by Girija Tropp
he cowboy made the sign of the cross and imagined what it would be like not to be so tired. Perhaps he was more together as a child? An eagle watched as if checking out carrion. It was time to go in and fetch his mother.
She was telling the restaurant manager about the swellings on her head, saying they were similar to the ones on her hand, but not arthritic and was told about cures on the web. He had tried to stop her from telling everyone but she would race ahead, like a runaway. "I'm on fire," she said.
"Only tell your problems to those who can help," he replied.
She ate her curry, protesting that she was not hungry, then asked for more. He told her to hush. The manager brought more food and asked humbly for forgiveness because the kitchen was now closing.
"I know how to deal with people like you." And to her son, she said, "I love the handicapped."
He went numb and then he went to the till and filched a hundred dollar note; outside, there was a horse waiting and a Stetson, and he went into the desert for forty days and forty nights, loving the pristine emptiness, and wouldn't come out even though she stood on the edge, calling, offering a cake made of cactus. His life had been a blunder and he was going to peel it like an onion to find the mendacious center.
Girija Tropp lives in Melbourne, Australia, and her short fiction
has been published in Agni, The Boston Review, Best Australian Stories
2005 and 2006, Southword, sleeping fish, Fiction International and
Mississipi Review Prose Poem Issue; microfiction and online fiction at
snow*vigate, Smokelong Quarterly, elimae, and Margin,
amongst others. She was a finalist in the Faulkner Awards for the Novel 2006 and
winner of the Josephine Ulrick Literature Award 2006. Her story, "Cellular," appeared in Issue 16 of The Cafe Irreal.
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story copyright by author 2007 all rights reserved