Volume 2 Number 1 • Spring 2010

Joe Kraus

Everybody Should Have at Least One Disreputable Friend

“Steal some of your old man's tennis balls,” you said, and, in the shadow of your daring, I did, though I later felt Dad's confidence in me dissipate with the sigh the pressurized can gave as we opened it. That night you showed me how to soak them in kerosene, light them afire, and kick them back and forth across the only alley in Granville, Ohio. The next morning revealed a spider's web of scorch marks across the asphalt.

Last week I saw you for the first time in years when I stopped into Brew's on a whim. After a time, I ambled from my table to yours and we exchanged statistics: me, a lawyer with two children; you, divorced and missing a finger from an “industrial accident.” I paid for our beers and went back to the rest of my life.

But what was I saying before middle age interrupted?

Just this: Part of me, even now, rises at midnight and sneaks through my bedroom window to play at kicking comets back and forth, laughing at the living fire I command.

Joe Kraus teaches creative writing and American literature at the University of Scranton where he also directs the honors program. His creative work has appeared, among other places, in The American Scholar, The Southern Humanities Review, Riverteeth, and The Oleander Review, and he won the 2007 Moment Magazine/Karma Foundation Prize for Short Fiction. He grew up in Granville, Ohio.

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