The Wisconsin primary was a scramble anyhow, a frozen ordeal that started in February and cost the whole of March until the voting on the fifth of April. The Kennedys needed Wisconsin to prove that they could win in white-bread America. March is a lion of a month that far north among the Great Lakes prairies. There are no white-tie receptions in Wisconsin. All Hubert Humphrey, the straw opponent, had, really, was his bus to ride in and the fact that he seemed to understand these Finnish ice fishermen and Croatian-Slovene brewery workers, knew dairy politics and resort problems: This might be enough.

Clearly, Emma, you are a liar. Your book, Fly-Over State, is billed as a novella, when everyone can see that it is nothing more than a short story. How do you sleep at night?

I had no idea this interview was going to be so hostile. But, yes, you’re right, it is a short story. It is a long short story, at least by my own standards. When Flatmancrooked approached me about their New Novella series and Launch program, the emphasis seemed to be on the ‘New’ and ‘Launch.’ It is also possible that I am a bad listener. Hopefully, the story is satisfying enough that one feels as though they’ve read a novella.

Wifey’s from Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.  My college roomie and long time business partner is from Wausau, WI, married to a biomedical engineer and patent lawyer who was also a good college friend, hailing from Sault Saint Marie, MI.  Another college roomie, the first guy I ever heard ranting against the Electoral College when Clinton won in ’92, was from Menomonee.  A manager I’ve worked closely with at Sun Microsystems is from Shano, WI (draw that “o” out, will ya?).

Wifey cold kicked the Great Lakes accent ages ago, but as for any one of the others, all it takes is enough Blatz beer or something else similarly awful and they kick into that fascinating intonation, kinda like if you cross-bred a Norwegian and a Scot with someone born within fifty furlongs of the Mason-Dixon line, then stuffed the chimera’s voice into a deep well.

I’ve certainly never minded the accent, considering all these people, and many more from my college days in Milwaukee are very intelligent and eminently sensible, even the occasional punter who looked earnestly into my eyes to say “you know, you’re the only black person whom I’ve ever had a proper conversation with.”  I’m down with being the Olaudah Equiano of parts nort’ don’t ya know-oh.

In the first two installments of this story:

I flew to Wisconsin to be the best man in my brother’s wedding. At the airport, I was greeted by two of his college friends, Chris and Mark. They were to be my brother’s groomsmen. While on our way to the hotel, we drank. We smoked. Once we reached the hotel, we proceeded to raise hell at a local cheese store. Then we went to a bar across the street and got even more shit faced. So shit faced, in fact, that we completely lost track of time and were late for the wedding rehearsal. After that, the problems didn’t cease. At the wedding reception my brother, Chris, Mark and I decided to go water skiing. Needless to say, we’d been drinking. While skiing, my cheap Dipsters bathing suit ripped to shreds. I then continued to ski naked. Very soon thereafter, we were pulled over by the Wisconsin Water Police. That’s when I got another very stupid idea…

In Part One of this story:

I flew to Wisconsin to be the best man in my brother’s wedding. At the airport, I was greeted by two of his college friends, Chris and Mark. They were to be my brother’s groomsmen. While on our way to the hotel, we drank. We smoked. Once we reached the hotel, we proceeded to raise hell at a local cheese store. Then we went to a bar across the street and drank more. We got so drunk, in fact, that we completely lost track of time…

My assignment: To be the best man at my brother’s wedding

Do I fulfill this assignment?

Barely…just barely