Iowa Writes

CHRIS OFFUTT
Excerpts from Lucy's People


Jackie Jackson

I don't know if I was good for her or not. Maybe we helped each other through a bad patch in our lives. I was just out of prison and she was just out of Utah. She was a beautiful woman, a nice armful. She could make a freight train take a dirt road. I hoped we'd be together forever but knew we'd be doing good to last six months. She softened me up. But she could go away inside herself like nobody I'd ever seen. It was like an iron gate dropped and a concrete wall went up. You couldn't shoot your way in.

She had a great laugh, but never used it. Things weren't funny to her like they were for everyone else. Comedy movies, jokes, cartoons. She said knowing it was supposed to be funny ruined it. The hardest I ever saw her laugh was drunk. She was the first woman I trusted in a long time. If I asked her to meet me at the bus station with a bag of money and a pistol, I knew she'd be there.

Jackie Jackson

I don't know if I was good for her or not. Maybe we helped each other through a bad patch in our lives. I was just out of prison and she was just out of Utah. She was a beautiful woman, a nice armful. She could make a freight train take a dirt road. I hoped we'd be together forever but knew we'd be doing good to last six months. She softened me up. But she could go away inside herself like nobody I'd ever seen. It was like an iron gate dropped and a concrete wall went up. You couldn't shoot your way in.

She had a great laugh, but never used it. Things weren't funny to her like they were for everyone else. Comedy movies, jokes, cartoons. She said knowing it was supposed to be funny ruined it. The hardest I ever saw her laugh was drunk. She was the first woman I trusted in a long time. If I asked her to meet me at the bus station with a bag of money and a pistol, I knew she'd be there.

The night she left, I robbed a liquor store. They never caught me and I never stole again. I'm living on the square now. I believe I owe that to her.

Allie Houston

Lucy waited tables with me at a diner in Casper. She was a good twenty years older and showed me how to smile enough to get a tip but not so much it give the men ideas. She was like a Mom to me. Eat before you drink, she said. Don't get mixed up with married men. Don't answer every question just because somebody asks.

That time in my life was bad. I felt like my insides were dissolving, and I decided to get it over with. I took sleeping pills, then I got scared and called Lucy. She took me to the hospital and came to visit every day. She told me that living was the best thing there was in life, and didn't even think that was funny when I laughed. She gave me little presents, just cheap stuff, but nice. I still have the stuffed dog. I call it Lucy. Not because it looks like her or anything, but so I can say her name sometimes.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


CHRIS OFFUTT

Iowa City resident and frequent visiting professor at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Chris Offutt is the author of two books of stories, Kentucky Straight and Out of the Woods; one novel, The Good Brother; and two memoirs, The Same River Twice, and No Heroes. "Lucy's People" originally appeared in the Summer 2005 issue of Fence.

This page was first displayed
on October 17, 2006

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