The President of Massachusetts


We stop at a gas station at the western-most end of west Texas. Everything is in Spanish. It is hot, dry–the kind of heat that never moves except to breathe with you. I stand outside the convenience store looking up at these great towering cylinders and have a cigarette.

“Can I?” Someone asks.

I turn. A short man with half-broken teeth has his fingers to his lips. I pass him a cigarette.

“Where are you from?” the man asks, he is tan, his eyes are tan, his teeth are tan–all dry and pruned. His face looks like something that might soon blow away in the wind, if there were any wind.

“Massachusetts,” I tell him.

He smiles, it breaks apart his lips. It looks painful. He looks thoughtful.

“Who is the president of Massachusetts?” he asks.

“Uh,” I manage, embarrassed, trying to remember the governor of Massachusetts. “Dunno,” I add, turning away and pretending to admire the great towering cylinders. My brother steps out of the convenience store.

“Shit, it’s hot,” he says, coming up beside me. The tan man smiles, flakes of tan skin crack off beneath his eyes.

“Who is the president of Massachusetts?” he asks my brother.

“Uh,” I think, it’s “Frank–No, George…no idea,” he turns to me, “do you remember the governor of Massachusetts?”

I shake my head. “Nope, I tried.”

We all shrug. “Wasn’t George Washington buried in Massachusetts?” he asks.

I look at my brother, my brother looks up at the great towering cylinders, he squints.

“Huh, maybe?”

“Honestly, we don’t know,” I tell the man, confused and embarrassed.

“Huh,” he says.

I nod. “Huh,” I add, for the sake of agreeing on something.

“Bet you haven’t seen those before,” he says, pointing up at the towering cylinders.

“Nope,” both my brother and I say, grateful to no longer have to wonder about the President of Massachusetts.

“They are elevators,” he tells us.

We stand, staring up at them, backs turned to the man.


“For corn,” he adds.


There is movement behind us. I turn, slowly. The tanned man is in the front seat of his car. It is an old car.

He lights his cigarette, drives away.





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17 replies to “The President of Massachusetts

    1. Again a very entertaining story. It seems to me that the question is, “Who is the president of Massachusetts?” The little man with the broken teeth gives in. He wanted to test whether it is worth investing here.
      Well it was not worth it .. the elevator then was only for corn, but the whole story was not a drama, since only the small man knew about it …

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah. Maybe he was trying to find some common ground but didn’t really know anything about Massachusetts but he did know something about the corn elevators that we didn’t. I’m not too sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. thank you flash for your help … yes it seems a bit a depressed mood that they do not know what to talk about. As you mentioned in your comment, the little man is trying to start a conversation … only by simply showing interest and after not being sucessful by starting with a topic where he know something to talk …. it’s kind of depressing … This sentence is great, but I also do not know yet how to classifiy: “His face looks like something that could soon blow away in the wind, if there were any wind.”

        Liked by 1 person

  1. ohh, so I´ll pray for some wind, or perhaps better for some rain, to get something grown there. But I think, may be the corn is already harvested? What a pity that there was nobody interested in the coversation with the little man. But maybe it was just oscitancy and not disinterest. Oscitancy is nowadays really a disease. I must be very careful, too, that I will go through my life a bit more attentively! So bad, we will never know what the man has had to tell!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. ohhh, what world? Oscitancy?…well maybe not the best translation…wait…I think the second one may be better: it´s inattention!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ouuhhhh … hahaha ….I get clobbered over the head with your quick-wittedness and your speed….you got the right name!


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