Tickle Torture

PloughsharesFirst published in Ploughshares, Vol. 27, No. 4, Winter 2001-02.


Since they left Houston that summer, Hugh and his mother had traveled in a long, slow circuit as far north as Amarillo, then worked their way down through El Paso and San Antonio and Austin, seeing sights Hugh had no desire to see, and in which he doubted his mother had any real interest, either.  For a month, he had collected brochures at the bottom of his duffel bag.  They had visited the Alamo, the Helium Monument, Dinosaur Valley, Prairie Dog Town, the Cave Without a Name, and the Tarantula Railroad, as well as museums — the Dr. Pepper Museum, the Jim Reeves Memorial, and the Buddy Holly Statue and Walk of Fame.

Currently, they were near Galveston, on their way to see the third oldest ship afloat.  It didn’t really matter where they went; his mother looked through everything.  Hugh wondered whether she had kept her job at the hospital, and how they were paying for the trip, and when if ever they would go to Corpus Christi.  Usually Hugh and his parents took their weeklong summer vacation in Corpus, where his cousins Cecilia and Amien lived.  But this year, Hugh’s mother said she didn’t want to deal with Aunt Beatrice — his father’s sister — and all the questions she would ask.


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