Frank Sinatra Lonergan, Lucky Lotto Winner Number 1 — To Want is to Dream

Kevin Still is at it again. (Enjoy Kevin’s work at Three Hands in the Popcorn Bag.) Talk about a dream sequence worth reading! Good work today, Kevin.

To read the entire series , click here.You’ll want to start at the beginning if your new to this story.
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She stands stage faded, kitchen yellow dress. Dark neck, chest, arms sparkle salt-water slivers slide skin. Eyes close. One hand microphone. Other strokes air. Yellow dress obeys curves, press hips damp patches late-July. To listen was to want her. To want her was to dream.

Old black man wears suspenders and bow tie sits upright piano. Juice glass gin-full wobbles piano top. Frank can not hear old-man, but Frank can tell he swings jaw and gnaws lip old man asks mercy himself. Janell’s voice swells out. Old man swings chin, eyes close, dreams someone seeps salt-water some other July.

Frank approaches stage, takes air hand. Janell recognizes. She smiles. She sings. Frank pulls Janell close, floor flushes grass field. Music continues but old man, piano, gin-filled glass, disappears and swift breeze lights Janell’s yellow dress, tugs loose places and tightens right spaces. Grass rolls calves, tall and fresh, uneaten by cattle or heat. Frank smells salt Janell’s skin and knows grass ain’t tall enough.

As Frank kisses Janelle, voice sounds. His name. He turns and sees mother stand hilltop, two butter colored hogs, stand horse high, crowd Mama’s sides. Mama calls son, “Frank! Frank, I need you go into town! Mrs. Maggie’s taken sick, and I need you to . . . .”

Angry, explanation full, Frank turns Janell. Gone. Grass grows, taunts place he not hide day away. Hay and grass and hog replace sweet salt smell. Frank turns back mother. She feet away. Hogs crowd her look eye-level Frank, grin through corn-mush and bacon grease slick jowls. He hates hogs. They hate him.

“You hear me, Frank? I need you to go to Mrs. Maggie’s. She’s taken sick, and them field boys ain’t gonna do right by her. She needs some Whiskey and brown sugar heated up and fed her by spoon. You’re gonna have to do it. Frank, you’re the only one. And when you’re done feeding her, you come feed me. I’ve been your mama long enough, and I expect the favor returned.”

Frank walks away. Hogs scuff ground. All this taking. All this expecting. To want away was to dream. Black pig army crowds feet, snort and bounce hind legs, mouths slick filth, filth table scraps, table scraps uneaten pig siblings. Frank kicks them, but black pig army root louder, gurgle chorus grunts and gut-laughs. Frank curses black pig army. Kicks them. Throws fist air. But black pig army snap heels, bite holes socks and take skin. Frank balls fists and slams own head, screams blasphemy at land and life and . . .

Frank woke on the couch. The light of the side-table lamp burned his eyes. He pulled his hand over his face, rubbing his mouth. His lips felt cotton-thick from his open mouth breathing. His throat stung dry. He used his thumb and index finger to pinch the bridge of his nose. He could see Janell in her kitchen yellow dress, and Mama with her guardian hogs standing behind her. Mama stood in every background. Her presence, her voice, bigger than those prized hogs.

Frank swung his feet off the sofa and reached for the bottle on the coffee table. He chugged a gripe of Irish Whisky, smoother than Bourbon, and looked out the window. The music had fallen silent. A few voices – one a bellowing laugh from a gentlemen trying too hard – remained after the crowds. Frank wondered the time and then thought better of it. “Tomorrow, tomorrow, you cursed slave-driver,” Frank said as he reached for the laptop. He couldn’t remember where he’d left off. Just somewhere in his story, his story that seemed to have no beginning or end, just a neon explosion of moments he could not re-gather except in words. Words were all Frank had.

Frank swigged the Jameson again and took the lottery ticket from his pocket. He held it between his fingers and flicked the corner on the coffeetable’s edge. “Mrs. Maggie’s dying, Frank,” he could hear his mama saying, “Mrs. Maggie’s dying, and you got the money right there to do right by her. She’s been your neighbor all your life, I expect the favor returned.”

Frank slipped the ticket back into his pocket. “Mama, why don’t you and your hogs go rut in someone else’s business?” He opened the laptop, waited for the document to reload, and then he lowered himself, mind and spirit and all, back into his pool of words.

The man behind me on the bus out of Millwood finally asked why I kept staring at him. I lied and told him that he looked like someone I knew. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he looked like one of Mama’s hogs.

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18 Responses to Frank Sinatra Lonergan, Lucky Lotto Winner Number 1 — To Want is to Dream

  1. sethhaines says:

    Kevin,

    I’m not really sure what to say about this other than… woh…

    I read the dream sequence, thinking it read just like an actual dream. Just linear enough to give me a clear picture. Just spacious enough to know that I wasn’t getting full meaning, that there is wondering to do. I thought it was brilliant. There. I said it.

