A Swamp in the National Forest By Todd Mercer

July 13, 2015 Comments Off on A Swamp in the National Forest By Todd Mercer

Dinner is still hot on the table in the amateur revolutionaries’ cabin when the Politicals team knocks the front door out of its casing. Eggplant parmagiana. Cole slaw.

Tracking dogs sniff dirty clothes in a basket next to the washing machine. They go back out the busted door and drag their handlers northeast, into the forest.

The commander says to Eddie, the newest one, “Stay here in case they’re nearby, waiting for us to leave.”

The rest of the enforcement squad makes their way up the wooded ridge from the house, dodging overgrown underbrush. Down the far side’s slope, where the beeches and maples give over to swamp cedar, the dogs get excited.

Eddie walks a tight perimeter around the cabin’s immediate grounds, sees zero agitators, hears the dogs baying.

He goes back inside where yellow lights over the wasted food remind him of meals sacrificed to family arguments in the latter part of his childhood. Dad shouting until no one can swallow their food: Criminals in Congress. Eddie, get a haircut already. Can Mom make two meals in a row without burning one of them? Who are these greaseballs that come for your sister and honk their goddamned horns in the driveway and don’t even face me like men? Eventually everyone would lose their fear and take to shouting back. Dinners were a problem.

The dogs must be out of range from the cabin, or else muzzled. No indications for a while.

Eddie cuts a square of the casserole and eats it with the serving spoon. He’s almost done before he realizes he’s consumed evidence. He’s often hungry and forgetting himself when alone.

For a while anyway, the cabin was a nice safe haven for these lefties. People with out-there ideas who nonetheless could cook well. Being here must have been a relief for them. This far off the main road, with public land abutting the property, they must have felt like all was going to work out for the best. They would be able to plan something undisturbed. There would be a chance for a grand statement.

That many men and dogs and guns, it’s only a matter of time. A sure thing. Eddie wipes his hands and sweeps the grounds, expecting to find nothing, finding it.

© 2015 Todd Mercer

Todd Mercer won the first Woodstock Writers Festival’s Flash Fiction contest. His chapbook, Box of Echoes, won the Michigan Writers Cooperative Press contest and his digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, was published by Right Hand Pointing in 2015. Mercer’s poetry and fiction appear in journals such as Apocrypha & Abstractions, The Camel Saloon, Camroc Press Review, Cheap Pop, Eunoia Review, The Lake, The Legendary, Midwestern Gothic and theNewer York.

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