Paul Pekin

The stories on this site  are representative of the nonfiction I published in the 1990's.  "Fire" appeared in the Widenor Review, "Noon Day Sun" in the Chicago Reader, "Extended Care" in the Chicago Reader, "Fish' in the Ozark Mountainer.

"Extended Care won a 1991 Peter Lisagor Awared for  in the category of "features." 

   A Fire Out of It's Time

 There was a time, I remember, when people were setting themselves on fire.  Something to do with Vietnam.  On the news we saw the monk who soaked himself in gasoline squat down before cameras and turn our screen into hell.   Ours is an unheroic age.  Nothing we do seems to come out right.  I have been thinking of this monk and a young woman whose name I choose not to reveal.  I remember her red hair.  Not long and straight as the girls wore it then.  Naturally curly, unruly, thick, untamed.  Her eyes.  Were they green?  I remember them so.  A beautiful young woman who showed up in my college classroom and proved to be mad.   This was not uncommon.  In almost every classroom there would be one, two, three, who were mad.  We blamed the war, we blamed the drugs, we blamed the times.  It was a time to test the frontiers of freedom, a time of breathtaking risk and folly, a time when it really seemed the world might change.
Paul Pekin
Personal Information


 Fiction Writing Workshop
 Nonfiction Writing Workshop

In The Light of The Noon Day Sun

I can only cry if I let myself cry, which comes perilously close to saying I only cry if I make myself do it.  Because of this, when I woke up crying in the dead of last night, I was once again filled with that sense of having come face to face with my own hypocrisy.

 Already my sleep had been going poorly.  It was not dreaming that brought this on, simply a state of mind in which the thoughts of the day and the days before it, persisted in the place of dreams.  There had been a problem with the dog who is becoming old and dangerously incontinent, and there was my wife's latest X-ray  which the doctor had shown me, delicately referring to the shadow that would not quite go away as "the disease," and there was my own growing sense of helplessness before the stern hand of fate, and so, whether for the dog, or my wife, or myself, or simply because it felt good, I cannot say; I was crying. 

Extended Care

    She's on her back when I enter, mouth open, eyes closed, gown hiked up, her half naked legs twisted unnaturally to one side.  She is as still as death, this woman who is my mother, and just that cool to my touch, but then, before I can go on with this, before I dare think what I am about to think, she opens her eyes.

The Fish That Sank The Boat

 Something was going on down by the dock.  For the last several days the guys from the Department of Conversation had been out shocking fish, and now they were standing by their boat in a way that made me want to see what they had in it.  Shocking fish is one of the things you do when you work for the D.O.C.  They have this generator aboard, and an outfit that looks like an oversize rake with dangling foil strips that they take out to a likely spot, lower into the water, and turn on the juice.  ZAP!  Whatever was swimming below is now on the surface, stunned.  This way the D.O.C. can gather up fish, count them, weigh them, and keep whatever really impresses them in a live well for some later use they could probably explain better than I.  They get paid to do this.

Somebody Found a Body

    Somebody found a body in the woods and called the Chicago Police which was the right thing to do.  But it was just an old man sitting with his back to a tree and a very pleasant expression on his face, an old man who had departed from this world about as easily and gently as it is possible to do.  Had he been a mobster with his eyes shot out, or a beautiful blonde woman stripped naked, the Chicago Police might have looked upon this as an opportunity worth pursuing.  As it was, they decided this was a job more properly suited to the other agency that held jurisdiction over this tiny patch of woods–the Cook County Forest Preserve Police.