For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“Jim Train”

A.M. Homes


Jim decides to take a shower outside, it will save him the job of cleaning the tub when he's done. He takes a towel and a bar of soap and goes into the yard, hauling the hose after him.

This is what men who don't live in cities do, he thinks, imagining naked men in backyards all over Westchester and up into Connecticut. They shower out of doors, like Abe Lincoln. It's the hearty way. The real way.

He picks at the dirt embedded in his chest hair, and rubs what he gets between his fingers. He throws the hose over a tree branch and turns on the water–it is cool if not cold. Jim starts to sing. He lathers himself from head to toe, watching the dirt pour off his body in little muddy rivers. He rinses his hair and, when the soap is out of his eyes, looks into the bushes at the far end of the yard. There are two small faces pressed up against the fence. They are giggling. “Look at his pee-pee,” a small voice says. Jim turns away. They have ruined his moment. Is a man not free to do as he pleases in his own home, he wonders, to wash his own dirt from his body? Does he need permission? This is not America as Abe Lincoln intended.

We read it in The Safety of Objects.