Jim, fiction by William Trent Pancoast

Jim twist­ed the skin­ny trunk of his body in a fast, vio­lent jerk just as the cop grabbed the buck­le of his left Harley David­son boot. When the boot flopped off, Jim found him­self sit­ting upright, ready to jump up and run. But then he felt the baton lock down on his neck. He want­ed to fight it off, but the oth­er cop stomped on his bare ankle and the strug­gle was over.

He looked for his three grand­kids through cold driz­zle. It was Novem­ber, the last game of the year for his eighth grad­er grand­son, and he had vol­un­teered to take the three younger grand­kids to the game. No one had told him it would cost $13 for the four of them to get in–$3 each for the kids and $4 for him. He didn’t have $13.

So he had told the young lady col­lect­ing the mon­ey that. “I’m sor­ry. I don’t have any mon­ey.” The kids had already scam­pered ahead and there was noth­ing he thought he could do.

As he lay on the cin­der track that cir­cled the foot­ball field, he glimpsed Sis­sy play­ing along­side the wood­en bleach­ers. That made him momen­tar­i­ly hap­py even with the heavy man stand­ing on his ankle. “Come on, Jim. Put your oth­er hand back here.”

Jim pic­tured the puz­zled look on the face of the mon­ey-tak­er at the gate. She nev­er said a word, just flipped her right wrist up a cou­ple of times while he shrugged and sidled after the kids. He nev­er thought it would be a crime not to have any mon­ey for the after-school foot­ball game.

Jim had nev­er changed his hair style since he had first slicked it into a duck­tail in 1958, and now the hair held bits of cin­ders and leaves where he had fall­en when tak­en down. He want­ed to ask for sym­pa­thy, tell this son of the cop who had first bust­ed him over 40 years ago that it would kill him to go back to prison for vio­lat­ing his pro­ba­tion, which is what he was doing the moment he refused to walk back to the gate with the cops.

Damn, Jim,” the cop said, and wrenched the plas­tic tie tighter. “You nev­er learn.”

Sit­ting up again, Jim watched the kids near him on the track. “Grand­pa! Can I get hot choco­late?” called the boy. “And a hot dog,” Sis­sy chimed in.

Jim looked around the sta­di­um, not changed much from 1959, when he had scored eight touch­downs in his first three games as a ninth grad­er before being kicked off the team for smok­ing in the alley beside the teacher park­ing lot. Ah, shit. If he hadn’t smoked, hadn’t got drunk so many times, hadn’t stole some chick­en shit motor­cy­cle parts and got­ten caught up in the sys­tem.

Jim heard the cheer­ing and turned to watch his lanky young grand­son out­run­ning the entire field to score anoth­er touch­down, and a tear rolled down his fresh-shaven cheek. He could feel it mov­ing slow­ly, like it might nev­er get where it was going.

 William Trent Pan­coast‘s nov­els include WILDCAT (2010) and CRASHING (1983). His short sto­ries, essays, and edi­to­ri­als have appeared in Night TrainThe Righteyed­deerThe Moun­tain CallSol­i­dar­i­tyUS News & World Report, and numer­ous labor publications.Pancoast recent­ly retired from the auto indus­try after thir­ty years as a die mak­er and union news­pa­per edi­tor. Born in 1949, the author lives in Ontario, Ohio. (more infor­ma­tion avail­able at williamtrent​pan​coast​.com)

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2 Responses to Jim, fiction by William Trent Pancoast

  1. William Trent Pancoast says:

    Thanks, Gin­ger. Actu­al­ly that is the first piece of flash fic­tion I ever set out to write. In fact, I had nev­er heard of "flash fic­tion" until a year and a half ago.

  2. Wow!!! Love, love LOVE it!! Good stuff, William. Now I need to read more.

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