THRICE Fiction Apr. 2014 - Page 18

Work in Progress The Wolf’s Legend T Jeff Burt hey lied when they said Henry Spotted Wolf died and a strong wind blew. The day was dull and calm. No one spotted anything significant. No earth rumblings. No smoke. No rain. They lied when they said Henry Spotted Wolf died and the moon came red. I knew. I was walking Sandy Road up the hill and the full moon rose yellow. When I detoured to the trestle and packed the package under the beams of the trestle in the thick, sick black gob of creosote wedged between pillar and post, I used a stick for the levered force to drag the pitch over the bag I had to hide, and walked the railroad tracks and the moon shined in my face until I caught Grasshopper Hollow. And all the time the moon was yellow, and once a thin cloud the size of a needle sliced the moon horizontally as it rose, like it was making segments of it, like cutting thin slices of cheese from a round. No owl came out of the moon. No midnight crow flew across it. It was just a bright yellow moon and my face up against it climbing to home. I slept on the porch on an old wicker chair. It was comfortable in the way that when you don’t have a car but you get to drive one it doesn’t matter what kind of car it is. All night it seemed the moon was shining in my face, like earth had no rotation, or that my side of earth would always be in darkness and the moon would always shine on this side. The train came thirty minutes late, and I can tell you it never whistled. The engineer never whistles when he’s late and only whistles when he’s early, and I’ve been near that track a hundred times and I will testify to that. In the morning I went to Lily Snow’s grave. She’s been dead since I was fifteen. She was Henry Spotted Wolf’s girlfriend twenty years ago when she was found pregnant and abandoned on a night when it snowed. She went to her grandmother’s and never went inside. Sat in a chair on the porch. Died during the night. Two days later the women at the church were stirring large pots and using large ladles the size of turtles. Steam filled the kitchen like smoke, curling up against the ceiling and dropping down the walls, obscuring their faces. Two women pinched dough shut. There was meat inside, and every five minutes they pulled out a tray and put another one in while five more trays were baking. The body had been found. They lied when they said Henry Spotted Wolf spit back the bullet that killed him. I saw it rattle on the floor and skid past and stick in the grille of the floor vent. I pried it out. I put the brass on the track and it got eaten by the wheels. I looked and never found it. All these lies. All this myth. JEFF BURT lives in Santa Cruz County, California, and works in manufacturing. He has published in Rhino, Red River Review, Barnwood, Sixfold, Verse Wisconsin, and The Write Room. He won the 2011 SuRaa short fiction award. He enjoys the aroma of a freshly sharpened #2 pencil. 16 THRICE FICTION™ • April 2014 N Mike Ekunno ot that it mattered where l sat but the gallery gave a low down on the congregation. My mid-way entry made the gallery my natural habitat. A do-gooder usher downstairs had thought to benefit me with his quixotic cooing: “Got a seat for you here.” Seat ko, shit ni. Who knows where that’d have had me sandwiched — between two dudes wearing flowing lace agbadas — my rough denim and white sneakers providing the perfect sore thumb. Instead I got installed at my favourite perch upstairs with all the options. Jennie stood in the aisle facing me. Did she come with IT? She turned to face the alter as if in telepathic response. There IT was. Jennie wasn’t my First Lady for nothing. What she packed behind was arrogant. Delightfully so. Whatever the ushers’ uniform for the Sunday, her designer was sure to outfit her bakassi with an obtrusive flair which she carried on 6-inch platforms. And I didn’t complain, really. I could trek behind those curves any distance on the face of planet Earth. Testifiers for the day were taking their turns on the microphone. I sat forward in my seat and closed my eyes: “Lord, I’m here today. Forgive your boy, I beg you. You are a powerful God, the Highest. If you will only help me to travel out, I promise to change. Settle me with better something and let me begin to nak correct sputes from fine fine boutiques. Give me my breakthrough so that I can begin to climb better better stages like them Ali Baba, Julius Agwu. Let me run my own show like Teju BabyFace, AY. God, you’re too much. I praise your name, forever in Jesus name, amen.” I opened my eyes and reclined. The view below was resplendent as usual. A rainbow congregation spread to the terraced alter. The alter was majestic and draped in white and purple. The lectern was spare and elegantly done in chrome. It was back grounded by roof-high curtains which parted midway to reveal DIVINE SANCTUARY OF Issue No. 10 JERUSALEM MINISTRY INC. The alter job was straight out of some interior designer’s brochure. Daddy Bishop and Mummy and the pastoral team sat to the left of the lectern facing the choir. The choir colours that day were lemon green on dark green. A few of the testifiers had had their turns on the microphone and were serenaded by applause to their seats. Two of them had been on “journey mercies” across the country and one sister had a safe delivery. Two of a kind. Whether pregnancy or travelling, both are the same journey to the great beyond — potentially. One blink of an eye and somebody can become a mere figure on the nation’s maternal mortality statistic or having a ghastly siesta by the roadside with cassava leaves as blanket. One brother had come to see Daddy for success with US visa application and was asked to sow in dollars which he did. He went for the interview thereafter and got issued with a multiple entry visa. “The Lord is good!” “All the time!” we responded. Jackpot, bigtime! You didn’t say how much you sowed to give me an idea of how to go about mine. And sowing in dollars — more like asking an anaemic patient to donate blood for his healing. A sister testified of delivera