“Sometimes it’s a struggle just to keep my shit together,” Robert tells me over drinks on the patio, so matter-of-factly that he could be discussing the weather or last night’s scores, those games he watches, always some kind of balls on the TV. I know what he means, but I act like I don’t, because I sense this is something Robert needs to get out.

“What do you mean?” I say, shifting in my chair, one of the pair of white plastic Adirondacks we bought when this began since we figured we’d be spending a lot of time outside, and…


Billy works in a beige box, surrounded by other beige boxes, in a building full of beige boxes, and before this beige box, Billy worked in a different beige box in a different building full of beige boxes, and a different one before that, and one other one, and yet another, over twenty years in total, working in a beige box.

Billy arrives to his beige box each morning at eight-fifteen, fifteen minutes before office hours, to gather his thoughts and settle in before the day begins. He switches on his portable fan in the summer (his portable heater in…


“Our ship will come in soon,” Sadie says as she sips her Bloody Mary through a plastic straw. “Mark my words — I can see it on the horizon.”

We are sitting at the sad bar down the street, at a high top table in the back against the rail. Sadie calls it the sad bar because she thinks everyone who comes in here looks sad, at least everyone who comes in here on a late Sunday afternoon. …


Flirting with the bartender at that sad bar down the street, the stubborn stench of stale beer and cigarettes, linoleum floor absent random broken patches still sticky from the revelry of the night before, on a shiftless Sunday afternoon, the universe collectively hungover, or so it seems, sequestered from the unforgiving sunlight by the sulking shadows that scatter across the pockmarked mahogany walls, day drinking whiskey by the drink to help you think before the work week begins anew tomorrow, as it always has, as it always will till you gather the nerve to quit that goddamned place, and how…


It’s that thing that wakes you at three in the morning, with a gasp and a startle, brain addled, pulse pounding, the pillow and sheets sweat-soaked. You roll over to the night stand for a cigarette before you realize you don’t smoke anymore, quit years ago, but it still remains, that muscle memory, to reach for something, no matter how toxic, when you sense yourself slipping. You unfold out of bed, this leg, then that leg, pause for a beat to acclimate to upright, sort of, before stumbling down the stairs, clumsy against the rail, the hardwood creaking, that one…


These were frightening times for the residents of Birchwood Village, with everyone ordered to shelter in place and stay six feet apart to slow the spread of this dreadful virus. For they were, by their very nature, a social lot, gathering together for numerous occasions: the Independence Day Celebration, and the Harvest Fall (or was it the Fall Harvest?) Festival, and the annual City-Wide Yard Sale, to name just a few. And how distressing that this would happen now, in early spring when everybody was already itching to get out and about after another typically harsh and dreary winter.

The…


Why would anyone jump out of a perfectly good plane?

That has always been my view on skydiving. And it has also been my view on changing careers. I mean, why would I want to jump out of a perfectly good legal career? However, as I’ve been thinking about it (and I’ve been thinking about it a lot!), I have begun to question if this really is a perfectly good career for me, if this really is a perfectly good plane.

I have practiced law, in various capacities, for (gasp) nearly twenty-five years. I started as a law clerk for…


I had to have been the only person to actually get slower at the Speed Clinic — a six-week training program sponsored by the local running shop for runners who wanted to increase their speed. But it wasn’t entirely my fault, or maybe it was. Within the first fifteen minutes of the first session I pulled my hamstring. I really pulled it. If I were a cartoon character there would have been a thought bubble springing from the back of my left leg with the words, “Bang! Bam! Ka-Pow!”

Oh, did it ever hurt. But I was not going to…


Elvis in the parking lot of that sad motel in Pigeon Forge draped a pink nylon scarf over your neck and kissed you on the lips when we told him it was our anniversary, which I thought was bull shit but you motioned not to say anything, as if that old fart in the bedazzled polyester pant suit and oversize rhinestone-rimmed sunglasses and dyed black pompadour that probably wasn’t even his real hair, this dime store wig pulled out of a cellophane package, would do something, but you were always “you don’t know for some people sometimes” and you were…


“The fire took everything,” Mama told us, as I’d never seen her, shaken when she was always the strongest in the family, had to be, with Daddy gone. We were staying at this shelter downtown, left there by the Red Cross, huddled together in a corner wrapped in scratchy blue blankets after being plucked off in the middle of the night, still in our PJs and bare feet, clutching at each other in the confusion, rescued from the raging inferno, a burst of bright oranges and yellows punctuating the bleak horizon.

Mama’s face was ashen, her eyes watery, with a…

Peter J. Stavros

Award-winning author and playwright in Louisville, Kentucky. www.peterjstavros.com.

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