by Tara Laskowski
And it snowed. And it blackened. And when I called Leslie from the county jail I told her I did it to get out of the storm. And she sighed, that’s all, and before she could say something I couldn’t hear I hung up. The officer helped me bandage up my arm. He asked me if it was worth it. Outside someone’s tires were spitting as they tried to pull out of their parallel space. The officer told me he used to live in Key West, but he couldn’t stand the humidity or the key lime everything. He had a mustache you could lose pea soup in, and a filthy way of rubbing his nose with his fingers. The jewelry store owner was coming to give a statement, and while we waited we listened to the hum of the generator and watched the receptionist lose at Freecell. Behind the officer’s head on the bulletin board there was a picture of a cat holding a bottle of Sam Adams in its paws and a crooked photocopy of the poem “Footprints.” The jewelry store owner called, said he couldn’t get out of his driveway. I tried to remember why any of it was a good idea. The officer put his hands behind his head, leaned back in his squeaky chair and looked at me in that way that waiters do when you walk in on Christmas Day or New Years Eve, a resigned distaste for what has led to this particular moment.
Tara Laskowski lives in Northern Virginia. She is a senior editor for SmokeLong Quarterly and has been published in a variety of places, most recently Mid-American Review and PANK magazine. Her web site is www.taralaskowski.com.
Was there ever a point in your writing of “We’re Gonna Be Here Awhile” when this character was not locked up, free to physically roam? What changes in your writing when you limit the movements that a character might make? This story sparked from a writing prompt where you were supposed to write a story about a character making the “one phone call” from jail. So, unfortunately he was doomed from the start to be locked up. I actually like limiting a character to a small space or a tight situation. I think it gives me a chance as a writer to really hyper-describe; in this piece, for example, we get to see all the individual items on the bulletin board in the police station. Had this been a different story, I don’t know that I would’ve had the time or the space to take a look at all that fun stuff.