Fathom 1995



Inside Cover



Graham Touchie (4)
Jay White
Jacob Towers
Peggy Apostolides
Erica Spenser
Kathy Mac (4)
T. Gaoh
Rob Hutten
Guillaume van Moorsel


Karen Smith
C.A. Garbutt
Urs Frei


Karen Smith




     When Earl picked Audrey up from work on Thursday afternoon, he had a big grin on his face. After Audrey had got into his car and they had pulled away from the curb, Earl looked over at her and said, “I’ve got some great news!”
     Audrey was buckling her seat belt and she looked over at Earl. “Oh, yeah? What is it?”
     Earl returned his eyes to the road and, still grinning, said, “Well, it’s kind of a surprise, Honey.”
     Audrey’s forehead wrinkled just slightly; it had been a long day.
     “Oh, come on, Earl; just tell me what it is.”
     Earl shot her an endearing glance, then looked back at the road.
     “Now, Honey, don’t go getting all bent out of shape on me! You’ll find out when we get there!”
     “When we get where?!”
     Earl pulled onto the freeway and they were on their way out of town.
     “Earl, just how far away is this place we’re going? I made dinner reservations for seven o’clock, you know!”
     Earl chuckled. “We’ll be there in a jiffy, my sweet!” Audrey rolled her eyes and looked at her watch.
     Fifteen minutes later, Earl pulled off the highway and turned onto a side road. Audrey looked at the scenery, trying to spot anything familiar.
     “Earl, where the hell are we?” she asked impatiently.
Earl’s expression had become one of concentration as he maneuvered the car along the increasingly bumpy road. Without looking at Audrey, he said, “Darling, you know how we talked about getting a place together?”
     She looked over at him. “Yeah... “
     Taking his eyes from the road for just a second, Earl gave Audrey the big grin again. “I’ve found it, Darling! I’ve found our dream house!”
     Audrey began to smile surprisedly, then stopped. “You don’t mean you’re taking me there now?” she asked incredulously. Earl nodded vigorously, smiling. Audrey looked out the car window. “Earl, we talked about getting a place in town! I mean – I haven’t even seen any houses around here!”
     Still keeping his eyes on the road, Earl put his hand on Audrey’s arm. “Honey, just wait’ll you see this place. You’ll love it, I promise! We’re almost there now – you’ll see!”
     A minute later, Earl pulled over to the side of the road. Audrey looked out the window. “Well, where is it?” she asked.
     Earl opened his door. “We’re almost there, Darling! Just get out and follow me!” Audrey got out of the car and closed the door. The road had led them into a fairly large field lined with trees, with a small cluster of trees and scrub near the middle, about thirty feet from where Earl had parked his car. He was lop­ing off towards this cluster, saying “C’mon, Honey! We’re just about there!”
     Audrey started to follow. He disappeared around the trees and out of her view, and she hurried after him. “Earl? Earl! Wait up, for God’s sake! My heels are sinking into this ground!” She tripped along, skirting the trees as Earl had done, trying to see where he had gone. “Hey, Earl – you know, I’ve got better things to do after working all day long than get dragged out to some God-forsaken–”
     She stopped in her tracks as she saw Earl. He was kneeling down in front of a small, dirty wooden house about four and a half feet high. It had a pitched roof made of uneven boards, and an oval doorway without a door. Hearing Audrey approach, Earl looked around and stood up quickly.
     “Sweetheart! This is it!” he said with a blissful expression on his face. “This is our place, our own little house!”
     Audrey came a little closer, looking from the house to Earl and then back again, all the while trying to keep her high heels out of the dirt. As she got close enough to read it, she saw that a small wooden sign hanging by one nail above the oval door read, “Bruiser.” She realized that Earl was waiting expectantly for some kind of reaction. She turned towards him and said, “You brought me all the way out here for this? For some kind of joke?”
     Earl looked shocked. “‘Joke’? What do you mean, ‘joke’? You mean you don’t like it?”
     Audrey was struggling to keep the nervousness out of her voice. “All right, Earl, you’ve had your little laugh. Now can we please get out of here?”
     Earl walked over to her, a pleading look in his eyes. “Honey, I wouldn’t kid you about something like this! I just can’t believe you don’t love it as much as me! It’s perfect!”
     Audrey backed up a couple of steps. “Earl-listen to me: I’ve had enough. I don’t know what you’re trying to prove here, but– but– Earl, this is a doghouse!”
     Earl looked at the ground, crestfallen. “You know, Honey, I was hoping you’d be a little more open-minded about this.”
     “Open-minded. Open-minded. I just can’t believe I’m hearing this!”
     Audrey’s heels sank all the way into the ground, and she whirled her arms to maintain her balance. “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, Earl!”
     Earl smiled triumphantly. “Then, turn that frown upside-down, Honey!”
     Audrey was about to yell something when both of them heard a shuffling noise from inside the house. They looked towards the door and saw the emergence of a crusty, slept-on face topped by messy hair.
     “What the hell’s going on out here, anyhow?” the newcomer asked irritably. “If you young folks’s got nothin’ better to do’n beller at each other, take it down the road, eh?”
     With a muffled squeak, Audrey started to back away quickly but once again caught her heels in the earth and this time fell backwards, landing on her backside with a solid thump. Still squeaking, she scrambled up and, leaving her shoes stuck by the heels in the ground, turned and ran full speed towards Earl’s car.
     Earl watched her run away with bewildered eyes, then turned back towards the crusty man.
     “You aren’t Bruiser, are you?” he asked.


last updated August 17, 2007 | © 2007 Fathom Publishing
poetry, prose, and artwork © individual authours | website created by Alana Paul