THE UNCLE - curtis smith


curtis smith

The tires of his uncle’s convertible hummed over the cantilever bridge. With the top down, the boy could almost forget about the heat. Girders whistled past. The river flowed black beneath them, the stars smeared by haze and soot. The boy smelled the marshes, the refineries. On the radio, news of the riots in the black part of town. Fires burned, gunshots in broad daylight. The boy’s father was a cop.

“Do you think it will end soon?” the boy asked.

“Sure.” The uncle flicked his cigarette. He shook another smoke loose from the pack and pinched the filter between his lips. His wind-ruffled collar rose like a single wing. “It will end, and then it will begin again somewhere else.”

“Hmm.” The boy didn’t know what to say.

“Best we can do is hope it doesn’t happen here again anytime soon.” Another news story on the radio—Cassius Clay had changed his name. The uncle pushed in the dash’s lighter. “Is it any wonder the world’s so screwed up?”

Curtis Smith
Gallatin Canyon
Thomas McGuane