You may think with a name like Jethro, our story is a simple tale of a country bumpkin visiting New York City. It's deeper than that. There's a restlessness in Jethro's soul. Plus, he has the quirky habit of barking when he's nervous. It starts with a low growl when he's mildly agitated, to a ferocious bark when he feels endangered.
Jethro gets fed up with his wife and her cousin after being cooped up in the cousin's tiny apartment. He came to New York to see things, he declares and steps out to explore the city on his own. As he rides the subway he growls under his breath to keep the creeps away (just imagine).
He catches the attention of Toni a cross dresser recently released from the army. It becomes a wild weekend of sex and self-discovery until a dangerous encounter with a gang of boys sends Jethro back to the arms of his wife, Eartha Pearl. Is Jethro a changed man? Only time will tell. "Harvey captures te flavor of New York with the best of them."
I say, "Now wait a minute, Jethro, you ain't gonna have no cultural experiences stuck scared here on this stoop. Suppose Columbus had just sat on a stoop all his life. Just suppose. Shit. A man must take action!" While I sit debating, this big white dude in chains and leather walks toward me. Now, these chains ain't dainty little things you get from Spiegel's catalog. These chains come from the Navy yard. I mean these chains can lift submarines. He wears three around his neck, five on each wrist, and two on each ankle. Now the chains do not bother me. The fact that he has on funky raw uncured leather does not bother me. Even the glass eye--I hope it's glass--dangling from his left earlobe on a chain does not bother me. What bothers me is when he turns in my direction, and grabs his grapefruit sized crotch and smiles—that's what bothers ol' Jethro here. I say, "Uh oh Jethro, somebody wants you to swing a certain way. And I don't swing that way." I wonder why he pick on me? So what if I do have on these black high top sneakers, shorts with Texas bluebonnets all over them, and a pink tee-shirt that says, "I BRAKE FOR MOONERS--that don't mean I'm gay. Shoot. I'm just a colorful dude. Well okay if you want to count that time when I was in the eighth grade and me and Johnny Scardino grabbed each other's rods behind the gym bleachers. I wouldn't have gone back there with him, but he told me he had two and he would show me if I showed him mine. Okay, it tickled and I got a hard-on when he grabbed me and I grabbed him out of reflexes, but I haven't seen Johnny since the eighth grade. I dreamed about him once, since I been married to Eartha Pearl. But I woke up and made love to Eartha real quick.
So anyway I hang my head and growl softly at the man in leather. He must think I'm calling him to dinner 'cause he moves a little closer. When I see him step, I bark louder. And not yap yap like a poodle either. I'm Doberman and Great Dane combined. I rattle nearby windows. New York people stare at me as they walk by. And they tell me you're doing something when you can get a New Yorker to stare at you eye-level on the street. The dude slinks away like he's carrying a tail between his legs.
First appeared in Soulfires and Shade.
Please enjoy these other books by the author:
When Dogs Bark 2
3AM-Poems and Stories From the Other Mind
About the Author
Charles W. Harvey is a native Houstonian and a graduate of the University of Houston. He has studied fiction under the guidance of Rosellen Brown and Chitra Divakaruni at U of H. He has studied poetry under Joyce James and Cynthia MacDonald. In 1987, Charles was a 1st place prize recipient of PEN/Discovery for Cheeseburger, which went on to be published in the Ontario Review. In 1989 Charles Harvey was awarded the Cultural Arts Council of Houston Grant for Writers and Artists. Also in 1989 he was a finalist in the MacDonald's Literary Achievement Awards. Charles has been published in Soulfires, Story Magazine SHADE, High Infidelity, The James White Review, and others. He is the author of the novels The Butterfly Killer, Promise Goodday, and Boy 4 Higher. He is also the author of several story and poetry collections.