CAUTION Men in Trees

CAUTION Men in Trees

DARRELL SPENCER
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 216
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46n70k
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  • Book Info
    CAUTION Men in Trees
    Book Description:

    The nine stories of CAUTION Men in Trees capture the pressure, need, and frequent helplessness of people confronted with intractable reality. As suggested by the collection's epigraph from Superman-"Did you say kryptonite?"-the characters in these stories have reached a point where they realize that parts of their lives are coming undone, and that their own thoughts and actions-or, frequently, the failure to act soon enough-are the cause. Though settings and situations vary, the same sense of overwhelming urgency recurs throughout the collection. The stories reflect a world distressed by conflict and settings fraught with the occurrences of personal violence. Against the background of the O. J. Simpson trial, a man refuses to assist in a friend's suicide and realizes that he has been avoiding many unpleasant truths about himself and his life. A son faced with his father's debilitating stroke sees that he must ultimately confront the mortality and feelings of grief that he has been concealing. In the title story, the film Bugsy and talk about the disappointing reality of pop-culture heroes set the scene for a husband's frightening confrontation with his own limitations. The shock of stark revelation combines with tightly wound chains of suggestive events to create a collection of gripping, edgy stories about characters who, however battered, survive.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-3746-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[viii])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [ix]-[xii])
  3. PARK HOST
    (pp. 1-25)

    So Rose and Red Cogsby, they get into these one-on-ones where they lock horns, do these everyday equivalents of Piper Cub open-cockpit wingovers (years back when his wits were quicker and his feet still good, Red flew supply drops and the U.S. mail into Nevada mountains and deserts, was expert in the Great Basin the way you are master of and have down cold the streets you drive to and from work). So anyway, Rose and Red, they get into these give-and-takes, push-and-shoves, these climb-and-stall-and-reverse-your-directions until Red says, “You forget, I have my hat on,” and she says, “Meaning what,...

  4. BLOOD WORK
    (pp. 26-51)

    The Mormon lady next door tells J. J. Cribb she put his hamstring in their temple. It’s a curious way to express what she sees as the voucher of her goodwill, but he understands what she means. J. J.’s not been in Salt Lake City for more than two days in the last five years, did grow up here, though, and his mother was Mormon from the word go, an affiliation she often and happily announced. For the last twenty-three years she was alive, she drove herself to the temple twice a week and did temple work. One of her...

  5. THERE’S TOO MUCH NEWS
    (pp. 52-71)

    We moved to the woods of southern Ohio this summer, the backside of the Appalachians. Family phoned from Nevada, and we kept saying fall came, the leaves dropped, and we learned we had neighbors.

    That’s a good one, they said.

    One or the other of us on the extension, we said, “Trees here, there, and everywhere, like in Red Riding Hood and slasher films. Like one of those gangster movies—you know, the place where the bad guys take the snitch to rub him out so no one’s going to find the body for a hundred years.”

    Yeah? they said....

  6. THE 12-INCH DOG
    (pp. 72-89)

    Doc rubs the bump in the palm of my hand, wags my bird finger, and says, “Dupuytren’s contracture.” The bump’s the size and hardness of a kidney bean and is centered inside the top of the V of the M of my life line.

    I’m working on how to describe Doc to my wife Patty. She’ll ask me to. His face looks like it was torn apart and then mended under gunfire. His stiff ears poke out and are stamped crude as buried treasure coins. They’re padlocks. The eyes belong on a parrot. He’s got porcupine hair and junkyard teeth....

  7. CAUTION: MEN IN TREES
    (pp. 90-111)

    Bobby Book wonders what the fuss over Bugsy Siegel is all about. Why the movies? Why the full-page spreads in newspapers, five columns deep plus photos? Bobby’s father, Lewis, met Siegel. His shop did the sheet metal work for Siegel when he built the Flamingo in ’46.

    Lewis, who’s in his seventies, lives with Bobby and his wife. He has a cottage out by their pool where he sleeps till four every afternoon, when he gets up, has one drink, Old Grand-Dad neat in his tumbler from the Mirage, hops on his left leg for half a minute and on...

  8. LATE-NIGHT TV
    (pp. 112-131)

    There are two houses behind where me and my wife Kay live. We’re on the frontage road, quarter of a mile across an open field from the freeway. You take a dirt road south of us to get to the houses. There used to be just one brick two-story and a sheep camp back there, both lost under a clump of Chinese elms. Then last summer flatbeds hauled in a shabby, birthday-cake pink clapboard and wedged it between us. Coming in, they wiped out a maple Kay had just planted. The clapboard is now aluminum siding, and it looks good,...

  9. PLEASE TO FORGIVE SLOPPINESS
    (pp. 132-154)

    Harry’s Uncle Stuck, he lands on Harry and Lyla time and again like something shook from a tree. Life’s been, for Stuck, a high-wire act that’s left him upside down in untidy corners, feeling lopsided, baleful, his eyes dry and sore, his elbows cut, his nose snotty, and a thumb broken and off-shot for good. It’s amounted to the romp and stagger cowboys and cowgirls sing about. Stuck’s got bad knees, and his thyroid’s been nuked. A month back, he turned fifty-seven.

    Tonight he phones Harry and says he’s flying in. “Flap flap,” he says. “Here I come. U ....

  10. IT’S A LOT SCARIER IF YOU TAKE JESUS OUT
    (pp. 155-173)

    Suicide, the Mormons teach you, is only a change of scenery, and it doesn’t mean you can’t go to heaven, just that according to their plan of salvation you spend eternity in a third-rather-than-first degree of glory, a telestial not a celestial kingdom, the celestial being the glory of the sun, even the glory of God. There was a time when I believed what the Mormons said. I was one of the youth of Zion, a standard-bearer. Friends called me Nephi, and I was good a LDS, a Latter-day Saint.

    No longer. Not for years now, and not on your...

  11. PRONTO BUCKS
    (pp. 174-194)

    You got older. You got opinions,” Plugg said. He talked that way. Like an after-dinner speaker. Like he was celibate. We were shooting pool, nine ball. He’d run the table on me, and I was racking next game. He said, “So life goes. Step two builds on step one.” He built steps in the air, said, “You climb so high you’re looking down like one of those spaceship photos. It happens, and the world comes into being. You were a kid. Now you express yourself stubbornly and without reservation. Now you call your own press conferences.” Plugg talked like Judgment...

  12. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 195-196)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-198)