My little brother has rolled himself into a ball in the back of Grandpa’s pickup while mom—Grandpa is a mean bastard she says—is hollering at him to hurry the hell up before little Sammy dies. We—my sisters and I, and my brother who is bleeding all over the place—are being thrown about in the back of the pickup as Grandpa races towards the far horizon. We are forty miles from the nearest town with a hospital. And mom can’t stop yelling, pointing, and she can’t stop giving little Sammy that worried look. We should all be afraid, but we’re not. Nothing bad has happened to us since Dad died three and half years ago.

Upfront, mom rummages through her bulging black purse, removes a cigarette and lights it. She holds the lit cigarette up for Grandpa to take. He puffs and exhales until it’s only ash—never once taking it from his mouth. After he’s finished, he raises his giant hand and adjusts the rearview mirror. So that I can see him every-so-often glaring back at us, glaring back at little Sammy. He’s old and wrinkled, his face droops heavy with skin the color of tree bark. His eyes, when they look at little Sammy, are as dark as clay. I try remembering when Dad was still alive, and what it was like when we didn’t have to live with Grandpa, but I can’t, so I close my eyes tight as I can and pray that Sammy will be okay. In the rambling wind, we all gather around him, huddling each other for comfort. And, quietly, I pray for the rest of us, even Grandpa.


by Bill Cook

Bill Cook, a Southern California native, has plied a variety of trades, including cabinet maker, carpenter, general contractor, home designer and builder, and currently is employed as a certified building inspector. He has been published in Juked, elimae, Tin Postcard Review, Right Hand Pointing, The Summerset Review, SmokeLong Quarterly and in Dzanc’s anthology Best of the Web 2009. He currently resides in a small community situated within the Sierra Pelona Mountain range.

Listed at Duotrope
Listed with Poets & Writers
CLMP Member
List with Art Deadline
Follow us on MagCloud