Tina Barry’s characters know how to get what they want, even when caught in the absurdity of middle age or outraged by betrayal. Don’t they?
Hands Like White Porcelain
The man behind the counter leads the city couple around his shop of mid-century furniture. Thin as a pleat, the wife runs a hand over the smooth surface of a teak dining room table; the man in mismatched plaids, marvels at the chairs’ clean lines, their nubby turquoise seats.
A kidney-shaped wooden bowl appeals to the couple. Then a wall clock with fluorescent numbers. Then a pair of elk’s antlers. Then nothing.
“Thank you,” they say, nearing the door. “Beautiful pieces.”
The man sighs. Too many compliments and too few sales. “Check out the garage,” he offers, before returning his attention to NPR.
At the garage’s entrance, knee high in weeds, stands a plaster Jesus in an electric blue robe.
“Did you see?” “Yes, yes!” The couple stares at the statue, mouths agape.
The hands. Poor Jesus’s hands. Gone are the reed-like fingers, the pearly palms raised to Heaven. Instead, hovering like U.F.O.s atop Jesus’s soiled cuffs: large white ceramic knobs.
“So. Perfect,” says the wife. “Indeed he is,” the husband agrees, and trots back to the shop.
Jesus is for sale. But he’s heavy. Weighted in cement. He’ll have to be dug up, shipped to Brooklyn. That’s fine with the couple. They hadn’t planned on spending a $1000 for what is, they laugh, essentially a garden gnome. But what’s a $1000 for Jesus? Not much of a sacrifice. Really. No sacrifice at all.
Wool and Spool
The poets in my workshop are meeting without me. I heard the news from a former member who spotted me weeping in a wine bar and just had to tell. They’ve started their own workshop, “Two Days of Joy,” that is not a workshop at all but an invitation-only-BDSM-LGBT-furry friendly-little people-giants-welcome-NAMBLA tolerant –weekend-sexathon held in the tent of an abandoned circus. The other members, apparently too busy juggling Ben Wa balls and buying backless Spanky skirts, never mentioned the change in plans.
To: Aimee@Domedirty, Pam@pettingzoo, Tamara@tiemeariver, James@afootisonlyhalfofit, Deirdre@godownwarddog, Bob@ofhumanbondage
Subject: Thanks for the invitation to “Two Days of Joy.”
I don’t know what I did to deserve this brutal abandonment, but let me tell you: I will never, and I mean NEVER!! allow you to read my rhyming sonnets again. Not even the new piece. The one you said:
Oh, yes, I can’t wait for that.
In case you’ve forgotten, it’s about my mother knitting an afghan.
I will tell you there’s a lovely near-rhyme at the beginning: wool and spool. Think about that the next time you’re doing Miss Kitty. You just think about that.
Tina Barry’s short stories and poetry appear online and in print publications including Drunken Boat, The Camroc Press Review, Lost in Thought magazine, elimae, The Orange Room Review, THIS Magazine, and Exposure, an anthology of microfiction from Cinnamon Press. She lives in Brooklyn, where she just completed her M.F.A. in creative writing at Long Island University.