Issue 35, Final Fringe

The Damned Eleven

by Jim Meirose Issue 24 11.29.2010

Jenkins sends the dice against the tool shed wall once more, hard. They bounce about. They come to rest.

Five, he says coldly, peering at the black dots set in the square white cubes, as he has each time before this.

The first ant goes down behind The Other’s belt buckle. The second ant starts up the front of The Other’s dark red shirt. The third ant coming up the tree trunk almost reaches The Other again but The Other pushes away from the tree, goes over and pulls a leaf down from a low branch and kicks lightly at the dirt by the dice.

There are four ways to roll a five, you know, said The Other. So it was due to come up.

He picks at the nails of his left hand. The ant is halfway up the front of his shirt and crawls sideways along a large slanted wrinkle. The other ant is seeking a pathway down behind the belt buckle, but the belt is tight. The Other’s belly is large. He steps back from the dice and wipes his forehead with the back of his right hand.

Come on, said Dale, tilting his head back and raising a hand. Talk to me. Come on. What do you think I sell?

Builder glanced up at Dale, glowering, his eyebrows lowered. The he looked down into the book again and once more turned the pages. Dale gripped the table edge, his face still raised, lips quivering.

Rude, he thought. How Goddamned rude, who the hell does he think he is anyway?

He sits back and tightly folds his arms before him as Builder continues to read.

—the density of solid and liquid bodies—the atom as billiard ball—

In the fine and decorative arts section of the museum there hangs a painting of nymphs and satyrs. They cavort through a grassy grove of trees and bushes. One of the satyrs reclines on the ground, leaning back against the base of a tree. The scantily dressed nymphs are in poses of excitement and seem to be dancing. The other satyr holds the pipes of pan at his side and eyes the nymphs hungrily. The whites of his eyes shine from the painting. The sky in the painting is streaked with dark clouds and the leaves of the trees and the bushes are dark and shadow lies over the nymphs’ and satyrs’ faces only broken by the shining of the wild bright whites of that satyr’s eyes.

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Jim Meirose

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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.