Marvin Gardens


March 11, 2010 by The Citron Review

by Thomas Mundt


My father took me to see The Mansions again today. We were driving home from my AAU practice when he proposed the detour and I protested, told him I was tired as hell after three hours of basketball and sick of my uniform’s sweaty onion stank. Besides, I argued, The Mansions aren’t even mansions. You’re the only one who calls them that. They’re just big houses you buy if you’re a doctor or lawyer or dude who owns a few El Famous Burrito franchises.

My father insisted, however, told me it wouldn’t take but a minute. So, three miles from home, we pulled off of Route 30 and crossed the imaginary line separating Regular and Unincorporated Frankfort. We entered The Estates at Greenfield Manor, the new development that swallowed up the Forest Preserve and all its treehouses and BMX tracks and creepy porno collections. Once we made it past the first couple of cul-de-sacs, my father took his foot off the brake and we started to coast along real slow, first down a hill and then along the winding streets of the subdivision.  We felt like bathwater getting sucked down a drain, ghost-riding the Accord like that. It was nice. My father even started whistling. A Richard and Linda Thompson song I’d heard a million times in the car, something about wanting to see the bright lights. I hate the song but I can’t tell him that because it makes him happy.

Anyway, when we finally reached the bottom of the hill and came up on The Mansions, they were still tucked into Swinford Circle all neat and orderly, just like before. They still had fancy landscaping and koi ponds and varieties of European cars in their driveways. They still had their addresses and family names burned into large wooden signs that hung above the doors. They still didn’t have Christmas lights hanging up three weeks after New Year’s, like the houses in our neighborhood. I don’t know what my father expected to be so different this time.

We followed the curve of the curb until we were in front of one The Mansions, sidled up to its mailbox. My father rolled his window all the way down and propped his elbow up on the door frame, his eyes squinty as gave the house a once-over. Then he sighed and reached into the backseat and took a legal pad out of his briefcase. He quickly scribbled something onto one of the huge, yellow sheets and ripped out the page, slipped it into the mailbox. I couldn’t see what he wrote and so I asked him. Marvin Gardens, he said. They think they’re sitting on Park Place but it’s just Marvin Gardens. It ain’t Baltic Avenue, either. Don’t get me wrong. But it ain’t Park Place. Then he put the car in gear and told me that we should probably pick up a twelve-piece at Brown’s Chicken because Mom’s been up in the city all day at the migraine clinic and she’d appreciate us taking care of dinner for once.

Okay, I said. That sounds good.

We rode in silence as the Accord climbed back up the hill. When we reached the exit of the development, my father switched the radio to AM and tuned in to the end of the Blackhawks game. I could tell he didn’t want to talk about Monopoly any more. Neither did I.


Thomas Mundt lives in Chicago. Representative work can be read now or later in NANO, Wigleaf, Thieves Jargon, 3AM Magazine, Six Sentences, and Dogzplot. He blogs at

One thought on “Marvin Gardens

  1. Angela Myers says:

    Love this Flash-Fiction story. Mike Hainzinger is having us write a summary response to it for our writing class. Look forward to reading more from this author!!

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