Concise Prose. Enough Said.
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Having A Look At Maggie

By David Breeden

There wasn’t a person alive in the county—man, woman, or child over five—who didn’t know that Maggie was the most beautiful woman who had ever lived, although none of them had ever seen her, sequestered as she had been in her father’s country home. Sure, some actress might look a bit more sparkly, but that’s all done with make-up and lights. Yes, Maggie was without a question the most beautiful woman ever to have breathed.

So it was that, when at last she began “seeing” men, word spread quickly. A whole line of wagons, buggies, surreys, slap-dash contraptions, horses, and foot traffic stretched down the highway, hopelessly clogging it from both directions and at several crossroads, because the lane to Maggie’s house was sunken from age and narrow.

This snarl went on for so long that a community grew along the roadside, complete with vendors and local baseball teams. Commerce outside of entrepreneurial enterprises within the queue itself, slowed to, well, a standstill.

Previous to the regional finals, however, a rather sour note clanged. One of the suitors, Billy Simonson, a man known to have been quite handsome and close to the front of the queue, was found hanging in a tree in the woods near the house, his hands and feet nowhere to be found.

The local newspaper, set up by an editor in the queue called it a “brutal murder” and provided a description for those too far down the line to see. He speculated that fellow Maggie Lookers, as they had come to be known, overcome by jealousy, had committed the crime. Naturally, this explanation, having been in print from a reputable source, became the prevailing wisdom, though certain malcontents whispered a darker scenario.

“There’s a game in there,” they said. “A game poor Billy lost.”

The second appearance of an equally dead, and similarly mutilated, corpse caused more of a stir than the first. Three fledgling football teams were immediately disbanded and a certain air of siege coursed through the queue.

What could be happening?

“In such large groups, such things are bound to happen,” insisted some, following the lead of an editorial in the local newspaper.

Less intrepid souls, the lackadaisical and workaday along the queue, surrendered hope of ever seeing Maggie and returned to their everyday lives, thus improving commerce in the surrounding counties.

That Saturday only two football teams could be fielded, and the newspaper’s editor began worrying aloud of an advertising revenue shortfall.

The third, fourth, and fifth corpses, similarly situated and mutilated, excited little in the way of community commentary beyond the stooped shoulders of resignation. The football season was cancelled, as one of the quarterbacks was numbered among the dead.

“Things happen,” wrote the editor. “This is the last edition.”

“The absence of flaw in beauty is itself a flaw,” said the malcontents.

By the time the sixth and seventh corpses swung, the queue had dwindled so far that all who wished to could view the carnage.

The editor, having become a dray puller, said, “Has anyone ever seen Maggie?”

“Only the dead,” the malcontents said, “before they lost the game.”

“We’ll see,” said the few who remained in line. “We’ll wait and see.”


Dr. David Breeden has an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop and a Ph.D. from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi, with additional study at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. He has published eight books of poetry and four novels. He published the first full-length translation of Beowulf on the internet.  His short film House Whine was funded by the British Columbia Arts Council. His film Off the Wall  won "Best of Fest" at the Great Lakes Film Festival. His newest book of poetry, Ice Cream and Suicide, recently appeared from UKA Press in the United Kingdom. His newest novel, A Poet's Guide to Divorce, just appeared from Fine Tooth Press.


"The absence of flaw in beauty is itself a flaw," is drawn from Impressions and Comments, by Havelock Ellis.

Photo "Face 2" courtesy of Lucretious.

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