The Masters Review Blog

May 15

New Voices: “B.I.W. Boys” by Katherine Cart

“B.I.W. Boys” by Katherine Cart, this week’s New Voices story, follows three Bucksport boys—Samual, Quiller and Jacob—who are all hired out of high school to work at the iron works in nearby Bellport. The B.I.W. boys grow into their idea of men throughout the pandemic, as their understanding of themselves and the others shifts. Cart’s voice and stream-of-conscious style sweeps you up and barrels you along into the yawning vacuum at the end.


There was no after the pandemic because everything was changed then, though there was certainly a before. But there was a time people started saying, “You know, during the pandemic—” like it was all done. And during those years the presidents switched and people changed like they felt their true selves coming out, not knowing that sort of truth was just hope or fear that felt different, finally. Took a shape, finally, and what a relief to see it.

“B.I.W. boys!” Jacob had cried when he and Quiller and Samual all got hired on at Bellport Iron Works.

The way Quiller had curled his peach-fuzzed lip, like what the fuck is it that you’re saying when you’re saying B.I.W., when you’re saying boys, really? shut Jacob up.

Quiller had two inches on the shoulders of Samual and Jacob by then. He wielded both inches like hundred dollar bills. Those three had been born and grown in a far north coastal place. All that changed each year were the seasons. One winter as seventh grade kids they had hunted mallards with Jacob’s father and it wasn’t so much seeing the living worry bleed out of the birdshot holes that grew those boys up, but the fact that Jacob’s father who was not a happy man had decided it was time for them to be holding guns and growing up.

They grew up into people with jobs.

It was Samual’s mother who had cheered, “B.I.W. boys!” when Samual told her he got hired on. A confused pride wrapped up in her words because she’d wanted Samual to go to the college in the neighboring town, but she’d known since Samual was fifteen and bought a real leather jacket at the Goodwill because Quiller and then Jacob had bought one at the J.C. Penny that Samual would do what Quiller and Jacob did when it came to life plans at eighteen. Like Samual was a piece of wood just waiting on the tide to take him. She told herself that he’d happy at B.I.W. at least for a while. So in their modest and clean kitchen, she scraped out the worry and only let Sammy hear the pride in how she cried B.I.W. boys!

Those three, when they remembered kidhood in later years, remembered Samual’s mom’s kitchen with the pink-checked curtains over the metal sink, a kitchen where it was okay to be loved.

So they moved towns down the coast to Bellport. They went on Craigslist and found three separate rooms in three separate apartments. It was true that Jacob had figured they would live together in a three-bedroom like brothers but Quiller had decided that they were men now and men should live with the decency of strangers. They rented in the same cluster of working streets.

Most of the buildings were old white-washed cod and whaling money homes, grand like a grandmother in her oldest jewelry, now subdivided and held together by plasterboard. The rest were new, beige, vinyl-sided triplexes with cheap insulation. Every single building filled by working people that had followed other people or jobs or both to that brackish place where money was made on the water’s edge.

If anybody had followed anybody to Bellport it was Jacob and Samual following Quiller. Or maybe just Jacob following Quiller. And Samual, who, because of that nice pink-checked kitchen and a dead kid sister, never really had much urgency to do anything but be with his buds, to perpetuate the fact of that childhood triad. Samual didn’t think too critically and wasn’t unhappy.

To continue reading “B.I.W. Boys” click here.

 

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