Exile on Payne Street

by Ryan Ridge Read author interview June 25, 2009

His twenty-year plan busted after four-and-a-half. So he moved into a little shotgun house on Payne Street in a neighborhood called Historic Butchertown. The view wasn’t much, but in the late afternoon you could sit on the pot, gaze out the open bathroom window, and watch the sunset die behind an abandoned hotdog factory. Tonight he sat there atop the closed commode witnessing the remnants of the day disappear into the autumn spokes of a silver maple. He had a wife and daughter in a distant area code. He had a handle of cheap gin in one hand and an expensive razorblade in the other. The plan was to drink the booze, draw a hot bath. The plan was unoriginal, and he knew it. The plan was soon to be abandoned. The thought of so much blood on an empty stomach made him sick. The bottom-shelf gin didn’t help. He tossed the blade into the trash, drained the tub, and sat there getting drunker and drunker as the room got darker and darker. He threw up. Then he set his head on the toilet seat and devised a brand new plan. The plan was to call his wife’s new boyfriend, level with him. The plan was uninspired, lacked vision, and he knew it. Beyond the window a solitary star hung in the sky like a bad movie review. The telephone rang. It was not his wife. It was not his wife’s new boyfriend. It was a blind veteran selling light bulbs and TV Guide subscriptions. He wondered what the hell blind veterans were doing selling light bulbs and TV Guide subscriptions, but he bought a package of light bulbs anyway. Why not? He had plenty of lamps in storage.

About the Author:

Ryan Ridge hails from Louisville, Kentucky. He is currently an MFA candidate at the University of California, Irvine where he teaches creative writing. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in 5_Trope, The Greenbelt Review, Salt Hill, Upstairs at Duroc, Yankee Pot Roast, and elsewhere.

About the Artist:

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.