The End of Fancy


My wife’s real religious, raised Methodist, family lived on a farm with two old maid aunts. Me, I’m an atheist at best, born and raised in Louisville, hate the countryside, have no known relatives since Mom and Dad died quarreling over them damn shoes.
Folks called ours a doomed marriage. Hah! Fifty years later, me and Betsy get along just fine, thank you. But for that one bone of contention. Which is, I break into houses, don’t take much, just the odd footwear. That gets to her, my bringing home ladies’ footwear. First one I came home with—leather boot, red—Betsy had a fit.
“But dumplin, nobody gets hurt,” I pleaded.
“Hurts me. Feels like a romance going on with you and the girl owns the boot.”
Took hours to persuade her otherwise.
I turned sixty today and Betsy’s acting crazy like. She takes a sandal—orange and purple—from my shelves, waves it at me. “You know what this makes you, taking young gals’ footwear?”
I do not know what it makes me.
“A dirty old man, that’s what. Be more respectable, you collected shoes from older women.” She indicates her own brown oxfords. “You promise me, Mister, no more of them fancy ones.”
She has no idea what she’s asking. Still, in my heart I know I’ll do it. One thing my folks taught me, nothing good comes of quarreling over shoes.


Margie Hamilton, co-authoring with Camille Minichino, has published an online collection, Six Scattered Stories. Her short story, The Return of Marcus Casteel, has appeared in the New Realm magazine's July issue. Her first flash fiction, The Whisperer, was "Today's" New Flesh piece. Margie worked as a technical writer during the challenging Dot Com era, has attended classes at the Iowa University Writer’s Workshop, and is a member of the Mt. Diablo branch of the California Writers Club.




Longitudinal Object Studies:  Zapruder camera

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Date: June 20, 1971
A silver-colored high-end Model 414 PD Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series Camera sits on a small metal table among a stack of Time magazines from 1948/9/13 – 1949/1/18 as part of the yard sale in a suburban neighborhood of Houston, TX headed by one Lillian Zapruder à
At 2:15 pm, Mrs. Zapruder removes remaining items and places them in a small box to give to charity and notices that the camera was gone but that she had no memory of anyone purchasing it à
Date: June 19, 1978
At 4:58 pm curator Jennifer Rosdale of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston finds 2’X2’X2’ box sitting on small table in women’s restroom closest to Museum’s archives with dust-covered silver-colored high-end Model 414 PD Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series Camera that she assumes was left in restroom as part of clerical error, but finds that the box has no identifying labels.  Ms. Rosdale places said box in locked, climate-controlled room before leaving for the day with all intentions of discussing the box with staff the next day.  The next morning the box is missing à
Date: March 19, 1983
At 11:54 pm bartender Abe Kaufmann notices black cloth bag with single zipper left on customer’s table while he is bartending at Flannigan’s Sportsbar and Restaurant in Savannah, GA and he quickly retrieves the bag and places it behind the bar in case the customer returns.  His curiosity getting the better of him, Mr. Kaufman unzips the bag and discovers a camera of a kind that he remembers his father using to film family vacations.  Returning the camera to the bag, Abe resumes tending bar.  When no one returns to claim the camera, Abe decides to claim the item for himself after last call at 2:30 am, but the bag has disappeared à
Date: January 19, 1992
At 3:22 pm Nick Hilbourn mulls through pawn shop in Loris, SC looking for a birthday gift for his sister.  On a small shelf near the back of the store smelling of dust and mothballs, he finds an old silver-colored camera that seems to be from the ‘60s or ‘70s and he brings it to the counter to purchase.  When the clerk refuses to sale the item and expresses astonishment that it should be on the shelf at all Mr. Hilbourn leaves it on the counter.  Mr. Hilbourn walks into a side-room of porcelain dolls and vinyl records, waiting until the clerk is distracted, and quickly snatches the camera from the counter and exits the store.  Mr. Hilbourn places the camera in a red gift bag and places it beside his bed. 
Date: January 20, 1992
At 7:44 am Mr. Hilbourn is found dead in his room, having suffered a heart attack between 11:30 pm and 12:30 am.  An empty red gift bag is found across his chest à

Date: September 19, 2005
At 5:45 pm Abigail Johnson, in reviewing pictures on her computer comes across a series of digital photos sent to her by her late husband from his officer in World Trade Center Tower 1 and identifies on his desk the curious item of a 1960s-era video camera, silver in color.  Having never known her husband to have been a collector of antique cameras and unsure why he would’ve taken such a one to work, she e-mails her brother-n-law, Hank Johnson, about the photograph. 
Date: September 20, 2005
Mr. Johnson, having finished a round of golf with a friend the previous day, checks his e-mail at 9:04 am and responds to Mrs. Johnson that he “saw nothing unusual.”  When Mrs. Johnson looks at the photograph again at 9:05 am, she finds that the camera has vanished from the photograph à
Date: January 20, 2009
Last known appearance of the camera is at the First Inauguration of President Barack Obama at 10:34 am.  Behind the President and slightly below the left shoulder of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a figure in a black pea coat and brown cowboy hat pulled low over the eyes holding what looks to be a Model 414 PD Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series Camera, silver colored.  Poet Brennan Burnside takes a screenshot with his TiVo and sends it to his computer.  While waiting for the picture to print, he notices that the figure is carrying a folded black umbrella like a cane. 
At 10:38 am President Obama chuckles after mis-repeating the oath administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts. 
At 10:39 am the President continues with the oath and the figure in the cowboy hat and pea coat is gone.  When Mr. Burnside retrieves the print-out from his computer, he discovers that the figure is also absent from his printed screen shot.

Brennan Burnside's work has appeared in 3Elements Review, Lost Coast Review, Word Riot and Hypertext. His chapbook, Room Studies, is available from Dink Press. He lives near Philadelphia and blogs at burnsideonburnside.tumblr.com