Tag Archives: Bette Pesetsky

Property Listings in My Diary

By Bette Pesetsky

1. On our street

A ranch-style red brick house is typical of structures on the street. Purchased by C. Chester in 2003 this property was later described by him (personal communication) as put together by people whose previous training must have been in the construction of cardboard cartons. C. Chester’s wife Amelia called her husband a dirty sot and threw a tantrum in the developer’s office. She wanted the house, she screamed. Her husband loved her legs, her breasts, her butt, and although conscious of the fact that in time these physical features would alter, bought her the house.

2. Whose house are you?

A small, gray-blue clapboard house, built by Charles K. Luxor (1956) for his widowed mother Sonya who lived on the premises until her death five years ago. Clearly, this is the least expensive house on the street, but it has the best piece of land, a triangular lot that reduces neighbor contact. Property now owned by Clyde and Debbie Elton, noted for their white-blond hair, a hearty and athletic couple, possibly of Danish extraction. Known for his early interest in leftist politics, Clyde is now a registered Republican. A newspaper photograph of Clyde circa 1972 with raised fist and mouth open was published in the Los Angeles Times. This framed clipping hangs in the downstairs hall.

3. The rich are different

One-story brick house owned by an elderly couple either named Simmons or Simon. They keep to themselves and are the last of the street’s residents to have leaves raked from their lawn or snow shoveled from their driveway. They own a black BMW 740 and a citron silver Mercedes E320. They lock the house on January 1st and notify the Well-Bred Security Service and leave for Palm Springs. They return in the middle of April. In August the above procedure is repeated, and they depart for Maine, to return middle of September. Why people who own such expensive cars and are absent most of the year would buy a house on this street no one understands. There is no snob like one from the working classes.

4. Quiet 1

This shingle-covered house can be distinguished from its neighbors by a screened front patio installed three years ago by K. Comfort whose work permits remain pasted in the kitchen window. This is typical of owners Diane and Tom Kerry. Their five-year-old Toyota Camry still bears on its left side window the dealer’s listing of purchase price of $34,640 FOB. The Kerrys have two daughters, Mary Lee and Eileen, and a stepson, Wesley. Tom, a stocky man with early male pattern baldness, is fond of mentioning that in college he was a track star. Wife Diane rarely mentions anything. She is known for her silences.

Bette Pesetsky is the author of two story collections: ‘Stories Up to a Point’ and ‘Confessions of a Bad Girl.’ Her recent stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Oblong, Chicago Literati, Veritas Review, Helen: A Literary Magazine, Litro, The Moth, Sleet and Thrice Fiction.

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Our Family

By Bette Pesetsky


Stepmothers run in our family the way blue eyes might run in other families.
My own father had a stepmother, and her presence was the dominating theme of his childhood. The past is a warehouse. You knock. Who’s there? That was what my father said, and then he told me how his own father ran off with an opera singer. My father owned a few of her recordings, although he never met the woman in person. Now what makes this pithy is that the man left behind nine children and the youngest still a baby in her mother’s arms. A litter of children taken to the city to stand outside any opera house that had the misfortune to feature the singer and keen loudly while calling out their father’s name as they had been coached and the name of the harlot who stole him away. It was war, my father said, with court battles over money that your runaway grandfather and his inamorata would have to pay. That was a word my mother taught me. Inamorata. I used it on my husband. Get the hell out of my life, I said, and take your inamorata with you.


Bette Pesetsky is the author of two short story collections, Stories Up to A Point and Confessions of a Bad Girl. Her stories have appeared in Paris Review, The New Yorker, Vogue, Ontario Review, and other magazines.

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