Food of the Gods
Chaco pinched the joint from El Hefe’s nimble fingers. He set the point to hover near his lips, disappearing beneath a draping mustache and inhaled a stream of reefer smoke into his barrel thick chest.
“Yo, Chaco. Save some for us, cabrone.” Miguel the interpreter, sleek with words and gracious, empty complements shouldered the bigger man.
Chaco disengaged, handing the diminished nub to his friend. Through compressed gasps he said, “The weed es gratis, cabrone. Look around, ees everywhere.”
[No story-willfulness here; just silly fun.]
The floodwaters receded months ago leaving carcasses drying beneath an unrelenting sun. A burning eye that baked cracks in the mud-pan flats, deep crevices where even the tadpoles became stuck, rigid in their slow desiccation. While they could, magpies gorged themselves. Within a week the birds moved on, their black and white feathers kiting east with the wind. The rain had come in a torrent. The land, unprepared to receive it—parched to cake flour dust, sloughed off the water like it hated the touch.
“We won’t see rain again ’till fall.” Cory Townsend kicked at the hexagonal mud tiles. “If we’re lucky. Sure, we can pump wells for a while but, crops won’t get big enough to harvest by the time they run dry. And they will run dry.”
Lacy’s grip on the polished brass pole held her like a bronco rider beyond her mandatory eight seconds. The calliope music didn’t help. Neither did the rotational momentum nor the pumping motion—up down, up down—like she needed her bucket filled during the Dust Bowl, and her well had run plum dry.
“Lacy dear, it’s a ride, honey. You won’t fall off. And if you do…” (What kind of psychotic rationalization is that?) “I’ll be here to catch you.”
“She’s this tall,” Tooq held his brown hand up to his chin, “and she laughs like a goat when you tickle her. And… and she’s all I have left.”
When the bomb detonated beneath the fruit seller’s stand during Tuesday morning’s market, Tooq and his sister had been two stalls down, hunkered in a corner of the wall of the now defunct tannery, nibbling cast-off laffa bread. The concussion had blown the palm-thatch roofs of both the spice and the filigree brass stands over top of the children. Tooq, a boy of ten, and Fenta, a dazzling eyed child of seven, screamed for each other but their hearing had temporarily vaporized with the explosion and though they tried, they could not link hands, touch each other’s fingers.
• Orbital Odyssey
• Small Change
• Final Grades
Each of these deserves another swing with the writer’s bat. But, well, NOT.