    I like where we are going with Frank. I’m not sure whether I love him, empathize with him, feel sorry for him, or dislike him. He seems more complex than the man who first sat in a photo booth to pen his memoir.

    Good work, here. I mean it, good sir.

    • hamster says:

      thank you much, sir. the dream sequence was fun, and it made my head hurt to go from dream sequence to regular narration again. i had to read so much of it outloud that i got confused a few times and had to walk away, shake it off, and come back.

      i also like where frank is going. everyone’s second submission took him deeper down the rabbit hole of his loss and lack of reality. and i love that. i’m stoked to see if frank ever finds his way back to the photo booth. or that pretzel stand. man, them big fat pretzels are GOOD.

      • hamster says:

        also, seth, this:

        Deaf chords, dead ends
        Sling set can’t meet the demands
        Dumb whores, best friends
        Infinity guitars, go ‘head

        Street wars, straight men
        Cowboys, Indians
        Red souls, red friends
        Infinity guitars, go ‘head

        then it just deconstructs into random repetition of the above lines. somehow they make it work. and i’m still addicted to it, especially when it explodes at the two minute mark. can’t lie: the whole thing influences my hamsterity.

      • sethhaines says:

        Subterranean Homesick Blues, man.

        Johnny’s in the basement mixin up the medicine.

  2. Matt Brock says:

    seth said it. the abruptness of the writing was very appropriate. It is lack of detail, lack of explanation, and the swift change of context that makes it so much like a dream. nice work. “Mama stood in every background.” was my favorite sentence. It has so much meat in it.

  3. AbbyLeigh says:

    holy flannery o’conner.
    any one read “revelation”?
    this is all the good southern heebie jeebies of that wrapped in a better understanding of frank, janell, and the depth of mr. kevin still’s skills.

    going to need to read this twelve more times, but right now i have vertigo from the dream falling.

    bar: raised. so good.

    • hamster says:

      shut it, barnhart.

      “Revelation” is one of my favorite short stories. more for the way she deals with the waiting room and the nonsensical banter of those self-righteous ladies than even the staircase in the sky at the end. i just love when that main character lady gets asked by Jesus is she would rather come back black or white trash. o’connor was genius! (if not a little socially awkward, herself).

      this thing seth’s got us doing is a good time, eh?

      • i just kept thinking about the hogs in that story and this one. they would enjoy a nice slough together methinks.

        thanks for embracing my “shut it” mantra.
        i’m so glad to have found you all.

      • i wish i could reply to my reply, but i can’t figure that out. i sent before i was done and thought of the word i was looking for instead of slough . . . that’s what i get for reading this kind of stuff on my phone and trying to reply . . .

  4. Matt Brock says:

    uh oh, she got kevin talking about Flannery. For Flannery he has nothing but flattery.
    and, it is well-deserved. i read a collection of her stories a few months back but i don’t remember Revelation being in it. i’ll have to go find it now. thanks. after re-reading the latest installment, i felt like i was coming out of a dream. Kevin, you achieved something close to how David Brent in the british Office series makes you feel uncomfortable as if you are sitting right next to him. Then you realize you aren’t, you are just sitting on your own couch by yourself.

    • hamster says:

      The last time I sat next to David Brent on the couch, he told me about giving himself a check up. Told me there was a scare. I didn’t finish eating my brie.

  5. Matt Brock says:

    am i dreaming right now?

  6. Matt Brock says:

    terrifying……testicular cancer.

  7. Janna says:

    I was almost mad at you with this one, Kevin. Even though you clued me at the end of the first paragraph, I didn’t catch on until Frank woke up and I thought you were doing some trendy preposition lacking, no punctuation nonsense. You are too good for that! But now I see it, and what you did makes sense. Sorry for the almost. Wonderful images, as always.

  8. Kelley says:

    Kevin sent me over here to take a peek at “serial story thing” he and few friends had going. So I peeked. Then I peeked again.

    Jeezum Petes, you folks can write! Can’t wait for the next installment!

    • sethhaines says:

      Kelly,

      FYI, we’ll be running the next post mid-to-latter week again. I’m on the block and I need every ounce of creativity to try and make good on Hamster’s work here.

  9. Matt Brock says:

    no joke. it’s like in elementary PE when you are taking the pushup test. up till the kid right before you, the most anyone has done is 43, and you know you can get 50 easy. Then, just as you were feeling good, old Danny Peterburg – the kid who lives on a farm out by the county line, drops 78 and gets to go get a drink of water BEFORE the end of the period and in front of everyone. Now it’s you. all of a sudden your stomach is making alien noises and you realize you will probably get picked last for kickball again.

    kevin knows what i’m talking about, and yet he put this pressure on us anyways.
    shame on you kevin, glorious shame on you.

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