"After Verona"

Four of the authors in Interfictions 2: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing–William Alexander, David Schwartz, Kelly Barnhill, and Alan DeNiro–are from from the Twin Cities. You can meet them Friday, January 29, 7:30pm, at M&Q. Details are here.

To whet your appetite, here’s the opening of one of the short stories from the collection, “After Verona” by William Alexander. The SF Signal said, “[William] Alexander has a unique and welcome voice and the length feels just right. … an entertaining and pleasant read.” I think you’ll agree.–David E

After Verona by William Alexander
The news is getting everything wrong. Her name was Verona, and not Veronica. She was not a teenager, and would not have been flattered to be mistaken for one. She was not an edgy performance artist. She painted. She also sculpted.

The news is implying that her boyfriend is sketchy. They always imply that the boyfriend, or husband, is sketchy. I’m angry on his behalf. I am also angry because this basic, default assumption usually turns out to be right. Part of the logic behind it is that someone has to care about you very deeply if they are going to bother beating you to death with “multiple instruments.”

The only fact which does not change between newspaper editions is the fact that she is dead. That part is accurate. I know because she isn’t answering messages, and because she hasn’t finished the painting that’s supposed to be in a show next week. I know because I’m looking after her dog, and she would never leave her dog alone for this long if she could possibly help it.

The dog is small and bug-eyed. She loved it. I made fun of her for it. It never barks, it just whines when it needs to excrete.

The newspapers are retelling a familiar story, visible in the details they choose to print, the ones they ignore, and the ones they completely and utterly misrepresent. They are not doing this by choice. They have no choice. The pattern is hardwired.

They are telling a story about a girl who goes walking alone. She meets a wolf. The end. It is all very sad, but with clucking of tongues and with shaking of heads we must admit that, in some small way, she had it coming.

I am not at all sure that I want to know the other story, the one under the latex gloves of a medical examination, but I do know that it is not about a girl who went walking alone in dark woods and died there. She was smart, and she was careful, and she died at home. She did not have it coming.

Hear the rest of the story on Friday.–David E