Volume 25, Number 3

Kids These Days

And on the way home from our anniversary dinner,
the gas light comes on, so I pull off Ponce de Leon,

and park my automobile adjacent pump. Turn off the
ignition. Hear the rap music fade into the mouth of a

gunshot. I get out of the car; she stays inside, texting.
Darkness has infilled the sky completely. It’s Saturday

night, the eleventh hour and change, and I look like a
brother that’s got a little money to my name, so I’m

more alert than usual; trip off the wind blowing. And
then I hear the convenience store doors crash against

the wall-brick, the glass rattling inside the frames but
still in one piece. My teeth rattling inside the frame of

my gums, but my expression still in one piece of thug–
gish. A wolf pack of young brothers, ranging from eight

to twelve in their faces like a classroom clock in morning
hours, running from the store clerk, barking the word

bitch at the man behind them, their shoplifting attempt
prevented, or so I convict, shaking my head just like a

gavel vibrating with judgment. If their behavior escalates
over time, they might pump this Shell station with shells.

What else is there to do besides howl at the moon? Maybe
talk to a skirt on the corner, see if she puts you in time out.

—Cortney Lamar Charleston