SmokeLong Quarterly

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Ghost Bike

Story by Thomas Cooper (Read author interview) December 16, 2008

Art by Brian MacElhose

Tonight he paints the bike in the closed garage with the windows cracked, among cobwebs and gasoline cans and garden tools. Upstairs his wife’s in bed on the phone with her mother. He sits on cold concrete in his surgical mask, shaking the paint can so the metallic bead pings. Slowly he sprays another layer, high gloss white, moving from the crooked handlebars down to the seatpost, careful that no rust shows. A week ago he did this with another bike, a brand new Schwinn, and his wife said, “That just defeats the whole point, doesn’t it?”

When he finishes it’s almost ten, around the time they would have been putting the girl to sleep. Dizzy from fumes, he climbs up the stairs to the bedroom. His wife sees the paint on his hands, gets up and dresses. They drive to the intersection across from the park and chain the bike to the lamppost. Afterward they sit in the diner. He reaches across the table but she doesn’t notice so he drops his hand in his lap. Then, not knowing what else to do, he looks out the window. In a whisper the woman begins, “No devils, no nightmares, no such thing as ghosts.”

About the Author

Thomas Cooper’s short stories have recently appeared in New Orleans Review, Pindeldyboz, Beloit Fiction Journal, Quick Fiction, Opium, and elsewhere. His chapbook of flash fiction, Phantasmagoria, is forthcoming from Keyhole Press.

About the Artist

Brian MacElhose lives and works in New York City. He has been working in collage for the past two years and invites everyone to view more of his creations at http://www.macelhose.com.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-Three of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Three

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