:: Article

“Hobbyhorse” and “Kin”

Two stories by Kim Chinquee



He always had bubble gum and Nestle Crunch bars in his pocket. His parents owned the only store in Zachow.

He was a short kid who everybody picked on. My aunt and uncle didn’t live far from him and when I went to his store, I’d walk along the railroad tracks, thinking about the treats that I could hunt and gather.

But I’d find pebbles along the way, studying them so intently, and by the time I got to his store, I didn’t want anything; but then I got involved, walking along the aisles, reading the labels, finding the ingredients of noodles, of potato chips or salsa. I’d walk out, saying thank you to the Hobbyhorses, walking back to my aunt’s.

But one time on the tracks, I found a man. He asked me where the store was. I pointed him to the direction. I turned around and saw him. His face was kind of wrinkled, sad. His eyes were green. He asked me to do things. I watched him watching me. I forgot where I was for a minute. He said thanks and I told him you’re welcome.



On the aunt’s deck, they congregated, the mom reminding of an album. “Remember,” she said. “That one you got for Christmas.” The daughter drank, trying to spot the cat. The cat was always missing. The mom said, “That album. With My Ding-A-Ling.” “Oh,” the daughter said, leaning over the ledge, grabbing her man’s arm like crackpot. She held his hand, massaged it. She had a habit of first massaging knuckles, moving to his fingers, then to the palm. The aunt poured more wine. The night was a quilt of oldness: the daughter back, coming with the pianist, her boyfriend. The mother at the aunt’s house, complaining hers was small. This time the mother came with a friend who spoke like a man, saying she liked whiskey. The mother laughed, asked for another sour, confessing to liking it in high school. She went to high school with the aunt and the aunt’s husband, and even her ex, who was the aunt’s brother and institutionalized. The moon was full, and the famous boyfriend pointed. “It’s grand,” he said, and his girlfriend lifted her glass to him, then turned around, toasting. They walked around the yard, calling for the cat. “Kin,” they all said, running into branches.

Kim Chinquee‘s recent work appears in journals and anthologies including Noon, Conjunctions, Denver Quarterly, Notre Dame Review, Mississippi Review, New Orleans Review, Fiction Magazine, Fiction International, the Pushcart Prize anthology, and others.


First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, March 13th, 2007.