Campfire Girl--(Excerpt)


Uncle T sits in the kitchen, drinking whiskey and smoking a cigarette, his two favorite foods that have yet to give him cancer. "Good Mornin' Fayetteville" blasts like a crowing rooster from the portable TV and fills every crack and crevice of the room, the spaces where insects hide, those that can fit. The reception is bad, the screen mostly static, but Uncle T is more concerned with the announcer's voice, which keeps fading in and out, giving it the sound of an emotional choke hold. Something new, something different. Uncle T jiggles the antennae and wraps and rewraps the same piece of aluminum foil on its ends: doing his one bit for the environment. But the sound still flickers. Going Once, his daredevil parakeet, flies from his perch and lands on an antenna with his beak open.

When Uncle T sticks a metal teaspoon in the bird's mouth, the screen lights up. Uncle T sits back down to his whiskey and cigarette, listening and waiting, two things he rarely does simultaneously. He has another cigarette and another shot of whiskey: the drunk nicotine rinses from his body, through his pores and hair follicles, in beads of sweat. Still no news. The Green Grocer's skit is on, live and in color. He is on location at a fast-food restaurant and speaking in his Cajun way, talking of beef's nutritional value, while a mascot, a human gourd, bounces around in the foreground and whistles the restaurant's jingle. Uncle T bats a bag of peanuts around the table with a plastic banana, praying to his fairy-tale God, the one with no memory and no motive.

They cut to Dottie West, the station's ingénue weather girl, who lights up the screen in pastels and half-moon smile. She is standing beside her premonition board (made of construction paper, cotton balls, nail polish and purple glitter) when Herb, the sportscaster, a retired boxer, walks in front of the camera, holding a picture, upside down. Uncle T turns the volume up.

Copyright © Michael Mastrofrancesco 1996

Poetry Sample
Fiction Sample
Still Life
Campfire Girl