Literary Orphans

The Long Wet Grass
by Seamus Scanlon

The resonance of tires against the wet road is a mantra, strong and steady.  The wipers slough rain away in slow rhythmic arcs into the surrounding blackness.  The rain falls slow and steady, then gusting, reminding me of Galway when I was a child where Atlantic winds flung broken fronds of seaweed onto the Prom during high tide.  Before the death harmony of Belfast seduced me.

The wind keeps trying to tailgate us.  But we keep sailing.  The slick black asphalt sings on beneath us.  We slow and turn onto a dirt road, the clean rhythm now broken, high beams tracing tall reeds edging against the road, moving rhythmically back and forth with the wind.  No lights now from oncoming cars.

We stop at a clearing.  I open the door, the driver looks back at me. The rain on my face is soothing.  The pungent petrol fumes comfort me.  The moon lies hidden behind black heavy clouds.  I unlock the trunk.

You can barely stand after lying curled up for hours.  After a  while you can stand straight.  I take the tape from your mouth.  You breathe in the fresh air.  You breathe in the fumes.  You watch me.  You don’t beg.  You don’t cry.  You are brave.

I hold your arm and lead you away from the roadway, into a field, away from the car, from the others.  The gun in my hand pointed at the ground.  I stop.  I kiss your cheek.  I raise the gun.  I shoot you twice high in the temple.  The coronas of light anoint you.  You fall.  The rain rushes to wipe the blood off.  I fire shots into the air.  The ejected shells skip away.

I walk back to the car and leave you there lying in the long wet grass.

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This flash piece won the Fish Publishing flash fiction competition, and was originally published in The Fish Anthology 2011. It also kicks off Seamus’ collection, As Close As You’ll Ever Be, which takes the reader on an vegetarian and occasionally adolescent crime spree through Belfast, Yankeeland, and Galway. [Please check out our interview with Seamus in this issue, which you can access by clicking here. You can find As Close As You’ll Ever Be on Amazon right here. I highly recommend it; some of the best flash I’ve read this year. –Ed, Mike Joyce]

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Seamus Scanlon is an associate professor and a Carnegie Corporation/New York Times award winning librarian at the City College of New York’s Center for Worker Education. He is a native of Galway, Ireland and a graduate of University College Galway, the University of West London, and the City College of New York. Recent achievements include a residency at the McDowell Artists Colony and an emerging writer fellowship from the Center for Fiction in New York. His work has appeared in the Irish Times, the Sunday Tribune, Promethean, Journal of Experimental Fiction, Review of Post Graduate English Studies, Global City Review, Fish Publishing Anthologies, the Roanoke Review and Gemini Magazine.

Seamus Scanlon

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–Art by Sarah Hardy