Cans by Susan Tepper

Carl put two soup cans together by stringing miles and miles of cord. I lay on my bed watching him, my sandals kicked off, the moths beaming around the lamp light and the smell of Ma’s fried chicken. Daddy finally woke up from his drunk. He took a shower then went to the kitchen and pinched her ass. “Mother,” he said quite severely. He calls her Mother when he’s been bad. Lately his badness is on the rise. My Aunt Star says he’s got another woman. Ma just shook a hand at Aunt Star but I believe it. So does Carl. He told me not to worry that men do that sort of thing all the time. Right now he’s got the soup cans attached and he’s grinning. The tops and bottoms are taken off with a can opener. We’re going to loop them from my bedroom window straight across the alley to his bedroom window. Carl says this way we can do pillow talk. It’s some old movie we watched on the movie station. That movie’s a hundred years old Carl told me. Then rubbed near his zipper making me feel all nervous and funny.

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20 Comments

Filed under Susan Tepper

20 responses to “Cans by Susan Tepper

  1. whole new take on “telephone.” youthful voice here, well, coming of age, really. “Lately his badness is on the rise.” Cheers!

  2. I thought at first it was innocent, then not so innocent, that wait it was innocent, then maybe not… Nice way to keep us guessing!

  3. Missy

    “Lately his badness is on the rise” — love that line! I like the tone of this story. And how Carl says that men do that sort of thing (cheat). It’s expected and accepted in this family, that men do “bad” things. You can tell by the way the ma just brushes off the aunt’s theory that he has another woman. And the ending proves that point as well.

    The tops and bottoms are taken off
    with a can opener — (if this was a poem, this would be a cool line break)

  4. Ooh, I like this very much– from beginning to end!

  5. Susan, even if you are just playing here with these characters that showed up on the page, you do so with amazing alacrity. That last line was really scary and it left me feeling like I wanted to protect this sweet kid from any implied harm.

  6. One of my favorites! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Martin Brick

    Susan, great characters. I have to agree with some of the comments above – there is a beautiful mesh of nostalgic innocence and heavy adult issues. Nicely handled.

  8. guy

    There are some big Issues here, but enjoyed the comic touch & the image of the tin can telephone.

  9. Al McDermid

    So many great lines (the moths beaming around the lamp light), so funny, and so much atmosphere. I can not only clearly see of these people, I really get a sense of them. Excellent job.

  10. Pingback: Week #38 – Long distance | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  11. These two are so real and innocent against the older generation, just getting started on their own mischief. Love it!

  12. so very juicy and real, loved it. there ought to be a word for this…”tepperiana”?

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