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"Shed: A Pandemic Narrative", short story excerpt

Saturday 3/21/20

Okay. I'm only giving away a very little bit of this. It's too timely, it's too spot on, for me to give much of it away on here. The story needs to be seen where lots of people will see it. But as one will see, I was over-billing nothing. The story is that good. In the story, Nevin is a former teacher who lost his job for reasons we will see. And he lost a lot in his life. He lost things externally, he lost things internally. He is homeless. He had taken what remaining finances he had, and spent them on two things: a short trip to Italy, to Rome, to visit the spots where his favorite film was shot--his teaching background is in film--and a perfect condition 1986-87 Michael Jordan Fleer rookie card, which is now his only possession, which he carries on his person. He has an ex-wife, a daughter, allegations that were made against him when he was employed, and a friend on the streets, a former social worker who suffers from bipolarity named Lena. And he is the man who has brought a pandemic to Boston.


***


Probably no one else considered the small vernal pools that accumulated throughout the city a menace to public health, but Nevin once viewed them as potentially lethal.


“Careful,” he’d say say in early spring as he walked with his wife, espying the latest pollen puddle on the ground, guiding her by the hand around its edges, especially when she was pregnant. Airborne contaminants gave him pause. He felt they were generally misunderstood throughout the history of science until it was too late.


As a boy he had read a story about another boy, his own age, who contracted tuberculosis. Each night the boy washed the dishes, but the sink backed up and the water became muck water that would not drain and kept getting the dishes dirty and the boy toiling at his work. The residue of bread crusts and the skin of peas formed a film that made a bacteria that coated the lungs.


“It’ll stick to your ribs,” Nevin remembered a grim doctor joking while expatiating on the value of better plumbing. It was an age when polio and TB were the rage. But even as an adult, Nevin had viewed the particles of floating yellow pollen as potential menace, tiny fire ships set loose from petal ports and the rear ends of bees. He wanted everyone to be well, by which he meant his wife and the child he had not yet met.