Leaky Tubs: Short Fictions

by L. D. Brodsky


Ghost-Town Gothic

      He could sit for days on end, staring into near space like the porcelain-and-glass barber pole bolted to the shop's porch, its red and blue stripes rusted silent, and no one who passed his human statuary ever stopped to question the perfection of his sedentary gesture.
      He was beyond reproach, impunity's ghost, a trusted member of the community whom nobody bothered to consult, come elections, tax time, or tornadoes in the vicinity.
      Nor did it dawn on anyone that his sitting was endemic, necessary, or that there might be a purpose to his inertness, a reasoned rhyme to his measureless seasons.
      For as far back as anyone's memory reached deep, he was just a familiar fixture, like the dilapidated depot beside the railroad tracks gone to grass, the lightning-twisted windmill too much a nuisance and an eyesore to remove, or the blind man outside the tavern, tied to his flea-ridden seeing-eye dog.
      It never crossed their thoughts that time could stand still running downhill, mute his sleep with its ubiquitous ticktocking, keep his mind mere seconds behind the hurly-burly ebb and flow those coming and going through the town stirred into whirling bedlam, because they were even more dead than he.



Leaky Tubs trots out a variety of societal misfits who rise to the surface of Brodsky’s toxic satire, exhibiting everything from compulsive toilet routines to rage brought on by a surfeit of Thanksgiving turkey. The reader meets, firsthand, an eighty-three-year-old ersatz Mr. Universe, who ogles female weightlifters; two born losers who see themselves as evolutionary throwbacks to their simian ancestors; a crematory operator who misfires but redeems himself with an eleventh-hour substitution; a writer who strains so hard to break his block that he leaves his mark in a different medium; a fruitful-but-unmultiplying wino who seduces a teenage waitress at “Vito’s Little Sicily,” only to end up under the two-jug influence of impotence; and a desperate commuter who rolls in on fumes to a gas station, wrangles with a broken pump, and pushes a vindictive attendant too far.

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