The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Tag: reading

“Barbie’s Going to Hell,” an essay by Bethany Hunter

Jenny lived across the street and down three houses. Precocious, with white blonde hair in a bowl cut and a tendency to run around the neighborhood in her swimsuit, she was the first friend I had when we moved in.

My father was a fundamentalist evangelist and along with my mother, we had been traveling around the country in our big 1983 burgundy Buick, state to state, church to church, revivals, tent meetings and summer camps for the last seven and a half years. After years of pleading from my mother for a home of our own and empty promises from my father, he had finally found a church to pastor and we were going to “settle down.” The church was in a Phoenix suburb and had a small, struggling congregation that needed Jesus as much as they needed jobs and money to pay bills that were due last month. With little more than a pittance, a rental house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a front and backyard, as well as the long promised formal dining room, was found for us fifteen miles away in a largely Mormon part of town. As a homeschooled, only child whose friendships came on visiting preacher’s kid status and the backseat of the Buick that was the most permanent personal space I had, the move to a house in a neighborhood with an elementary school around the corner was new, exciting and often a culture shock.

Jenny’s family was what my mother called “rough around the edges”, but Jenny was friendly and curious and no cold shoulder from my mother seemed to discourage her interest in me. We walked the two blocks to school together in the mornings and rode our banana seat bikes around the neighborhood in the afternoons. Roughly the same age and in the same class at school, the thing that really cemented our friendship was a love of Barbie dolls. Barbie, Ken and her friends were my favorite, though they were generally given different monikers and often after various pastor’s wives or children I had liked best; small and compact, they were easy to pack up and play with in the backseat of the car. Barbie’s long hair, big breasts, tiny waist, plenty of dresses made out of my father’s old ties and tiny plastic high heels made her the perfect wife, mother and lover of Jesus in all the scenarios that I placed her. I was never aware that Barbie had a dream house or career aspirations. My Barbie had been baptized in the bathroom sink in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of her sins and cooked dinner for her family before going to church three times a week. Jenny’s Barbie dolls moved in different circles; they wore mini skirts, some cut their hair off and drove Corvettes. Regardless of our respective Barbie’s differences, Jenny and I loved to bring our haul together and spent countless hours in our imaginary worlds with them. Continue reading

The Old Capitol, a short story by Karl Harshbarger

 

    The secretaries who worked in his father’s outer office didn’t even say hello to Casey.  That was because two of them weren’t really a secretaries at all but just students at the university.  They kept typing on their typewriters and listening to their Dictaphones.  And Mrs. Tish, the real secretary for the outer office, didn’t say “hello” either because she was talking on the telephone back at her desk.

    Well, it didn’t matter.  Casey walked right past the secretaries’ desks into the second office.

    “Hello, young man.” said Mrs. Paskow, who was his father’s personal secretary.  She had a drawer of one of the file cabinets open.

    “Is he here?” said Casey.

    But he had already gone over to the door and looked in.  What he saw was his father’s big desk and his father’s big chair pushed back from the desk and the painting of rounded hills of corn fields and rounded trees up on the wall behind his father’s chair.
Continue reading

Pattie Boyd’s Greatest Hits by Matt Russell

Pattie Boyd’s Greatest Hits
by Matt Russell

He buys you a drink and says his name is Hutch and you think there are worse things to be named after than a song. Like a seventies TV character or piece of furniture.

“Layla,” you say, and shake his clammy hand.

“Layla, Layla,” he says, rolling your name around his mouth like a toothpick.  And he’s still squeezing your hand when he says, “Like the song, right?”

You roll your eyes and slide your hand from his grip.

“Right,” you say.  “Like the song.”

“Stones, right?”

“Clapton.”

“Right, right.  Clapton.  It’s about banging George Harrison’s wife or something, right?” Continue reading

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