My Father The Clown


“My earliest memory is waking in the predawn of a midwinter morning to the sound of my father’s clown shoes treading the floorboards of the hallway outside my bedroom. It was a sound I’d continue to hear through the years, and one that gave me great comfort. As much comfort as the summer rain when it danced the Charleston on the tin roof of our Illinois home on hot July nights. I always smiled beneath my covers when I heard the sound of those clown shoes. As much as I wanted Dinky the Clown to eat his Pop Tart with me over breakfast, I knew he had a job to do, and that in a few hours he’d be titillating a gaggle of four year olds with his clever bag of tricks somewhere in the wilds of Illinois.”

Read the rest of “My Father The Clown” at Little Old Lady Comedy.

Eye For An Eye


Charlie Craddock stood on his wharf and looked out over Barnacle Bay with two clear eyes. It was the morning of his seventieth birthday. The day was bright and he could see schools of mullet in the water. He threw his casting net toward the shore and caught several but decided to release them back in the bay. Honor thy fish, he thought. His wife Tammy never had a taste for mullet anyway (“a trash fish,” she snobbishly would say) and he sure as hell wasn’t grilling on his birthday. Today was a day for fishing.

Read the rest at Little Old Lady Comedy here.

Queen of the Double


“Queen Of the Double”
A Short Story by Caine O’Rear

Will Wise inhaled his tenth Budweiser in three swallows, paid his tab, lumbered to the bathroom and pissed, and then walked out to his truck parked in the dirt lot, a Ford 150 from the ’90s, cranking it up and pulling slowly onto Highway 100, the sun burning like a fireball at the bottom of the western sky, an old tune from Sammy Kershaw beaming on the dash, his thoughts running to the night before when he and April fought about a girl she thought Will liked who worked at the body shop, some chick named Camille who was barely 20 and dressed like the county girls did these days, all Daisy Dukes and skimpy pullovers, showing no respect for decorum or decency, April said, an observation Will couldn’t argue with, especially since his dalliance with a girl in their church group last year, a girl April called a fucking slut and one to whom she was distantly related and who she claimed invited the transgression Will had yet to live down, an episode the memory of which sent pangs of horror through his wet brain, then fading in a quicksilver flash with the chorus of the Kershaw tune kicking in, the imagery of the polyester curtains and redwood deck making him grin, the truck humming along at eighty miles an hour past the expanses of cotton on both sides of the highway, blankets of white at their peak before the November picking, the truck now floating across the center line from time to time, a paltry concern for a county boy on a county highway cruising along in his truck on a Friday night, not unlike most Friday nights since he was sixteen, pounding beers in some field or down by the creek or later at his uncle’s place just over in Lillian, where he met April at a party while being totally smashed on Jaeger, smashed enough to take her by the arm and whisk her down to the boathouse where he managed to take her bra off despite having one arm in a cast because he broke it that week in football practice, playing bull in the ring and going hard as all get out, and going hard that night in the boathouse, and falling in love with April, or so he told himself, a girl who had been with him since that night almost ten years ago, and then April getting pregnant at eighteen, walking the floor of the gym in cap and gown with a bump in her belly, more a hiccup than a world class disaster in their little zip code, and seeing in the rearview as he cruised along the carseat for their second child in the back of his cab, a reminder in the flash of the moment that maybe he should ease up on the throttle a bit, the last years of his life moving at a speed beyond his means to control them, and thinking of Camille at the body shop, and not even being tempted to go there but still enjoying the sight of that ass behind the desk up front when he walked in hungover at 10 every morning, a brief titillation before the monotony of fixing timing belts and spark plugs set in, a trade he learned from his father who passed away two years ago, dropping dead of a heart attack while hunting deer in Conecuh County, while only in his late 40s, a loss that Will still hadn’t reckoned with but one he thought about every time he lit up a smoke, his dad a heavy smoker all his life, a fact that surely exacerbated the heart disease that clipped his wings, and with these thoughts Will firing up a smoke, thinking what are you gonna do, the Kershaw song still playing, and Will turning up the music, louder, louder, still louder, and thinking if he ever found April with some Charlie Daniels with a torque wrench, he’d kill the motherfucker.


Originally published in Richmond’s Style Weekly. May 2008.

Last summer Wayne’s granddad gave him a vial of poison. The bottle was small and green and featured a skull and crossbones on the label.

“I think you’re old enough to have it now,” his granddad said. “I stole it off a German at the end of the war. Maybe you can use it one day on one of your enemies.”

“Thanks, granddad. Are you sure?”

“Of course,” he said. “I know you will use it wisely.”

Aside from his Rambo survivor knife, the poison was Wayne’s most cherished possession. He kept it hidden on the top shelf of his chest of drawers, along with his Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.

Wayne never told anyone about the gift. His grandfather had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few months earlier, and Wayne had been told to report any unusual activity.

“If he does anything weird, like complain about spies in the attic, let me know,” his mother said.

Wayne had the chance to use the poison a few weeks later, after his friend Jerry betrayed him. Jerry was one of the most popular kids at school. He was charming, athletic and excelled at Cub Scouts. He was also the first boy in class to put his hand down a girl’s pants.

But Jerry, for all his strengths, was insecure. One afternoon he began telling classmates that Wayne’s mother worshipped Satan.

“She and a bunch of other kooks go to City Park every night and make fires and praise Satan,” he told them. “Then they have sex with each other and do drugs.”

In recent weeks Wayne had begun selling chewing tobacco on the playground. Every Thursday Wayne stole all the chew he could from a drugstore, selling it to his classmates the next day for two bucks a pouch. The new business made Wayne the most popular kid in class. At least until the rumors started.

A kid named Pete finally told Wayne what Jerry had been saying.

“He says she wears a black robe and leads them through chants,” Pete said. “It’s scary stuff. I sometimes get nightmares.”

“Jerry’s a dead man,” Wayne told Pete.

The next week Wayne decided to put several drops of poison in Jerry’s pouch. Wayne sold it to his foe the next morning. Before class, Jerry had a chew on the basketball court. Nothing happened. “Why was it taking so long?” Wayne thought to himself. In the movies they died instantly. Maybe he didn’t use enough.

Jerry lived. He even had another chew that day at recess. Wayne went home that afternoon and tasted the poison. He didn’t die either. He had seen fake poison at the magic shop. This was probably the same stuff. He was pissed at his granddad. He decided to leave the bottle on his granddad’s nightstand. He wanted to humiliate the old fool.

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