Spencer, Iowa


I was pissing in a can when I figured out I pissed exactly 16 ounces, full bladdered.


I had just crashed my car. Not wrapped around a pole or anything or so dramatic. It never works out like that. There is sympathy only in the movies.


It was not even that late. I was on my way to the Casey’s. My roommate was having a party at our house. My purpose was equal parts food and drink. That’s how early it was.


My first thought was that I didn’t have my phone on me. My second thought was that I was pretty cut up from the broken windshield, but I wasn’t in any pain. This was good.


I’m from Spencer, Iowa. My name is also Spencer. This made for really easy small talk with anyone I was ever introduced to. I’ve often thought that this fact has acted as something of a social crutch for me throughout my life. I feel as though I’ve never had to genuinely make small talk others do and that this has likely stunted my social aptitude. There’s really no way of knowing for sure, though.


After I had skidded off the road, I got out of the car to take a look. It was sitting on the side of the road, lopped over on the snow. Not even flipped. It was just sitting there looking lazy and broken.


I thought about running. I thought about all the ways someone could connect me to this busted car. The license plate, the registration, the insurance paperwork, the VIN. I thought about my neighbor. He watched me drive this car in and out of my driveway twice a day, every day. I came to the conclusion there was very little chance of me walking away and successfully ditching the car. This was a small town.


I looked down the street and realized that the Casey’s was right there. I could see it. I left the car and walked toward the Casey’s. The road was more cleared than the sidewalk. I made it there easy. I got the beer and the pizza. I walked up the hill and walked past my busted car. I made it to the residential strip, off the main drag of town. I looked into my neighbor’s windows as I made my way up the street. They were all asleep or watching TV, it was hard to tell. I walked into my house and sat down and opened a beer and listened to my roommate and his guests talk over each other.



Council Bluffs, Iowa


I remember your parents’ house in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I know it’s generally taboo to have fond memories of Council Bluffs, but here it goes.


I visited just this weekend. I shopped at the small shops in the old brick buildings. They thought I was trying to steal something.


“Can I help you find something?”


“Are you looking for anything in particular?”


I thought about your brother who had just got out of prison.


Remember that country bar? That guy who operates the mechanical bull is still there, still with the Mountain Dew. I watched his girlfriend, maybe wife, bring him up a cold Mountain Dew and admire him for the work he was doing. That’s love and it was beautiful.


Your folks never spent their weekends at the casinos, did they? I think there is something to that.


It was beautiful up at the old cemetery on the top of the hill. The Black Angel statue is surrounded by security cameras now and is equipped with motion activated alarms and lights. If you go up there after hours now, the lights start flashing, an alarm goes off, and a recorded voice yells –



If there’s a way to ruin something fun, they’ll find it.


I remember once we went to a house party hosted by a high school boyfriend of yours who had bought a house way out on the edge of town. Dirt road and all. Sydney came along just for a laugh. We were so drunk.


If this is a letter, I guess I ought to end with something like…


Hope all is well.