Tag Archives: Todd Mercer

Islander in Exile

Folks who live on islands for a while might want to be on the mainland, but forget about living away from the water. We can’t get far. After I moved on from the island I used to fish from, I … Continue reading

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Windy City Mascot

Chance the Snapper swims the lagoon of Chicago’s Humboldt Park. Three or four million in town, but no one can figure how to get him out of there. I would do it, but the drive is prohibitive. Somewhere in the … Continue reading

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Jesus Salesman

“Have you heard the good news?” asks a stranger holding leaflets at my front door while I stand there in my old style Fruit of the Looms. My appearance doesn’t faze him. Cold calling evangelists for Jesus force a nuclear … Continue reading

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Economic Revenants

We grow up in the cradle of surrounding culture, take it in like oxygen, have trouble distinguishing folkways from those foods that sate the soul. Then we go away. Save up for a car, buy it, drive to Ohio or … Continue reading

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N.J.’s Secret is Out

Nightswimmer Junior didn’t want to become famous. That wasn’t what drove her forward toward crossing Lake Michigan. She needed to maximize her strength. She was sick of nothing happening, so she tried endurance swimming. Trained for years, then met her … Continue reading

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The Sexton on Life Support

The Sexton wakes up hooked to machines that keep him breathing. “Punctured lung,” a Doctor explains. “You should see the other guy though.” Dark hospital humor, as the driver who prepared the T-Bone sandwich by forcing his vehicle between the … Continue reading

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Wedding Crashers’ Blues

When speaking to the bride’s people, we say we’re friends of the groom, and vice versa, as needed to hang in there through the dessert course. On our best nights we join the dancing and the bar bill remains theoretical. … Continue reading

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Nightswimmer Junior’s Grand Crossing

She is barely conscious but those lights two miles ahead register as Wisconsin. She waded in at Ludington and launched the great attempt after years of progressive endurance training. It was often solo but sometimes with her sympathetic helper, Nightswimmer … Continue reading

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Schrödinger’s Razor, Occam’s Cat

The simplest explanation and the unlikeliest co-exist, tandem possibilities. Then someone opens the box that fell from a limousine careening around the corner of Burbank & Ventura. Lost and found catalyst, magical MacGuffin. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. The … Continue reading

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Nightswimmer is Slightly Underdressed

Daylight’s the scene for once for a long-distance swim. I walked in from Old Mission, crossed East Bay and crawled out plenty winded at the staircase of the County Park’s beach where there was a wedding in progress. From half … Continue reading

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The Sexton’s Third Act is a One-Man Show

The Sexton wasn’t always alone. He had a long-time loyal girlfriend who broke it off when he traveled to the funeral of a past lover. Someone from his somewhat murky pre-Sexton era. The deceased still had kids home. Sympathy for … Continue reading

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The Sexton with Eleven Items in the Ten Items Line

He eyeballs the handbasket then chooses the express checkout and thinks about ten. The cashier, however, counts precisely, cites store policy. She sends him to wait his turn behind a multi-carter stocking up for a camp’s worth of kids, or a … Continue reading

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Grisly Adams

It sucks but I was poor a.f. and all my options were as awful as Sophie’s Choice. So I went into the field of organ donation. I mean, I sold the rights to my body after I am deceased to … Continue reading

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Shoal Shanty (part III): Low-Grade Island Fever

Each islander knows everybody else. Our outpost is barely populous enough to keep going, yet no one knows who’s stealing apples and potatoes from the winter storage carved into the side of Lookout Hill. It’s a topic of speculation at … Continue reading

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Ubermensch

Between shootings the self-selected small-s superman taxies paying passengers, weapon cooling in the vehicle. Fares make the small-talk with him. One hears “killer at large,” on the radio, asks the driver, you the psycho terrorizing town? The first rule of … Continue reading

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The View from the Lift

Raised on hand-me-downs and grilled cheese sandwiches, before a providential elevator boosted her a couple classes. The defense against scarcity was hard to put aside, the fear of running short of essentials. It took effort not to spend windfalls as … Continue reading

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Call and Respond

Love letter to one who doesn’t read them to mean more than they say on the surface. Grocery list for a savvy shopper who’s late for supper. Calling card closed in a storm door, stamped with a name of someone … Continue reading

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Nightswimmer, Last Seen at Jupiter Beach

[ekphrastic on Surfer’s Path, Jupiter Beach Park by Ted Matz] The point’s to ride the wave until it breaks, balanced over shifting forces of torsion underfoot. Surf instructors who work the oceanfront around here stress this to their students. The … Continue reading

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Cataclysm Report: Year Five

Proud to be on the ad hoc engineering committee working to re-invent the wheel. We are going to get it figured out. Humanity will rise again. Not far, probably. Given our condition, any improvement is incredibly welcome. As long as … Continue reading

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The Invention of Nostalgia

Driven from the garden of good and evil, news still reaches me. I’m not the last disappointment they’ve shown the road to. I invented nostalgia. That is, I wrote the book on exile and longing for home. They set me … Continue reading

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Mother’s Day Card Before the Apology Card

“Always stay large,” says the kid’s scrawl, scratches which she searches for hints of kindness. Zilch so far but perhaps there’s a meta-level to keep her from coming up empty. She’s certain there’s substance in there. Like the birthday honorees … Continue reading

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The Sexton Dozed Through the Ending

It’s around Easter when the Sexton wakes beside a partly excavated grave, in daylight and on the clock. And a repeat at the Nighthawk with his face on the Formica™ counter, fry cook wasting good money calling paramedics. It’s only … Continue reading

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The Sexton Becomes Himself

The cemetery supervisor asked Calendar, Can you operate a backhoe? He could, and (bonus!) no one else applied. He set to the job. Once a few years passed no one much recalled what The Sexton used to do for a … Continue reading

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The Bittersweet Fiftieth Anniversary of the Piña Colada Song Couple

Now I’m way into yoga, I quit drinking twenty years ago, and I hope to never again be a part of a romantic island getaway. People do change, they evolve. Some do. My husband still likes making love at midnight … Continue reading

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Dronework

Before the warhead hits the ground, but after it’s released, the flyover camera finally transmits a clear image of the insurgents below. It’s clear that the people who disappear for good a second later are children, not combatants. A terrible … Continue reading

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