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Big Other Reading Series, #9

Mel Bosworth reads “The Chainsaw Guy,” by Scott McClanahan.

The Chainsaw Guy

By Scott McClanahan

You can see all kinds of strange things in Rainelle though.  Like one time I was driving past the welfare apartments in town, and then all of the sudden I saw IT.

I was with my Mother and we were going over the railroad tracks when I just looked up and watched this guy in a dirty sweat suit.  He was riding a 12 speed bicycle as fast as he could down the hill. 

And what was even stranger was that the 12 speed bike didn’t even have a chain on it.  And what was even stranger than that was the fact that he was carrying a chainsaw in his right hand.  So not only was he riding a bike and carrying a chainsaw at the same time, but get this—the chainsaw WAS RUNNING. 

So we just sat at the railroad tracks and I pointed to the man on the hill and asked my Mother, “What in the hell is that guy doing anyway?” 

My Mother looked up at the guy and said, “I don’t know.” 

So we rolled up over the train tracks and on down the road.  I just twisted my head around and kept watching the guy riding his bike and carrying a chainsaw.   

So I asked again, “Why is that guy carrying a chainsaw?” 

My Mother just shook her head and said, “I don’t know.  I really don’t.” 

And by this time we were driving away, and I couldn’t see him anymore.  But I knew there was something about him that meant something, and if I ever found out what it was—then maybe I’d finally know the meaning of my life.

Scott McClanahan is the author of Stories II (Six Gallery Press, 2010). His other works include Stories (Six Gallery Press 2009), Hillbilly, Stories V, and Crapalachia (all forthcoming). He is co-partner of the company Holler Presents, which has produced such films as Preacher Man, Spring, 1386, The Education of Bertie Mae McClanahan, and “Welcome to Rainelle WV.” Stories II is available HERE.

  • John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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