My fiction writing has been dark of late. Not sure why.
Well, that's not entirely true. Anyway.
Much of this one is simply straight reportage.
Hot and humid 4th of July in Houston, gunmetal stratus clouds scudding low overhead. By late afternoon my brother-in-law’s kitchen table had a large mound of fireworks on it, as people stopped by to drop them off. The beer and liquor were left on the floor next to the table.
The party started around dusk. We drank and smoked and played pool in the rec room above the garage, and at surprisingly regular and increasingly joyless intervals the party would spill out onto the end of the driveway, where we set off fireworks, using cigarettes to light them. I had quit smoking months earlier and found the cigarette moving up to my lips unbidden, every time I held one. As the night wore on, and people got progressively drunker, the fireworks went farther afield, and when a bottle rocket hit the picture window of the house across the street the old people who lived there threatened to call the cops, but never did. Or if they did, the cops had better things to do. There was a fight on the lawn around ten, though it didn’t last long. Around one a.m. an M80 blew up in some guy’s hand, and in the stunned silence after the blast they got a dishrag around his hand and pushed him into the backseat of the car and drove weaving down the road toward the hospital.
It rained in the night. The next morning I woke up late, hungover and exhausted, to the loud cold buzz of the air conditioner and a vicious argument between my sister and her husband downstairs. I looked out the second floor window to the front lawn, littered with beer cans and cigarette butts, the spent firework casings below blackened, crushed, sodden, like dead birds.