It was the town people moved to, to get away, to start over. The mayor of the town, Mayor Bublitz, once a prominent businessman in St. Louis, once known fondly as “Bubble Gums,” and then once a convicted felon charged with money laundering and unlawful possession of a lethal firearm, welcomed everyone with open arms, his new identity unknown to all who came.
There was Joe, the plumber, now Joseph, the minimalist painter. And there was Valerie, once a ballerina and now a contractor, with twenty people on her payroll, including one ex-graffiti artist, one converted cop, two “found” bakers, a two-faced astronaut, and a former dogcatcher. It was a happy bunch, all knowing nothing of the others’ pasts. Each thought he or she were the only one getting away with something.
The only person who had never been anything else was me, Gilbert Adams. I was, and always will be, a seer. I saw everyone move into their fresh stucco apartments, their dream houses on half-acre lots, their remote-controlled wonderlands, each befriending me with pound cakes and Persian rugs. They knew I was theirs to win over, the young local with the funny ways.
For how else does one live a life of illuminated solitude than with berserk romanticizing? That was me, up in the palmettos, swatting away the pelicans, and that was my younger self, feeding water moccasins with my open palms, knowing all the while which wanted to bite whom.
But here I go, off again on a tangent when I know precisely well what you want to hear. The ending. Well, they will grow old and die, every one of them before myself. But that is not the interesting thing. I find my inner eye wandering toward other places, other events, other answers than what surrounds the timeless questions of what will happen to me? What will happen to them? Jessie, the shoe shiner, approaches me now, and we’re to go fish for kingfish. We will almost catch two, leave with nothing, and we will sip our coffee at the end of the pier, him talking, me listening. I will glint to Jessie for enlightenment, examining the ways in which he looks pitifully for a sign from the sea.
E. Nolan’s work has been published in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Passages North, X-R-A-Y, as well as other magazines. He has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Florida and he teaches English as a New Language in a public middle school in the Bronx. In his free time he composes music for TV and film, which can be heard on Showtime, A&E, and the documentary, It Started as a Joke. Connect with him at enolanstories.com