Keara Hagerty, cont’d

He would pick one in the distance and aim for it, varying his choices by size and bark, picking no favorites. Within minutes the cabin appeared on the horizon, bigger and more expansive than it had seemed. Davey walked toward it without reservation, half expecting to find his mother asleep inside of the log walls, half hoping to see her expression filled with rage.

“Mr. Davey, President of the World!” Randall greeted him from atop a thin ladder that bowed under his heavy frame. He strung a sea green bottle from a rafter crowded with at least fifty others, tapping them lightly as he stepped down.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” He did a makeshift salute and handed a beer to Davey who popped off the cap, letting the amber liquid tickle his throat and nose.

“Do you have a family?” Davey was surprised at his forwardness but not regretful.

“That’s like asking if a bee has a hive, kid.” Randall sucked his teeth, playing with the gold cap on his canine, smoothing it beneath his tongue. “Of course I have a family.”

“I hate my family.” The words hung in the air, visible like the smoke from his mother’s ashtray. He tried to waft them away with thoughts of his mother’s sweet rolls and her beautiful singing voice, things he loved that he had taken away from her, things that he clung to in spite of everything else.

“Well shit,” Randall laughed, “you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. It’s what you do about that hate that matters.”

“But I don’t know what to do.” Davey clenched his fists, “My mom never lets me do anything, and my dad doesn’t even know I exist.” The beer shot out quickly from the bottle and foamed over Davey’s lips, a sour mustache forming on his upper lip. “I wish they would disappear.”

“You don’t.” Randall’s eyes bore a hole in Davey, his gray beard twitching with each breath. “It’s a lonely world without a family, kid. I would know.”

“What happened to yours?” The wind outside had picked up speed and the sun seemed to set in time with his heart, each beat moving it further below the horizon.

“Well, I killed them.” Randall tapped a boney finger on the table. “Chopped up my mom and dad into tiny bits and buried them in the yard. Bodies are heavier than you’d think.” He laughed, tapping his fingers rapidly on the table.

“POW!” He slammed his fist down suddenly, his body going limp. “Just like that and they go from alive…to dead!” The sound made Davey jump, his heart begging to be released from his chest. He watched Randall, handling him as though he were a caged animal—no sudden moves.

Davey thought about his mother’s face, her straw colored hair splattered with blood. He imagined the garage floor covered in the beer that would pour out of the gunshots in his father’s belly. Davey remembered his father’s words, and if not fearful for thinking these thoughts, he was deeply ashamed. He wondered if Randall ever thought about heaven, ever worried that they had condemned him for his act, or if he even believed in heaven to begin with. Davey longed suddenly for the comfort of his mother’s cigarette smoke, sweet compared to Randall’s, curling gently under his nose. He longed for the candies she hid deep within her apron pockets, slipping them to Davey when he made it through a verse without stuttering, the look of pride on her face when he recited the Ten Commandments. Davey remembered his father’s words.

“I’ve got to go.” Davey stood abruptly and paced towards the door before turning around. “I don’t think you’re a bad person.”

“Neither do I.”

His mother wasn’t home when he came in through the door. There weren’t any sweet rolls cooling on the tiled counters or pots simmering on the stove. A single cigarette lay burning in the ashtray near the kitchen, a single line of smoke cascading towards the ceiling. The room was empty though, as was the whole house. Davey even checked the garage for good measure, although his father rarely reared his head before dinner was set out on the table. Cases of beer were stacked in the corner next to the deep freezer that his father had bought in hopes of storing the massive kills from his failed hunting career. Davey grabbed a few bottles, stuffing them in the fat pockets of his wool coat and left through the garage door.

He walked through the field to the rhythm of the bottles clinking against one another. The sun had disappeared behind the trees and the cows were locked safely away in the barn for the night. Through the grass hissing with cicadas, he pushed on further into the night, absentmindedly traipsing over branches and roots that exploded under the added weight of alcohol. The cabin door was swinging lightly, emitting a yellow glow that wavered every few seconds. It beamed on and off like a beacon calling to Davey who answered it, only a few feet away from the porch steps.

“Randall!” Davey called into the house as the door swung open to greet him. The only thing a man has to fear is what lies inside him. The room was emptier than it had been before except for a half-empty container of schnapps that sat on a shelf out of his reach. String hung suspended from the rafters, thick and knotted. The bottles that had once hung lightly in the breeze were gone and the cabin was filled with an eerie silence. From his pocket Davey pulled out one of the bottles of beer; the cap had been torn off with his father’s pliers and he had filled it with lighter fluid used to burn kindle in the colder months. It flowed out of the bottle with ease, splattering across the floor in sweeping arcs. The twenty-six acres around him suddenly felt infinite as he stepped out onto the porch, striking the match clenched between his fingers. The house illuminated before him and the forest, stinging his cheeks and threatening to choke him with the thick black smoke cascading out of every orifice. The trees adjacent to the cabin lit up like a halo around Davey and somewhere in the distance a train whistle blew, signaling that it was time to go.

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Keara Hagerty is currently a junior English (creative writing) major at SUNY Geneseo. She enjoys starting to write, stopping, giving up, and starting again, particularly in the genre of fiction. When she’s not drowning in her sixth cup of coffee, Keara can be found creepily chasing the stray cats of Geneseo, who really just want to be loved.


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