The Old Neighborhood

by Jay Butkowski

“It’s funny, y’know … my old man’s buried about 40 feet from where he went to nursery school…” The wind whips along the cliffs, a banshee’s lament nearly drowning out the words as they leave his lips, the cold steel muzzle of a pistol barely visible in the late March moonlight. “Yeah, never really left the neighborhood, never amounted to much, my pops. I told myself I wasn’t going to be that guy, that I was going to do something with myself, get a job that allowed me to see the sights, build perspective, and here I am, in Ireland, of all fucking places, my Pop’s ancestral homeland … and what brings me here, but a kid who grew up two doors down from me in the old neighborhood…” A thunderclap, a bright white flash, and I’m falling backwards now, over the edge, pain searing my guts, cold creeping in from the extremities, and that damn wind howling in my ear as I fall through nothingness into the open arms of the sea below. “No matter how far you run, sometimes you just can’t leave the old neighborhood behind,” he says as he turns to walk away.


Jay Butkowski is a writer of fiction and an eater of tacos who lives in New Jersey. His short fiction has appeared in various online and print publications, including Shotgun Honey, Yellow Mama, Bristol Noir, All Due Respect and Vautrin. He's the Managing Editor at Rock and a Hard Place Press, and has also co-hosted a series of Noir at the Bar readings in Asbury Park, NJ. He is a father of twins, recovering lead singer, and middling pancake chef.