ZYGOTE IN MY COFFEE.COM
| ***BIO*** Craig Snyder
THE EMPTY HEAD at: emptyhead.rumble.sy2.com
RUMBLE at: rumble.sy2.com
CSS FLOW at: dukeofblog.blogspot.com
ETHEREAL CODE at: etherealcode.blogspot.com
|© 2006 zygoteinmycoffee Ink.|
|by Craig Snyder|
|Josh was in the backyard playing War. Armed with two plastic tanks, a black plastic machine gun that made imitation firing noises when you pulled the trigger, several dented Coca-Cola™ cans he used as soldiers, and a black cast-iron B-1 bomber he had gotten for his birthday last year from his uncle Dmitri, he was well-equipped and could handle anything the enemy could throw at him.
Bare patches in the yard showed where Josh liked to play. Two scraggly maples shaded him from the early autumn sun. Josh squatted in the dust. He lined up the cans and prepared to start again. He wrinkled his nose at the smell of fresh dog shit from next door. Piles of it were in various states of decomposition in the dirt semi-circle around a plywood doghouse, painted white years ago and now faded and peeling. The dog, oblivious to the sounds of battle, slept soundly with just his two paws and wet nose showing through the square-cut entrance to his doghouse.
“You got to be very quiet,” Josh whispered, addressing the line of cans. He began pushing them forward through the dust. “Dum de dum de dum,” he said, imitating a military drumbeat. “De de dum de dum.” Next Josh brought up the tanks, making rumbling noises in his throat. Everything was ready now. “CHARGE!” screamed Josh, firing several rounds from the hip with his machine gun. He took up a stick, smacked the cans forward. They tumbled end over end. It was a scene of satisfying slaughter.
“Your daddy’s gonna die,” said a voice. “Your daddy’s gonna get killed and all his blood is gonna come out, and you’ll be sad.”
“What the hell?” said Josh, his moment of triumph on the battlefield spoiled.
It was Star, blonde and thin, with dirty knees. She was a troll. She lived in the other side of the duplex with her mom—her dad was almost never there but, sometimes, Josh heard the deep rumble of his voice late at night, through the thin walls. He was not a happy man.
Star squatted next to him, began drawing a happy face in the dust with a thin finger. “My mom said.” She gave the happy face hippy hair, with short curling strokes. “Cause he’s in Iraq. Them Muslums gonna kill him, my mom said.”
“Shut the fuck UP,” said Josh. He collected the cans and started to line them up again.
Star took a pack of Twizzlers out of her pocket and peeled one off. She started to chew on it, hesitated, then peeled another off for Josh. It was warm and soft from her body heat. “Here,” she said.
Josh accepted it silently and bit off a hunk, chewed slowly. He was thinking. “You don’t know shit, anyway,” he said. “My dad’s got body armor. Bullets can’t go through it.”
A sudden gust of wind made the leaves on the maple trees dance. A few drifted down, landing near Josh. They were colored scarlet and gold, a few veined with brilliant yellow streaks. Josh gathered some of them and inserted the stems through the pop-tops of his can soldiers to make flags. Josh thought they looked cool that way. The cans kept tipping over in the wind though, so he added some handfuls of dust and pebbles to each can and after that they stood straight.
“What about bombs?” Star said suddenly. “Bombs might get him.”
Josh scowled. He smacked a mosquito that had landed on his arm, stunning it. Its legs curled up and it tumbled off his arm to land in the dirt. Josh buried it with his shoe. He lined up his newly decorated soldiers in a V formation, with the tanks in front for protection.
“Your mom’s a drunk,” he said. “She’s drunk all the time.”
Star accepted this. “I know,” she said. “All the teachers at school feel sorry for me. Ms. Davis gave me a Barbie for Christmas last year.”
“Barbies suck,” said Josh rudely. Then he felt bad because her mom was a drunk, and she had a mean dad and her clothes were all worn out because they didn’t have much money. “I guess they’re ok for girls,” he added quickly.
“Yes,” Star replied dreamily. She picked up two of leaves and put them in her hair. She had very shiny, thick blonde hair and the leaves looked strange there but not bad Josh thought. “Girls like them. I want to get some Barbie clothes but my mom says no.”
Josh’s dad was in Iraq. He’d been looking and looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction, but he hadn’t found shit. He loved Josh, and he loved his wife. He hoped to come home very soon, to leave the war, and death and blood behind him, but the army said “NO”. They still needed him, they said. They hoped he wouldn’t mind too much, but they really didn’t care one way or the other. They had bigger fish to fry.
Back at home, Josh and Star wandered over to look at the dog in the yard next door. They called to him “hey, dog!” and the dog, whose name was Max, woke up and walked stiff-legged to the fence where he began to wag his tail in a friendly way and pant.
“He likes us,” said Star, patting Max on the nose through the chain-link fence. Max wagged his tail harder and whined. His eyes danced. He had come ALIVE.
“He’s a good dog,” said Josh. His army awaited his orders but Josh had forgotten them. Four days later, after a big rainstorm and fierce lightning, the weather turned colder. Josh went outside to find his army half buried in the mud. He stared at them for a while then went back inside to watch cartoons. First he watched Power Puff Girls, then something Japanese with ninjas in it. The wind rose. The brilliant leaves fell, one by one. The dog grew bored, trotted back to his house and lay down. He closed his eyes and dreamt dog dreams. The dead leaves began to dry and curl.