portion of the artwork for Trevor J. Houser's fiction

The Town of Gull, 1925-39
Trevor J. Houser

On the Oregon coast there is a small town known as Gull. Nowadays Gull is known for people recovering from meth and carving grizzly bears out of wood. But Gull used to be known for different reasons. In the old days a train from the city delivered a tribe of people who drank copious amounts of gin and had sexual encounters on wind-battered tennis courts with anything that moved. Usually it was someone else’s wife, pearl-choked, a cashmere sweater stuffed with soft pink flesh. When they weren’t prowling the baseline, flies unfurled, the summer residents of Gull would hole up in white clapboard houses with dripping copper gutters, play board games by the fire, crack ice, talk excitedly about Amelia Earhart, the Scotch broom outside blowing sideways. Some grew mustaches. Others smacked golf balls into the Great Pacific Murk, dreaming of better pancreases. One night my great-great uncle was playing cards at the local golf club. He had run out of money and was betting his great-great uncle’s gold pocket watch, which had once been Alexander Hamilton’s gold pocket watch. He was losing to a railroad magnate, who had a cane tipped with gold and a Chinaman named Ting.

“Look, boss,” said Ting. “A toad-man in the fairway.”

“Not now, Ting, said the railroad magnate.

“I can’t lose this hand,” said my great-great uncle, throwing his watch on the pile.

Except then he lost.

“Holy fuck,” said my great-great uncle.

My great-great uncle got up.

He walked out of the club into the mist, the eighteenth green, a full moon.

Some people say he drowned himself in the sea.

Others say they found his dinner jacket the next day in a sand trap, covered in dried toad slobber.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 35 | Winter 2012