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Story by Adam Peterson (Read author interview) September 24, 2013

art by Alexander C. Kafka

I’m a good friend. I know because friends are always telling me their stories, and I’m a good friend because even though I don’t have a story of my own, I don’t hate them so much. I just nod and say I’ll see you later! Toodles! all wacky like that but I won’t see them later. I won’t see them later because a murderer will get them or a spy or they will elope with their true love, sometimes a spy, rarely a murderer, always a person they once hated so much.

I hate him so much! they’d say. They’d say this in a way that made me certain they’d go the other way with it, go the other way with it in as soon as 90 minutes.

Whatever the plot, just in case I warn the police who know me well. The police, who know me well enough to say, Thanks for telling us. You’re a good friend!

Joan’ll be found trading banter in Antigua with the treasure hunter who was after her father’s fortune which, it turns out, was her after all.

Jane’ll be found burned underneath the mark of the Icarus Killer, pulling the alcoholic detective out of retirement for the one case he couldn’t find the solution to at the bottom of a bottle.

Julie’ll be calling herself Joyce skulking around Moscow with the dossier on the Conundrum Effect which, since she missed my birthday, must be pretty important to her and the cabal giving chase. The policeman, wearing a party hat, will flip open his notebook to find the exact words, the exact words being important because it’s a conspiracy that goes both All the way to the top! and So much deeper than I can imagine!

You’re such a good friend, Beatrice, the policeman will say but he won’t stay for cake.

He won’t stay for cake but I won’t hate him so much at all.

I deserve a story of my own. A Story of My Own is what I would call the bookshop I’ll never open because who would open a bookshop with all the corporate competition? Well, Janine did, it’s true.

I hate the corporate competition so much! she said.

I must have said something about how I lived without hate, but she was already skipping toward the sunset with the corporate competition’s CEO.

Sometimes I think the policeman will ask me out. We’ll make out in his patrol car trying to force it one way when we both know it’s somewhere in the middle. Later he never calls but no one hates him much when he never calls. Call it not enough hate to go the other way with it, the way with it that leads to love pure and blue as the Caribbean, love consuming as a fire, love mysterious as a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top, so much deeper than I can imagine.

About the Author

Adam Peterson is a Kathy Fish Fellow and writer-in-residence at SmokeLong Quarterly for 2013-14. He is the co-editor of The Cupboard, and the author of The Flasher, My Untimely Death, and, with Laura Eve Engel, [SPOILER ALERT]. His short fiction can be found in The Kenyon Review, Indiana Review, The Normal School, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. Originally from Nebraska, he currently lives in Houston, Texas.

About the Artist

Alexander C. Kafka is a journalist, photographer, and composer in Bethesda, Maryland. He created the cover image for Lost Addresses: New and Selected Poems by Diann Blakely (Salmon Poetry, 2017). His work has also been published at All Things Fashion DC, BuzzFeed, Fast Company, Juked, Vice, The Washington Post, The Writing Disorder, and many other periodicals. He has been on the documentation team for the Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo and is a contributing concert photographer for DMNDR. Kafka studied fine-art figure photography with Missy Loewe at the Washington School of Photography and portrait photography with Sora DeVore at Glen Echo Photoworks.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-One of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-One

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