corner image   The Cafe Irreal: International Imagination 

Issue Twenty-Five

3 Short Short Stories by Alex Epstein
Planet by Matt Everett
Trolley Number 75 by Gianni Rodari
More from Pieces for Small Orchestra by Norman Lock
5 stories/150 words by R.E. Hartman
Cats & Fish, & Because We Are Precious & Brave by Kuzhali Manickavel
Our Cunning Enemy by Kenneth Losey


Our Cunning Enemy

by Kenneth Losey

I awoke in a battlefield trench. My comrades and I tried to retreat to the west, but a sleeping tiger blocked our way. White butterflies — no doubt sent by our enemy — fluttered above him and settled on his twitching nose and long whiskers. I scratched the stubble on my chin and prayed that the butterflies not wake the sleeping beast.

I gazed down and watched droplets of sweat launch off the end of my nose and splash into a languid rivulet of blood that lapped against my bare feet. Someone had stolen my boots again. And again they had left what I needed the least: my weapon, my memories.

From the east Lieutenant Rizzio returned covered with snow. “Blizzard,” he said. “Could be a trap.” Our cunning enemy once caused an earthquake while we slept. Ninety yards of trench slammed shut. Peterson, Lavinsky, Macleod, the Borcher twins, Graves, and Flint — all crushed in mid-dream.

Around noon a rabbit peered over the north wall and sniffed. Probably concealing explosives and sent by our enemy – un lapin saboteur. Belcher, who hunted as a boy on his family farm and never dreamed of being our top sniper, dispatched the rabbit in such a way that he dropped into the trench at Cook’s feet — dead, skinned, and cleaned.

Gonzales, the youngest, spent most of the day gazing over the south rim — at our street, our houses, our just-washed-and-polished cars drying in the sun, our wives reading paperbacks on our front porches, our children, laughing and screaming, playing ghost-in-the-graveyard and smearing fireflies on their arms and faces. Periodically I warned Gonzales to keep his head down, lest the Angel of Nostalgia put a butterfly between his reveries.

Kenneth Losey studied psychology and philosophy at Oberlin College, and mythology and comparative religion at the University of Chicago. He has worked for over fifteen years in bookstores, primarily as a used and rare book buyer.

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