Fiction: Borgan’s Deli

By Jarrid Deaton

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Her hair still shedding dust from the collapse, Carol Borgan speaks with a health department official who glances at the remnants of the small deli that continues to creak and break apart in front of them.

“I guess you could say I saw this coming,” she says. “My mother said I was crazy for even moving here, let alone starting a business. She said it was madness, that nobody would eat in my deli. I told her that there were plenty of mouths to feed. I was right about that.”

The health department official slides his ink pen across the small notebook he’s held since arriving on scene.

“Your comment, Ms. Borgan, doesn’t bode well for insurance purposes,” he says. “However, the community is glad that you came. It may be a surprise, but we get a large number of tourists who end up moving to our oh-so-special little area for the peace and quiet. Well, more for the quiet, I suppose. Whole families have found a new home here while passing through on their way to Plymouth with their history-seeking vacation plans. Also, we need to locate Mr. Thatcher’s body in order to finalize the records.”

“I doubt you’ll find John,” she says. “The shadows took him. It got so dark so quick. I’m not sure what I saw.”

Carol goes quiet and looks at the ground. Torn apart menus blow around her feet.

“Ms. Borgan, did it appear that Mr. Thatcher’s death was in accordance with the sacrificial literature that is prevalent in our library?”

Carol glances up, grit catching in her eye, more residue from the ruined building.

“I’m not sure I understand,” she says. “You’re speaking like a textbook.”

“You don’t need to understand, Ms. Borgan,” he says. “I just need a little more information about the end of Mr. Thatcher. So many things begin and end in Massachusetts, even for visitors. As you probably know, he was from Rhode Island, I think, an adjunct professor of ancient religions. He came here full of high ideas and preconceived notions. I would guess he expected to find us shambling around fearing the wrath of God, his version of old-time religion. According to our files, he was here to gather research on a book.”

“I didn’t know that,” she says. “All I know is that he really liked my vegetable soup and crackers, and he was a good tipper. Lord, this is horrible.”

“Your reaction is understandable,” he says. “You can return to your home. My office will contact you once our report has been completed.”

As Carol drives away, the health department official closes his notebook and places it in his coat pocket. His skin ripples slightly under his sleeves as he turns back to the street and begins the short walk to the office. Under the bright midday sun, he casts no shadow on the cracked sidewalk. His footfalls are light, and a mild breeze catches what’s left of the sound and carries it toward the bay.


Bio: Jarrid Deaton lives and writes in eastern Kentucky.  He received his MFA in Writing from Spalding University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pear Noir!, Zygote in My Coffee, Six Sentences, and elsewhere.  He can be reached at