Friday, June 3, 2011

better play it safe around power lines

This isn't a joke, she said. This morning I saw a squirrel on the power line, and it ran halfway across and then part of the wire must have been exposed, or something, because it got cooked. I mean, like, singed alive. You could smell it on the air, that rotten smell of burnt hair and cooked flesh -- there's no other smell like it. Like if a fire could come on as quickly as a rainstorm, or if running your nails across a chalkboard had a smell, it would smell the way this smelled.

You're drunk, he said. Or you're high, still, from last night. There wasn't any squirrel getting cooked alive on any power line.

She slammed the curling iron into the sink. The sound of the hot metal barrel against the cool ceramic bowl was startling, and several water droplets hissed and then evaporated, vanishing as though vanquished, as though forced.

I saw what I saw, she said. Don't tell me I'm wrong. 

And then she realized she could prove it: I bet if we went out there right now, we'd find its body, she said.

Well alright, he said, his upper lip curled, part smile, part sneer, his cheek fat with tobacco. Let's go have a look.

They kicked around the lawn, each fat with sour booze, having fed last night until they were ripe and ready to pop. After they'd drained the jug of sangria he had fucked her, though by that point she'd been numb; she'd just listened to the headboard banging against the wall.

The grass was littered with cigarette butts. When she was drunk she giggled and flung them gleefully from the porch as though planting seeds, scattering them to the wind in hopes of growing a cigarette tree. But sober, in the morning, in the sunlight, she was embarrassed by the bald spots between the patches of green that were covered in Camel filters as virulent as weeds.

I found it, she said, spotting a charred bit of chestnut-colored fur by her toe. The grass around the squirrel's body was smeared with blood where it had fallen. It had not died right away.

He stood beside her. Well how about that, he said, and he nudged it with the toe of his boot.

And as though he'd flipped a switch, the squirrel snapped to life and began flailing in the grass, its feet moving as though trying to run. Blood spurted from its mouth, and she knew even if it could run, it wouldn't get far.

Oh god, she said. What do we do?

Without a word, he raised the heel of his boot over the squirrel's head and stomped. There was a crunch, a sickening, almost gooey sound, and for some reason she thought of those fruit snacks that explode between your teeth, the ones with fruit juice in the middle.

She couldn't speak. She couldn't move. When he pulled his shoe away, the squirrel had stopped moving, its legs paused mid-stride. Its head was more oblong than it should have been, smashed into the dirt, its nose flattened atop a bit of broken glass. Blood framed its mouth, staining it like lipstick.

Her face felt hot, and before she could stop them tears flowed down her cheeks, carving canyons into the dirt on her skin.

I don't know you, she said. I feel I've never met you.

What's for breakfast? he said, and he spat a long arc of brownish liquid and began wiping his heel on a patch of grass.

1 comment:

Hyperblogal said...

This is quite good.