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The Fog-Fiction by Kevin Eade
Claire's Close Call-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Fools for Love-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Texas Redux-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Bridge Game-Fiction by DV Bennett
Transitory Unease-Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Howie's Cell-Fiction by Chris McCartney
The Hit Woman's Hand Book-Fiction by J. Brooke
Stones Girl-Fiction by Don Stoll
One Day in the Suburbs-Fiction by Mitchel Montagna
The Bloody Whorehouse Detective Agency-Fiction by Michael D. Davis
Happenstance-Fiction by Michael Stewart
You Were Supposed to Be-Flash Fiction by Bill Baber
The Last Time I Almost Used-Flash Fiction by Jennifer Carr
Swimmer-Flash Fiction by Mark Cotton
Wordsmith-Poem by Meg Baird
Hey, Aunt Libby-Poem by Alex Salinas
Three Colors-Poem by Melissa Dobson
The Ladderites-Poem by David Spicer
My Kind-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
Night Colors-Poem by Luis Berriozabal
Doc's Death-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Gopher-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
A Hot Summer Night After Wine-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Conception-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Married Life-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Sea World-Poem by Robert Halleck
Early Morning at a Friend's House in 1972-Poem by Robert Halleck
Pelican Bay-Poem by Robert Halleck
Right Through the Heart-Poem by David Boski
Sky Burials-Poem by David Boski
Third Time's a Charm-Poem by David Boski
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

ym75onedayinthesuburbs.jpg
Art by KJ Hannah Greenberg 2019

One Day in the Suburbs

 

Mitchel Montagna

 

 

On the morning of Jackson’s 17th birthday, his father tossed the boy out of their house.   

          “Don’t fucking come back till you have a fucking job.”

          Jackson reeled into the yard, squinted in the sunlight, still sleepy.       

It was a Saturday in June.  Jackson wore a white t-shirt, jeans and sneakers—a poor outfit for job hunting.  But he was looking for a shit job, something just for the summer.  He thought maybe he could get by.

          Last summer had been different.  He’d turned 16, eligible for a real job for the very first time.  The Jackson household was festive; his parents beamed.  His father gave him a motivational talk.  Jackson dressed for success in a blue cotton shirt tucked into khaki pants.   

Jackson applied at about a dozen fast-food and retail shops.  All filled with happy, bustling teenage employees.  But nobody was interested in giving Jackson work.   

Maybe it was Jackson’s look, his narrow head and scrawny body, his small chin.  He knew he looked so unimposing, he was nearly invisible.  He often spoke without getting a response. 

Jackson’s failure last summer had pissed his father off.  And, Jackson really couldn’t blame the old man.  It was embarrassing to be the only kid his age without a job.  While others worked, he jerked off in his bedroom.   

This morning, he was supposed to drive his mother’s aging Buick.  Well, fuck that, the Jacksons had a new Toyota Camry, shiny and black, with cruise control and a CD player.  Jackson had swiped its key off a table.   

Now, Jackson eyed the vehicle in the driveway.  He liked its sturdy look and the way it gleamed in the light.  This deal might not be so bad, he thought.  At least, he could travel in style.  Jackson felt the sun scale the treetops and pour its energy on him.  He walked toward the Toyota, tossing the key up and down, whistling.   

Inside, the car had that new, leathery smell.  Its engine started with quiet force.  Jackson backed the Toyota up.  As he aimed down the street, the front door to his house crashed open.  His father stormed across the yard, pumping a fist. 

“Hey!”  the old man called.  “Hey!  You little bastard!” 

Jackson chuckled and nailed the gas.  The tires gripped the pavement and squealed.  In the rearview mirror, Jackson saw his father run onto the road, fist shaking, growing smaller till he disappeared.          

 

          Jackson cruised past rows of two-story houses.  Like his own, each one had an attached garage and a half-acre of property.  Their pea-green lawns were slick with dew. 

