The First Time Billy Killed Himself

For those who don’t know, a good number of the editorial assistants of Artful Dodge are students at The College of Wooster in Ohio and end up working on the magazine by either serving as editor-in-chief Daniel Bourne’s research assistant or taking his “Editing a Literary Magazine” course. We also have a few volunteers, of course, but regardless of the way they began their relationship with the Dodge, no one really leaves without contributing something. In most cases, this “something” is their Artful Tangent, a short piece of prose written by the student themselves, that makes use of the words “artful” and/ or “dodge.” The best ones get published on the Dodge‘s website, and often find their way here as well. Point in example, a short piece by D.J. Francis (Wooster ’08):

The First Time Billy Killed Himself

He fell out of the apartment today onto the street and paused to look around and get his bearings. It was just a trial run–practice makes perfect. He bought a paper and flung it open, shuffled a cigarette out of the pack and into his mouth, sidling past the crowd the way he had dodged her, castling to save the king, rook be damned. At the greasy spoon he ordered the regular. Before the meal arrived, he recalled a dream in which he had pushed away his wife (he’d never been married) and found she had unknowingly packed his greatest aspect, his beautiful muse, and his intolerable weakness, all gone in a midnight’s rush. His “wife” would not be skinned; he had to hold her, peel her, pluck her until he saw the underside and realized he didn’t know what he wanted. He grew weaker and weaker and just when he had looked everywhere, he found her.



She had always been an artful patron of failure. She stood at the edge of a cliff at the end of the world with his cherry pit held lightly between thumb and forefinger. “It’s your decision,” she replied and then he did what he had to do, the only thing he knew how. He ate his omelet, returned to the apartment, and phoned his mother to ask if he could come to dinner. She asked how he would get there. “The bus,” he said.

Happy reading!

Ananya Shrestha
Asst. editor.

Copyright: Kenneth Nguyen,,

Copyright: Kenneth Nguyen,

About artfuldodgewooster

Ohio based literary magazine, now over twenty years old, still in print, and gradually spreading across the digital world. Official Website:
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