Guilt, Guilt, Guilt
Here’s what it’s like to bear up under the burden of so much guilt: everywhere you drag yourself you leave a trail. Late at night, you gaze back and view an upsetting record of where you’ve been. At the medical center where they brought my brothers I stood banging my head against a corder of a crash cart. When one of the nurses say me, I said, “There, there, that’s better. That kills the thoughts before they grow.”
I am Borish Yakovlevich Prushinsky, chief engineer of the Department of Nuclear Energy, and my younger brother, Mikhail Vasilyevich was a senior turbine engineer serving rector Unit No. 4 at the Chernobyl power station, on duty the night of 26 April 1986. Our half brother Petya and his friend were that same night outside the reacher’s cooling tower on the Pripyat River, fishing, downwind. So you can see that our family was right in he thick of what followed.
With stories (and not the same old stories) by: NElson Algren, Sherwood Anderson, William Austin, James Baldwin, Russell Banks, Donald Barthelem, Pinckney Benedict, Paul Bowles, T. C. Boyle, Ray Bradbury, Raymond Carver, Willa Cather, John Cheever, Charles Chesnutt, Kate Chopin, Samuel Clemens, Stephen Crane, Junot Diaz, Ralph Ellison, Louise Erdrich, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, More Info »
The Race of the Birdmen
by Harry S. Franklin
“Alright Kid, take a knee.”
Oh ya, the knee—here it comes. One knee sunk into the grass like a pushpin, one elbow effortlessly posed over the opposite knee, chin up, eyes inevitably squinting into the sun, and most importantly, a mask of complete innocence and surprise.
This time it’s serious. Coach has got his arms folded across his chest—a clear sign of his mood. This was going to be one of those man-to-man jobs; which wasn’t too bad considering man-to-man usually means one man does all the talking.
“Here’s the deal.” Coach was always giving someone the deal. “Seems to me, you’re not gettin it. Maybe you think you’ve got it all figured out?”
“Zip it—I’m just getting started. Now, I’ve seen plenty of kids like you—you’re a good enough kid—and I’m not just talking about playing ball. It’s a difficult age and all that—I get it. I remember what it’s like. I used to have all my shit figured out, and nobody could tell me nothing.” Coach was the only adult without a kid on the team, and he never talked to you like a dad; his language was considered “salty” by the dads—but nobody ever said that to his face.
“That’s why I’m gonna tell you something I guarantee you haven’t heard before. Maybe then you’ll see there’s still room inside that thick skull of yours to cram in a few more lessons.”
The mask of innocence quickly morphs into a look of disappointment as the kid shutters one eye in a prolonged wink into the sunlight.
“Ever hear of the Birdmen from Easter Island?”
“Is it a movie?”
“Ha! No, this story is too original for Hollywood. But I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of them; do you know why?”
“Because you made them up?”
“Nope, the Birdmen were real, so is Easter Island—it’s that one with all the creepy stone heads. But you probably haven’t heard of the people who carved those heads, because they’re all dead.”
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