This Here's a Merica
Paperback: 110 pp.
With This Here’s a Merica, L. D. Brodsky reprises his auto-factory-assembly-line worker from south St. Louis, first introduced in Yellow Bricks and Catchin’ the Drift o’ the Draft. In one of the six pieces that bind the collection, this lovable redneck, who takes the English language all the way back to its murky origins, hosts a “Stupor Bowl Tailgate Key Party,” in which he and his three buddies know the score of the game even before it starts and what trophies they’ll win: the house keys and wives they swap for the night. We also join him on his extended “lunch break” from the car plant to a “sportin’ bar” on the East Side, where Julie No-Name, between performances, indulges him in an “afternoon delight.”
Other characters jump from the pages as well,
including a Vietnam vet, now a doorman, who finds himself transported
back to the war whenever it rains, shooting wildly at passing cars
with his umbrella as he escorts residents to and from their apartment
building. In a postmodern examination of the writing process itself,
Brodsky chronicles the rise of another intriguing individual — a
sous-chef who begins his career at a fowl facility, rendering chicken
parts into words, and eventually becomes the toast of Manhattan for
transforming gizzards into Petrarchan sonnets, necks into short stories.
Once, and for many decades, they said of him behind his back (and to his face) that he cast a wide net in his affairs of state and the heart — a shuttle diplomat to Nefarious, swashbuckling Valentino, torrid Lothario — and projected an enviable record of social successes, while losing few contests against Persephone or the devil, salacious foes posing as worthy opponents.
What a guy! What a guy he was! Nothing about his performances smacked of Walter Mitty or Bartleby the Scrivener. Oh, no! He was a mensch for all seasons, a wizard at extricating himself from tight spots, a knight in not-quite-shining armor, the original fight-or-flight trader in adrenaline futures, who made a killing in a field of vipers and retired at the ripe young age of thirty-five.
Despite his absence, the market went on and, within a matter of months, forgot to honor his inconspicuousness. Others, who, as somewhat less efficient, dexterous, underhanded, manipulative, evil upstarts, had aspired to his heights when he ran roughshod over their lot of young, trigger-happy barbarians, accumulating notches on lust's and greed's pistol butts, soon assumed his stature.
One day, to his dismay, he discovered his wealth, power, and good looks had disappeared. The vanity mirror, that crystal ball he'd consulted for years, refused to reciprocate his wooing. Frantic, he tried to reinstate his claims, but his former underlings and harems pelted him with rocks, crowned him laughingstock, stretched his shriveled net around his body, and hung him upside down from a Mussolini tree to rot.