We are pleased to announce the publication of the latest in our Ploughshares Solos series, “The Beginning of the End of the Beginning” by Anne Elliott! The Ploughshares Solos series allows us to publish longer stories and essays first in an affordable digital format, and then in our annual Ploughshares Solos Omnibus Series. For more information and some great reading material, check out our previously published Solos, or the recently released Ploughshares Solos Omnibus Volume 2. Check in every month from August to May for new reading material!
About “The Beginning of the End of the Beginning”
Meet Clay, a Brooklyn performance artist who is sick of being broke. Sporting a row of stitches from his last show, and severely in debt to both family and girlfriend, he decides to do the unthinkable: get a straight job. Clay shaves off his green hair, teaches himself to type, and gets a secretarial gig on Wall Street. But is this just another form of theater? Will his girlfriend still love him in a necktie? What about his artist friends–will they forgive him for consorting with the enemy? Is the enemy actually an enemy at all?
Starting in a hospital emergency room, meandering through corporate cubicles and cafeterias, galloping through an underground Williamsburg performance, and closing in the Twin Towers with Clay’s tortured, self-destructive boss and an unflappable goat, “The Beginning of the End of the Beginning” is a bittersweet romp through the innocence of 1999 New York City, a time when heartbreak was still heartbreak and broke was still broke, but the city itself felt unsinkable.
“The Beginning of the End of the Beginning” is available on Kindle for $2.99.
Here’s an excerpt from the Solo:
They led with the three live goats, which was the smart choice, because I don’t care who you are or how important your destination is—if you’re walking down a Williamsburg street on a balmy fall evening and see three fucking goats standing on top of a small house, you just stop right there. You stop, because the bar can wait, the friend can wait, happy hour can wait, dinner can wait, your gotta-pee dog can wait, because you are dying to know why the goats are standing on top of the small house.
The goats were in no distress. They had on small business suits. They appeared to love the elevation, safe from the gathering crowd up on their slate roof, with their pile of straw and bowl of water.
The small house was at the edge of a fenced lot, near the gate. Maybe it was where the parking attendant once waited out a cold shift, or maybe its purpose was always to be a gingerbread-looking perch for three nattily dressed gatekeeper goats. They didn’t bleat. Maybe they had nothing to say. They stood in their spotlight, carelessly chewing.
“That one there seems to have a three-piece,” observed Rowan.
“The eyeglasses are a nice touch,” I said. “And that bowtie on the one on the left. He even tied it right.”
“I wonder how one fits a goat for a three-piece suit,” said Rowan. “I imagine the horns are a bit of a hindrance. Not just any goat can pull off the jacket and the vest.”
About the Author
Anne Elliott’s stories can be seen in Crab Orchard Review, Witness, Hobart, FRiGG, JMWW, Bellevue Literary Review, Fugue, Opium, Pindeldyboz, The Normal School, and others. She has received The Normal Prize in short fiction, a Bridport Prize Highly Commendable in short fiction, and was a finalist for the Spokane Prize. She was awarded fellowships from Vermont Studio Center, Table 4 Writer’s Foundation, and Tomales Bay Writer’s Workshop. Elliott is a veteran of the New York spoken word circuit, with stage credits including The Whitney Museum, Lincoln Center, PS122, and St. Mark’s Poetry Project. She earned an MFA in visual art from University of California, San Diego, and lives in Brooklyn, USA with 3 cats, 2 dogs, and 1 husband. She works by day in the finance industry. Visit her at www.AnneElliottStories.com.