Barrett Warner
| Fiction


The banker hunts deer on Saturdays. Once he shot a doe and I rendered it for him. His friends begin to bring me their dead deer. The banker’s friends usually only want the back strap and some brisket. I keep the rest for myself. I hack the legs, strip hide with pliers, run a blade across bones, gouge into marrow. It’s a pretty good carnivorous system. I give the scraps to Quadratic. There are lots of those.

The men are not great shots. Sometimes a shoulder falls apart in the dressing.Dressing. Odd word.

“How old did you say you were?” This is how I speak to the dog. I don’t use commands, only questions. Quadratic looks at me as if memorizing notes. Like he’s collecting evidence.

Is it really possible to measure a dog’s life with times tables? There are so many muddy variables—size, weight, and loneliness—it’s easier to plot minutes and seconds.

I want to ask, Yo, did you go after me because I was young?

Some answers are more at home on an arc. Yo photographs me without my clothes on except for a black cape. Later, she flips through the file like she’s counting the photos and not really looking at them. “You’d look so sexy with some blood on that lip of yours,” she says. Scares me.

That phone again. On the tenth ring I answer. It’s one of Yo’s husbands. He is saying that if I want her so much I can have her. I’m leaving, he says, just before the click.

Yo calls me the possible evolution of man. The one that didn’t happen, or tried to happen, but got stopped because of an asteroid or cold weather. Vomitas Erectus. After language, the half-man, half-dog creature disappeared.

When I can’t think of anything to say I go outside to vomit against the corner of an outbuilding. Quadratic cleans up after me. Both of us are hearing a loon, but only one of us remembers the pale-skinned, dark-haired woman who once squeezed us when it sang.

Barrett Warner is the author of two chapbooks, My Friend Ken Harvey (Publishing Genius, 2014) and Til I’m Blue in the Face (Tropos, 1994). He won the 2014 Cloudbank poetry prize and his work has recently appeared in Consequence Magazine, Revolution John, Atticus Review, and elsewhere.

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