SmokeLong Quarterly

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How Pusch Came to Shovel

Story by Gary Glauber (Read author interview) September 15, 2003

John Pusch Jr. had few real regrets, but seeing how his major in philosophy had little practical application in the real world oft proved daunting. Thoughts of easier choices could inspire pointless envy, true tales of those less capable from an intellectual standpoint now handsomely remunerated, firmly ensconced in cherry-wood paneled offices high over the city, transformed by time and money and paper into semi-respected lawyers and businessmen. But Pusch lacked pull.

Once he had tested patience by temping in such places. That test proved troublesome, gargantuan efforts expended to keep comments unspoken for miniscule wages, insubordination bubbling just beneath the surface, followed by violent dreams of vengeance.

Bereft of choices, he spent time in meditation, quizzing his higher self to point the way. The spirit guides kept their learned silence. Bills had to be paid, and there was no way he could tolerate overpaid baboons. “I will dig and dig until I find an answer,” he said, and realized he already had stated his solution.

So here he was, like a child again, shovel in hand. Digging graves was hearty outdoor activity, allowing his mind free realm while the body went about its appointed task, vigor renewed, blood flowing, a feeling of general health in spite of the occasional blister. The ground a worthy opponent, often hiding roots and rocks that held their own against the steel edges, hampering what otherwise was a fairly simple activity.

This brisk time of year, he noted, you often had to give your all. The hard-packed surface of what had once been sod cover, now fodder for the shovel’s restless appetite. As winds provided a whistling soundtrack to his strenuous efforts, he knew the key was to continue on. The earthy smell of the freshly turned soil scented the chill breeze and urged him forward. Aches and pains could wait for later; he was lost in the action itself: one man, one goal, one hole.

About the Author

Gary Glauber is a writer and music journalist for PopMatters.com and Fufkin.com. Recent stories have appeared in Cenotaph, Megaera and Ululation, and upcoming stories will appear in Word Riot and Insolent Rudder. He currently is at work on his first novel.

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

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SmokeLong Fitness--The Community Workshop

Next Date to Join: January 1!

On September 1, SmokeLong launched a workshop environment/community christened SmokeLong Fitness. This asynchronous community workshop is happening right now on our dedicated workshop site. If you choose to join us, you will work in a small group of around 10-12 participants to give and receive feedback. Each Monday, you will receive a new writing task (one writing task each week) designed by the senior editor team of SmokeLong. The core workshop is asynchronous, so you can take part from anywhere at anytime. We are excited about creating a supportive, consistent and structured environment for flash writers to work on their craft in a community.