“The Story Behind the Story: “What We Were When We Drew What We Drew”

Gabe, the faceless character in my story, has actually lived in my brain for about forty years now. He’s mostly quiet, but I have to deal with all his junk mail and his debt collector robo-calls.

Back around 1980 or so, when I was in high school, my younger brothers had reached the age I’d reached when I discovered dangerous little diversions—-messing around with firecrackers, stealing mower gas to burn things. I had managed not to lose any fingers or an eye to these experiments, but I was a lucky kid. My brothers were more reckless, and I was scared for them, yet I didn’t want to lecture them like a parent would. I’d surely get the tune-out. Instead, I thought a story could reach them—a slightly scary story, a sort of 80’s-era Brothers Grimm tale complete with bodily harm and moral lesson.

“You want to know what happens when you play with fireworks?” I began, as they sat around the dinner table. “Have you ever heard of Faceless Jimmy Johnson?” They bought it (for a while), the tragic accident and the charred, melted flesh, not even questioning the lazy, off-the-shelf fake name. It worked until they grew up, out of childhood and out of danger. Faceless Jimmy Johnson became a family story, another myth like the one about my private scab collection, all fading away to nothing, which is exactly how Gabe wants it. Like it never happened. People are cruel. He’s safer there inside my head.

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
New Fiction Featured Fiction Advice / Suggestions Essays/Articles (all) The Story Behind the Story Author Interview Series Fiction Craft
Sort by

What We Were When We Drew What We Drew

2016-06-19 08:31:28
jkapitan

18

“God and the Unicorn”

At the fork in the road between here and there, the elderly professor ran smack into a unicorn. “Sorry, I wasn’t pay
2019-02-25 09:08:14
raburton

8

The Daily Comics: an Essay in Frames

 Monday i. When I see my son drawing,
2019-02-06 12:52:33
newberry

8

“Death of the Short Story”

The other day I was at a coffee shop with a fellow writer and we were discussing the current state of American
2018-12-19 09:24:05
g-d-mcfetridge

8

“One Thousand Words”

“When I return to Alaska,” Casey says, “I don’t want to forget this view.” “Take a picture then,” I say, not t
2018-11-16 07:51:26
erubeo

8

“Symptoms and Remedies”

I try to interpret the signs of my own body, and think back to a medieval literature class I took in which we
2018-11-12 11:27:27
emilylivingstone

8

The Story Behind the Story: “What We Don’t Say Out Loud”

Back in 2011, I attended a seminar being taught by Amy Hempel and while I’d read her short fiction, I had not
2018-11-02 10:19:54
jkimbrell

8

Author Interview Series: Tara Masih

Tara Lynn Masih has won multiple book awards in her role as editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing
2018-09-29 01:44:13
taralmasih

8

“God and the Unicorn”

At the fork in the road between here and there, the elderly professor ran smack into a unicorn. “Sorry, I wasn’t pay
2018-07-30 09:43:44
raburton

8

“The Assignment”

I am haunted by a writing assignment I first attempted as a senior-year final-semester English major at the
2018-07-11 09:53:26
lorabray

8

About joe kapitan

Joe Kapitan is an emerging writer and mostly-emerged architect roaming the southern shore of Lake Erie. His short fiction and creative non-fiction have appeared in Hobart, [PANK], Smokelong Quarterly, Notre Dame Magazine, The Cincinnati Review, and others. His collection of short fiction A Pocket Guide to North American Ghosts was published by Eastern Point Press in 2013.