Vol. 1 Issue 4
Why are we here in this hot, dusty, god-forsaken crossroads? There’s nothing for miles in any direction,
nothing except the occasional tin shack the locals use as houses. They sleep in their refuse and there’s
trash everywhere. They smell like urine.
And they stare at us. They’re always staring at us.
Panel A 4: Callers
I can hear the sound of someone talking coming through the wall. It sounds like they are on the phone,
speaking into a speakerphone. I have no idea who they’re talking to; the wall muffles all of the sound.
They don’t know I’m here, that I can hear them. They should though, because I sit here every day. I sit
here and type every day.
During a lull there is silence and I can pretend I’m alone again, kept alert by high fructose corn syrup
and caffeine. But then the voices start again. The lull ends and I can hear the tension in their voices. A man
and two women, talking into a speaker phone. Occasionally they laugh, but it is a tense hate filled
laughter. It is a parody of the real laughter that I remember hearing when I was young.
Panel B 3: Tonight
Stay with me she said, and I figured I would. It was too late to drive home anyway. I felt bad enough as it
was, but something beyond the simple act of sex bothered me then. I didn’t know it at first, but her
neighbor stayed up all night in a little room under his house. He had been a machinist in the Navy, and
now he moved about his little workshop, arranging bits of metal and chain. Along one wall was a
collection of torches and cylinders of gas. It was immaculately clean, though not very well lit. I can only
imagine it, of course, because I had never been in the room. This woman lying next to me would explain
it all much later. She said he made bicycles from spare parts and was good at fixing things. I could
visualize the man, hunched over a torch with a rod from an old fence, welding a gear housing into place. I
could see the light jump across his coarse, wrinkled brow, creating dancing reflections in his dark eyes.
The thought haunted me for the rest of my life, especially the moment when he would light his torch.
There was a simple tool that he used which rubbed a long piece of metal against a round cup to generate a
spark. Later, when this woman had become my wife and we had grown old, I thought back to that time, to
the faint clicking sound I heard coming from under her neighbor’s house. It’s a torch I would always say
to myself, nothing but a torch.
Tom Wegrzynowsi graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in history, and again in 1995 with a degree in art studio. He is currently working on an MFA in Studio Arts. See more of his work at