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fiction 2: opening of K


Before springtime.


Electricity went off at nine.  And kerosene is expensive as hell, candles hard to find, Redfoot paced nervously about the room, west wind pushing thin rain outside, a grisly mist did no one any good.  The wife hunched at the butcher block table beside the Franklin Mint porcelain lantern, purchased years ago for more sensual purpose.  She was at least pretending to pour over the last fax received before the grid went down, tortoise shell reading glasses slid down her nose, smoking one brown sobranie after another.  A yellow orange icon, studious industry.  In the meantime he would pace the floor.  The batteries to the ipod also dead.

Then the rap on the plexiglass storm window, what the fuck was that!  From the front of the house, another tattoo, some asshole throwing gravel, Redfoot looked quickly to the wife, still staring at the page, oblivious, now with the felt-tip top to her lips, gaze raised above the chimney of the lamp, right leg over left swinging time to her thought.  Another shower of stones, he takes one step toward the dark front room, looks back to her, she’s jotting marginalia, leaves the feeble light, separates two slats of the miniblinds and peers down to the street below.  Nothing.  Damn gangs maybe moving in clear out here, another couple of rocks bang right in his face.  A lone specter standing exactly in front of the house, can see it now beyond the locked gate at the curb, tall and lean, long black coat blowing about in the wind.  Redfoot shivers, looks back to the dim orange-lit doorway to the other room, sees nothing but unsteady lumination, a single walnut chair sitting on bare pecan flooring, another pop on the window pane.  He waits.

The specter’s not going anywhere.  Going to pock the plexiglass if you don’t do something, shouldn’t have left the city for this godforsaken little town out on the  buffalo plains in the first place, even if the cost of housing stock and the interest rates are so damn low.  And despite what they said, people, old urban clients, friends even, starting to forget you ever lived.

Redfoot went back through the kitchen, the wife, leaned in her chair entering something in the laptop, doesn’t look up, he passed the refrigerator, stopped, returned to consult the calendar suspended on the side from a green frog magnet, on into the cold bedroom, stumbled against the unseen Pro Form Space Saver, what the hell she leave that there for, to the oak bureau.  Pulled open the top drawer to fish out the pistol from under silk boxer trunks.  Back to the front room carrying the thing in his hand.  A Smith and Wesson he thinks.  The specter still there, languid swirls of moisture tumbling down the street.

He pulls up the blind, opens the inner window, the storm, leans out, concealing the pistol behind his back, shouts as irate as he can muster.

“Who’s out there?  Can’t it wait till morning?”

The specter seems to expand, grow taller.  “A tired traveler, not your fortunate one.  None other than the prodigal son.”

Redfoot withdraws into the room, a gust of rainwater settles about him.  My god, he smiles, pushes his face out into the wind.  “K.  Is that you, or is it a ghost?”

“It’s me.”


© philip kimball 2009