Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Innocent

© Manuel Erickson

"HERE," SAID ARCHIBALD, GIVING ME A FROZEN BURRITO. "You deal with it." He stomped off into the bush somewhere, his boots breaking dry twigs.

    "It" was a slug-like animal and it was beautiful. It was about six inches long with four short and slender legs, each ending in four toe-like appendages. It had a narrow slit for a mouth and the beginnings of lips. Its eyes were in the front of its face and they had no lids. Its body was plump, fleshy—a lovely mix of black, green and red spots and stripes on a matte yellow. There were no ears that I could see. Its back end tapered gracefully to a blunt point.

    I sat on the ground beside it.

    The animal's head moved slightly from side to side, then up and down, as if it were saying “no,” then “yes.” The movement repeated a number of times.

    I knew that Archibald expected me to be done by the time he returned.

    I picked up the burrito and held it in my right hand between my thumb and forefinger. It wasn’t comfortable, so I moved my hand to another corner. The fourth corner was easier to hold.

    The animal started to move forward. I raised my arm and brought the sharp edge of the stiff burrito down onto the head of the animal. It looked at me as if to say, “You want my attention?” and continued forward.

    I repeated the movement, harder, then harder and harder. At last I made an opening in the animal's skin that, for him (her?) was deep. Its blood was the same colour as my own: bright red.

    The animal stopped and covered its face with its toes, spread out. I felt like a murderer.

    Again and again I struck—again and again. Finally, the animal was dead still.

    I fled before Archibald returned.

~ by Manuel Erickson

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