4983250875_050b51267a_zOur neighbor Lil looked like a TV Indian, all sunbaked and leathery. She wandered the streets brokenly, ill dressed, barely attuned. She still recognized me. Then her calves grew putrescent and slowed her down.

And I learned about gangrene.

“She drinks a lot,” my mother said. “She’s so nice, poor Lil.”

She and silver-haired Jess lived in a tidy two-bedroom across the street. Apparently, he drank too. “A lot. They’re both so nice.”

“They are.”

“They’re both Okies, you know. They’ve been through a lot.”

When Lil set her kind eyes on me, all my teenage troubles vanished.

“They’ll amputate.”

Stephen D. Gutierrez’s work can be found in Sudden Fiction Latino (W.W. Norton), Alaska Quarterly Review, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, and ZYZZYVA. His collections of stories and essays include Elements (FC2), Live from Fresno y Los (Bear Star Press; winner of an American Book Award), and The Mexican Man in His Backyard (Roan Press).

Read the 100 Word Story interview with Stephen and Jacqueline Doyle.

Photo credit: Euan

7 Responses to “Lil”

  1. Carol Luchetti says:

    Captivating story, perfectly done.

  2. Ines Victorica says:

    Quite difficult to read without being startled!

  3. Peggy Schimmelman says:

    Superb piece. So much in so few words.

  4. Tony Press says:

    Man, it was hard to breathe reading this one. It is fine … really, really fine.

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