Jackson put on his father’s Ray Ban shades.  He found CDs in a dashboard compartment—Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, stuff like that.  He tried the radio, found a head-banger station.  Fuck you!  Fuck you!  Fuck!  he heard.  Jackson wagged his chin to the noise.   He cleared the neighborhood, hit a straightaway and urged the needle toward 80.  The Toyota flew smooth as a jet.   

          Jackson thought about finding a job.  He knew people looked at him like he had no pulse.  So, if he were to overcome first impressions, he’d have to change the way he behaved.  He figured that during his job search last summer, he’d been too timid.  If he could be more forceful, act like he had a pair of balls, he might succeed.      

But he’d need help.  Jackson slowed, wheeled the Toyota around.  He drove to MacKay’s apartment. 

 

MacKay was a couple years older than Jackson.  He was married, and while his wife worked, MacKay stayed home.  He spent most of his time smoking dope with the hipper neighborhood kids. 

“Always good to see you, Jackson.  Come on in.”

Jackson nodded and smiled.  “Hey, MacKay.  Could you do me a favor?”

MacKay was tall with broad shoulders.  He wore a muscle shirt and shorts. “More than likely, Jackson.  Depends, I suppose.”

Jackson followed MacKay into the living room.  A large, brown coffee table was in the middle, its surface crowded with mounds of marijuana, pipes and bongs.  Smoke fogged the air.  Two girls sat on a couch. 

“Siddown, siddown,” MacKay said.   

Jackson knew both girls, slightly.  They were a year behind him in school.  Both attracted attention.  Louise was buxom, bronzed and had a peachy allure.  Laura was a fresh-faced blond with a cheerleader’s body.    

A TV flickered in silence, while rock music poured from a sound system.  There were a couple of bright, knock-off paintings on the walls.  Wedding photos covered a mantel.  Jackson stepped onto the carpet, and sat on a chair near the couch. 

Louise and Laura’s summer outfits revealed plenty of skin.  The girls looked at Jackson with indifference. 

“My father’s gonna kill me, I don’t get a job today,” Jackson said.  “He will kick my ass.”

MacKay sat facing him.  “How can I help?”  

Jackson felt encouraged.  “Marijuana has a cooling effect on me.  I get relaxed and don’t worry about too much, like what people think.  So in a situation, like I go some place lookin’ for a job, I can be more assertive.”

MacKay settled back in his chair, his lips pursed, his eyes searching for answers.  “I wonder why fathers’re so unreasonable about their kids getting jobs,” he said.  “It’s not like we won’t end up working most of our lives anyway.  What’s the goddamn hurry?”  He picked up a pipe, filled the bowl and lit it. 

MacKay puffed thoughtfully.  “Seems to me, fathers should let us put this job shit off.  They’d be doing the Lord’s work.” 

“MacKay, I’m in complete fucking agreement,” Jackson said.  “Take my father.  He’s nuts about work.  You give him a choice, goin’ to work or getting laid, he’d go to work.” 

MacKay handed the pipe to Louise.  Jackson’s eyes followed.  As Louise hunched over to light the bowl, her plump, half-bare breasts swung forward.      

The breasts dangled like hams.  Jackson gaped at them.  He appraised Louise’s legs.  They were tanned and robust, like those of a muscled athlete.       

Jackson shifted his attention over to Laura’s legs, sleeker and longer than Louise’s. His eyes traveled up Laura’s thighs as they flared into her shorts.  Jackson looked at the thin fabric covering Laura’s breasts.  His heart was steaming. 

His gaze stuck on Laura’s face.  Laura’s big, bright eyes were looking right back. 

Jackson kept staring, transfixed by those eyes.  Laura showed a small smile, probably mocking him.  Jackson couldn’t pull his eyes away.   

Jackson was trapped.  He made a fist, slugged his own jaw.  His upper body reeled; his eyes watered.             

“My man,” MacKay said.  “I bet you wanna get high here and now.   Well, by God, I won’t stand in your way.”

