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  David Fettig: Casualty of War

Iy name is Georg--no "e" at the end, my father thought it superfluous: "It is silent, after all, so why grant it the privilege of existence?" (surprise! I was a quiet child)--and I am the celebrated author of an unpublished novel. There, now you know as much about me as does my girlfriend, Gloria, who is sitting over there on my couch, reading a women's magazine and wearing a too-tight T-shirt, sans bra, and who thinks that doing so is some form of Subversive Cool, when all it really does is show off her boobs (which are, unarguably, her best feature, trust me). My novel starts like this:

The harvest was beginning. Yergin Antonovitch eyed the last biscuit that lay in the bowl before him. He was still hungry, and he knew that the meager breakfast he had just finished would not be enough to sustain him as he toiled in the fields, working against God and government to produce a crop that would sustain his family through another Chechen winter. But Yergin Antonovitch, son of Vladimir Ostragon Antonovitch, a proud man who thought it a sin to leave the table with a full belly, also knew that the final biscuit was his wife's only breakfast. For weeks Illenya had been telling him to please finish everything, that she would eat after he had left for the fields. But one day he stopped to look in the window and saw her licking his plate and scraping the grease from the pans and spooning it into her mouth.

My novel is good. Some friends and family call it great, and believe me, these people don't even know the meaning of the word patronizing, let alone possess the skill to successfully perform such a deceit. Uncle Dobs, though, complained of long sentences. Ha! And the Chechen setting. Double ha! "Being of Chechen blood gives you no right to inflict on the world a book about a land in which you've never set foot and a people you can't begin to understand. Write what you know." Uncle Dobs is an ingrate. And a cad. But I love him, or rather, which is why I love him. Everyone does. He has tried to seduce everyone in the family who extends beyond the realm of first cousin, and has often succeeded. Gloria even flirted with him once, which I enjoyed, not in some kinky "I like to watch" sort of way, but because flirting is a sort of striptease of the personality, and it allowed me to observe Gloria in such a pose. Speaking of whom (say "whom" out loud to yourself a few times and you'll get the idea of the body of Gloria, all round and smooth and soft and filling--go ahead, try it, "whom," that's Gloria, my Whom Girl), it looks like she's going into her "I'm bored and want to do something" stretch, arms extended with elbows slightly doublejointed and full thighs screaming for blood and that torso arched just so. Just so, mind you. Reminds me of my novel.

Yergin Antonovitch studied the biscuit. Illenya walked to the table and put both her hands on it, "Go ahead, eat," she said. "This is your breakfast. You need your energy." She was beautiful there, leaning over him, thin from hunger, anxious about food. He suddenly craved her. And the more he craved her, the more he desired the last biscuit.

Gloria looks at me, her bewitching green eyes moist from stretching, and says, "What are you writing?"

"Does it matter? I write. I am a writer." She likes when I act like I'm some sort of artist.

"It's about me, isn't it? Uncle Dobs says you should write about me. Isn't he sweet?"

"I tell you what, you want sweet? I'm going to finish this in a minute and then I'll come over there and show you sweet, my little marshmallow." She also likes when I'm sexually commanding, but in a playful way.

But it's too late. The doorbell rings and suddenly Gloria is bouncing, oh, how she is bouncing, toward the door. "It's Uncle Dobs!"

So it is. I don't even get up. It's not expected. I stay with my notebook on my lap. When Gloria opens the door she beams and there is a deep sigh from beyond the portal; she melts and squeals and leaps into his arms. All I can see is Gloria's back and Uncle Dobs' hands, fingers spread wide, first stationary below those softly rounded shoulders, then slowly moving down to that dangerous little curve at the bottom of the back.

"Look at you," I hear him say, and clearly that is what he is doing as she stands demurely, his hands now wrapped around her upper arms and holding her in place. "And my misguided nephew?"

"He's writing."

"About you, I hope."

"I think so." Then giggles.

"Let's ensure so. Come, I'll buy you a coffee. Better yet, some wine. No, don't even say goodbye. Believe me, he understands. He hears every word. He must learn to be a writer."

And then they are gone.

With his left hand, Yergin Antonovitch, son of Vladimir Ostragon Antonovitch, lifted the right hand of his wife, Illenya, and moved it toward the bowl on the table. He placed her hand on the last biscuit and she almost gasped from the smell of food. Then slowly, very slowly, he moved her hand toward his mouth and she understood. She held out the biscuit and he ate the whole thing in two bites; then he eagerly licked the flavor from each one of her fingers, kissed her hard on the lips so she could taste, and went to work in the fields.

--David Fettig is an editor and writer, with a background in newspapers, magazines and policy research, as well as a stint as a manuscript reviewer for an independent publisher. He is a published poet, and is currently at work on a novel.
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    Copyright © 1999 by David Fettig. Used by permission of the author.