August 26, 2003

The Lack of Good Qualities
-- by James Tate

Granny sat drinking a bourbon and branch water
by the picture window. It was early evening and she
had finished the dinner dishes and put them away and
now it was her time to do as she pleased. "All my
children are going to hell, and my grandchildren, too,"
she said to me, one of her children. She took a long
slug of her drink and sighed. One of her eyes was all
washed out, the result of some kind of dueling accident
in her youth. That and the three black hairs on her
chin which she refused to cut kept the grandchildren
at a certain distance. "Be a sweetheart and get me
another drink, would you, darling?" I make her a really
strong one. "I miss the War, I really do. But your
granddaddy was such a miserable little chickenshit he
managed to come back alive. Can you imagine that? And
him wearing all those medals, what a joke! And so I
had to kill him, I had no choice. I poisoned the son
of a bitch and got away with it. And so I ask you, who's
the real hero?" "You are, Granny," I said, knowing I was
going to hell if only to watch her turn to stone.

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