from Hard Times Galore
Peck’s bar was packed for a shrimp fundraiser for Grace whose husband had contracted rabies from a wild beaver.
He didn’t have health insurance so Grace kept him tied to the radiator in the kitchen, foaming at the mouth, until she could raise the money for his treatment.
Peck threw the fundraiser with one stipulation; that Grace strip throughout the night. She’d make money in tips and Peck would finally get what he wanted since he first met her; to see her naked.
Grace made four hundred dollars that night, but it was not easy. One man licked her leg, one pinched her butt, one man critiqued her body using the word quaggy. Someone even tipped her by shoving a piece of shrimp down her underwear.
She went home, humiliated but excited to finally have the money to save her husband, but he was not in the kitchen. The rope had been chewed through and he was gone. She called the sheriff who arrived with a tranquilizer gun and they drove through town looking for him.
His body was found the next morning outside of a chicken coop where he had bitten the throats out of several chickens. Grace cried over his body, knowing she would never get over him, a man who she loved so much she danced topless for, with shrimp in her underwear.
Patrick Vincent Welsh calls the stories in Hard Times Galore “tragic and humorous portrayals of the modern American condition”. Selections from the collections have been published in Euphony,The Journal of the University of Chicago, Apiary Journal and