Black Lawrence Press
February 12, 2015

St. Lawrence Book Award Winner Announced!

We are thrilled to announce that we have selected a winner for the 2014 St. Lawrence Book Award! Congratulations to Thomas Cotsonas for winning the award with his short story collection Nominal Cases! We are pleased to present the first story from the collection:

COMPANY

Harold Cornelius Eccles was watering the yard from the patio, standing thoughtlessly there, unconsciously moving his pale denuded arm back and forth so as to spread the hose’s stream over patio plants and shrubs, the rose bushes and the vegetable garden, the marigolds and pansies, and back again to the yard itself just in front of him as he stood there, outside himself but not, forty-one, Vice Executive Accountant to the Executive Accountant of the company’s coming merger with Ace Pharmaceutical, in a crisp white short-sleeve button-down shirt and khakis, looking hale but not willful, kind but not pathetic, a numbers man, a brown-paper-bag-for-lunch kind of man, a breakroom man who reads the Wall Street Journal’s Sports section first, ten years married/seven years a father, standing there, his back to his wife Ellie and young son Ivan, both of whom sit cross-legged and patient on the floor playing Boggle in the cool of their air-conditioned stone colonial on Briar Hill Road in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania on Philadelphia’s Main Line, a Neighborhood Watch Community, Volvos and Audis and Saabs, tax-deductible hybrids and winding roads in the watershed of the Schuylkill, a neighborhood of longtime neighbors and old money and private schools with names like Haverford and Bryn Mawr, around which exists much potential influx, many potential shareholders, all of whom have sculpted yards and meticulous houses and pretty-but- not-stunning wives with hale but willful children who are often left to their own devices on days like this, hot August days that are good for watering the yard or letting the sprinkler water the yard or calling up the gardener maybe even though it’s Sunday to water the yard, in which case it might not be a bad idea to have a drink, some Scotch or a microbrew, because that’s what men do is it not, that’s what these men do, these briefcase-carriers and R5-riders, inhabitants of this little valley upon which the August sun shines erumpent and hostile and cloudless, in this the Two Thousand and Ninth Year of Our Lord, Anno Domini, a year before the merger, a year before Harold’s promotion to Executive Accountant, a year before his move upstairs to Corporate, a year before Ivan’s inconceivable, out-of-nowhere, thumbing-the-nose-at-the-father-type mastery of Byzantine economic theory even he, Harold, a Vice Executive Accountant, had found difficult and convoluted and reflexive, before other things, before Ellie quit teaching and took up raising Ivan full-time, before nights turned into weekends and weekends into weeks without Harold seeing Ellie & Ivan at all, Ivan their Gifted Child, Ivan who needed to be scuttled around the country to various competitions and universities, many of which competitions Ivan won, before this, before Harold found himself masturbating regularly for the first time in years, before he started renting an apartment in Rittenhouse Square so he wouldn’t need to go all the way back to the empty house in Gladwyne in the evening, before the long exhausting work nights that helped enable this purchase, before Molly, Molly from Corporate, Molly from Corporate whose wrists were small and insect-like but also somehow pretty, before her, before others, before he felt himself cliché, before all of this, before everything, before before:

Harold was watering the yard from the patio and felt, for the first time, as if he were himself and something else, himself and someone else perhaps, a thing for which he had no coherent language in any case, a frameless thing among other frameless things, a condition that led him to continue standing there watering the yard for the better part of the day, just beyond the length of Ellie & Ivan’s Boggle game in fact, a game that took close to three-and-a- half hours to complete, a game that Ivan won and upon winning ran hurriedly upstairs to record in his journal, an activity Ellie seldom ever had to push him to do, an activity she had done as a child and still sometimes did as an adult and that she often urged Harold to take up but he didn’t, couldn’t, just as he couldn’t do anything now, just as he couldn’t move, just as he stood there ankle- deep in a pool of water gathering on the patio, just as later Ellie stood behind him calling his name, Harold, asking him repeatedly just what it was, exactly, he thought that he was doing—a question for which he said that he was certain he had no definitive answer.

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Cotsonas Author PhotoThomas Cotsonas was born in 1980 in Rochester, New York and was educated at SUNY-Brockport, Syracuse University, and the University of Alabama. Nominal Cases, his first book of fiction, will be published by Black Lawrence Press in 2016.  Some of his fiction has appeared in Web Conjunctions, Construction, Down & Out, and 751 Magazine.  He is currently at work on several projects, including a novel set on the campus of a packaging company in upstate New York.  He teaches creative writing in the Writers House at Rutgers-New Brunswick and lives in New York City.