Beginning of Nothing

By Niles Reddick

            When a girlfriend we’d only heard about called to let us know Dean was in jail again, we knew she wanted bail money from his trust account to get Catherine’s brother out. Fortunately, we couldn’t help immediately because the banks were closed for the President’s Day weekend. Three days in jail would Dean dry out again and offer him another chance.  We would certainly never pull from our own savings account or give a stranger a credit card to help him, and I’d told my wife, “If your brother were on fire, I doubt I’d fill a bucket to pour on him.” Of course, it’s more talk than anything and it’s not her fault he’s good for nothing like his mama and uncle and a long line of nothing extending back through time to the beginning of nothing. “Ought to have sent that boy to detox when he was born cause ya’ll knew he was gonna end up there” is reportedly what one cousin said when he was born. I don’t know if that’s true, but it might as well be true.

            I tried to act like I wasn’t listening when Dean was allowed to use the phone in jail and called Catherine. She talked to him a few minutes. He said he was having withdrawals and she told him it wouldn’t last. He should remember that from the last time. He told her he was sorry, that he needed to get his life together, and that he was glad to have another chance. Catherine told him he wasn’t a cat, that he didn’t have nine lives.  She told him she’d have the bank wire him money for bail when it opened Tuesday, that he had about gone through his share of the farm sale, and that his trust account would dry up soon whether he did or not. She didn’t mean to lecture him, but with skyrocketing attorney’s fees, he’d be broke in a matter of months. He needed to understand this was his real last chance to get it right, to get a job, and to get on the straight and narrow path like most of humanity. He’d run off three wives, two children, most of his relatives and friends, been fired or quit jobs, and it was always somebody’s fault. He promised he’d try to do better, and Catherine knew he wouldn’t, but she could hope.

On Tuesday she decided to do Dean a real favor. I couldn’t have been happier when she neither went to the bank nor accepted his collect phone call.


Niles Reddick is author of the novel “Drifting Too far from the Shore,” a collection “Road Kill Art and Other Oddities,” and a novella “Lead Me Home.”  His collection “Reading the Coffee Grounds” recently debuted. His work has been featured in 11 anthologies/collections and in more than 150 literary magazines all over the world including Cheap Pop, Pure Slush, Drunk Monkeys, Spelk, The Arkansas Review: a Journal of Delta Studies, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Slice of Life, Faircloth Review, among many others. His website is

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