sidebrow

from Firework

He’d given them names he could no longer remember. Once in the spring he saw his father carrying one of them around the back of the garage. A long squirming whiteness, his hammer in his other hand. By the time Jelonnek got there, the workshop door had shut. The blood looked black in the grass. A tapping drew him to the window. He looked inside, where the old man had made a go-cart and crossbow to save money at Christmas, given broken toys and appliances second lives. His bare scalp gleamed. It was nailed spread-eagle and upside-down to the workshop door. The old man’s hands prayed and blood gushed over them as they pushed gently into the opening they’d made, came back into this world cupped and full, as they were the first time he’d held it, hairless and nameless, now nameless once again. A vessel burst and something clear spattered the glass. Through it you could hear the skin coming off, the faint hiss like pulling tape. He cut off the head with his pocketknife. The hammer hung on a nail by the curve of its claw, innocent of blood.

(Tapping draws him to the door. The body spread-eagle and upside-down, not quite dead. The Hunter skins him anyway.)

Independence Day, the shiny trunk dripping from the spit. The meat sweet and stringy. His father, drunk by noon, had hung the flag bottom up as well. The phone kept ringing, a woman’s voice: “We have a boy in the war.”

A star in the window.