 

An hour later, Jackson was hammered.  He hadn’t moved a muscle since, since, well, whenever.  A looping, precise electric guitar solo filled the room. The music swirled in Jackson’s head, hauntingly clear. 

On TV, well-dressed adults were talking.  “Expensive perfume.  Over $100 an ounce.” 

Jackson noted that the words didn’t fit the TV character’s mouth.  Plus, the character was a guy, and the voice was a girl’s.  Jackson looked around.  Laura was speaking, her lips sliding along pearly teeth. 

“But he said he’d buy it for me,” Laura said.       

“You meet him at Dew Drops?”  MacKay said.

“Yes.  He says he’ll get me all the Joy I want.  I got him wrapped around my little finger.”  Laura flashed a smile.       

“What’s a college guy doin’ hangin’ ‘round at Dew Drops?” MacKay said.

Louise pushed Laura’s shoulder.  “Yeah.  Don’t believe everything he tells you.” 

Laura laughed and pushed back.  “I can take care of myself.”

The girls shoved each other.  Jackson watched with interest.

 “Cannot!” 

“Can too!”

The girls giggled. 

“Gotta be careful,” MacKay said.  “Guy could be throwin’ a line of bull.  Could be some old buzzard just hangin’ round.  Some old buzzard like, well, like me.” 

Jackson checked his watch.  Almost 1 p.m. 

“He’s too cute for you anyway,” Louise said. 

The girls held hands and strained against each other.  Their hair merged, their faces joined like a kiss.  Well, Jackson thought, this was terrific, but he had things to do.  He still had time.  He better move.

He’d have to straighten out a little first.  He’d never smoked this much pot before. 

MacKay offered him a bong.  “Few more a these, you could get a job as President.”

Jackson looked into MacKay’s merry eyes, and his resolve folded.  He took the bong.

 

Jackson drifted through layers of consciousness.  Some moments, he could’ve told you where he was.  Others, he couldn’t have told you how many limbs he had.  He remained sprawled on the chair.

“How ‘bout him?” Louise said.

“Well, he is older.” Laura said.

Jackson was aware they were probably discussing him.  He didn’t give a damn.

“Look at ‘im,” Louise said.  “Looks like he’s about eleven.”

“Could he even do it?” Laura said. 

“Yeah,” MacKay said.  “He could.  I have it on good authority.  Doohan caught him whacking off on a camping trip last year.”

The girls laughed.  

“You take care of him, we might believe you,” Louise said.

 “And, we owe ‘im,” MacKay said.  “Looks like he won’t be finding employment this afternoon.”

 

“Jackson, wake up!”

“I’m up, MacKay.  Holy shit.  What?”

“This is your lucky day.  You have no idea how lucky.”

MacKay led Jackson down a hallway.  Jackson blinked, trying to regain his senses.  They walked into a room with a bed, on which Laura and Louise sat.  Louise got up. 

“We’re leaving you two a while,” MacKay said.  He gripped Jackson’s shoulder.  “I’m counting on you, Jackson.  You’re carryin’ the flag for the guys.  I don’t wanna hear about no fuck-ups.”

MacKay and Louise left, shutting the door.  Laura, with her long legs stretched out, ran fingers through her hair.   

The room was small and square, with bare walls and one window covered by blinds.  The sun was drilling the blinds, making them glow.  

Laura’s charms made Jackson self-conscious.  “This is a joke, right?” he asked.

“Would MacKay do that to you?”

“No,” Jackson admitted. 

Laura pulled her top over her head and threw it aside.  Breasts pushed against a black bra; her stomach was flat. 

Jackson sat next to her.  Laura smelled like flowers.  Her eyes were hazel with gold specks.  Light freckles dusted her cheeks.           

Laura kicked off her sandals.  She stood, and pushed down her shorts.  Her hips popped out like ripe fruit.           

“You ever done this before, Jackson?”

