White Eagle Coffee Store Press      2008 A. E. Coppard Prize Story

Benediction by Brent DeLanoy

      In Doug, the first-person narrator of Benediction, Brent DeLanoy has created a self-deprecating, earnest character, who never leaves his hometown and who drinks at the bar where his father drank. He's the kind of guy you could entrust with your eulogy, which is why his mother turns to him, instead of to his estranged, "free-spirited" brother, Kenny. But, Doug isn't a simple guy. His mind is always in the sky, and the death of his father brings his ruminations earthward, toward clarity. He is like a man waking from a dream, a kind of alien, who divines clues about the people closest to him, but never truly understands them or connects with them. His penetrating observations substitute, perhaps, for the intimacy he craves. DeLanoy has provided us a journey story, a tale of grief and loss, an exploration of the father/son bond-and he dodges any possibility of cliché with the honesty of Doug's voice. Benediction confers on us the blessing of discovery, the chance to realize, breathlessly, what was always in front of us.

                                                                              Kathy Flann

                                                                              contest judge

Stopping the Asteroid

   woodcut

   April Kendziora Smith

Brent DeLanoy received his MFA from New Mexico State University in 2006. Benediction comes from his collection of novellas entitled "The Natural Order." He teaches at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY, and lives in Morris, NY with his wife, Kira, and son, Aidan.

HOME

     My father would enter a room and nearly always utter his benediction--he called them his benedictions--and always the word fuck was included. You could tell it was him, the way he put the emphasis on the F and almost entirely skipped the U to land on the staccato beat that was the CK that was like his natural drug. My brother and I would keep a mental catalogue of all the colorful uses, mostly to use on the playground, to be sent home, to learn some more.

     He generally limited himself to three, the "Just what the fuck is going on here?" when he burst into one of our rooms, perhaps thinking that he would catch us smoking, or hopping out the window, or masturbating to the glossy color magazines that he knew we knew he had under his bed.

     Also, the "How the fuck are you?" taken out and dusted off on the rare occasion that we had company.

     And then, the "What the fuck?" which was, in a way, his general purpose phrase, regarding both anything that my brother and I did that he thought ill-advised, and any calls by referees that he just couldn't agree with. 

     His face would take on all manner of poses during these uses, which is probably the thing that I remember most fondly. I would stare as the right side of his lip curled up, causing his right eye to close, causing his face to look a little like a broken set of mini-blinds. I imagined that his lip would continue curling, around first his closed eye, and then the other, until his face sucked up into his skull in a sort of quantumly mechanical, fleshy, black-hole.

     And now I am going to his funeral.

     And I have nothing to say.