Issue 35, Final Fringe

The Damned Eleven

by Jim Meirose Issue 24 11.29.2010

Builder came in the battered door, sat down in his rickety wooden folding chair, and opened the black and grey covered book titled THE STARS. He turned the pages slowly and carefully as though they would fall out if turned too roughly. Words came up from the book into his eyes.

—as a light bulb can be seen from all sides—

How true, thought Builder. Shifting in his seat causing loud cracking noises to come from the chair legs, he took off his cap, laid it on the table and continued turning the pages of the black and grey book.

At the Bury St. Edmunds’ Manor House Museum, renaissance clocks made in Augsburg Bavaria are prized. Nothing like them was made anywhere else. The mirrored room fills with ticking and gonging and no one in the room has trouble telling the correct time, unless they’re too young to tell time, of course, or too old to remember.

Jenkins chews at the inside of his cheek, closes one eye and screws up his mouth, then stoops down low and throws the dice. They bounce back from the painted wall of the tool shed and rattle across the dirt.

Seven! he exclaims. Wow! Seven on the first throw!

The large-faced Other pushes away from the tree he’s been leaning on and points to the dice with a long-nailed grimy finger. His lank hair hangs down on the sides.

Oh, seven’s easy to get, it’s the one most likely to come up with any roll of the dice, says The Other. There are six different ways to roll a seven—the most ways of any number.

Scowling, Jenkins bends down and retrieves the dice. He shakes them in his broad fist, ready to roll again.

We’ll see, he says. He spits into the dirt at the feet of The Other. The Other’s shoes are brown and badly scuffed.

Bright-eyed Dale came into the room where Builder sat and he sat down at the other end of the brown table, his chair legs also creaking as though about to snap. Without looking up Builder turned a page of the book. Dale placed his hands on the table and watched as Builder continued to read.

—fainter stars have become visible through telescopes— Builder leaned back in his chair with the book held before his eyes. Dale licked his upper lip. He doesn’t seem to notice me, doesn’t he even notice me—

continue: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Jim Meirose

Read More

Jim Meirose’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in many leading literary magazines including Alaska Quarterly Review, South Carolina Review, New Orleans Review, and others. One of his stories which appeared in OASIS was short-listed for the 1997 O Henry Awards. His work has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.