Writers read, and readers write.
I write because I enjoy the process. I hope that you enjoy reading my shit.
9/17/2021 When my mother died in 2013, I remember thinking to myself, here is a woman who never had anything. I knew she had no retirement, though she worked her entire adult life. She had no home of her own, she didn’t own pretty things, she had no husband, no lover, no savings account. She had her last social security check of 600 dollars in the bank when she died. Three weeks before she left us she finally got new eyeglasses after a decade of wearing the old ones. Even with her new eyes she couldn’t see well because cataracts were smeared across her strikingly blue eyes. She’d never ridden a bicycle or driven a car, she’d never seen a concert or gone on a real vacation. She’d never been in an airplane, she never got to see Graceland. The day after she died, I called my father. I said “Dad, she never had anything to call her own”, which made my heart heavier and I sobbed louder. My Dad said to me “No, Stace, that's not true, she had you and Ray and Stevie and Lisa” My father’s words stuck with me while I planned her funeral. I thought to myself, what a shitty legacy, four asshole kids that never gave her a day’s worth of peace.
Stacey Hileman Iannazzo Project J 9/9/2021 Janine was embarrassed to be driving the family minivan. It had those stick people stickers on the back window that her mom thought were adorable. Janine wanted to scrape her figure off the window and replace it with a Grateful Dead Bear. Janine would have preferred driving her dad's sporty red Dodge, but even as she pursed her lips to ask permission, her dad was already furrowing his brow and shaking his head back and forth. She grabbed her moms keys with the big dumb ‘Moms Taxi’ keychain and she bolted before they decided she couldn’t borrow the van either. At least, she thought to herself as she drove to pick up Sharon and Kev, at least the stereo worked and she cranked the knob all the way to the right, feeling the bass vibrating in her tailbone.
A Christmas Massacre
S. Hileman 8/18/2021 Pear Tree Challenge “...and a partridge in a pear treeeeeeeeee!” Sally sang with real joy for the first time that day. The 12 days of Christmas was a crowd pleaser at the Oakridge Mall, and they ended every shift with it. Sally had been an elf for the night shift mall Santa for two weeks, and already she had begun to hate carols, candy canes and kids. The money was good though, so she showed up on time, and put on the red and green tights and the stupid hat with annoying bells on it. She forced a smile for six straight hours, six days a week. She’d already been spoken to by Randall, the fat bastard playing Santa, for not being ‘jolly enough’. Another couple weeks and she could tell Randall that he sucked, his ho ho ho’s were mediocre and most of the kids were frightened by him. She’d also tell him to get a life, since some days she was convinced that he really believed he was St. NIck. Earlier today some girl of six or seven was chatting up the fat fuck about American Girl Dolls, when suddenly she coughed once and puked all over his synthetic polyester Santa pants. Sally had to stifle the blast of laughter that threatened to burst out of her. She grabbed at some paper towels and feigned concern for Randall, but what she was really thinking was she ought to buy that kid the fucking doll because she had just earned it.
Kid Law S. Hileman Iannazzo 8/12/2021 “1...2..3...Red Light!” I shouted with my back towards the other kids, I turned quickly to see if anyone was still moving, thus eliminating them from the game. No luck. I turned my back on them once again. “1...2...3...Green Light'' This time I can hear the rushed footsteps of a dozen or so kids racing towards me. I didn’t even get to yell ‘Red Light’ again before Jamie bolted past me, effectively winning the game. We all knew Jamie was the fastest of all the kids in the neighborhood, and after the required debate on whether or not he cheated, we collapsed on the stoops and curbs that made up our playground. It was summertime, the days were long and hot, and the rag tag group of kids that gathered outdoors in the projects were glad for it. Anything beat going to school, that we all agreed on. If it got too hot, we’d scrounge up a quarter somewhere, grab a towel and walk up to the state pool where 25 cents let you swim all day in a crowded oversized pool with two looming diving boards, two teenage life guards, and a hundred other kids all pissing in the heavily chlorinated water. Looking back, it was money well spent.
