Born from a challenge to write a story about an unlikely team holding up a liquor store, “James Taylor vs. the King” was written as part of a fellowship with the Hewnoaks Artists Colony in Lovell, Maine. Set in the anonymous strip-mall-scape of urban Connecticut, the story features (in varying degrees of prominence) a can of sardines, a bowling ball in a bowling bag, and the sweaty thrust of Elvis Presley.
Here is an excerpt from the story:
Her smallness and her beauty were always weapons used against her. Most men simply thought she was theirs. Finders keepers. Defending herself so often against people’s wrong thoughts eventually built a callus around her. She had to remain hard to remain her own. This, too, she attributed to Ohio. Acting out against something outside herself that wanted her to be something else. On the night she met Jonas, when she smashed in the creep’s face with a beer glass, she was not thinking: Fuck this guy. She was thinking: Fuck Ohio. No matter where she went, Ohio always followed her there. Then she met Jonas, and Ohio was gone. She couldn’t explain how or why. But she knew that it was true. Jonas was her first new land.
The New Haven Review is a twice-annual journal of essays, poetry, and fiction. The current issue can be ordered here.