Devil’s Lake

Fall 2016 Issue

Shaun Turner: Bowlcut

Gorda Rosa cut hair in her mobile home. Gorda Rosa dangled a cigarette out of the side of her mouth. Gorda Rosa drank corn moonshine and wore tawny hiking boots with yellow snake laces and kept her red red hair tied in a tight knot she swore she never untied.

Gorda Rosa was a Good Time Baptist. She had been baptised young, in the jacuzzi font behind Grogan First Baptist. The pastor’s wife had put glitter into the plaster when they redid the ceiling after the flood of ’86, and with all the chandeliers dimmed, the font sparkled when Gorda Rosa went under. Gorda Rosa says the pastor dunked her in and out so fast her top-knot was still bone-dry. Gorda Rosa never doubted she would live forevermore in heaven.

Neighborkids were her speciality. She used to poke us in the head with her rattail comb, threaten to cut off boys’ ears and feed them to her full-standard poodle, Maxine.

We loved her. She would poke us in the head with her pendulous breasts.

Gorda Rosa’s speciality was the Bowlhead, free for kids two to four. She had done them for years, took the children to sit by the old kitchen sink while she rustled through her cabinets with a mad energy. She kept a fair-headed baby in a bouncy chair and played videos of singing lambs and dogs and cows to it, singing do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do and snapping her fingers.

Gorda Rosa always took a whatever-sized bowl and she cut the kids’ hair into perfect even swoops in her cool kichen, on that same milking stool: their bowlheads.

With a raw deep belly laugh, Gorda Rosa dared us ten bucks to drink water from the tank where her box turtle, Mister Oliver, sunned underneath a heat lamp and knocked over his half-melted plastic palm tree.

She’d dare us until we grew too big to squat on the milking stool, too big to clutch against our grandfather's brown coats that smelled like cinnamon and coffee. She’d dare us until we simply stopped coming.

Every five years, we would see her pumping diesel at the Gulf station past Wraytown or in between the aisles at the Pick-N-Pay or in the parking lot of Grogan First Baptist Church. And after we’d waved at Gorda Rosa, from the private smiling safety of our passing cars, we'd run our fingers through our hair, each strand already dead, a ghost.

Author Shaun Turner SHAUN TURNER is the author of the chapbook of stories, The Lawless River (Red Bird Chapbooks) and an editor at Fire Poetry. His writing can or will be found in Reservoir, SHARK REEF, Still: The Journal, and Stirring: A Literary Collection, among others. His reviews have appeared in Heavy Feather Review, Cleaver Magazine, and the Southern Literary Review. Shaun earned his MFA at West Virginia University. More from this issue >