…I Still Chip Away

A novel fragment. Remember the family is Southern. Imagine that sis talks like Ms. Munson. Opinion: Aside from TBL and Fargo, The Ladykillers is the Cohen Brother’s masterpiece. The song referenced is a pretty sweet tune, too.

Other family tidbit: I called my sister “Smelly Michelle-y”

(and, yeah, I did yell “Ce Cosa Fa!” Per che Veloce!?!?” as this place’s owner, my neighbor five houses away, nearly hit me on his Vespa)

My Dear Elder Sibling,

You have, in your half century upon this Earth, asked me for precisely nothing.

The traditional duties of a younger sister, exempla gratia absorbing a constant, steady diet of teasing, and pimping out my school-age girlfriends – found me remiss. I was not unwilling, I was simply inept. In return, I learned your confidence and your swagger and have never once looked back.

We go old testament together, big brother. If this is to be my Abrahamic moment, with a knife in hand and my eldest son upon a slab below me, let it be so.  Flaming shrubbery or not, my blind, unwavering faith in you has never been stronger. And my willingness to shelter you from your storm never more intense.

You remember the LAST time you were in Memphis, right?   I never quite knew how exactly I came to own a chain of beauty parlors there, but you always said that you’d pitch a tent behind Otherlands even if even if you were a tone-deaf vegan. But Alexi has an old colleague in the English Department at Rhodes who’s doing a sabbatical and can get you on as an adjunct, and let you live in the house. The pay is… meager… but what I most love about you is how you always seem to know how to keep a Jackson in your pants. Even when you’re happy to see me. What’s MORE, there’s a chess club on Campus that apparently needs a new faculty advisor.


I am mindful of whom I’m speaking to, so my offer arrives with one caveat. You are still the brother who taught himself Italian specifically so he could torment that restaurateur on your street in Cincinnati, shouting “Umbilicoli! Veloce! Perche Tutti Cosi Veloce” I jest, J Mercer. Be, always, who you are.  Let’s just try not to piss off everyone on the FIRST day.

Meantime, head down to Cozy Corner for me, and tell em I said hi.

I remain,

Michelle Mercer-Shirov

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