SmokeLong Quarterly
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Why This Isn't a Good Story to Tell
by Shellie Zacharia

art by Robinson Accola
art by Robinson Accola
See, you ask me what's going on, and I know you mean, tell me something good, but not much is going on. No stories to tell. Not one you'd want to hear, unless you count what happened two days ago and that's not really a story.

It's just about this old woman at the grocery store and how she couldn't reach the peanut butter because it was stocked on the top shelf. So while I was standing there picking out strawberry jam, I said, "Let me help you," and I asked her, "What kind do you want?" and she said, "Peter Pan, smooth, please." After I handed her the peanut butter, she said, "You're a little pretty and very nice." Then she said, "Hold on," and she reached for her purse, this beat up white leather bag sitting in the shopping cart. She took out her wallet and her hands were shaking and I said, "Oh no," thinking she was going to offer me money, but instead she handed me a business card and said, "This is my grandson. He's a nice boy. You should call him; he's lonely."

I looked and saw he had a nice boy name and he was a travel agent and he had a work phone and a cell phone and I said, "Thanks," and put the business card in my own purse, which was just a little straw bag because it was summertime. And since I'd had it with mean boys, it seemed a good thing to do, to call a nice boy, and after two glasses of wine that evening, I called the old woman's grandson. When I said who I was and how I got his number, he was quiet. I felt stupid but then I felt even worse because he finally said, "I'm sorry. My grandmother isn't always well. I'm married. She forgets." Then he laughed and said, "Or maybe she does remember and doesn't like Jane anymore," and I heard him say, "Ouch!" like his wife Jane must have smacked him on the back of the head.

I apologized and hung up and drank another glass of wine because he did sound like a nice boy. And I went to bed and it was another night like so many of my nights.

So you see, it's not really a good story, not the kind you want to hear. No romance or adventure or mystery.

The guy didn't call back and say, "Forget about Jane, let's meet for dinner."

He didn't call back and say, "I'm actually from another galaxy and I want to create a new type of being with you. I promise you'll really enjoy it."

He didn't call back and say that he would love to make something happen between us, but he was very busy because he was either a rock star, a spy, a pirate, or a guy about to go on a cross country journey to find out some great truth.

He was just a nice guy and he was married and he even thanked me for helping his grandmother.

He didn't call back.

End of story.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.

Shellie Zacharia lives in Gainesville, Florida. Her stories have appeared in Hobart, Opium, Backwards City Review, Potomac Review, Inkwell, Washington Square, The Pinch, and elsewhere.

Read the interview.

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly on an as-needed basis.
Issue Twenty-One (June 15, 2008): Paper Mouse by Bob Arter «» The Folk Singer Dreams of Time Machines by Matt Bell «» The Bone Orchard by Randall Brown «» Disease Relics by Blake Butler «» We Decided to Make Porn by Brian Allen Carr «» The Baby Drop-Off by Natascia Casey-Dean «» The Cougar by Dave Clapper «» Anointed by Myfanwy Collins «» Sister Earth by John Colvin «» Soap by Katrina Denza «» The Interpretation of Light by Murray Dunlap «» The Hole by Ashley Farmer «» Repair Man by Kathy Fish «» In the Kitchen She Wakes by Stefanie Freele «» American Gothic by Scott Garson «» Lobster Girl by Alicia Gifford «» Pen and Notebook by Natalie Goldberg «» Memento Mori by Rosanne Griffeth «» BiC by Steven Gullion «» Parting by Evelyn Hampton «» Tuesday by Lindsay Hunter «» Waiting on Lombard Street by W.P. Kinsella «» Johnny by Nance Knauer «» Like Swimming by Jeff Landon «» Feeling Sad by Darby Larson «» Alone With Cooper by Ellen Meister «» The Angel's Visitation by Corey Mesler «» South Dakota by Mary Miller «» California Fruit by Meg Pokrass «» Home Made by Bruce Holland Rogers «» Handful of Dirt by Jim Ruland «» Steam City Girl by Paul Silverman «» Sugar by Claudia Smith «» The 13th Toast by Amy Sparks «» Gathering by Kelly Spitzer «» Tiny Shadows by Maryanne Stahl «» Double-Exposure by Thomas White «» Epistemology by Joseph Young «» Why This Isn't a Good Story to Tell by Shellie Zacharia «» Liquid by Michelle Zellers «» Real Estate by Bonnie ZoBell «» Interviews: Bob Arter «» Matt Bell «» Randall Brown «» Blake Butler «» Brian Allen Carr «» Natascia Casey-Dean «» Dave Clapper «» Myfanwy Collins «» John Colvin «» Katrina Denza «» Murray Dunlap «» Ashley Farmer «» Kathy Fish «» Stefanie Freele «» Scott Garson «» Alicia Gifford «» Rosanne Griffeth «» Steven Gullion «» Evelyn Hampton «» Lindsay Hunter «» Nance Knauer «» Jeff Landon «» Darby Larson «» Ellen Meister «» Corey Mesler «» Mary Miller «» Meg Pokrass «» Bruce Holland Rogers «» Jim Ruland «» Paul Silverman «» Claudia Smith «» Amy Sparks «» Kelly Spitzer «» Maryanne Stahl «» Thomas White «» Joseph Young «» Shellie Zacharia «» Michelle Zellers «» Bonnie ZoBell «» Cover Art "Five Years of SmokeLong" compiled from art by Marty D. Ison, Robert Dornberg, Malina, and Rebecca Gullickson «» Letter From the Editor
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