“North End, 2010” by Stace Budzko

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About the Author
Stace Budzko has been published or is forthcoming in Fiction Attic Press Anthology, Southeast Review, Inch, The Journal of Compressed Arts, Blip, Quiddity, Versal, Bridport Prize Anthology, Upstreet, Necessary Fiction, Prime Number, Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction, Press 53, PANK, Hobart, elimae, The Los Angeles Review, Night Train, The Collagist, Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Flash Fiction, Flash Fiction Forward, Brevity & Echo and elsewhere. The screen adaptations of his stories, “How to Set a House on Fire,” “North End, 2010” and “Why I Don’t Keep a Daily Planner” have garnered numerous honors and awards as well as art and festival showcases. At present, he teaches and coordinates The Creative Writers Workshop at Emerson College.
North End, 2010

Two cars are stopped at a red light when one guy gets out of one of the cars and starts kicking and punching the other car with all this “whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do” rage and it’s 3 in the morning, as if this has an actual purpose, some great causal action that first began with a minor traffic lane infringement coming out of the highway tunnel which then proceeds to set off a synapse response going back to yesterday when, on a normal sunny day in June, this same guy leaves work with those immensely hopeful expectations of the weekend only to realize the lawn needs to be mowed, the minivan needs an oil change, there’s rot in the basement door jams, and there are kids, and a wife…the year before was not so different either, really, when he comes to think of it, there was a kid, instead of kids, and the year before that there was only his wife, which, if he’s being honest, was perfectly fine and good as long as they had their payday pizza and occasional morning romp, but always, always those expectations: be born, be nurtured, be schooled, be employed, be married, be reproductive, be grateful: always be, be, be – until one Saturday night in June while driving home from the bars it comes that the faithful coil of happiness unravels to the point of this, this kicking and punching, this “whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do” temper tantrum that beckons us to the window to taste the soft, light air: our punishment seeing dawn.


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