The Spicket River Kitten
The Spicket River Kitten S. Hileman 8/6/2021 She spent a lot of her time alone. Lost in the confines of her imagination. She had just turned 12, and even in January, being outside was better than being inside. Inside her apartment, nothing was predictable. Nothing was guaranteed. Nothing was normal, and it sure as fuck wasn’t the Brady Bunch, though she did love that show. Everyday, returning from school that was across town, after pedaling home, she would leave her bike in the hallway and run upstairs to see what there was to eat. Lots of mustard and bread sandwiches in her day. She didn't' mind, unless the bread was stale. If she was really hungry, she’d go steal a bunch of quarters from her brother's change jar. Never once did she feel an ounce of guilt for this trespass, he was 8 years older than her, a drunk, an addict and he had a mean streak a mile wide. Loads of times he would hit her, smack her, pull her hair, push her down, loads of times she’d cower under the kitchen table, or better yet, run out the door, down a flight of stairs into the fresh air. She’d stay gone until she knew someone else had come home. Her mother worked second and her father didn’t know what went on when he was at work. Forbidden to “snitch”, to make waves, to stir the pot, cliche cliche cliche, the young girl, took her licks and whenever possible beat feet out of there.
My Mothers Eyes
My Mothers Eyes S. Hileman 8/2/2021 I kept them in the drawer closest to my bed. My mothers glasses. They had been there for almost 10 years. Truth is I kept them there because I didn’t know what else to do with them when she died. She’d been cremated after a long and painful fight with lung cancer. The disease was cruel, slowly chipping away at the person she was before. Her body diminished, refused to gain weight, and oxygen tubing ran around her once rosy cheeks. She had no energy at the end, no energy to do much else but watch the tv and wait for visitors. I would visit, at 40 years old, and without an ounce of shame, I’d climb up onto the bed next to her. We’d sit, with our knees bent, and we’d secretly douse the O2 machine so we could smoke cigarettes without my sisters disapproving sighs and eye rolls. Sometimes we’d drink tepid coffee from small mugs. This was our time. Just me, just Ma. We’d talk about everything, my kids, our family, my father, the Royals, even Ozzy Osbourne and the crew from Jersey Shore. She did love reality tv. And cartoons. And music. And books. But most of all she loved her kids. She’d had four all together. Two boys, two girls, not in that order. Each of us had a different relationship with Ma. And what are relationships if not complicated and messy? I marveled at her unconditional love for each of us. At different times, and different places, I was sure there were moments we kids didn’t deserve her. We took her for granted. We were selfish. I knew this in the way any adult child reflects on their younger years.
The Sharks Smile
The Smile Of a Shark S. Hileman Iannazzo Shark Challenge Entry 7/28/2021 He used to work there. For most of his adult life, Jeff had been in charge of the water quality and appearance of the largest tanks the aquarium had. These tanks used to house dolphins, penguins, etc; but Jeff’s favorite was a single, 30 year old, great white shark who lived alone in a tank out back. Jeff enjoyed his work and had planned to retire from “Great Bay Aquarium'' when he turned 65. That was before the once popular fish museum had become a sad, deserted, haunted place, with empty exhibits and graffiti on the glass that used to separate the animals from the public. They’d been forced to shut down, when activists and other “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals” stepped in. There were whistle blowers, raw footage, sciencey statistics and guys like Leonardo Decaprio, putting zoos and aquariums on full blast for the public to see. Laws and regulations were tightened. Attendance dropped as more bad publicity was leaked. It started with eliminating the dolphin breeding program Great Bay had been famous for. The coastal aquarium was successfully producing dozens of baby dolphins a year, to be sold off or well trained to “perform” for the rubes in the stands. Jeff knew that most of the aquarium's exhibits were “harvested illegally”. He didn’t like it, but he was getting paid to take water samples and keep an eye on Grady.