What to read (right now) II

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More fiction this week to spend time with. Trying to search for a theme to these three stories, but can't do it. Perhaps haplessness. But all three of them are prime.

“Lightning Man” by Thomas Cooper at Annalemma.

The third time he was struck by lightning, Blankenship was at his
retirement party. Firing party, more like it. He was old, stale-brained,
a widower prone to epic gaffes, and his boss McHale suggested that now
was an opportune time to slow down and savor life, which meant please
leave before you end up hurting someone or burning the place down.

Blankenship was beside McHale’s koy pond, near the cabana, when
lightning blasted out of nowhere and struck him on the head. Black smoke
billowed from his mouth and his dentures shot out like a misfired
hockey puck. They shattered Mrs. McHale’s wineglass so she was left
clutching the stem, cabernet splattered on her blouse. Speechless,
thunderstruck, his coworkers watched. Blankenship had had nightmares
about such a humiliation, and now look.

“Standing Shiva” by Jaime Karnes at Staccato Fiction

I get lost on my way to shiva. I’m driving to Long Island from Newark, New Jersey. Lincoln tunnel, check. Queens tunnel, check. Long Island Expressway nearly accidentally kills me. I’ve never sat shiva or visited a family sitting shiva. My family is mostly
non-practicing Irish Catholic. Not practicing because my father is
still disturbed that in his youth nuns forced him into a small crawl space with a bar of soap and relegated him until he’d finished eating the entire thing. I never asked him if this story was stretched, as I didn’t mind not attending mass due to his exaggerations.

“Punch Out” by Brian Oliu at Barrelhouse

Thank you for seeing me like this—I didn’t mean to be a bother—thank you for seeing me.Think of the time where I walked you to the train.Think of how poorly the visit went, my knuckles clumsy.I do not remember where I slept.I think you’re going to have a nightmare tonight.Someone beautiful and small wants nothing to do with you.Someone beautiful and small wants everything to do with you.Someone beautiful and small wants to kill you, to punch their way through your stomach, to walk away, retire.