A flash fiction piece in preparation for my novel tentatively titled Annie and the Second Anasazi, scheduled for publication in late 2012. Sign up for notification by email here.
Antone had been the star center in high school basketball, recruited by Duke. But that all fell through nearly thirty years ago when the world started going to hell. Now he laid stone in exchange for scraps of food. A grim life, maybe. But simple. Peaceful. He’d learned to master the mechanics of his long bones and the natural inclination of stone to break in certain ways. Just like his father, and his father’s brother. It had honor if not much inspiration. Until this woman showed up. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.
“What if you didn’t use any steel tools?” Annie asked. “What if they broke or wore down and you couldn’t replace them?”
Antone stretched his six-eleven frame without leaving his seat. “I’ve thought about that. It makes you want to work with softer stone.”
“You’ve done it?” she asked.
He nodded. “Tried a few times.” He spoke slowly, carefully, with nominal hand gestures as if they were too tired to have much to say. “Good, hard hammerstone on some friable sandstone and you can do pretty good if you’re not too picky.”
“What does it look like?”
“Basic blocks or slabs are best. Can’t do much of anything like sculpture. It’s a pretty coarse way to work.”
“Like the Anasazi bread-loaf stones?” Annie smiled at him, hoping for agreement and recognition.
Antone swung his eyes to her and smiled back. “Yes. Exactly. That’s why they made them that way. Their artistry was the placement of the stones, the courses of smaller slivers between the big bread loafs, like you say. Then they covered them with plaster and painted over them.”
Annie nodded. “That’s exactly what I’m looking for.”
Annie and the Second Anasazi is about a migration of intellectuals into the deserts of New Mexico where people live like the ancient ones because of changing climate coupled with an intolerable mix of politics and religion that rises in the cities of the American South. Note that Antone is the son of Cowtown, the sculptor of The One-Hundredth Goliath.