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Story by Sean Lovelace (Read author interview) November 9, 2015

Art by Reba Jandzinski

Me? I remember it was the spring I got my breasts (my breasts are two ringing anvils, basically perfectly loud) and James Franco in front of the class and staggering on about something, I forget, most likely a charity involving fire swallowers, something to do with inadequate health care in an environment of very great need and all these crazy, red scribblings on his neck, these splotches moving up like garlands of flowers draped over a cow (in Guam?) or some likewise image, something big and amazing (like I said, a cow), and later in the semester I see James Franco with his plums—always he is hauling around these plums—and I don’t know I just smile (my smile is like a dream in winter, a Chevy Cavalier full of vodka, sheep bells, etc., really epic—I was homecoming queen eight years in a row) and later James Franco in the cafeteria and doffing a white fur hat, trying to raise money to assist bad drivers in Russia and I hear someone saying, “Don’t be so despondent about the state of things, James Franco” and later I pick up a mirror and admire my eyes—sometimes the lashes move side-to-side like a swan on a lake, I mean insane, beautiful eyelashes, not so unlike eager villagers running through all the wheat fields of Alaska with torches aflame—and later James Franco dips into the river and empties a bird from a bouquet of fishing line (the bird struts free, into a passing cloud) and later James Franco hands out pokeweed salads (we gnaw the stringy stalks for days) and plows us all a basketball court out by the Ferris wheel and smooshes it with gravel and we walk outside—hand in hand, as is our nature—and the one Roberts kid says, “Gravel sucks for basketball, why didn’t you pave it?” and James Franco swallows in his cheeks and goes, “OK, OK, I would like to play hide-n-seek now” (James Franco just adored hide-n-seek, I’m not sure why) and off James Franco goes skittering into the artichoke groves. Later (much), we go look and look and look for James Franco (it is dark now, the artichokes gray, gloopy rainfall, etc.) and even later Mr. Dee-Dee yawns and claims (in binocular) to see a human silhouette moonlit on the library roof, carrying a saucer of Pop-Tarts, the entire pale body smelling faintly of Pop-Tarts I imagine, then the inevitable stumble, the Pop-Tarts sliding off, spilling—oh no!—spilling off into the dark roots of what was I just saying? Well, I forget (lashes now fluttering, a type of whimsical ballet). That was long, long ago. (Yet still, to this day, my breasts…) And memory is a trick most muddly. It’s true. This I do know: we did seek, we did. Seeked and seeked all night in the deep and dark artichoke fog, but no, we never did find James Franco.


Notes from Guest Reader Sam Martone

I’m kind of suffering from James Franco fatigue, so it’s real testament to how good this story is that it so easily won me over despite that.

About the Author

Sean Lovelace lives in Indiana, where he directs the creative writing program at Ball State University. His latest collection is about Velveeta and published by Bateau Press. He has won several national literary awards, including the Crazyhorse Prize for Fiction. He reviews flash fiction for Diagram Magazine. He likes to run, far.

About the Artist

Reba Jandzinski lives in the small town of Poulsbo, Washington, and was born on October 29, 1962. She started doodling at the age of five. In the third grade she started drawing people. Every day, from then until she graduated high school, she drew. It was a passion in her life. After high school, real life interrupted and she didn’t pick art back up until recently.

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

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