pages The Maestro of Nerves

by Kirby Wright

Published in Issue No. 213 ~ February, 2015



Dadio’s nervous watching TV. He keeps crossing and uncrossing his legs on the couch. He’s a lawyer, so I know he carries a boatload of stress. He starts rubbing his nuts through his shorts. It’s always a low rub, one that doesn’t involve the penis. I’m not sure why Dadio’s nervous on a Sunday, especially since the sports guy’s doing the scores from morning football. It’s as if his nuts are a magic lantern and he’s trying to summon the genie to change the scores. Boy, can he rub.

“Itchy nuts?” I ask.

“Wot?” Dadio replies, sniffing his fingers.


“You lil’ sonuvabitch.”

Strange how June Spoon, my mother, never scolds Dadio. “Disgusting,” she whispers in private. If it’s a furious rub, she beats it and heads for the mall. Maybe June Spoon thinks it’s a man’s thing to do to relieve tension, the way women go shopping to ease feelings they’ve lost their sex appeal.

“Goddamn 49ers,” Dadio says from the couch. Now he’s mixing the rubs with tickles. After sniffing, he itches his nose. It’s quite a production.

I wonder what effect all this has on Jen, my kid sister. I know she’s seen him. She sees everything. Maybe it’s good training for married life. She’ll probably forgive her hubby for his nervous habits, even if his nuts are involved. Still, whenever Jen’s near him and he starts in, I take her out to the garden. We dig for treasure in the Land of Orchids. Somewhere, there’s a buried mayo bottle with a string of plastic pearls, rhinestones, monster cards, and a note on parchment granting a single wish.

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Kirby Wright was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a graduate of Punahou School in Honolulu and the University of California at San Diego. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Wright has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and is a past recipient of the Jodi Stutz Memorial Prize in Poetry, the Ann Fields Poetry Prize, the Academy of American Poets Award, the Robert Browning Award for Dramatic Monologue, and Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowships in Poetry and The Novel. BEFORE THE CITY, his first poetry collection, took First Place at the 2003 San Diego Book Awards. Wright is also the author of the companion novels PUNAHOU BLUES and MOLOKA’I NUI AHINA, both set in Hawaii. He was a Visiting Fellow at the 2009 International Writers Conference in Hong Kong, where he represented the Pacific Rim region of Hawaii. He was also a Visiting Writer at the 2010 Martha’s Vineyard Residency in Edgartown, Mass., and the 2011 Artist in Residence at Milkwood International, Czech Republic. His futuristic novel THE END, MY FRIEND was published in 2013. He published SQUARE DANCING AT THE ASYLUM, a collection of flash fiction, in 2014.