After the Reign of Jimmy Carter

by James Thrasher

There once was a man named Riley who began every new year in the exact same fashion. He would wake up, do ten pushups, then shower and fix himself a bowl of oatmeal. After eating and washing the bowl, he’d begin to read Moby Dick. In ’77, he reached page 10; in ’78, page 16; in ’79, page 18; in ’80, he regressed to page 5. Finally, mercifully, on the day the New York Yankees made Dave Winfield baseball’s highest paid player, a friend of Riley’s - not a great friend; more a casual acquaintance - suggested a different resolution. Riley took the suggestion to heart, set his copy of Melville’s masterpiece adrift on Lake Michigan, took up the flute, and played badly and happily for over thirty years.


James Thrasher lives and writes in Maryland.