Updated: Jan 6, 2022
By Justin Morgan
WHEN THE LONELIEST MAN IN THE WORLD BROKE INTO MY HOUSE
I threw a wad of cash at his feet, but he didn’t flinch, didn’t even look at it, he just stood there dripping wet from rain in the middle of my kitchen pointing a gun at my face.
He told me to sit down, so I sat at the breakfast table and watched him walk toward the fridge, his arm stretched out, gripping the gun aimed at me.
I said please just take the cash, take whatever you want, just drop the gun, please don’t kill me. He opened the fridge and I said here take my watch, take my phone, but he clicked the hammer of the gun, and I began to cry.
I told him I have a TV, take the TV, it’s HD, a Sony, but he fired the gun and blew a hole in the wall, and I sobbed in a cloud of plaster and bits of wallpaper. He told me to stop crying but I couldn’t, then he fired at the ceiling and pieces of it crashed to the floor.
Then he reached in the fridge and took out two beers and sat beside me and talked into the night of his days at the lumber yard, his ex-wife and dead brother, his time in prison and the son he’d never met, until a pale morning light shone through the window, and he left.
BEWARE OF WILDLIFE
Rick—my girlfriend’s dad—turns purple in the driver’s seat of the minivan, a rental whose timing belt screeched like a tortured cat the entire fifty miles from the airport to our vacation lake house, a rental that apparently doesn’t have trash pickup service, which we didn’t realize until I saw two raccoons rummaging through a week’s worth of garbage bags spilling over the top of the big blue trash bin beside a marble gnome with a chipped left ear, which meant Rick and I had to load all eleven bags in the trunk and trek halfway around the lake to the Municipal Pay-As-You-Throw Facility, which was a forty-five-minute drive of swatting flies, gagging, and holding our breath, which makes Rick turn purple and black out for four seconds, which causes us to crash into a boulder next to a “Beware of Wildlife” sign, which we stare at anxiously through the shattered windshield to the sound of FM static until the tow truck arrives, which takes another forty-five minutes because the nearest auto shop is thirty miles away, which is where I finally get the nerve to ask Rick if I can marry his daughter, which means I will now and forever wonder if the nausea I feel at this very moment while awaiting his answer is from fear of rejection or from the lingering fear of death by a bobcat or grizzly bear lured by the stench of chicken curry leftovers.
Justin Morgan teaches at Central Virginia Community College and is working on an MFA in Writing at Lindenwood University. His work has appeared in Eleutheria, Revolute, LAMP, and other journals. He lives in Lynchburg, VA, with his wife and three kids.