Quit This Town (Ezekiel, Mississippi) by Mike Itaya

I live in this place where nobody acts right.

We’re all bow-legged with bad love, down here.

Last Sunday supper, my Pa got in a Tae Bo-tong fight, at Dong Dynasty Super Buffet, over quinoa fritters. And Mama makes whoopee with the Mayor behind Pa’s back. In Ezekiel, Mississippi, my family runs around town like a stacked deck of crazy.

The only thing that made me feel better was tootin’. So that’s what I did. But not on just any old thing—any asshole could get seedy and reedy on a saxo—no Sir, I was righteous on French horn (I stole one from the band room). I made a point of blowin’ that damn thing in the places people was least wishin’ for it to be blown: Ezekiel High Church of the Walnut, the Lewd Dude Hotel on Hammer Lane, the baño at Piggly Wiggly. I blasted a solo outside Mayor Wilkins’ shaking crapper-shack, while he and Ms. Wanda, this refried hussy, got sassy. They were mighty churlish when they came out, and only gave me a skanky nickel when I held out my hand.  

He and I don’t get along. Besides the backdoor business with Mama, the Mayor once tried to expel my cousin-crush, Miss Britters, from Ezekiel Remedial School ‘cause Pastor Douglas banned sexy dressin’. Which didn’t sit good with me. I mean, you live in a depressive shit-mitt like Ezekiel, Mississippi, and you get mighty accustomed to “too damn little” of too damn much. So, I went after the Mayor with my industrial grade slingshot, “The Crippler,” and made things really dangerous for him. I’d see that fool cruisin’ around town in his canary yellow F-150, and take potshots through his open winder. Once, I shot a big-ass hole right through the chimichanga he was eating (while driving). He totaled his truck.

I have notions about life, and none of them include a cow-ass town like Ezekiel, Mississippi. People consider me a snob, ‘cause on my tenth birthday I banged back 12 New Belgies, and when I later came to, folks started callin’ me “The Good Stuff.” Where I live, there’s a sacramental beer to buck ratio, and violating this covenant by buying tony brew is enough to warrant screed-inches in The Ezekiel Trumpet

Local Boy Gets Stewed on ‘The Good Stuff’. Family in Pieces. Town Hall Planned.

Pastor Douglas and his mullet-brained congregation of do-gooders jumped on it, and last Sunday he dished out a prissy homily on beer Hell and all the geezers wailed over my intoxicant soul, and it was such a high-hellish pony show of dog-awfulness, I shotgunned the consecrated box wine so they’d all shut up. After that, I didn’t feel very good. Pastor Douglas told the congregation, “You are a stranger even to yourself,” and I felt he was starin’ directly into my soul. I tried to slip beneath my lawn chair, so no one could see I was there.

I was growing into the habit of quittin’ thingsback thendeciding I was too damn good for stuff (instead of the other way around). I quit drinking. Then I started again. I quit the French horn, when I never got higher than the Second chair. Most often, I felt confused. Like each morning I’d wake to the bamboozlement of my heart, not knowing which half of it was true. I wanted to quit my Pa. I wanted to quit my Mamma, quit my life, and quit the whole dang impropriety of Juacamole County. I promised to quit this town, if I ever could prove to a moral certainty I was better than it.


I never could.



Mike Itaya lives in southern Alabama, where he works in a library. His work appears in New Orleans Review, The Offing, and BULL. He holds an MFA in Fiction from Pacific University.