His prick prowled against his zipper.  “Not exactly.”

“Take off your clothes,” said Laura.

He complied, embarrassed by his sunken chest and chicken legs.  Laura gave him a once-over and smiled politely.       

Naked, they sat side by side.  Jackson looked at her and smelled her.  His ability to control himself was shaky.  Jackson saw Laura lick her lips, and absorbed the sensation of their naked thighs touching.         

Jackson felt a whirlpool near his asshole.  It churned with a growing, itching pressure.  Jackson gasped as sperm shot up through his prick.

The fluid squirted up to the level of Jackson’s nose.  It arced sideways and dropped.  Laura moved like a dancer.  She was up, jittering away before any got on her.  The sperm fell across Jackson’s thigh, and streaked along the bedspread.

Jackson was panting, mortified, storms in his head. 

Laura said, “You late for a train or something?”   

 

Jackson walked out of MacKay’s apartment around dinnertime, a virgin no more.       

But he was still unemployed.  He got into the Toyota, started the engine.  His father would give him a raft of shit.  Jackson could tell the old man he’d had sex with one of the prettiest girls in school.  The old man wouldn’t mind.  He was a back-slapping kind of guy.  Boys will be boys.  But it wouldn’t get Jackson off the hook.  He had to take care of business.      

Jackson drove to Frederick’s, the neighborhood convenience store.  In the air-conditioned shop, he grabbed a can of Coke and stood in line behind Doohan, a classmate.

Doohan wore baggy shorts and an AC DC t-shirt that hung down to his ass.  “Hey, Jackson.  Whaddya say.”

“It’s all good, Doohan.”

Doohan put a bottle of Miller beer on the counter.  The young guy at the register asked, “How old are you?

“Twenty two.”

“Got I-D?”

“No.  But here’s the thing.”

“It’s okay,” said the clerk.  “Can’t think why anybody’d lie about his age.”  He winked.

Doohan gave the clerk three dollar bills.  The store’s owner, Frederick, appeared, wearing a white apron. 

          “You!” he pointed at Doohan.  “Out!”

          “You misunderstand,” Doohan said.  “We’re just talkin’ here.”

          “Out!”

          Doohan shrugged and walked toward the door, leaving the Miller behind. 

          “Whaddya sellin’ that kid beer for?” Frederick asked.

          “He looks mature to me,” said the clerk.   

          “Mother of God,” said Frederick. 

“I just wanna Coke,” Jackson said.  He paid and took the soda outside.   

          Doohan was waiting in the parking lot.  “Sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t,” he told Jackson.  Doohan was thin and wiry, a little bigger than Jackson.  His eyes were milky blue. 

          The sun shone just above trees, dousing the top leaves with sparkling light.  Cars rushed past.  Jackson wiped sweat from his forehead, opened his Coke and drank.   

 Doohan reached behind his back.  He produced a bottle of Miller that he’d hidden in his pants.  “I always grab a backup.”  Doohan twisted the top off.

          Jackson said, “Hey, Doohan, I need a job bad.  Any openings where you work?”

          Doohan took a long sip and belched.  “Nope.  Nothing.”

          “You got no openings at fucking Burger King?”

          “Sorry.  Can’t help ya.  Want any beer?”

          “Nah.  Gotta get home.” 

          Doohan finished his beer.  He reared back, pitched the bottle to the end of the lot, where it shattered against a dumpster.  “I’m babysitting tonight at the Capazzos.  People next door.  Wanna hang out?” 

          “They let you baby sit?”

          “Why not?  Been doin’ it for years.”  Doohan grinned, trying to look innocent.             

          Jackson’s parents were going into the city this evening.  If he delayed getting home, he wouldn’t have to face them till morning.   

          “Lemme make a call.” Jackson said.

 

          Jackson told his father he had a meeting later that evening with the manager of Taco Bell.  He took an earful because of the Toyota, but his father bought the story.  The boys drove to the Capazzos. 

