A once-and-again mother picks at her teeth

at the Sunday dinner table, laughing at how

her church must be the only church

where there was no need for a gun.


She takes the fat off the roast, drags a piece

through carrots, cole slaw, across her plate.

“We’re Christian people,” she said, “All

of us good. We don’t need no guns. Yet.”


She has her a J.R. pistol: Colt, black, white-

handled, an uncle’s gift, years ago

in a bedside table drawer for safekeeping

under a pair of folded gloves, loaded.


(Nobody wears gloves anymore).

Instead: “Every seat’s a backseat these days,”

she changes the subject. (It’s her hobby)

She changes subjects (she keeps the change).


She dips a chintzy sleeve in the pear salad

on her way to a fourth helping of the potatoes.

(She pretends not to notice the dirty sleeve

so she doesn’t have to notice the pear salad).   


An only son sits across from her,

(There are six chairs that go with this table),

his plate cleaned beneath him. All by himself,

he skillfully develops an afternoon headache


watching her watching her dirty her sleeve.

(It matters to her that the gun is mostly black.

She’s mentioned it two times now and he’s—

“I’m gonna wear those gloves I don’t care where!”


She never uses her napkin. She should.

“I’ll wear them to Piggly Wiggly for bananas!”—

Small bits of corn have breaded her blouse.

It’s a lovely Sunday to be embarrassed), he nods,


to himself. She nods for a different reason.

He re-positions himself on the piano bench.

(He’s never had a chair at this table)

by the sliding glass door – Breaking


news— the TV is on—Mississippi has the worst

economy in the nation—the TV stays on—

“Cheap bananas,” she says, “Even the new ones.”

There’s nothing new in Mississippi anymore.

(There’s nothing in Mississippi anymore).

Mississippi’s not even in Mississippi anymore.

This is it – the bang. Come out, come out.

Hide and Seek, not Red Rover, Red Rover.     


He considers having more roast beef.

The end of the world, if it’s coming, come

put your deer in the road already, come

cut out Piggly Wiggly bag magnolias,


press those steeple-fingers up against

the knotted threads of catfish wool;

throw rice at the cows lowing their famous

bathrobe song in that Bethlehem key.


“Aunt Lola died. Did I tell you.” (No,

forget the roast beef. Maybe pear salad).

A mockingbird then flies headfirst in

to the sliding glass doors. She had


a finger in her mouth; she bit it, but

she didn’t turn. She won’t look out at

the pecan trees, left after Katrina, still

stubbed, like dotted, crooked letters,


waiting for one last word. Some say  

it’ll be a hand-me-down tablecloth;

or, the tragedy of a hobnail milk glass

vase broken into favors. Or, smaller like


the deep freeze or the goddamn world.

The end: The Big Bang’s Ready or Not.  

No more hiding places left in the napkins.

Nothing familiar is left on the forks.


“The chandelier would be pretty

if it weren’t so dusty. I don’t know

how on earth to go about cleaning

a chandelier. And one that old.”


She says this easy. How she moves

from the gun to gloves to bananas

from Aunt Lola to the old chandelier,

happens quickly, happens every Sunday,


reliable as a tap water boil notice.

She’s a boil notice for tap water

but you’re not sure whose faucet. She

could be someone else’s faucet,


next door or the next door. Or the next.

He looks up. The table is empty now.

He carries the bench and puts it back

in front of the upright and the living


room’s back the same; he has the same

thought, back, behind his headache:

The fact of a bench is that it isn’t a chair.

The fact is, it does not need a table.


T.K. Lee is an award-winning member of the Dramatists Guild as well as the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and the Southeastern Theatre Conference, among others. In addition to plays, he has also published award-winning poetry and is a Pushcart-nominated writer of short fiction. He currently is Visiting Faculty in the MFA Program at the Mississippi University for Women.
He can be found on Facebook @tkleewriting