Document I: Letter from S. Bethany Dear Father Sister, Mother, Lover who art in Heaven Home, Hell, Hotel, Hospital When you find this, please: Load me like a bullet in the chamber of your gun. Lay me by your…
This story got started in a strange place: at the beginning. The first section, the bizarre to-do list, came miraculously, almost fully formed. I was living in a little shack on a dirt road lined with live oaks, way out on Wadmalaw Island. I had been reading the various biblical accounts of Jesus’ meal at an almshouse in Bethany just days before his crucifixion. One unusually cold morning, watching fog drift across the marsh behind my house, I scribbled down the list. It took me some time to realize that the voice behind it was some bastardized amalgamation of a character revived from those stories I was reading, brought to life here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina in the present time. But from there, Simon spoke to me. All I had to do was listen.
After a couple days of almost frantic transcription, I had this strange series of surreal domestic artifacts: a to-do list, a love note, a voice mail, a medical collection letter. I put them side by side thinking maybe together they’d make some kind of story, but there was still too much missing. I had this fractured portrait of Simon at this specific point in his life, reeling from a recent loss, searching for meaning. But how did he get here? I felt like only his family could answer that. So, I created a frame for the narrative and had members of Simon’s family tell stories about him to string up the bones of the plot and flesh out the details. After figuring out the order and tweaking some of the original artifacts, the whole story came together more or less as it stands today.
There are some stories we create, and others we discover. This story is certainly the latter.
ROBERT MAYNOR is from the Lowcountry of South Carolina. His stories have previously appeared in Blood Orange Review, The Carolina Quarterly, BULL, Pithead Chapel, and elsewhere. He is a past recipient of the Larry Brown Short Story Award and the Coker Fellowship in Fiction from the South Carolina Academy of Authors. He is currently seeking representation for a novel, The Big Game Is Every Night.