Joe Burkes Last Stand

John Moncure Wetterau
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Joe Burke's Last Stand

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Title: Joe Burke's Last Stand
Author: John Moncure Wetterau
Release Date: February 9, 2004 [eBook #11004]
Language: English
Character set encoding: US-ASCII
Copyright (c) 2003 by John Moncure Wetterau

Joe Burke's Last Stand
Every Story Is A Love Story

John Moncure Wetterau

(c) 2000 by John Moncure Wetterau

Library of Congress Number: 00-193498
ISBN #: Hardcover 0-7388-1663-9
ISBN #: Softcover 0-9729587-2-X

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial License. Essentially, anyone is free to copy, distribute, or perform this copyrighted work for non-commercial uses only, so long as the work is preserved verbatim and is attributed to the author. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to:
Creative Commons 559 Nathan Abbott Way Stanford, California 94305, USA.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, or to any events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Published by:
Fox Print Books 137 Emery Street Portland, Maine 04102
[email protected]

Thanks to Larry Dake, Christopher Evers, Bruce Gordon, Majo Keleshian, Jane Lowenstein, Sylvester Pollet, and Nancy Wallace for valuable suggestions and invaluable support. Gino's poem, "Aesthetic," is by Sylvester Pollet and is used with his permission.

Cover print: copy after Ogata Korin, 1658-1716.

This book is for Rosy

Joe Burke's Last Stand

"My rig's a little old, but that don't mean she's slow--Batman--that don't mean she's slow." Joe Burke was singing, driving south. His rig was a blue Ford pickup with a battered cap on the back. Batman, all six inches of him, was propped upright on the dash.
Joe followed signs to the Weston Priory, climbing through woods and out onto an open plateau. A cluster of wooden buildings stood near a pond. A monk was raking leaves from a path that curved around the pond like a trotter's track. Joe got out, stretched, and entered a gift shop by the parking lot. A middle aged woman seated next to the cash register closed her book.
"Where is everybody? Rehearsing?" She smiled slightly and remained silent. "Lovely day," Joe said.
"Yes, isn't it."
He bought a cassette made by the monks. "A bit stagy, Batman," he said climbing into the truck and closing the door. "We must continue to seek truth and contend with the forces of evil." Batman stared resolutely ahead.
Joe cut over to the interstate. When he reached the highway, he played the cassette: resonant voices and a single guitar, encouraging. "Sappy," Ingrid had declared impatiently. Joe smiled. She was free of his taste in music now--had been for a year and a half.
At Brattleboro, he turned off the highway, rented a motel room, and walked into town. He found a brew pub where he sat at a corner table with a pint of ruby brown ale--cool and fresh, the malt veiled with lacy astringent hops. He had another and watched the bartender talk on the telephone, her elbows and breasts on the bar, a vertical worry line dropping between her eyes. She was about his daughter Kate's age. The room began to fill, the nasal sound of New York mixing with flat New England tones. The Connecticut River valley narrows in Brattleboro, a gateway to upper New England for New Yorkers. He was going through in the other direction, trying to figure out what to do next. What do you do at 52 when the kids are grown? The same things all over again?
He took out a notebook and remembered the drive--the blue sky, the red and gold ridges, small fields tilting greenly in their arms. On such a day, one could almost be forgiven, he wrote.
A blonde woman with a wry smile, an experienced charmer, sat down at the next table. He considered having another ale, making friends with her and starting a new life in Brattleboro or over the mountain in Bennington, but he knew that he was fooling himself. It was too familiar; he might as well have stayed in Maine.
"Gotta go," he said to her sadly. She raised her eyebrows, acknowledging the human condition, and he walked back to the motel. At the edge of town, trees were dark behind a body of water that was platinum and still. Fish broke the surface with soft slaps in the centers of expanding circles. Ansel Adams might have caught the many shades
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