Issue 35, Final Fringe

Epitaphs

by Matthew Vollmer Issue 29 01.23.2012

#9

here lies a man who every time he took a walk after dark in his neighborhood always and without fail asked himself why don’t you go for a walk every single night of your life and what’s keeping you from doing this one simple lovely thing and furthermore what’s holding other people back and why aren’t more people out and why in each and every home that is not utterly dark does one always find at least one TV flashing and why does the deceased care and why doesn’t he look up at the stars more often and acknowledge the vastness of space and in turn meditate upon his own relative insignificance and subsequently feel blessed and lucky to have beaten the odds of never existing and why doesn’t he lay himself out on the roof or build a little bedlike thing up there where on evenings such as these he might recline though let’s face it he always knew that the answer to that particular question was that he didn’t have the necessary skills to build such a structure nor would it in a million years pass through the neighborhood’s architectural committee which was one reason why he never built or paid someone to build that fence to safely enclose and combine his and his neighbor’s yards and thus contain both the neighbor’s dog which was half blind and totally deaf and left huge steaming loaves on the deceased’s side of the yard and the deceased’s dog who upon seeing other leashed dogs out and about with their masters often ran beyond the cul de sac and into the street where college students often peeled out and got pulled over by police motorcycles for reckless driving but it turned out that in this neighborhood of pea green or shit brown split levels the people had spoken and with one voice claimed to want to preserve whatever aesthetic unity these mold encrusted houses with rotten trim could be said to uphold which meant that anytime anyone wanted to so much as apply a new coat of paint to their front door they had to submit for the a committee’s approval a set of documents the effect of which was dispiriting and ultimately discouraged the building of such a fence so no fence was ever built and the dogs roamed as perhaps dogs were meant to roam somewhat freely if illegally and unsafely and furthermore no rooftop bed was ever put in place and the deceased continued to forget to take walks after dark except on the occasions when he almost by accident found himself strolling through his neighborhood and if the stars were out he’d look and if the lights in his neighbors homes were on he’d stare wondering as he would continue to do as long as he lived why in the world didn’t he do this more often and what besides himself was holding him back

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Matthew Vollmer

Matthew Vollmer

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Matthew Vollmer is the author of a story collection, Future Missionaries of America, and is co-editor, with David Shields, of Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts and Other Fraudulent Artifacts, forthcoming from Norton. His work has appeared (or will appear) in magazines such as Paris Review, VQR, Tin House, Epoch, Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, Oxford American, Antioch Review, DIAGRAM, elimae, Willow Springs, and Carolina Quarterly. He teaches in the MFA program at Virginia Tech.