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SmokeLong Quarterly

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Neighborhood Watch

Story by Nance Knauer (Read author interview) September 15, 2003

I’ve lived below her for almost a year now, and I’m getting to know her better than I had planned. Love to her means passion. Translation—skin smacking and high decibel communication. Tonight’s fight has a higher pitch to it, though, and I think about calling the cops, pick up the phone, watch in amazement as her leg falls past my window to land foot up in the brambles. The nails are painted cotton candy pink, which glows hot under the streetlight. I put the phone down and walk to the front room, following the running steps above. Cheek to the hollow metal door, I squint through the peep hole and watch her chase him down the stairs with a baseball bat. She’s quicker, and somehow more beautiful, without the leg. He’s in full retreat. Tomorrow he’s going to need stitches but it will be too late, and every time he looks in the mirror, he’s going to see that scar over his left eye and fall in love with her all over again.

She retrieves her leg, caressing the instep and kissing it just behind the knee, screams one last epithet, almost fondly, at his speeding truck, then makes her way up the stairs, using the leg as a cane. The bat, forgotten, rolls toward the street. Her door slams and I wander into the kitchen for a cold drink, and I choke on the last swallow with the realization.

About the Author

Nance Knauer is a transplanted southerner who gathers wool all day and knits it together all night. Published at The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, now dealing with the fame of it all.

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