Literary Short Stories
Paul Pekin

The stories on this site  have all appeared in literary magazines, good magazines like Sou'wester, The Crescent Review, The South Dakota Review, and others.  They are copyrighted and may not be reprinted without the permission of the author. You may link to this site if you wish. 

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Paul Pekin
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Better Than a Tractor Pull
Published in the American Aesthetic


     Start with the Fords, the Chevies, the Dodges, such cars as that, all souped up, all painted up, all decalled and lucky-numbered, their helmeted drivers hunched like automatons, turning, turning, forever turning on a quarter mile oval; start right there; imagine the roar and how people miles and miles away can hear it, even with doors and windows shut, even over blaring televisions; imagine the hot oil, the raw gasoline, the burning rubber, the smoking wrecks shoved to the side; imagine the customers up and screaming, getting every dime out of their eight dollar tickets; think now of the surrounding prairie with its scattered housing and little strip malls and constantly recurring fast food restaurants, with its half empty fields and scrubby little roadside trees, and the traffic that never stops, never stops, never stops; imagine a land where no place in it ever really knows night, not even the dense black and immensely sad sky. 

published in The Bridge

     When Fineman was fifty-five the best of his life seemed over. He had given up his slot with Chicago, moved to Florida, taken up real estate, lived a little too fast, a little too soon, and returned to the only police job he could now get, this time with the Village of Wireland. A month later his wife had a stroke and died so suddenly it was as if she had been murdered. There were no children. Liquor, which had always been his companion, became his spouse.

Jesus Christ Was a Working Man
published in Farmer's Market

      In every version the story starts the same way, with Sam. Sam was the night supervisor at Bloomgartens Press on North Avenue, the last printing job I ever worked. Sam ran that night shift as if it were his own business, and in a sense it was. He took orders over the telephone, typed bills on the office machine, printed, shipped out, and collected good American dollars from jobs Mr. Bloomgarten never even heard about.