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Playing Before Royalty

New fiction from one of Hawaii's most respected authors.


(page 3 of 3)

“What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know.”

She sighed, and looked closely at him, now with a different expression. “Jeff, listen. Don’t call it a bad habit.”


“It’s not a bad habit.”


She looked at the walls, at the lighter squares and rectangles where pictures had hung, and then at the old formica table near the kitchenette. He looked, too.

“Tell you what,” he said. “We’ve got the van and two thousand dollars. I’ll get a job. You’ve got one already. I mean, you still have, right?”

“I work tomorrow,” she said.

“We can sit in the van all night if we have to, and then look for a place.”

“We can’t.”

“C’mon, it’ll be like camping.”

She thought about this. “We need to live near here,” she said. “Becky has to have her school.”

“OK, we’ll do that.”

She stood up from the couch, looked around. Again, he looked at the dusty floor, paperclips and pennies, in the corner a dead cockroach.

They stepped outside into the beginning of twilight. In the distance, he could see Becky coming up the road. “That’s a relief,” he said. “Whenever she goes out, I get these pictures of—”

“I do, too,” she said.

He pulled the handle of the sliding van door and opened it. Inside the back half were boxes, framed photographs, kitchen things, books, clothes, and in the second row of seats, room for one person to sit.

He pointed at the doorway. “Welcome home,” he said.

Despite the miserable and flustered look on her face, she laughed.

Ian MacMillan has taught at UH’s creative writing program since 1966. He is the author of seven novels and four short story collections, and among his many awards, he has won the O. Henry Award, Pushcart Prize and a Best American Short Stories Award.
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Honolulu Magazine January 2018
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