Opening Upward Like Wings

Opening Upward Like Wings

Three ducks fly over, a lawnmower growls, and Anson Senior has not yet arrived for the exchange. The exchange is what Meredith actually calls it. In front of people, no matter who is listening.

Anson Senior is almost always late. Always working hard.

His car is beat to shit, rust psoriasis taking over the oxidation, antenna broken off above the first knuckle. The crack in the windshield divides the top of the glass from the bottom.

Rain spots the windshield.

The smell of fried foods and pizza mixes with the sweet odor of gasoline.

Meredith waits in the parking lot of Fast Gas. Signs say PIZZA, DONUTS, ATM, PROPANE EXCHANGE. Cigarette filters hug the curb. Trash spills from refuse containers.

A car with an elderly couple pulls into the lot.

Meredith has been there since 4:53. She’s impatient, with things to do. A guy to go see. Intimate things to do with the guy. Oh yes! Don’t stop! Right there! Ohmygod!

The child in the back of her new red SUV is talking to her. Mommy, listen, Mommy, please. A din to her. A thrumming. She’s thinking of the Ohmygod!

I’m hungry, the child says.

More rain spots the windshield.


She sees a large shiny trailer pull into the lot. Behind it is a ratty pickup truck with a small trailer. A fat man with a blood-colored bandanna eases out of the pickup, shakes hands with another man, thin. They walk to the back where their trailers meet. Tailgates flop down.

Meredith watches a wobbly black and white calf amble from the opulent trailer to the paltry one. The calf relieves itself onto the gray asphalt.

The old couple leaves. Anniversary. Dinner. Love.


Now the rain is a full sprinkle.

I’m hungry, Mommy.

She doesn’t hear him. She’s thinking of Ohmygod! Man. His house. His money. His new car. Fancy. Nice. Expensive. Very. The doors are hinged on the top. They open upward like wings. Impressive.

The calf is exchanged from big to small. Tailgates SLAM! SLAM! Off they go.

It’s dinner time. Cars pulls in and out.

Two employees, smoking cigarettes, walk out to the picnic tables. The older man is the boss. The other is the underage girl he’s become intimate with. He’s married with three brats. Wife’s a bitch, he tells the girl often. Oh yes, don’t stop! she tells the boss often. She gets more hours now. And a raise.


The lawnmower growls.

Anson Senior pulls in. The boss and the girl crane their necks, look at the maroon psoriasis, then back to talking.

Anson pulls forward, opposite Meredith, front to tail.

Jesus Christ, Anson!

Sorry. Was busy at work. Hey, AJ! Anson says.


Happy Birthday, big man! Wow, you’re five. Holy cow!

Bye, Mommy!


The boss and the girl go to the back of the building. Kiss. Slowly. Go back inside.

Raining hard now.

Meredith pulls away. Tires squeal.

We’re having cake! Ice cream! Macaroni and cheese! All your favorites, AJ!

Wow! Thank you, Daddy!


Two ducks fly over, and the lawnmower stops growling from three houses away.


About the Author

Joel is a dad and a Pushcart Prize-nominated fiction writer and screenwriter of The Obituary Artist, based out of Los Angeles. He has work in Paterson Literary Review, Redivider, Alimentum, HQ Press's Future Thought anthology, The Bitter Oleander, Pindeldyboz, among other journals. His website is


Photo by Sohan Rayguru on Unsplash