They approached a large brick house.  It had green shutters and two white pillars in front.  Trimmed hedges ran along the yard’s border.  Doohan rang the doorbell.  Mr. Capazzo opened up, dressed in a sports jacket and slacks.  Mrs. Capazzo stood behind him in a tan dress.  Doohan walked inside with the air of someone who walked in often.  Jackson stayed outside.  The Capazzos looked him over.   

Jackson knew he at least looked harmless.

“This is my friend Jackson,” Doohan said.  “It’s okay with you, he’s gonna stay here an hour or so before his volunteer job at the nursing home.”

“Oh that’s nice,” said Mrs. Capazzo.

“No problem,” said Mr. Capazzo.

“Angela, Jimmy’s here,” Mrs. Capazzo called.

A sharp-faced little girl came down the staircase.

“Angela just finished a big dinner, so don’t let her snack on anything tonight,” Mrs. Capazzo said. “We don’t want her getting sick, do we?”

“Absolutely not,” said Doohan. “You can count on me.”

Jackson stepped into the house.

 

A luxuriant shot of Johnny Walker Black slid down Jackson’s throat.  He sat on a plush white sofa.  He put the glass on a coaster over a polished redwood table. 

The Capazzos’ living room was rimmed with shelves stocked with framed family photos, Hummel figurines and the occasional book.  The ceiling was high, supporting a complex, crystal chandelier.  A sliding glass door looked onto the back yard, where the light dimmed into early evening purple.     

Jackson’s throat and stomach burned, his eyes watered.  The top of his head felt anesthetized.

A 52-inch TV was tuned to Nick at Nite, showing a repeat of MASH.  Jackson wasn’t used to seeing the characters that large.  Near the TV was a compact bar.  Doohan stood behind the counter making a drink.   

          “Help yourself to anything here,” Doohan said.  “What’s mine is yours.  How’s that scotch?”

          “Tastes like ammonia,” Jackson said.

          Angela had been sitting on a chair with a book on her lap.  She stood and went into the kitchen. Both boys watched her open the refrigerator.

“Hey,” said Doohan.

Angela pulled out a couple of devil dogs.

“You can’t have those,” said Doohan.

“Says you,” Angela retorted. “I’m going upstairs.”  

          The child walked off with her snacks.  Jackson heard feet climbing stairs.  Doohan held a glass with a clear drink, and came out from behind the counter.  “Pain in the ass,” he said. “Anyway I got a nice Martini here. Vermouth makes all the difference.  Want another shot?”

          “Gimme a few minutes.”

          Jackson considered telling Doohan about the afternoon.  That he’d had sex with Laura.  Of course, Doohan wouldn’t believe him.  Laura wasn’t likely to tell anyone; neither, probably, was Louise.  If nobody acknowledged an event, did it really happen?  Would Barry Bonds want to hit 73 unreported home runs?  Maybe MacKay would talk.  Jackson wouldn’t mind the word getting round.

          “I was at MacKay’s today,” said Jackson.  “He seems to be doing well.”

          “Score any dope?  I’m all out.”

          “No.  Smoked some, though.  Got all fucked up.”

          Doohan walked toward the TV and watched for a moment.  “We gotta go camping again.  Get a group together.”

          “Count me in.”

          “You remember last year?” Doohan said.  “Those burgers I brought?  Dog food.  Nobody noticed.  Too fucked up.”

          “Bleecchh!  What the hell.  You crazy?”

Doohan offered his drink.  “Here.  Try some.  Pretty good mix.”

Jackson looked at the glass like Doohan might have pissed in it, then he took it and sipped.  He forced the drink down.   “Damn,” he said.  “Don’t they have any beer?”

“Sure they do.  Go over, grab one.”

Angela had come back downstairs.  She showed the boys her teeth.  “I’m gettin’ an apple.” 

Doohan followed her into the kitchen.  “Hey,” he said. “Over my dead body.”

