Category Archives: Fiction

Are these the Greenwich Village Pearly Gates or the Gates of Hell?

After reading A Party of Pictures by Thomas McGonigle, you’ll know. Welcome. To be published by Mercer Street Books Publishing.

DINGS by Wayne Conti

Henry saw a couple of new dings in his father’s old Lincoln. Henry didn’t like that. The large car was twenty-two years old now, and was beginning to teeter between being a classic and a jalopy. When he looked up the sloping, shady driveway, Henry saw that the garage door had been left open. The frame of the garage door had been sideswiped down to bare wood and splinters. His father’s driving wasn’t getting any better.

He heard the old front door of the house creak and saw his father staring down at him from the porch. The old man looked thinner, maybe, but even his thinness made him seem to loom over Henry. So did the fact that the porch was built up into the side of a hill. The house itself was high and gothic, constructed like the others beside it—all huge houses on narrow, deep properties. Henry couldn’t look at his father yet, so he glanced away. Henry’s own car was parked down on the street, as if it couldn’t make the short, steep climb to the Lincoln. Henry knew nothing in life came easily. He had come to ask his father, his only living relative, for money. Just this once.

“So you’re here,” his father said.

Henry nodded and looked up. All the old trees between the houses made the yard dark. In spite of the shade, Henry saw that the paint on the trim was blistering.

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This short story first appeared in The New Yorker. It was later adapted by NPR for their radio series SELECTED SHORTS. Reprinted with permission of the author.


     If you think it’s too cold for a woman my age to be eating her lunch out here by the beaver dam, then the first thing I have to tell you is, don’t worry about me. Or, if I say it the way I first said it as a little girl, “Don’t worry ’bout me.”

     I seem to have been saying and thinking the same things right from the beginning. For a long time my mother would look at me as if the things I was saying were a little bit funny—just a little bit, not funny enough one way to laugh at or the other way to get upset about.

     I don’t know—is “Don’t worry ’bout me” such a funny thing to say if you’re a small child? Many times after I’d said it my mother would ask me if I was angry about anything. I told her I didn’t think so. Maybe what I should have said to her was that I just didn’t like to have anyone worrying about me. But I don’t know if I knew that yet. After a while my mother didn’t say any more about it, but she would still sometimes look at me closely when I said it, as if she were looking not just into my eyes but into my whole face, if that’s possible.

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