Friday, April 27, 2012

William Gay- Charting the Territories of the Red

The opening of one of my favorite short stories.  How could you read this and not continue?
(From The Southern Review Spring 2001)

"WHEN THE WOMEN CAME BACK from the rest area, slinging their purses along and giggling, Dennis guessed that someone had flirted with them. He hoped they'd keep their mouths shut about it. He was almost certain that Sandy wouldn't say a word, but you never knew about Christy.

Well, we got flirted with, Christy said. She linked an arm through his and leaned against him, standing on his feet, looking up at him. The sun was moving through her auburn hair, and there were already tiny beads of perspiration below her eyes, on the brown, poreless skin of her forehead. She smelled like Juicy Fruit chewing gum.

Dennis unlaced his arm from hers and stepped back and wiped his wire-rimmed glasses on the tail of his shirt. He was wearing jeans and a denim shirt with the sleeves scissored out at the shoulders. He glanced at Wesley. He put the glasses back on and turned and looked at the river. Moving light flashed off it like a heliograph. I guess we need to get the boats in the water, he said.

Wesley had both of Sandy's hands in both of his own. Her hands were small and brown and clasped, so in Wesley's huge fists they looked amputated at the wrists. Who flirted with you? Wesley asked.

Sandy just grinned and shook her head. She had short dark hair, far shorter than Wesley's. Wesley was looking down into her sharp, attentive face. The best thing about her face was her eyes, which were large and bluegreen and darkly fringed with thick lashes. The best thing about her eyes was the way they focused on you when you were talking to her, as if she was listening intently and retaining every word. Dennis had always suspected that she did this because she was deaf. Perhaps she didn't even know she did it.

Sandy had once been beaten terribly, but studying her closely Dennis could see no sign of this now. Perhaps the slightest suggestion of aberration about the nose, a hesitant air that she was probably not even aware of. But her skin was clear and brown, the complex and delicate latticework of bones intact beneath it."

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