“Bee Branch does Ulysses,” by Meg Tuite

Aug 20th, 2011 | By | Category: Prose

It was their monthly Ulysses meeting at Kildare’s in Bee Branch, Arkansas. Lisa, Wade and Joe sat behind frosty mugs of Bud with their stained, unabridged copies of the tome in front of them. No one else was going to show up.

Lisa had been the mucilage who worked for over a month to recruit twelve brave or ignorant souls. Some joined to escape screeching kids and spouses for a night. Others hoped it was a single’s club or a steamy Danielle Steel novel, when they heard the book had been banned. After they realized, in the first few gatherings, that most of the group were middle-aged, morose, and that meetings consisted of staring blankly at each other over beer, trying to come up with the meaning for all kinds of gibberish, they quit.

Wade and Joe hung in there for the beer and Lisa’s company (both had a desolate crush on her) and would chime in while Lisa scoured through her bible-sized dictionary.  “Hyperborean.” Wade slurred. “Single’s night in the church basement. Hyper-borrring,” and both men snickered.  “Untonsured. Yeah, a doctor yanked them out with my adenoids when I was five,” said Joe. “Scrotumtightening sea. Wasn’t that the nickname for your ex, Joe?” Wade tittered.

Lisa looked up from her book at these two plastered devoted half-wits. She wasn’t going home yet either. Her husband, Burt, was a respectable load of tedium, who cooked her TV dinners and recorded “Housewives of Orange County” for the two of them to watch later. Lisa was no different than the rest of them, trying to find some way to drag culture into this bee sting of a town. She looked at Wade and Joe with a duplicitous smirk. She wondered what it would be like to have a three-way with these two loyal hounds.  “Excuse me, while I head for the ‘squirting dugs.’ And order me another stout one of you ‘poxey bowsy’s!’” Lisa bellowed as the two man howled. Lisa got up, winked and blew them a kiss before she hit the can.


Meg Tuite’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including Berkeley Fiction Review, 34th Parallel, Valpairaso Literary Review, One, the Journal, Monkeybicycle, Hawaii Review and Boston Literary Magazine. She is the fiction editor of The Santa Fe Literary Review and Connotation Press. Her novel “Domestic Apparition” (2011) is now available through San Francisco Bay Press. She has a monthly column “Exquisite Quartet” up at Used Furniture Review.

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