by Chuck Richardson


Triumph at last—you’re in.

Mowing the lawn brings this into focus. His father has no time to squander nor his mother any space.

She enjoyed it. She kissed you goodbye.

Overrunning a rock, the blades halt. The scent of barbecue and fresh cut grass balances his stinging eyes and pinkened neck. The phone rings.

Her lips were soft. She put her arms around your neck and smiled.

“It’s for you, Raymond! Raymond?”

He wipes his face dry with his bandana, squinting into the house.

What will they think?

His father, dying, is watching from the dining room.

Ray! he coughs. Answer your mother!

He’s been watching his son work through the window, agitated by his survivor’s languor, marked by his wavy path about the yard.

At least you won’t have to put up with him for long.

Raymond finally spies the rabbit, sitting frozen in the shade beneath his father’s window.

Yeah, it’s me. Take the call.

“Shit,”cries Raymond, flinging his drenched bandana at the creature.


He notices his mother standing in the porch doorway, phone in hand.

“Fine way to talk! The neighbors can hear you! You’ve been acting so strange! It’s Jenny.”

Raymond snatches the phone from his mother and returns to the yard where she can’t overhear the conversation.

“Hi, Jenny. What’s up?”

“Boy, oh boy, are you in big trouble.”

“What do you mean?”

“Betty’s got bruises all over her body and she’s telling everybody you gave them to her. Is that true?”

An ice pick punctures Raymond’s quick, chilling his bones.

“What do you mean?”

“She says you raped her in her garage attic last night. Everybody knows you were there. How’d she get all those bruises?”

Raymond, searching for a response, finds himself by his mother’s garden, and he begins pulling up weeds. His parents, watching closely from inside the house, are smiling.


“I dunno. Maybe she fell. Maybe she’s looking for attention. I’m captain of the football team and all-league in baseball, you know. I’d be a real trophy on her shelf. You’re the only one for me.”

Raymond pulls up a cucumber plant without examining it.

“Raymond! What are you doing? My beautiful babies!”

“Well, then, what were you doing over there?”

“Getting some…”

“What?” both women yell, one in each ear.

The rabbit is sucking the sweat gleefully from Raymond’s bandana, and with all the athleticism of a pro prospect, he hurls the phone at the creature, striking it in the head and wounding it.

No, stop, please, a voice passionately whispers. Raymond feels the impact of each breath tickle his sweaty ear.

I love you, he says.

I love you, too, Raybie, the phone crackles, sticking to the spilled blood of the dying rabbit.

“Raymond, what’s wrong with you?” asks his father, who’s opened the window.

He looks up at him, sees the terror in his eyes, and feels regret. Life has certainly turned to shit. His mother, now by his side, puts her hand on his forehead.

“Come inside and have a drink. You can clean this up later,”she says, taking grip of Raymond’s arm.

She leads him into the house where she will give him tea and a sandwich.

At least the phone is out of order. He can’t think, but his mother’s voice is better than most.


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