has a new look

Go to the new

"A Nose For Hope" by Margaret O'Neal

Margaret is a part-time playwright from Hartwell, Georgia.


© 2006 Margaret O'Neal


In a town as inbred as Trent, intimate knowledge of your neighbor, of the girl at the video store, of any of the four hundred residents, wasn't exactly desirable.  Everybody in town knew Buck.  They recognized his blue corduroy pants, knew he pumped gas for a living, that his mother had died in 1984, that in 1983, he had lost the final game of the football season, after missing a crucial field goal, one that would have advanced the team to the state finals for the first time in the school's history.  This collection of facts, this was what tied Buck to a dead end job in a fading town.

He told himself that he stayed for various reasons, one being to stand beside Porter and keep the station going since his boss and friend had caught a virulent strain of herpes from the girl at the video store, barely three months after his wife died of lung cancer, even though Mari didn't smoke.  Three months later, Porter loved his Cuban cigars, still.  If not Porter, Buck told himself that he stuck around to lead the Sunday morning children's choir, couldn't leave because Morton's grocery teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, and if the store closed, Janice would lose her job, and her husband, who hadn't worked since the factory closed, who was humping one of the cheerleaders down at the high school, if that rotten bastard were to lose the comfort of her paycheck, he "would move in with his brother, God damn it," whore around in Atlanta, never once looking back.  Every evening, Janice cried over the particulars of this broken-down argument on a stool at the Bait Shack, her head on Buck's shoulder.

Or maybe it wasn't about sad and depressed childhood friends, possibly Buck craved the television-like down-home feel of a small town, created by women like Will Henderson's wife who brought pastries to the town meeting for free, probably penance for the supplies she regularly lifted at Morton's Grocery on the days when Janice was nursing a hangover, for every hour that she just couldn't cope with her husband's downward spiral.  But the real reason Buck held on in Trent was because he just couldn't bear to pass by the Trent City Cemetery and know that he would lose contact with his mother's bones; his mother, the only person in the world who had thought to look beyond the uniform, who always saw it as more of a costume.  She used to touch his name, which was embroidered above the pocket, and shake her head, saying "Honey, somebody, some day is going to take off the mask and see you for what you want to be."  

At the gas station, Buck worked from nine to five, every day washing the windows of Trent's elderly widow women, the commuters late to work while watching the cars whiz by on I-95, every day waiting for one with out-of-state tags to pull up to the gas tanks.  God help him, hopefully some stranger unfamiliar with the Trent scent of failure.  It became his habit to look over every impatient, distracted face behind the wheel, occasionally whispering, "Mama?"








All work is copyrighted property of Margaret O'Neal.






[back to top]  [home]

© 2006 SubtleTea Productions   All Rights Reserved