Elder Eatmore’s Sermon On Throwing Stones
And a girl at the table mentioned a friend of mine. They’d been together four or five times, and then he disappeared. He would make a plan, then call and cancel. Then call back and ask what she was wearing. She would say, I’m wearing this, and this, if you were here right now you could see it. But he never arrived. It was strange. Her friend said, He’s a chronic canceler. He can’t come unless he can’t come.
When I broke up with my fiance I wrote a series of short stories called Anatomy of a Breakup. In the first one, three months after the breakup, the boy moves in with a transexual prostitute who he services in exchange for drugs. In the second one, six months after the breakup, the girl comes to visit the boy in a small fictional town in Utah where he’s living in a trailer. They go for a hike and see a bear. The third story is five years after the breakup. The girl is about to get married to someone who doesn’t love her. He’s not curious about the pictures she keeps of her ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend is now a bartender in a dive bar in Oakland. He bartends during the day and goes to the other side of the bar in the evening and sleeps above the bar at night. At the end of the story the girl gets married and the boy breaks all the bar windows during a storm. In the fourth story it’s twenty-five years later and the woman is dying and the man hasn’t turned out as badly as he could’ve, but he’s lonely. He goes to visit and he’s telling her a story in the hospital and doesn’t notice that she dies in the middle of the story. In the fifth story the man is having a dream and the two are together again but then he wakes up in a hotel room, staring from the window into an echo chamber.
I sent my ex-fiance all the stories. She responded with emails from her new boyfriend’s email account.
I wrote a screenplay about the time my friend J. and I hitchhiked to California. I was fourteen and he was fifteen and J. was molested by a trucker, but he didn’t tell me about that for a long time. We were arrested in Las Vegas and sent home, separately on Trailways busses.
Around that time I wrote a story about a man living on top of a bar who waits at home every night for his ex to call him. He lives in the midwest and she lives in California and every night she goes home with another man and calls him while she’s having sex. One day she meets someone nice and doesn’t call him. He responds by robbing a house. She calls the next day while having sex with the nice guy and promises she’ll never not call him again. The name of the story is Long Distance.
– Stephen Elliot