A man sits, at home, in pajama bottoms and a long-sleeve T-shirt, barefoot and unmasked, easy in his easy chair, reading a recent volume of Gilded-Age cultural history, a nostalgic return to a place he once inhabited for his scholarly research, a quarter of a century ago, a favorite genre of nonfiction ever since, “Bitches Brew” the soundtrack of the moment (he usually listens to instrumental music while reading, words get in the way), sipping Assam tea with milk (he had to give up coffee for reflux and found that drinking strong, malty tea in the English way was a substitute he could live with) from a Brooklyn Public Library mug, a gift from his last manager, sun shining through the windows, he’s awake and refreshed, having managed seven hours of shuteye, a good take for this chronic insomniac, occasionally setting the book down (actually, his Kindle), thinking back on all those years and all those jobs, the shitty ones and the relatively bearable ones, thinking: this is pretty much how I imagined retirement would be – the pandemic just a footnote to a moment like this.
Called “one of the innovators of the short short story” by Publishers Weekly, Peter Cherches is a writer, singer and lyricist. Over the past 40 years his writing, both fiction and nonfiction, has appeared in dozens of magazines, anthologies and websites. His first recording as a jazz vocalist, Mercerized! Songs of Johnny Mercer, was released in 2016. He is the author of three previous prose collections, including Lift Your Right Arm and Autobiography Without Words, both published by Pelekinesis. His new collection is Whistler’s Mother’s Son and other curiosities, also by Pelekinesis. Cherches is a native of Brooklyn, New York.