Kamby Bolongo Mean River named one of 25 Important Books of the 2000s by HTML Giant

KBMR was named one of 25 Important Books of the decade by HTML Giant. And was a Page One selection of New & Noteworthy Books by Poets & Writers Magazine.

Monday, March 19, 2012

No news today - Guest Post - Molly Tolsky

My grandfather wasn't speaking to me, so my bright idea was to wear him down. I bought three bottles of his favorite whiskey and brought them wrapped in newspaper to his Sunday night restaurant. I waited in the bar for him to arrive, wondering where all the peanuts had gone. They used to serve peanuts in little ash trays on the bar, according to all the TV shows I watched. I ordered a glass of the same whiskey that was waiting for my grandfather while I waited for him, too, never even thirsty. My heart was hurt.

He came in with a date. This was not nothing to me. He came in with the prettiest woman in the room, in the town, in and out of his age group. I cannot describe what she was wearing because I could not get past her face, all poignant and fluttery like an old shiny painting. If she were a painting, people would take a photograph of her and then paint a new painting from that photograph, just to say that they were a part of something beautiful. Something beautiful was holding my grandfather's cracked hands, and I watched as he shook her free to receive his gift from the hostess. His gift from me.

The old man and the beautiful woman took their seats in the center of the dining room. The bartender asked for my ID, even though he had served me minutes ago, even though the ice was already having a meltdown. You don't look your weight, he said. My grandfather unwrapped the present while I crossed and uncrossed my legs. If I could read lips, he might have been saying, "These are from my granddaughter," or, "This is from Kentucky," or, "That will not do the trick." He placed the box with the bottles underneath his seat and reached across the table to touch the beautiful hands. I tried to warn him about hovering over the candle by shifting the gravity of my eyebrows back and forth, but he was careful with his sleeve and nothing caught on fire.

I am never careful. He had caught me cheating. You can cheat at something or cheat on someone or cheat someone out of something and it doesn't make a difference. Your heart will hurt. In his day, people had respect for each other but mostly for themselves. People would not pay over two pennies for an orange and they only married folks who they thought would make nice babies. A person would love someone until someone died, and whoever died first, it didn't really matter.

My grandfather was in love. I wanted to go up to his table and congratulate him on turning out all right. I wanted to say, "Do you ever think about dead people, Grandpa? How they cheated life of everything, and get blamed for almost nothing?" The beautiful woman pulled her hand away to fix something on the back of her neck, and I watched my grandfather count the rings on her fingers, the dimples in her shoulders, the number of teeth in a mouth. He leaned back and folded his arms like it was nothing, to have a face and heart boxed up just for you.

Molly Tolsky is a fiction writer living in New York. Her work has previously appeared in The Collagist, The Fiddleback, Pindeldyboz and elsewhere. She once followed John Lithgow in a reading.

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