I needed some new shoes for work, but I despised the cruel and judgmental fitting clerks in town, so I searched for the shoes online and hoped they would fit my strange and incongruous feet.
Never buy shoes online, my girlfriend said.
Why not? What's the worst that could happen? I said, powerful and defiant, as I placed the order on my phone.
Eight days later, an extremely heavy box arrived at the door of our apartment. Inside I found not the shoes I had ordered, but a quartet of bronze hooves torn from a statue honoring an important general of the American Revolution. When I brought the box to the UPS store for a return, the man wearing the brown shorts stared at me like an owl.
THE WHITE CUBE TRUCK
There is a white cube truck parked in the unfinished construction site at the end of our development. For decades the back of the truck has yawned open, but nothing has ever been found inside.
The truck is an object of obsession for me and my wife. We’ve spent years debating its origin and purpose. Though it’s difficult to accept, I now understand that this shared passion, above all others, is the sole reason our marriage has survived three decades.
Each night before bed, my wife and I walk around the development and check on the status of the white cube truck. In the twenty-six years we’ve lived here, we’ve never spotted anything strange. But tonight we discover thousands of senior citizens shuffling up a ramp leading into the back of the truck.
An old jazz recording plays over the stereo. The seniors in line are laughing and dancing and whooping with glee. My wife and I hide behind a thick bush and watch with fascination. A peppy trumpet solo begins. More seniors dance up the ramp. No one emerges from the truck. The music clatters on.
BURNING, BUT NO SMOKE
On Sunday I go for a walk around the lake. It's autumn. It's my favorite time of the year. Overhead, the leaves look like burning. But there’s no smoke. Which is the best kind of burning. But how long can that last? This is an interesting question. Since there’s no one around, I say these words out loud. I actually ask myself the question. I can’t come up with a good answer though, so I keep walking. The next time I pass the trail leading to the dock, a hook-nose sea snake slides out of the water and bites me on the ankle. The pain is a black hole of suffering. My leg swells to the size of a life-raft. The snake flicks its forked tongue and says, they will last much longer than you.
Steve Gergley (he/him) is the author of "The Great Atlantic Highway & Other Stories" (Malarkey Books '24), "Skyscraper" (West Vine Press ’23), and "A Quick Primer on Wallowing in Despair" (Leftover Books ’22). His short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Maudlin House, Gone Lawn, Rejection Letters, New World Writing, and others. In addition to writing fiction, he has composed and recorded five albums of original music. He tweets @GergleySteve. His fiction can be found at stevegergleyauthor.wordpress.com.