Jackson walked to the bar on uncooperative legs.  He opened a small refrigerator stocked with beer and chose a Miller.   

Now on the TV, it looked like an Andy Griffith re-run.  Don Knotts, in a deputy’s outfit, talked excitedly.  Jackson took a sip, walked to the kitchen door and glanced in. 

Angela took big bites from an apple. Doohan stood nearby, hands on hips. “Kid, you gotta lot to learn about respectin’ authority figures,” he said.

The booze was tranquilizing Jackson.  He walked back to the couch.   

 

Jackson awoke still sitting on the Capazzos’ couch.  The living room was quiet and shadowed.  Outside, it was dark.  Jackson saw it was after 10:30 p.m.  He arose, feeling groggy.  He walked to the glass door and looked at the yard.  Tall trees looked shrouded in black veils.  In the sky, a half moon and faint stars were scattered.   

Jackson decided he might as well get home.  He walked into a small bathroom, rinsed his face and washed out his mouth with cold water.   

“Doohan?  Doohan?” he called.       

Jackson heard a noise above, and he climbed the stairs.  May as well tell Doohan he’s splitting.  As he reached the top, he detected the faint smell of vomit. He looked through a door and saw Angela laying on a bed, eyes closed. Doohan sat on a chair beside her, a wash cloth in one hand, a glass of water in another.

“The little mutt’s feelin’ it,” he said in a subdued tone Jackson had never quite heard from him before. “I called her folks, they’re on their way back.”   

“Damn,” Jackson said. “You gonna be okay?”

Doohan nodded. “Thanks,” he said.   

Jackson turned away. He found himself smiling, and he wasn’t sure why. He walked down the stairs and out of the house, feeling tranquil beneath the gentle light in the sky. 

 

Jackson got in the Toyota and headed home.  Driving with care, he pushed Glenn Miller into the CD player.  The music sounded fresh and bouncy.  Ha ha ha!  You and me.  Little brown jug don’t I love thee.  Jackson wagged his chin to the rhythm.  The Toyota approached Frederick’s.  Jackson knew a Coke would hit the spot.    

          Jackson pulled into the lot.  Given the late hour, his Toyota was the only vehicle there.  Jackson got out, approached the store.  He saw shards of glass sparkling under a lamp near the dumpster.  A square sign was taped to the front window. 

It said:  “Help Wanted.”  

Jackson felt relaxed. He pulled the sign off the window.  Jutting out his jaw so that he might look assertive, he walked through the door.       

 

THE END


Mitchel Montagna is a corporate communications writer for a professional services firm. He has also worked as a radio news reporter and special education teacher. Publications include Amarillo Bay, Leaves of Ink, Naturewriting, In Between Hangovers, and Down in the Dirt. He is married and lives in New Jersey.

KJ Hannah Greenberg captures the world in words and images. Her latest photography portfolio is 20/20: KJ Hannah Greenberg Eye on Israel. Her most recent poetry collection is Mothers Ought to Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2017). Her most recent fiction collection is the omnibus, Concatenation (Bards & Sages Publishing, 2018).

Recently, Hannah’s seventh short story collection was published by Bards and Sages Publishing.

The publisher writes: "Bards and Sages Publishing is pleased to bring readers Walnut Street, our seventh short story collection by KJ Hannah Greenberg. Greenberg’s flair for the peculiar and eclectic shines through in this collection of over fifty flash and short fiction works featuring anthropomorphic starship pilots, angsty authors, strange neighbors, and more."

Walnut Street is available on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Walnut-Street-KJ-Hannah-Greenberg-ebook/dp/B07T4HB9S9/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=kjhannah+greenberg+walnut+street&qid=1561063957&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmr0

Volumes One through Five of the KJ Hannah Greenberg Short Story Collection at 50% off the list in an exclusive bundle only at 

https://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/156488/Greenberg-BUNDLE?affiliate_id=51852

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2019