Ava Gardner Was Born in Grabtown
Laura Ellen Scott, Apr 07, 2009
She had read only two books by the age of twenty-three. One was the Bible.
When Ava Gardner dropped Gone with the Wind in the tub, she put it out to dry in the salt sun. It became
infinite, swelling throughout the afternoon. Her husband, jealous of fat books, asked, “Which of my testicles is
Preference, especially after marriage, seemed an unnatural consideration. But this was one of those timed tests.
Ava Gardner organized four possible answers: Left. Right. Love them both don’t make me choose.
“The left one.” She suppressed the interrogative inflection.
“My left or your left?”
“Oh sorry—my left.”
(You’ll want to know which ball, which man. Well, Sinatra was well known for his brutality. A singer, he wove
barbed wire into boots and hats. And Shaw was well known for his brutality. A bandleader, he had a carapace and
hidden cameras throughout. But Rooney was well known for his brutality. An actor, his love was an ice hotel,
quite dear, maintained by a team of rogues. Which of their testicles is your fave? You’ll probably guess right.)
Lucky for us and the golden age of Hollywood, Ava Gardner answered her husband swiftly, therefore correctly. The
labyrinth rule, left is right. Or, disambiguated: let the pages of ruined books read themselves, turning one by
one in the ocean breeze.
Laura Ellen Scott’s most recent fiction can be found in Barrelhouse #7, The Northville Review, and
Gravity Dancers: Even More Fiction by Washington Women Writers. Visit her online at