by Jamie L. Dea
Over the course of the day, the fence posts turned into
scarecrows. My uncle
took old flannel shirts and buttoned them haphazardly around the posts,
hammered nails into the cuffs, so that the sleeves draped over the
a black marker, he gave their pumpkin heads eyes, but no mouths and
ears. Without legs, they could not jerk up and stumble away. Easy in
ignorance of their creation, these half-men slumped against the fence
surveyed the scene before them.
The land my uncle leased was all scraggy brush before giving way to
bright autumn sky. Every boulder, every brambled shrub was a potential
refuge for rattlers. The air was dry, despite the chill that clouded
breath from between the boys’ lips. They dug steel-toed boots
into the arid
dirt, finding a firm stance before reaching, with hands sweating inside
gloves, for the shotgun when it was their turn.
With an ease of having taught plenty of life lessons, my uncle intended
to load and lock the gun as many times as it might take. Watching over
each boy’s shoulder, he helped him line up, warning how the
jerk and bruise their shoulders when the chamber emptied. Then he
back. From the corner of his mouth, he muttered, “Alright then.
You want to
see what it’d be like to blow a man’s head apart, then
you just go right on
ahead.” If they hesitated, he’d turn in that straightforward
manner and eye
them like they were the voiceless men reclining along the rails. “What?
this what you wanted?”
As the shots rang out, ripe chunks tore off and scattered behind
the fence. There was nothing graceful about it, no morbid poetry
written into the emptiness
left behind. Seeds clung to the swaying orange tendrils, as filaments
thoughts and soul might to a mass of black and clotted hair that
mangled innards of a brain. One by one, scarecrows turned back
After each shot, my uncle received the gun from shaking hands. “There
now,” he said at the end, “come and take a look.” Alone,
he made for the fence.