Sunday Stories: “Caterwaul”

Map fragment

by Mary B. Sellers

I’ve always loved how weathermen don’t even try at hiding their glee, how they quite literally make their money betting on these daily disasters–waking up each morning hoping for a handful of thirty-minute-dangers spaced evenly before and after lunch, pre and post rush hour, maybe a rare midnight rogue of a spliced, bucking cell; green screens covered in cherry pixels, hornety and crude in their county-hopping anger.

A former boyfriend once told me that the noise was actually the sound of a bunch of computers talking out loud to each other. Saying: how these people’s favorite soundtrack is the perennial stun of the EAS’s heinous digital dinosaur pulse-chirp, which absolutely must fall on some spectrum of sociopath.

He called everyone sociopaths these days because of the psychology night class he’d made his newest special interest. He’d used the word caterwauling and I’d gone to bed with him after because back then I liked nothing more than the sound of seven-dollar-words on a college boy’s lips.

I kept thinking of this story he’d written and asked me to read—about a man needing live crickets in bed in order to achieve full orgasm, how his bedmates had to go along with the live bait kink, the chirps, the black glistening of insects legs performing their poetry all night.

He had no sheets on his twin bed or his one yellow-stained pillow and used a murky blue sleeping bag, unzipped, as a comforter. But he knew words and how to say them well, and I was young and eager to compromise back then. Just not with crickets.


Mary B. Sellers lives in Jackson, MS, with her Cavalier King Charles, Daisy Buchanan. She is a teacher by day and writer by late nights and weekends. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Mississippi, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing in Fiction from Louisiana State University, where she served as graduate prose editorial assistant for The Southern Review. Her graduate thesis, a hybrid novel, Rapunzel Has Insomnia, was a finalist for the University of New Orleans Publishing Laboratory 2018 Prize. Her first collection of short stories, Shoulder Bones, was published in 2014. Her fiction and nonfiction appear or are forthcoming in Hobart, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Razor, Psychopomp, Flash Fiction Magazine, Third Point Press, Sidereal Magazine, among others. IG: @murbysell, Twitter: @murbysell

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