. It's coffee all the way through. There's also a trick to knowing how much frozen coffee a Mason jar can hold without shattering. Barely a week into the blueberry-raking season, I was a master of both.
I kept staring at Bret. I couldn't tell how old she was. I hoped she was at least 17. She had fantastic clavicles, which are probably my favorite part of a clothed woman. Breasts and legs were great, but there was something about that graceful line of barely covered bone stretching from neck to shoulder. My interest had got me some traction in college, it gave me an atypical pick-up line, but I wasn't sure if Bret would know what I was talking about if I said I admired hers.
I shook my head. I'd be headed back to school in a few weeks and it probably wasn't a good idea to start something. I put the lid back on the Mason jar and then fished my punch cards out of my back pocket. They were using the diamond punch today. Arnie's crew changed it up at random to cut down on cheating. I added up my punches. Two-hundred forty pounds before noon. Not bad by weight but at 10 cents a pound, it wasn't doing much to fill my back-to-school fund. At this rate I'd be lucky to be able to pay for all my text books.  


  1. Excerpt? When do we get more? I just love the way you write.

  2. Thanks for the kudos, KG. The feeling is mutual. 'On Blueberry Hill' is part of a collection of short stories I've had in mind for a few years, each story dealing with love and work.

  3. Yes, more. At what point in the story is this tease from (start, middle, end)? Investigative (and/or the curious) minds want to know.

    There's something in the air, Rob. I just this week started a book of short of short stories suggested by Mitch and immediately dumped the dopey first person novel I've been writing for four years (I think I was up to version 15 or so) Basta - enough. I've started a short story collection for my project and Richard Bausch via Mitch, is the catalyst. You've kept the good karma going with your excerpt. Keep'em coming, brother.

  4. This is the first page or two. Perhaps I'll post more when I dig back into it.

    I like short stories. I might be tempted to switch projects but I just finished the first draft of the novel. Maybe for my next MFA.

    I look forward to reading yours, though.

  5. Very nice. I enjoyed this snippet ( excerpt). Really liked the dialogue and the imagery.