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Epistolary Narrative in Which Author Hopes Protagonist Doesn't Pull Trigger


by J.T. Truscello

dear connors,

it's 2015 and old jay baldwin is still dead. hope the west coast is treating you OK you jarheaded freak.

remember the barbeque your parents had right before you went off to east bumblefuck for basic? i remember two specific things from that day. first is when me and chalk hands were playing horseshoes with your uncle sal and uncle sal was going on about how one time he drank a whole 24 pack of coors lights and then barfed on the 24th because he COULDN'T STAND THE TASTE. as if the two dozen beers foaming in his fat gut had nothing to do with his puking. then chalk hands was like WHY DID YOU DRINK SO MANY IF YOU DIDN'T LIKE THE TASTE? and uncle sal couldn't riddle out an answer to that question so he punched chalk hands in the chest and told him to go fuck a dog.

i guess that's the man thing to do. drink all the beer you've got and don't be a bitch about it. but it ain't the man thing to pretend it was the taste that was too much for you when really you just drank more than your system could handle. no man i know wants to admit when his system's had more than it can handle and that's a fucking shame if you ask me. instead of your uncle sal going ape he should've just said YUP I HAD TOO MANY. but then he would've been basically admitting he was a pussy and nobody wants to be a pussy.

the other thing i remember is when we were all shithoused around the fire and somebody (i think it was goodbird) brought up jay baldwin and then you said OLD JAY BALDWIN DIED STANDING UP. and i said WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? you were sitting on a cooler and you said I'LL DEMONSTRATE. then you said JAY BALDWIN WAS SEATED. LIKE SO. AND THEN HE DECIDED HE WAS GOING TO DIE. SO HE STOOD UP. LIKE SO. AND HE DIED JUST LIKE THIS. ON HIS TWO LEGS. AND HE WOULDN'T GO DOWN! THEY HAD TO BURY HIS ASS VERTICAL! then we all went ballistic about jay baldwin dying upright even though everybody knew jay died flat on his back with his throat clogged with vomit.

do you remember saying that or were you too shitfaced? i like thinking about jay's corpse standing all stubborn like. i think that's one of the cleverest things you ever thought up connors and you've thought up some clever shit over the years. we should all die standing up.

your friend,

chuckie

* * *

dear bobby,

you know the time you threw that frog into the fire? if i could do it all over again i wouldn't change a thing. i'd still break your nose. you knew the frog was alive and you incinerated his ass because you're a sick bastard. i'm glad you got fat.

love,

chuck

* * *

dear jada,

i'll be surprised if this address i found is even really yours.

i'm sorry i held you down and hit you with the clothes hanger. you didn't deserve it. even though i told you you did. i guess there's no reason not to tell you now that i was sleeping with other women the whole time we were together. not just the one whore i confessed about. i was running around with connors when you were working nights at the cleaners. i chased women every chance i got and i don't know why i couldn't stop. and the truth is i hated you. because you were nice to me and i didn't think anybody who acted the way i acted deserved a woman as good as you. simple as that. i was bad to you and i wished you were bad to me too so i wouldn't have to feel bad for being bad to you. when i upped and left i know you thought the problem was you but i need to take this opportunity to tell you right now once and for all. the problem was me.

also. i hope little madison is doing OK. to this day i've never seen a kid so beautiful.

chuck

* * *

Dear Mom,

You don't understand.

* * *

Dear Mom,

I know Bobby screwed you over with all of that money you cosigned on. And I know you probably won't forgive him. But if I'm allowed to have one request (I don't know if I'm allowed) I would request that you forgive Bobby. Nobody makes you laugh like Bobby does. And you should let him make you laugh again.

Nothing I have ever done is your fault.

Love,

Charlie

* * *

dear bobby,

i already dropped one letter in the mailbox and i can't get it back now that it's in there. it's kind of a cruel letter. so i'm writing you another one that's more about explaining some shit and less about being cruel.

i'm sitting on a bench outside the post office in wallkill and i'm writing to the people who are on my mind. i'll tell you what i'm going to do after i'm done. i'm going to drive over to the police station and park my car and shoot myself in the heart with a nine millimeter. i'm going to do it right there in the driver's seat. i originally planned on shooting myself in the head to be extra extra certain but i thought about that scene in the godfather where the godfather wants his son to be able to have an open casket but the bitch of the whole thing is the son's face got mutilated. i figure if i put the slug in my heart mom won't have to see me all headless and gory and shit and she can give me an open casket if she decides that's important to her. also i'm going to do it so the cops find me because those fucks are already traumatized. what's seeing another corpse to them? i imagine my body will be about as upsetting as a piece of road kill.

i just sent a note to connors about jay dying standing up. you weren't there. but one time connors said this thing about how jay died standing and i always admired the shit out of that idea. if anybody could possibly die standing up it was jay. i thought you'd like that since jay was yours before he was anybody's. i still remember you two playing wiffle ball in the backyard using that old box spring as a backstop.

jesus bobby thinking about you and jay as kids makes me so sad i want to vomit.

