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This Guy’s Biggest Problem

Story by Tammy Peacy (Read author interview) March 26, 2013

art by Leslie June

Amy’s this girl Eddie went to school with. Had a few pictures taken, shirt on or off, thought for a while she was really something for this. But then nobody wanted to take her picture anymore, so she’d been sitting there on that bar stool awhile when he found her.

She said “sheer coincidence” and “I like a nose shaped like a fruit.”

What would he want with a girl like that?

He likes looking into his cup and seeing there’s some coffee left. He doesn’t have to make another pot yet.

He liked the way she said goodbye, so he left her.


Eddie worked at a factory once, for four months. Until he was done. That was sixteen years ago. Some of the people had been there twenty years. Some of the people are still there. He left the state, but where could they go?

One man at the factory, Harvey, his job was to cut these quarter-inch slits into the ends of wood pieces. And that was it. Over and over. Quarter inch on one end. Flip. Quarter inch on the other end. Next. Over and over.

Harvey told everyone in the break-room about his cat and how he slept with this cat in his bed.

This woman at the factory, Mary, shouted, “You’ll get hydrophobia.”

Mary had told Eddie this guy’s biggest problem was his harelip.

Mary also told him about her friend Betty’s problems.

“She gets made uncomfortable real easy,” she said.

“Oh,” said Eddie.

“Always been that way.”

“I lost a story once, between the kitchen and the basement.”

“Oh,” said Mary.


Eddie sent this letter today:

I’m tired of definitions as written. I’m starting my own dictionary. Instead of alphabetically, they’ll be listed in order of importance, ending with you and starting with me.

He’ll wait to see what she says before he sends another.


He’s been using his heart to put things off. It’s something he does.

He sat next to these two old guys on the train this morning.

“They’ll get clobbered,” one old guy said.

“They’ll get clobbered is right,” the other old guy said.

“That Tebow, he’s something else, I tell ya.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s right.”

“I know it. I know it.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. God, yes.”

What he means to say is, that was their conversation and it hurts him someplace inside that he can’t do it. Eddie can’t have that conversation. So he won’t be talking to anyone today. Not out loud, anyway.


Some man with Eddie’s real last name, the one his dad gave to him, raped Amy when she was just a baby. It turned her heart to a poet’s stone; a piece of the moon, filled with darkness, but reflecting light. Imagine what it did to Eddie’s.


Chicago, how’d you get your trains to sound with both the shoes of horses and of dragon’s voices?


He’d woken up on his back with his knees bent, his feet flat to the bed. His hands were tangled in his hair, between his head and the pillow. Elbows pointed one to the window, one to the door. He could have been enjoying a sun nap in the park, in the grass, except that he was in his bedroom under a down comforter and a sheet.

The windows rattled in an irregular rhythm, the pulse of a coming storm.

Amy was sitting on her side of Eddie’s bed with a book open in her lap. Every few seconds she’d swipe the back of a hand over her face.

“What’s wrong?” he said.

“I was just thinking about the possibility that someday it could be ten years since the last time I saw you.”

“That’s a sad thought.”

“Yeah. But a possibility.”

“If you start crying about possibility, you’ll never stop.”

“The shortest sentence in the Bible is ‘Jesus wept.’ I think it’s the most beautiful sentence in the whole world. It just says so much about him as a man. As God. So much.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Would you cry for the weight of my sins or just resent me for it? You see what I mean?”

He’d woken up to listen to the wind.


Even when you’re doing something you love, life still does what it does. Sneaks up and kills your friends, gets your parents sick, wrecks your car, makes you old.


The last time he spoke to her went like this:

“Can you imagine not even knowing what year it was?”

“You act like you know. We don’t know anything other than what we’re told.”

“I know things.”

“You think you do.”

“Just forget it. You’re being an asshole. Forget it.”

Eddie thinks now that he should have lied and said, “No. I can’t imagine at all what that would be like.”

About the Author

Tammy Peacy lives and writes in Kenosha, WI.

About the Artist

Leslie June is a digital media professional and underwater photographer. She currently builds websites and takes photos in Asheville, NC.

This story appeared in Issue Thirty-Nine of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Thirty-Nine

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