Excerpt From “Forestville”


Peter Obourn


Albert Mooney said for me to straighten the lumber in the backroom every day. Marge Thompson said Albert Mooney said to sweep all the hardware aisles every day. Mrs. Spencer said the Santa Claus Collector Plate I sold her last year was chipped. Jack Culross said Mrs. Spencer when she was in eighth grade and her name was Peggy Goodwin let him take her top shirt off. Albert Mooney said Mrs. Spencer thinks that everything she buys here has a lifetime guarantee even if she breaks it herself. Albert Mooney said he doesn’t care I worked here twenty-three years if I can’t keep the lumber neat. Agnes Illinsworth says not to worry just do my job and not worry about it. Mrs. Wilson said if taxes go up again next year then the rent on my room will have to go up by just as much as the taxes she’ll figure out how much it will be and tell me. Jack Culross said that in eighth grade Mrs. Wilson when her name was Millie Smith used to sit with her legs apart so you could see her underpants.

Mr. Spencer at the bank said that I should take some money out of my savings account and buy a Certificate of Deposit to earn a little more interest and I don’t need to know what a Certificate of Deposit is he’ll take care of all the paperwork if I’ll just say okay and sign one piece of paper only one piece of paper that’s all there is to it. Jack Culross said you know you been drunk if you pee your pants so he’s never been drunk. Albert Mooney said he doesn’t know if I’m worth the money he has to pay me. Joanie Allstrum said she doesn’t shop at Morgansterns’ because the prices is too high like double what she can get down in Utica and just as good. Old Mr. Morgenstern who hired Albert Mooney’s dad said I’d work at the store forever but I guess that meant just until he was dead. Joanie Allstrum said she let me kiss her once because I was the only one nice to her. Mrs. Spencer said she always looks for me when she comes to the store because I’m the only one who knows where everything is. Joanie Allstrum said she saw the ocean once and it was so big you couldn’t see the other side or even the ends of it and the waves could knock you over and the whole front edge of it was just sand so hard you could drive on it if you had a car.

Albert Mooney said I can never come to work again with the same shirt on three days in a row no matter what two days is okay but not a good idea but three days no way. Jack Culross said he trapped a marten once and skinned it. Albert Mooney said him and me will go hunting again this fall we’ll just sneak out of the store and get ourselves a deer and I should keep a lookout for that twelve pointer he wants that one for himself and I should know where to find it before someone else does. Marge Thompson said if Albert Mooney puts his hands on her one more time in the back room she’s telling his wife and then we’ll see what happens but I think she lets him do it.

Agnes Illingwood said never to lie but when Marcie Mooney came in after school and asked me where her dad was and I knew he was with Marge Thompson in the back room I lied. I said I don’t know where your dad is but he is not in the back room. I said that so Marcie wouldn’t go looking in the back room even by accident and she didn’t which was a good thing. Joanie Allstrum said she might go to the Booneville Fair with me again this year if I promise to talk to her even about the weather would be okay and not spend all day in the tractor building because I’m not even a farmer even but maybe not it all depends she said but if we go maybe we’ll go to the gypsy tent and have our fortunes told. Mr. Spencer at the bank said I should never tell anyone how much money I have in his bank no matter what not Mrs. Wilson and specially not Albert Mooney even if he asks and if he asks me then I should say okay you tell me how much you’ve got first and he never would. Jack Culross said there’s stuff that goes on at the Booneville Fair that you wouldn’t believe those carnival people the women will do anything for money anything but you need at least ten dollars.

Mrs. Wilson said I should read a book instead of sitting on her porch staring at nothing taking two hours to drink a beer but at least you’re not a drunk like your pal Jack. Albert Mooney said never to give Mrs. Spencer a discount on something broken because she’d be all over the store breaking stuff. Mr. Spencer at the bank said my dad was the best farmer in the North Country except the problem was he settled in the wrong place where there was just rocks and trees so nothing grew and the cows just got skinny. Albert Mooney said lumber doesn’t grow on trees and I should always cut from the shortest piece. Marge Thompson said what are you talking about he cuts lumber a lot better than you can and by the way that’s interesting that lumber doesn’t grow on trees. Albert Mooney said don’t be smart young lady. Marge Thompson said what are you going to do about it. Albert Mooney said this is what happens when you try to be nice. Marge Thompson said well you can stop being so nice to me or someone might hear about it. Albert Mooney said shut up just shut up.


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