The Violent Acts of Poets, Part III

Posted on: July 28, 2015

Continued from The Violent Acts of Poets, Part I & Part II

A rumor of money brought bad men to my door. Payback sought for Mr. Miller and the debts of a deal, no doubt. These things sometimes happen. We are wandering souls like spokes on a ferris wheel, always ending up where we’ve been, and sometimes that love of money is too much. The greed spills out like oil from the gulf until we can’t stand it no more. Round and round until eventually we all get chewed, spit, swallowed, and fed to the worms.

The bad men were three in number, with one shotgun, and poor timing. They roped around the house in the early morning hours, drunk and amateur, whispering commands seen on television. The valley walls enclosed my father’s house, and echoed muffled spits of “Go round back,” in the dark.

The leader held the gun, and I did not like the look of him. He had a shaved head and wore an earring in the shape of a cross. He also wore a white t-shirt, under an un-seasonally heavy coat. He must have sweated through it, because the trapped summer heat lingered until October in the valley. The coat covered the gun. The gun covered the man. Some kind of evil covered the house in the valley; its windows broken past midnight, the hell-bent wood floor creaking. You could hear things below the floor at night. Critters holed away from the elements.

The one with the crucifix ear was first through the front door, reaching around and unlatching the lock through the broken window. Lily and I huddled together and watched the knob shake, before the glass shattered and the faceless arm reached around to open the door. The arm did not sufficiently make it back to its owner.

Grabbing the wrist I pulled as hard as I could toward the hinges of the door. I meant to break it in half. I did not plan for the glass. The remnants of the window looked like ocean waves frozen on some far away alien planet; abstract and artisan in the moonlight. They ribboned the meat of the bad man’s arm like there had been some sort of accident, the sound of scraping bone punctuated the screaming, and blood spurted across the door and wall unlike anything I have ever seen. My grip slipped and for a second I thought I had sawed his arm off, but it retreated from the window and disappeared around the closed door like a wounded animal. There was a howling. The man was clutching the arm, wrapping it with shreds of shirt, and when I walked to the porch and looked down at him, there was nothing but a strange, abstract, tangled movement; like watching a bag of snakes at night; like there was a black-holed well where his stomach should have been.

“There is a hole,” I said, picking up the shotgun, “In your soul.”

I don’t know why I said it. I was not the biblical hangman that he would soon face. It rhymed and simply slipped out of my mouth. I chose to let it linger.

I could hear his accomplices running across the field, up the slope to the main road and the gate of the property. It was a full moon and you could see them stumbling back and forth, too slow and drunk. They fell, and got up. Cursed. Coughed. Hollered. Repeat.

Lily swept by me, off the porch, taking the shotgun with her. I yelled after her and kept pursuit as she tracked the other two. I made progress but she was not slowing, not stopping, not aiming. She held the shotgun from the hip until she tripped and fell forward. The shot ripped the night and echoed through the valley. Some animal howled back like they were accepting the challenge.

Most of the pellets went through the man’s back. They ripped through muscle and lung, so by the time we stood over him he was coming up blood. It flooded him and his insides and bubbled from his bearded face. Lily handed me the shotgun and turned back down the slope to the house.

I used to believe that it was an accident, her tripping and killing that man. But later I was not so sure, and finally I believed she would have killed him tripping or not. Either way I took the kill as my own, when they asked me later, and sometimes if you believe something hard enough it becomes true. Such is the stability of truth.

The body on the porch had kept its arm but lost its life. He was small, but the amount of blood that haloed around his sunken frame was astounding and leaked through the wooden slats of the porch. You could hear it dripping. A coyote punctuated the night with a reedy cry.

“Where is the shovel?” I asked Lily.


After the gas station, we drove in our new car until the county fair beckoned us inside. What county I could not say, but it had children with cotton candy faces, and fathers wearing cowboy hats, and mothers wearing infants on their shoulders.

Teenage girls wore the rainbow in their hair, bunched in groups, and chattered at teenage boys who wore tank tops. Ringing jackpot bells sold tiny fortunes of knick-knacks. Carnies pulled clientele like Bourbon Street salesmen.

“Baby, what are you going to win me?” she cooed at me.

Fluttering eyelashes, and a turn of the head. A shadowed smile. She was all of it to me, and I hoped to be everything to her.

“I suppose I’ll win your heart,” I replied.

“Boring,” she said. “I want one of this ridiculous stuffed animals.”

Of course she did. So I won her a giant teddy bear by throwing balls through a rigged hoop until I ran out of tickets, and then by stuffing a twenty dollar bill, one of my last, into the hands of the hazy teenager with drugged eyes.

Eventually we went back to the car, back to the road for another night. Later we pulled over in the darkness and had sex, for the last time, in the back seat with her giant teddy bear as awkward company until we set it outside.

The sun came up and we fell asleep being forgetful and dumb to waste another day, not knowing then that our hourglass was dripping empty.

Written by: Logan Theissen
Photograph by: Garrett Carroll

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