i just realized you might open this letter before you open the mean letter. oh well. one way or another it doesn't matter.

chuck

* * *

dear connors,

that time we were in puerto rico and all those homeless men surrounded us on the beach while we were banging those hookers...i think about those hobos all the time. grabbing at their crotches and watching people screw. what the fuck was going on in their heads? WHAT THE FUCK WAS GOING ON IN OUR HEADS? we're lucky those guys didn't try to fuck US.

i wish i enlisted. they straightened you out alright. i guess it's stupid to even think about. we both know i can't take orders from anybody.

chuck

* * *

Dad

* * *

dear bobby,

i remember the first night you ever came out drinking with me and connors. you were only 16 and i gave you my old ID and it worked perfect since you and me look the same. it was 50 cent beer night at p and g's and we ordered a whole tray of beers. remember HOW we used to order our drinks? throw a sawbuck on the bar and say GIVE ME TWENTY BEERS. we were bat shit if you ask me. anyway i remember dragging you by your feet into connors' apartment and then i watched you sleep the whole fucking night because i was afraid you were going to die and it'd be my fault because i was a deadbeat older brother who could hardly make any friends his own age. besides connors. who didn't even count.

i'm realizing this is the first time i ever mentioned to you that i watched you sleep. i sat next to you. you were on the bathroom floor and your chest was going up and down and up and down and bobby that might've been one of the last times i ever prayed. i kept saying GOD DON'T LET BOBBY DIE. it's funny how serious i took it. how many times after that did we get plastered blackout blind together? too many to count. hell even when you collapsed on that church lawn in oneonta i didn't panic the way i did that first night. i got used to you drinking yourself sick and besides it wasn't all bad. at least i try to tell myself it wasn't all bad. we had some good times out at p and g's and cuddies and oasis. some real good times. especially once jay got his fake ID and it was the four of us. you, me, connors, and jay. trying like hell to get pussy. drinking so hard i could feel the alcohol pooling up in my skull. i always wonder if you're right about how you and jay would've had different lives if it wasn't for me. i wonder if you wouldn't be such a disaster if i hadn't taught you my lifestyle. and when i wonder about jay i get sick.

* * *

connors,

i ever tell you i got genital warts from that puerto rican whore? i gave the warts to jada. and now she's carrying that shit around. in her fucking crotch. i fucking hate that she has to spend her whole life dealing with my shit. nobody should have to carry around my shit. nobody. especially not jada.

chuck

* * *

jada,

i remember we were in queens with the baby and we had that sketch artist draw the three of us and he managed to make you look like a blockhead and me even more horselike than i already looked...that dude might've drawn us hideous but he got madison just right. she didn't look like a caricature. she looked like a real baby girl holding her bobo in her chubby hand. god did i love that girl. especially when she'd grab my thumb and hold it. i'm glad you let me into your life for the short time you did. i know i was no good for you or your daughter and i know you probably regret having met me on account of a lot of reasons. but don't regret that day in queens when the guy put madi down on paper perfect.

chuckie

* * *

listen connors. i never told you this but i feel i've got to. you shouldn't have gone to jay's funeral. i know you said OLD JAY WOULD WANT US THERE...and maybe you were right. but you knew jay's mom didn't want me or bobby or you anywhere near that church. you should've respected her wishes. you should've let the old lady grieve how she wanted.

* * *

bobby,

i forgive you for the frog. i forgive you for how you fucked over mom with all those loans. i don't know if she'll forgive you.

remember when we were kids in bed i'd always say ROBERT YOU AWAKE? and you'd be in the bottom bunk like YEAH? every night you passed out before i did and that always made me a little sad because then i couldn't talk at you. but i guess i was also glad you were asleep because i could sleep better once i knew you were out. i don't know why it worked that way.

anyway bobby i'm still a shit sleeper. all i do is thrash around. just like when we were kids.

talk to mom if you can find it in you.

your big brother,

charles

* * *

jay,

i'm a dumb thing that kicks and drinks and needs needs needs. i can't sleep. i can't sit in a chair and feel OK. maybe if i could figure out the word for WHAT i need...if i had a single fucking clue what the to call the thing i need then maybe i could GET IT. fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck

* * *

i want to be a thing with no head. a tree. or a mailbox.

* * *

jay,

i'm out of stamps. so i figured i'd write to a dead guy with no address. which as far as i'm concerned is the final confirmation that i'm fucking nuts.

what am i supposed to say to you? i know you didn't die standing up.

you want to know what's happened since you kicked it? here's what. shit's hit the fan. i guess that's no surprise. the way we live somebody's always lobbing a turd at the fan. bobby's gone. lives in pennsylvania. he's found some woman to feed off of. my mother's still paying his debts. it's a fucking disaster.

not a lot else to report. i feel like whole years have happened that i don't even remember.

i hope i don't see you soon. i hope it's just nothing.

chuckie




BIO: J.T. Truscello is an MFA candidate at Virginia Tech. His short stories have appeared or are forthcoming at Saranac Review, Sonora Review, and BULL Men's Fiction. He is currently writing a novel.