Thursday, December 30, 2010

Old Kitchen

They moved towards the darkness, feeling their way forward with their feet as they directed the dim beam of the flashlight around the wall. Unless they pried more wood from the walls, there was nothing in the living room. Robert turned towards the pitch dark doorway that led to the kitchen, but Jerome hesitated. “Come on,” Robert said.
Jerome took a small step forward and paused. “What do you think is in there?”
“I don’t know.”
“What if it’s rat city?”
“I thought you weren’t afraid of any of this stuff.”
“I’m not.”
“You were the one who got us under the plywood in the first place.”
“That was before I knew there were rats. I can take one or two, but what if it’s crawling with them.”
“I don’t see why it would be. I bet the food’s been gone for years.” Robert walked over to where the dead rat lay and picked up the chunk of concrete. “If there are any rats, we’ll be ready.”
“Give it here,” said Jerome. “You aren’t the only one who can kill a rat.”
“Yeah.” Jerome didn’t sound like he was fully convinced, but taking the concrete, he turned and, without another moment of hesitation, walked through the doorway.

The flashlight's beam reflected dully off the broken windows blacked out by plywood. The glass was filthy, covered in years of unwashed dirt and cobwebs.

Robert Flannigan: Talking Himself Out of a Stake Out

Consider the rat: how you killed it by hucking an old bit of concrete. You hadn't guessed the power of your arm. You hadn't calculated the fulcrum of it, the length it gained this year as you turned thirteen and stretched towards man-size. Everything has felt awkward lately, but not that throw. And now, contemplating a way to find what's missing (a brother--no small thing), you confront the fact that maybe what is required is not a stakeout after all. Rats watch from shadows, but you? You are a killer of rats--an inadvertent killer but a killer nonetheless--which is not such a shadow-thing as it sounds. Concrete: that which can be touched.

Knock and ask. There is no rock her mother can sling so very hard. Go on and ask her where your brother is and why he left.