I was jogging by when he asked if I wanted to pass through his sprinkler, you know, to cool off. I said, yes. Then he offered a beer and I said yes again. We walked into his kitchen. The walls were red to the point of obnoxiousness—it hurt my eyes, but I didn’t say anything. Not two days prior while he was at work I’d lifted Ellie atop the stove and kissed her breasts while thinking, “I sure hope that eye is off.” Later we shared a joint and fell into his couch (also red), laughing. Now her father and I talked and talked: the weather, the price of eggs (rising), music and television (he thought reality shows were pointless, I was a fan). He said, “Really? I’ll be right back” and left the room. I walked over to his kitchen table, which was cluttered. A book, several wadded balls of paper, a Pop-Tart with two bites missing, a remote control, a Mason jar half full of clear liquid, three keys on a plastic penguin key ring, several coins, a bottle opener, and the painting, in a rather ornate frame. The top of the painting held two scribbled words: CROW HUNTING. I studied the image: Ellie’s dad—or someone who looked the exact—carried a dusty potato sack and there was a black net, like a funnel cloud on a hoop, emerging, in fact almost sprouting from his curled fist, and the muddy path he walked was long and straight, edged on each side by burnt fields of corn, hard, blackened stalks and the roasted kernels on the earth like broken, yellow teeth, field after field, behind which you could glimpse a hillside with lethargic cows (they appeared almost drugged) and an abandoned brick silo and drainage ditches or even meandering canals (and an empty rowboat left out by someone who had fallen into the water and drowned, perhaps). He wore some type of period costume, a dark trench coat and a tall top hat; he didn’t seem especially pleased or displeased—only a glimmer of tenacious pride in his eyes. I lifted the heavy frame to squint closer and saw two additional items on the table: a yellow Bic lighter and a hand grenade. I put down the frame, carefully, finished the last warm slosh of beer, then took off running.
About the author:
Sean Lovelace lives in Indiana, where he eats nachos and plays disc golf and teaches creative writing at Ball State University. He recently dropped Fog Gorgeous Stag (Publishing Genius Press) and a flash fiction collection with other authors, They Could No Longer Contain Themselves (Rose Metal Press), on the world. He writes for HTML Giant. He blogs at seanlovelace.com. He likes to run, far.