He’s been acting funny with a gun. Out back by the woodshed. I see his boot prints in the snow from the back door. I hear him giggling. He twirls that pistol on his finger like a cowboy with too many whiskey slugs in him. All alone. He fires at ducks and muskrats and cornstalks that bust apart in pops of yellow splinters.
He says, “One day, Mae. To the moon. Blam-o! Straight to the moon.”
The dog is dead, the kids are gone, the neighbors’ barn burned and they cleared out.
Lately I’ve felt my heart flip-flop. I have to beat my chest and lean on the stove and ride it out. But still I watch him—a sliver of a man, born of the gray sky, shaking like a de-ranged puppet. Firing and laughing and dancing like mad—like mad—till he runs out of steam and lays down like a corpse between the mutilated stalks.
Paul Luikart's work has appeared in Barrelhouse, Curbside Splendor, Hobart, New World Writing (coming soon!) and Yalobusha Review among others. His MFA is from Seattle Pacific University. He lives with his family in Tennessee.