December 15, 2009
From The Chicagoist, here’s an excerpt from “The Starving Dogs of Little Croatia,” a story from Barry Gifford’s forthcoming short story collection, Sad Stories of the Death of Kings:
“Every man lives like hunted animal,” said Drca Kovic.
“You make this just up?” asked Boro Catolica.
“What is difference?” Drca said, “if it is truth?”
The two men, both in their mid-thirties, were seated next to one another on stools at the bar in Dukes Up Tavern on Anna Ruttar Street drinking shots of Four Sisters backed with Old Style chasers. Brenda Lee was on the jukebox belting out “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” just as she did every December. Boro Catolica lit up a Lucky.
“Ten years now Chicago,” he said, “and no truth more than Zagreb.”
“At least here we drink in peace,” said Drca Kovic. “There we drink in war.”
“Yes, but probably we end up lying still in alley with cats they are looking at us. Our eyes they are open but not being able see theirs.”
It was seven o’clock on a Friday evening two days before Christmas. There were four inches of snow on the ground with more expected. Boro and Drca had been in Dukes Up since ten to five, thirty minutes after dark and twenty minutes following the end of their shift at Widerwille Meatpacking on Pulaski Avenue. The men worked full days Monday through Friday and half days on Saturday.
“You notice old man Widerwille not so often check line now?” said Boro.
“Probably too cold in freezer for him,” Drca said. “Blood is thinner.”
Read the rest of the story at The Chicagoist, or whet your appetite for the collection with other books by Barry Gifford from Seven Stories Press.