“The Anderson Bridge” by Christopher Iacono

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So I was standing in front of Out-of-Town Newsstand looking at a magazine when William Faulkner appeared out of nowhere—well not really out of nowhere, he’d come from somewhere like Mississippi although I doubt he walked from Mississippi to Massachusetts—curious to find out what he was doing in Harvard Square in Cambridge standing at the crosswalk, hands tucked in the pockets of his khakis waiting to cross the street, I moved closer to him hoping he wouldn’t see me or get offended by my trenchcoat which had dirt on the sleeves and the elbows; not wanting him to think of me as a stalker, I just stayed glued in my spot, gazing at this man,author of some of the greatest modern American novels, some of which I had read but didn’t really understand, but that’s how you know a novel is great, which explains why I’m not worried that books like Light in August and The Sound and the Fury made no sense to me although I would never imagine saying that to him and if he asked me what I liked about his books I would just say something like “the deep insights into life in the South” even though I had never left Massachusetts, had no reason to, it wasn’t like I was going to arrive in Mississippi with people following me the way I followed him that day—then again, here, no one noticed the modern-day Absalom in their presence because if they did they would’ve stopped their cars in the middle of the road not even worrying if another car rear-ended them, and they would have gaped at him getting out so they wouldn’t get too close—instead they would’ve thought about how lucky they were, the sun beating down on his head was the same sun beating down on theirs—oh how lucky they were but how unlucky I was to have to share this man with everyone else, and as we turned onto JFK Street a man and a woman walked with us, then two more men cut in front of me—“Oh look, that’s Ernest Hemingway”—“Oh no, that’s John Steinbeck”—but it didn’t matter—each new person who invaded my space, further separating me from my William, thrust a knife into my heart and it took all my strength to ignore the pain in the chest and trudge on, but then of course it was his fault—yes, it wasn’t the crowd around him that was causing the pain, it was him, because he had written all those great novels, he had reached incredible heights very few people could ever achieve, but it was time to bring down this man whom I loved—yes I loved the man not just his works because let’s face it you can’t separate the works from the man—and sometimes you have to knock down that thing you love so you can be at the same level.

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He stopped in the middle of the Anderson Memorial Bridge and the four people who strolled along with us bumped into each other like a bunch of bumbling fools because they hadn’t expected him to stop there, while I stayed a few feet away, watching him smirk—he knew as well as I did that they had followed him to the bridge, though they pretended to be just out for a stroll—then I turned to my reflection in the Charles River, and when they finally dispersed a few minutes later it was just me and him so I sauntered over, breeze combing my hair, and as he turned to me, I pulled out the magazine I had taken earlier from the newsstand, he removed a pen from his pocket—“You probably want an autograph”—I gave him the magazine, expecting him to do his little trick where he held his pen upside-down and only pretended to give me an autograph—I had heard this from a friend—but to my surprise he didn’t do that, he actually wrote his name on the magazine, the blue ink gleaming under the sun, and when he tried to hand back the magazine I just stood there, thinking about how I had struggled through those goddamn books because he was such a fucking genius and how those difficult-to-read books made me love him, so I stood there as he snickered and gave a slight nod as if to say, will you take back your goddamn magazine, you freak, and my fingers curled into fists and I thought about slugging him across the face—what a story that would be, punching William Faulkner on the same bridge where Quentin Compson committed suicide—yes I wanted to punch him because not only did he honor me by scribbling on my magazine but he confirmed once and for all he was above me and I had no chance of ever being on the same level as him—so I took the magazine and tossed it over the side of the bridge, its front and back covers opened like wings while the pages turned underneath before landing with a plop onto the Charles—I turned to him, his mouth gaping, I smile before heading back to the Out-of-Town Newsstand to pay for the magazine.

 

 

 

 

Christopher Iacono lives in Massachusetts with his wife and son. You can learn more about him and his work at cuckoobirds.org.

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2 thoughts on ““The Anderson Bridge” by Christopher Iacono

  1. Although I prefer Steinbeck to Faulkner, I think I “get” your story – ahhh- the front and back covers opening like wings- how wonderful! It if you didn’t understand THE SOUND AND THE FURY, don’t read SANCTUARY because that one will haunt haunt haunt you forever and a day.

    Like

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