portion of the artwork for Shane Graber's stories

Shane Graber

I grab sixers at Nu-Now then pull my Cowboys-blue Ram 4X4 into the driveway. Rusted-out shitbox survived. Keith hits the porch light and opens the screen before I’m halfway up.

“I’ll be dipped in shit.”

“That’d be an improvement.”

A patch of snow shape of the Great Lakes rests outside his door. I shade my eyes with one hand, hold up the bag of sixers in the other. Last I visited he fried catfish so white and fluffy it belonged in the sky. Boy could fry up some fish should go on his headstone.

“Let me guess, Jack. Looking for a beating.”

“Bring it.”

We play ping-pong next three hours, gulping Weisenheimers, solving the world’s problems. Garage takes getting used to. Calicos in various stages of preservation sit, stand, and lie. Keith swears he practices stuffing sick ones he finds wailing in alleys, but who knows. He treats his basset hound better than his girlfriend, if that’s any clue. Dog’s named Sugar Pie.

I tell him Nana’s delirium finally got her, that’s why I drove down. He heard, offers condolences, a furrow in his brow like a spade put it there.

“Hell, she wasn’t doing much living when I was here.”

“I know. Still.”

He sips through a purple crazy straw to buzz faster. I take six out of ten games, then watch him crawl under his blue-paisley Ralph Lauren comforter, muttering about Polish heritage and multicolored bolts of felt.

Name’s Wojciechowski, and he knows about more than stuffing cats. He sews puppets in friends’ likenesses. I’ll get him to do one of Nana.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 28 | Spring 2010