January 19, 2005
by Richard HolingerBasking in the dusty hole he dug for himself, Fitz relied on his rifle to protect himself from rattlesnakes and Mirabelle, though it was Mirabelle he gave more thought to. When she finally came out of the house he saw dinner steaming between her hands. Probably the coyote they caught last night sneaking between the outbuildings like a long-legged rat.
“Don’t come no closer, woman,” he wheezed, “Or I’ll kill you deader than that coyote.”
“Oh, give it a rest,” she said, but stopped nonetheless. “The ball game is on. You always watch the ball game.”
“Not this evening I don’t,” he cocked the Winchester. “Not even if you take it back.”
“What I said?”
“No, the god damned plate.”
“Get that plate out my psychological space.”
“You’re not a lazy, good-for-shit son of a bitch since you retired.”
“What are you doing in that hole?”
“Proving you right.”
“All you want to be in life is right.”
“All what matters is what you say is.”
“You get inside now.”
“I’m inside outside.”
“You’ll starve. Die of pneumonia. No. Hypothermia.”
“Better than living with a woman who’s never admitted to the other side of right. You live with perfect and see how you like it.”
He pulled the trigger and with the hammer released, his thumb slowly lowered it until it lightly kissed the firing pin.
“Leave it,” he said.
She set the tin plate on the dry ground. “Get to it before the ants.”
“Tell me what to do why don’t you.”
“I’m going to bed. Half of it’s yours.”
He watched her pull open the screen door, watched it bang behind her. He watched the ants. Then he crawled with them toward the offering.
Richard Holinger writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction in Geneva, Illinois, and occasionally gets published in magazines such as Boulevard, The Iowa Review and The Southern Review. You can read his weekly column published in The Geneva Sun, “View from Geneva,” online.