by Damian Dressick
Freak had a beard like a beehive made of cancer, skin raw as abattoir beef. Pacing behind the night bar on the St. Ann block of Bourbon Street, he even poured beer like a fixture. How long does it take to surrender selfhood to the category of local color? Ten years? Twenty? Thirty, going once? Just call me Freak, he’d say. Can identity be ceded so utterly as to become another curiosity in the place you haunt? An upright piano played by Armstrong? An AA chip nailed to the wall? Is it comforting somehow to be freed from the tyranny of agency by routine, by circumscription, to let your past cast a shadow that dwarfs your future? We all knew Freak had been in a band back in ’67, ’68—not one we listened to, not one we’d even know if it came on the radio. For our part, we younger bartenders, with our flirting and cups of Hennessy stashed in the well, looked to the old man as a clock. Steel wool ponytail, janky gait, stale blue eyes, Freak let us know what life looked like when it was over.
About the Author:
Damian Dressick's stories and essays have appeared in more than fifty literary journals and anthologies, including W.W. Norton’s New Micro, failbetter.com, New Orleans Review, Barcelona Review, New Delta Review, Smokelong Quarterly and New World Writing. Damian has won the Harriette Arnow Award, the Jesse Stuart Prize and was a finalist for the Katherine Anne Porter Prize. A Blue Mountain Residency Fellow, he holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. Damian teaches in western Pennsylvania. For more information, check out www.damiandressick.com.
About Weekly Flash Prose and Prose Poetry:
CutBank Online features one work of flash prose or prose poetry every Monday. Submissions are free and open year-round. Send us your best work of 750 words or less at https://cutbank.submittable.com/submit.