we’re on tv in the universe

an excerpt from a fine short story from the collection SWEET TALK by Stephanie Vaughn, titled “we’re on tv in the universe.”


“So you don’t want to go to the party?” I said to the chicken.  I knew by then that I was driving on a chancy road, and I was trying to keep myself going with the chicken talk.  “So, you don’t want to party?” I said.  “You want to go back home and become drumsticks and Hot Buffalo Wings?”

“Er-err-errr,” the chicken said.

“Just kidding,” I said.  The chicken was going to be a present for a man who lived in the country and owned ducks, geese, and a swan.  One thing I knew about this man was that he liked his birds the way some people like dogs and cats, and he probably wouldn’t eat them.  I was trying to picture the chicken in his new home when I crossed the bridge over the Susquehanna and encountered the silence of black ice.  The tires lost their hiss, the chicken shut up, and about fifty yards after I hit the ice, I hit a Tioga County Sheriff’s Department car.  The car was parked on the road berm just beyond the bridge, and inside the car a sheriff was radioing for a tow truck, as if he knew I was coming and that when I got there, our two cars were going to need help.

My car did a kind of simple dance step down the highway on it’s way to meet the Sheriff’s car.  It threw its hips to the left, it threw its hips to the right, left, right, left, right, then turned and slid, as if it were making a rock-and-roll move towards the arms of a partner. (page 44-45)

this story makes me laugh out loud, and then there’s the sensation of the car sashaying down the highway.  it’s the fucking best.