New Voices: “The Monster in Back Bruly” by Kailyn McCord

June 1, 2020

You can’t make anything in Back Bruly, or at least that’s what the narrator of Kailyn McCord’s “The Monster in Back Bruly” tells us. We are proud to share this newest entry to our New Voices catalog with you today, about a group who makes as much out of nothing as anyone can, especially deep in the bayou, with a little help from their friend, Blue. Read on:

The fact that she was a gator was the only reason why we pulled off what we did. If she’d been a goat, or a pig, no one would have believed it. I doubt we’d have tried it in the first place.

You can’t make anything in Bruly, and not especially in Back Bruly. Not money, nothing that lasts, nothing of yourself. That sounds like a pity party of shit, sure, but it’s true, and besides, it’s how all this come about. None of us are bad folks, not Trudy and not Eli and not me, but this place’ll put you in spots you never thought you’d get to.

It started with Snow White. That was her real name, on all the ads in the pamphlets and on the sign at the bend in the highway, but we always called her Blue. Eli nicknamed her, when he was a boy. He had a way of doing that, seeing things different than other people, taking what he saw and making it real somehow. He’d look at whatever piece of shit was front of him–a broken boat, or the rusted sign out front Swanson’s Market, or a stretch of swamp in winter–and instead of what it was really, he’d talk about a whole world opening up, how we could take the boat and paint it up pretty, or how Swanson’s had been going in Bruly for almost a hundred years, and wasn’t that something? Or how that winter swamp was really two swamps, if you looked at the cypress right, at where the dark started on each one, a waterline, and the first swamp was what we could see, and the second swamp was underneath, a whole other plane for the things that lived below. And he’d tell it like that, just telling, like what he saw was obvious, like all of us could see. It made him a little crazy, but it was also good, like it scratched an itch, when he was humming like that. Like it got at something we all needed getting at.

So he called her that one day–Blue–and that was it. The name came from her eyes, pale blue and poking out of her head. Now I know albinos usually have red eyes. I don’t know what that means about Blue.

Since I was a boy she was our sight, our draw, our little bit of something special that brought people down the side highway that looped past Back Bruly. Every summer the freshman would re-paint the billboard, fix up the letters. That sign was the best kept thing in town for a while. “Snow White, The Eighth Wonder of Louisiana!” it said, and then there was a picture of her. I never did find out what the first seven wonders were. When they repainted, she always changed a little, teeth getting longer or the spikes on her tail getting taller, and once every few years or so Eli’s dad would have to tell that year’s freshman to reign her in, that she had to stay believable, so folks could tell she was a gator, and not something make-believe, otherwise they might not stop. Eli would wave every time he went by that sign, a flat hand out the window of his truck, like he was saluting her, all twelve feet a clean, pure white from snout to tail.

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