Some of us on the council could see how our town, from the point of view of those who lived in more densely populous spaces, might read as possessing a charm of times gone by. But we couldn’t see everything. Production arrived like a storm for which we hadn’t taken precaution. You saw it. We felt your gaze on us, and it was a kind of heat. We clashed, we cavorted, we spun, we ran this way and that. Looking back, I’d offer the notion that we were trying, in blindness, to give you something. I think we hoped to shape ourselves to meet your possible need.
You recall how this started, Mr. Mannigan? You came in, said if it was as simple as follow your wife, see where she goes, you could do that yourself. Mannigan frowns at me. This is his answer. You said, I tell him, that you were after something harder than a routine tail. You wanted to know where your wife was at inside herself. Those were your words. Am I paying you money, Mannigan asks, to remember my words for me? You said, I go on, that you wanted to know how to get to the warmth of feeling in her. I didn’t say that exactly, Mannigan claims. You said, I go on, that you wanted to get to the place where her smile would be full as she turns to you, already full, before her eyes have even come steady, before they find yours. What is this? says Mannigan. I never said that. You did, I say. That’s what you were asking for. And I found it. Mannigan stares at me. I’m sorry, Mr. Mannigan, I say. But this case—I can’t accept payment.
Scott Garson is the author of IS THAT YOU, JOHN WAYNE--a collection of stories. He has work in or coming from Cincinnati Review, The Bureau Dispatch, Electric Literature, American Short Fiction, Threepenny Review and many others. He lives in central Missouri.