Cal was staring into the tops of the trees when she found him standing among the fresh splints of pine scattered among the needles and wilting dandelions.
The axe stood tipped into the battered block next to him. She asked him why he was cutting wood and he reminded her that fall is the time to do it. She tried to explain again that the boy could do all this. She asked if he had packed his things. She asked if he had turned off the well. She asked him the whereabouts of the dog. He told her he had taken the dog up the hill and tied him to the Fairchilds’ porch. Her face went blank. He smiled at her, the deep wrinkles folded against the corners of his mouth with satisfaction. She shook her head and reminded him they had all discussed this and thought they had come to an agreement. He remembered the meeting but he didn’t remember discussing anything with anyone much less coming to an agreement. He remembered all his children—she included—coming to some consensus amongst themselves. And he told her that was fine for them but they really had no say in his matters, no more than he in theirs. He struggled with the small backpack until he finally got it over his shoulder. He told her he loved her and that she had raised two of the best children he had ever known. He told her to tell her brother and sisters that he left items for each of them in the cabin, in his bedroom. He smiled again at her distraught eyes and kissed her cheek, the softness of her face warmed him and he thought happily of his younger self who could never have hidden his blushing face, a face now petrified and crumbling beneath the decades, a face no longer vulnerable to the embarrassment his father had found so contemptible. Her confusion lived in the cold tear sliding down her nose. I’m going up the mountain, kiddo.
Why though? Poole asked him, why there? you could’ve gone anywhere; especially after all that crap.
Why though? Poole asked him, why there? you could’ve gone anywhere; especially after all that crap. It’s cheap, first of all and it was familiar after being in the park; dangerous sure but I think the chaos of it all may have saved my ass a few times; nobody wants to go in there. Hatchet shook his head and smiled, closed his eyes. And I have taken so many photographs, Dexter, good ones; I’ve got some amazing stuff; I’ve been to some amazing places, seen incredible things. But you could have gone anywhere, Poole repeated, I still don’t get it. Maybe I don’t either, man, originally, the plan was to drive to Ecuador, ya know? sell solar modules to Eurotrash, maybe find a brown girl, start a bean farm, breed myself a baseball team. Cute, Marcus. But things got complicated. They always do. Shit hit the fan and I thought I could disappear; I was wrong.
Hatchet gave an account of a standoff between Mexican police and the small village of Podrido after a young boy was killed by a policeman who also happened to be a member of the Asesinos. The negotiations lasted for three days and then the shooting commenced. Hatchet watched ambulances swim through the fluid distance to carry away dead and wounded policemen followed by more negotiations followed by more bullets followed by more bodies and more failed communication. He watched the final shootout last twelve hours, watched grenades thrown at women and children, watched people burn in the dusk, watched people executed at dawn behind a wall while a caravan of news crews sat blocked two miles up the shimmering two lane blacktop curling like a satin ribbon across the yellow and olive swells of Coahuila.
Here, Hatchet removed a folded piece of paper from his wallet, I printed the story that ran in El Toro; fucking incredible.
Chrysalis, a growing collection of very short fiction.
Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.