For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“Sir Karl LaFong or Current Resident”

Christie Hodgen


He stomps through the house at seven each morning, returning from his dark, neon-bordered, Plexiglass-shielded shift at our town's all-night gas station. He trails boot prints of oil across the kitchen floor. He leaves cellphane and aluminium candy wrappers on the table as he empties his pockets, counting and straightening the fistful of small bills he has collected from weary drivers who prefer to have their gas pumped by a hunched and Afroed attendant. He places half of his nightly earnings on the table—a form of rent—and leaves the kitchen, finally, with only a short greeting to my parents. “Sam, Betty,” he says, nodding to each, though these are not my parents' names. He leaves us to our hot, balanced breakfasts, our tart mouthfuls of grapefruit juice, our silence and averted glances. He leaves us to envy his modest pocketful of independence. He leaves us to breathe in his flammable smell.

We read it in A Jeweler's Eye for Flaw.

Originally published in Bellingham Review, no. 48.