“Dear Delores Dale” was selected for THE BODY microprose longlist. “Dear Delores Dale” was also selected for the 2020 Best Small Fictions anthology — I represent the estate of one Walter K. Brennan, owner of a popular Midwestern chain of fast-food eateries. Twelve days ago, Mr. Brennan lost a brief but grueling battle with esophageal cancer, and I have now disposed of his assets as instructed, with the exception of a single item—an item he bequeathed to you. I know you never met Walter Brennan, Mrs. Dale, and are probably wondering what I am playing at. If I am some psycho merely masquerading as an attorney. Let me assure you, nothing could be further from the truth . . . though at times I think I might prefer institutional life to shaking hands and arguing cases, to sitting in snarled traffic and sighing and making occasional love to my dear wife. Walter Brennan saw you only once, at a Dairy Queen fifty-eight years ago, and in his words you stole his heart. So that is what he left you. Obviously I cannot excise Mr. Brennan’s heart, cure it, and ship it to you. I was his attorney for sixteen years, but I never saw the man cry or even smile until the morning he sat across from me describing your lips as they curled around the stripy straw through which you drank a vanilla milkshake six decades ago. On that morning Mr. Brennan broke down, sobbed so hard I was forced to lend him my favorite handkerchief. And last night, when I asked my dear wife how on earth to honor Walter K. Brennan’s strange bequest, she smiled sagely and asked me one question. What did you do with that handkerchief? Please forgive the state of my handwriting, Mrs. Dale. I have never before composed a piece of correspondence upon a hankie.

Yours Most Sincerely,

Carl Wainscot, Attorney-at-Law

— JEN FAWKES’s debut story collection, Mannequin and Wife, is forthcoming in 2020 from LSU Press. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in One Story, Crazyhorse, The Iowa Review, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the 2019 Pinch Award in Fiction and the 2019 John Gardner Memorial Fiction Prize from Harpur Palate; her stories have also won prizes from Salamander, Washington Square, and others. She is an Assistant Professor of English at West Liberty University in northern West Virginia. Find her on Twitter at @fawkesontherun. Artwork by: Shayna Bruce My name is Shayna Bruce and I am a photographer/visual artist residing in Lexington, KY. I am a lover of animals, nature, food, coffee, authentic interaction, creativity and magic. I believe in love, whimsy, and synchronicity. The work I create is heavily inspired by poetry, film, and folklore, along with my own unique experiences. When I am in my flow, I feel as though I am a conduit of the universe, everything stops and there is only beauty and the camera. My life’s desire to share that beauty with the world. Links Website: CapturedSynchronicity.com Instagram: @captured_synchronicity_

Dear Delores Dale

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