Sunday, July 2, 2006

Pumpkin Balls #1

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN hit by a pumpkin ball? Apparently Ichabod Crane was whacked by one in Washington Irving's 1820 short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. If you haven't read this story, skipped that class in high school, you should. It is the earliest American work of fiction still read today. You can find the complete text on several sites on the web. We recommend

What has this got to do with OE? Well, in honor of Irving's classic tale we are starting a new series called Pumpkin Balls. Now no one actually gets hit by a pumpkin ball in these stories, but one or more of the characters does get unexpectedly hit by something, perhaps a fact or revelation, that changes their circumstances. Read the story below and see if you get the idea. If you think you have a short short story that might be appropriate for the series, send it to us by e-mail. We hope to bring out an anthology if we have enough good work. Sidney Grayling, editor .




A short story by


Jefferson (Jeff) Street



“Hi, John,” Dan said, wishing he had crossed Mercer half way down the block.

“Hi, Dan,” John said, wishing he gone home by way of Greene. They were old friends, who had not seen each other in some time.

A very masculine handshake was pressed on each other.

“Yoah, dude, what ya up to, still painting?” Dan asked.

“Yeah, mostly big canvases, like I still want to paint big. Got to find a bigger studio. Like what you doing, man?” John inquired.

“I’m opening a new gallery.”

“An art gallery? Where’d ya get the money? I mean I thought you still owed big bucks from when your last gallery went under.

“Like I got a backer, a rich bitch from uptown, so money’s no problem. We’ve taken a lease on a huge space in Soho. [Editor’s note: In the 1960s Soho, which stands for “south of Houston Street” was the center of the New York art world. Some of you probably weren’t even born then. The center has now moved northward.]

“But why you?” John said, thinking: this guys a real loser, in fact his name is Dan deLuzhers. Can you imagine a guy starting up a place called deLuzhers Gallery? It just had to fail.

“I got connections, like I know what’s happening now, and what’s going to be big next year. Wasn’t I the first to show Malcom, and Chuck, then they go and dump me. This time I’m going all the way."

“So who ya got so far?”

“Nobody signed up yet . . . we’re still looking. So who you with now?”

“Like I’m in between galleries. Sell a ton of shit on my own  . . . from the studio. And Ivan and Leo have been by. But I don’t want to split the profits with anybody.” [Editor’s note: Any resemblance to real art dealers of the 1960s is purely coincidental. Dealers normally took commissions from fifty to sixty percent.]

“Things that good eh. . . .”

"Well, I still work construction now and then, just to keep up my card."

“I’ve always liked your work. Mind if I bring my backer by sometime to take a look at it. Maybe we can take you on. I mean, we go back a long way.”

“Gee, that would be great. I’m still at the old place on Rivington. Yeah, like we sure do go back a long way. Do you ever see anyone from the old crowd anymore?”

“Only Mary.”

“Mary Humpen . . . that art world groupie from Beaver College? Ya know there really is such a school, it’s somewheres in Pennsylvania.

“I know. . . .”

“That Mary was one fucking hot ticket. I mean I remember when she told me her name, and where she was from, I couldn’t believe it. And boy, did she live up to her name. I mean, she must have ‘humped’ every artist who ever walked through the door of ‘Max’s Kansas City.’ And I was one of the first, well at least in the first ten. Like man, could she fuck  . . . you really had to go some to satisfy her. She would start to scream and holler, digging her nails into your back. Fucking her was like riding a damn bull at a rodeo. Where the hell did you ever run into Mary Humpen?

“I’m married to her. . . .”

An awkward pause ensued.

“Oh . . . well, eh, say hello to Mary for me. And, eh, when did you say you wanted to come by to see my paintings?”

“Maybe . . . next week, or next month sometime. I’ll call you . . . don’t call me.”

“Oh, yeah, okay. . . good ta see ya, dude.”

“Yeah, you too.”

A feeble handshake was passed between them.

John crossed over to the other side of Mercer Street.

Dan turned the corner and decided to go home by way of Greene Street, even though it would take him fifteen minutes longer. 




Jefferson (Jeff) Street is an artist and writer who lives in Brooklyn. This is his first published story. He is a graduate of Washington Irving High School.




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