Thursday, April 22, 2021

Old Soldiers Just Fade Away by Paul Garson

“Come here often?”

Farkus Membrane waited patiently for an answer, twirling the ends of his red mustache with his well-worn trigger finger. His other hand rested on his right knee under the table and just above his boot. 

He wasn’t taking any chances. This wasn’t his first rodeo.

He glanced over at the open door to the cabin, the trail of slime glistening in the moonlight.

It snaked across the floor and over to the chair facing him, the chair now occupied by the stranger. A bit of an understatement, he told me himself and almost smiled. It didn’t get any stranger.

He could smell the pine sap bleeding from the pine wood he had hammered over the doors and windows. It hadn’t done any good. He could also smell the stranger. A hint of sickly sweet almonds at first sniff. Then more like nitro sweating off an old stick of dynamite, like the one stuck in his boot, the fuse at the ready. Slowly he pulled the cigarette from behind his ear and took the wooden matchstick from between his teeth. One swipe across his beard stubble would do the job.

“Mind if I smoke… you? he said.

Taking the stranger’s silence for a no, he flicked the match across his cheek. It flared into flame

and he held it rock steady. He didn’t light the cigarette, a blend of Turkish hemp and Somali Khat. It did the trick to stay awake. Not that he slept. Not since they first landed down by the marsh.

Now there was only one left. And he just sat there, not saying a damn thing. Not that he could. Not without a mouth. But he got his answer when the tentacle flicked out. He ducked low to his boot and lit the fuse.  

© Paul Garson


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