BY LARRY BROWN
Larry Brown lives in Brantford, ON. Copyright is held by the author.
JOSEPH STAMP LIVES in Halsted, Ontario, and writes many days of the year, including Canada Day, Christmas, and March 27, his birthday. His story Whitehead is from the forthcoming Dot, a gamut of stories illuminating the life of Donald ‘Dot’ Dickerson from age five to 46, and the town of Hocking, which surrounds Donald ‘Dot’ Dickerson throughout the book and bangs at his elbows. Before finding a home here at Torch Magazine, Joseph Stamp’s story Whitehead from the forthcoming Dot received rejection letters from nine university-based Canadian literary magazines. Each SASE, containing a letter rejecting Whitehead plus the rejected story itself, was bent and crushed into Joseph Stamp’s mailbox by the balding and ill-tempered Halsted mailman Ike Hillier — his stubby fingers sticky from working their way through the day’s worth of bite-sized double chocolate doughnuts he purchases each workday just before 8:00 a.m. at the popular Ginny’s Coffee Shop next to the rectangular library in downtown Halsted. Each SASE, brazenly, also included a card requesting that Joseph Stamp subscribe to the rejecting magazine. After tight-lipped editor Vincent Tornello and his student staff at the magazine The Madwater Review, the band of them cloistered at Eastern University, rejected Whitehead with the barest bare-boned letter to date, Joseph Stamp stepped heavily onto his apartment balcony overlooking the dusty, weedy, glass-strewn alley four stories below, the air damp and the balcony railing pressing hard against his belly. “You want nothing to do with me or my story,” mouthed Joseph Stamp, The Madwater Review subscription card stuck like a burr in his left hand, “but you would warmly welcome my cheque so that four times, four issues, a year I can be soundly reminded that you want nothing to do with me or my story.” A little later, a marginally calmer Joseph Stamp spotted Halsted mailman Ike Hillier shortcutting through the alley below as he dug a sticky stubby-fingered hand inside the back of his Canada Post-issued pants and performed a vigorous scratch, then employed this same hand to pop another bite-sized doughnut into his mouth. Joseph Stamp works in the fresh food industry. He is single. He believes rap music is mostly a lot of crude showing off. He doesn’t like cats. Joseph Stamp is a professional acquaintance of the well-regarded writer Benjamin Davis, author of the successful novel Holy Flush, the smartly-paced story of a Catholic priest with a gambling problem who then gets Parkinson’s Disease. Benjamin Davis accepted a proffered copy of Joseph Stamp’s story Whitehead after Joseph Stamp traveled to Arthur Hoop Books in nearby London, Ontario, to attend an appearance by Benjamin Davis. Benjamin Davis talks much less than one would expect. His red-haired girlfriend, Fiona, drinks white wine. In the near future Benjamin Davis should be contacting Joseph Stamp to inform him of the company best suited to publish Dot, once Dot is completed. Joseph Stamp’s parents, Doreen and Burt Stamp, have passed. They were born and lived and died in Halsted. From the age of 15 until his death, Burt Stamp wore a moustache. Doreen Stamp passed suddenly three weeks prior to this writing. It was a sunny day. She mistakenly put on her sloppy slippers to go downstairs. Joseph Stamp doesn’t believe in cellular phones. Writing cannot be taught, he believes, writing must be earned. Recently, Joseph Stamp had his story Whitehead returned, not rejected, by the admired literary magazine Potash. In pen across the bottom of the Potash letter, the handwriting casual yet official, was “Try Us Again,” and a signature. Joseph Stamp sat on his living room floor, the Potash letter open in his lap, until after both his apartment and the sky were dark. Presently, Joseph Stamp is on a leave of absence from his position at the brightly-lit Whitter’s Food Mart in the bustling Canadian Tire lot on the resurfaced River Road in Halsted. He is visiting Saskatchewan on business. Joseph Stamp is the founder and editor of this, the brand new and spirited Torch Magazine. Very soon, we here at the magazine predict, the new co-editor will be Stacey Rogers, by then a former assistant editor at the Regina-based Potash, a magazine which encouragingly is not associated with any university whatsoever. We look forward to Stacey Rogers bringing her varied and valuable talents to Torch Magazine, and to Halsted itself. Future issues of Torch Magazine promise to debut other stories from Joseph Stamp’s forthcoming Dot. Please see the enclosed card for magazine subscription details.