“Big Hands” by Robert James Russell

People Holding Global Pillage Photo, Hands 1 Comment

Photograph courtesy of Global Pillage.

“But I feel invincible,” I say.

Dusty’s driving us…somewhere. He might’ve said where we were going when he called my house earlier pre-dinner but we had to be careful—Sarah’s always sneaking on the upstairs phone eavesdropping and…

…now we’re barreling into the darkness and we’re laughing because…

…someone said something about Jessica Holleran’s chest. I laugh hard and when I look up everyone’s staring at me.

“What?” Whatever they’d given me—whatever it is…was, I guess, since it’s now dissolved and traveling the length of my body…

Over at my side Jim’s playing with a Polaroid he borrowed from home. I jam my hands in front of his face. “These look big?” I ask. “They feel big.”

“No,” he says rolling the camera over in his hands, letting the strap dangle along his wrists, fingers. Now he has the camera up at his left eye, aimed at me, and…SNAP he takes a photo.

I push the camera out of my face and…

…BJ’s singing loudly and he lights a cigarette and I realize all of us, in Dusty’s mom’s van, all of us…we’re wearing button-downs. So I say, “Guys, we’re all wearing button-downs.”

Dusty turns around and chuckles. He says, “You’re not wearing Lacoste, though.” The others laugh now, too. BJ hands me the cigarette and I inhale and it burns, chars my throat and…

SNAP. Another photo.

Jim grabs it when it pops out and shakes it violently.

“Stop,” I say. “Please stop.”

“Why?” He stops shaking and holds the photo close to his face, right up to his nose, then shakes it some more. “It’s funny.”

“Don’t want anyone seeing me smoke,” I say.

“No one cares, dude,” he says. “You said you wanted to hang out. You said you wanted to…hang.” He elongates the a sound and over-pronounces the g like…

I take another drag of the cigarette, a big one, letting the white paper peel back red-orange…

…but now I’m on top of Jim smacking him upside the head and I have the camera in my hand and I try to rip it from around his neck where it’s looped. He’s heaving and wrapping his thick arms around me but I pull the camera…

…and Dusty and BJ they’re looking back at us and can’t believe it, I guess. The camera jerks free and smacks against the side of the van and the flash toggle…it just comes off! And Jim’s up, he’s kicking me in my ribs, yelling about the camera.

Dusty stops the van. He’s quiet, menacing, says, “Get out, man.” He turns to BJ and he contracts his thick lips and says to him, “Told you he was a shithead.”

“What? I’m not,” I say and hold out my hands in front of my face, admiring them again. “You sure these aren’t big, guys?” I say. “They feel so damn big. They feel enormous!”

Jim has me by the collar now and he’s yanking the sliding door open now and shoving me outside as they peel away and I’m on my knees laughing now because…

…my white big hands on the black pavement are hypnotic and hilarious and I’m surrounded by corn and it’s…night—proper night, with the moon and the…

…and the blackness. And my big hands.


BIOpicRobert James Russell is the author of Don’t Ask Me to Spell It Out (WhiskeyPaper Press), and the upcoming Western novel Mesilla (Dock Street Press). He is a founding editor of the literary journals Midwestern Gothic and CHEAP POP.
Find him online @robhollywood and robertjamesrussell.com.

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  1. Pingback: New story “Big Hands” at People Holding | Robert James Russell

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