pages Middling

by Thomas Andes

Published in Issue No. 175 ~ December, 2011

My uncle, a middling man of middling height, who holds a middling job at a middling firm, from which he draws a middling salary to support his middling wife and their two middling children, with whom he lives in a middling house in a middling suburb in a middling part of the country—my uncle, suffering a fit of middling insanity, leans to me over dinner one night, shortly before we watch Mystic Pizza, a middling film if ever there was one, with a slab of his wife’s pot roast dripping from the tines of his fork: “Now that Julia Roberts, she’s got some ass!” which elicits a pained look from his eldest child, Pamela, a knowing smirk from the boy, Jackson, and goes all but unnoticed by his wife, Peggy, my late father’s sister, who is even now dishing up the sugar-free tapioca into long-stemmed wineglasses and topping it off with blueberries and whipped cream from a canister in their kitchen. “Who’s ready for dessert?” she calls as she barges through the saloon doors with five glasses on a tray, oblivious to the scarlet flush that tips her daughter’s ears, blinking uncomprehendingly in the face of her son’s ear-to-ear grin, while my uncle shoots me a look, folds the gray slab into his mouth, and settles back in his chair, masticating, dabbing the corners of his lips with a wadded paper napkin.

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Tom Andes' poetry, fiction, and criticism has recently or will soon appear in Bateau, Xavier Review, and the Rumpus, among other publications. He lives in Oakland, California.