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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Flash Jab 12

This month's Flash Jab Challenge comes to us from my follow anthologist Seana Graham. It's a little longer than requested, but sometimes that's all right. 

Warning by Seana Graham 

Trig couldn’t be sure, but damn it if it wasn’t the same sign that greeted
him as he walked up to the fence surrounding the property. Faded, yes. Of
course it was. But the words could still be made out, though they were now
more a paler shade of pink than red:
No trespassing.
Violators will be shot.

The fence wasn’t as formidable as he remembered. Of course, he’d been a
kid then, and he’d seen it from a kid’s perspective. He hadn’t had wire
clippers back then, either. Back then, he and Sally had to scooch underneath the
bottom strand of the barbed wire. He would have liked to cut through the
fence completely now instead of just that one middle strand, it would have
felt like an end to something. But that might distract him from the main

 “What is your main mission?” the career guy had asked them over and over
in prison, during the Life Outside class that he took whenever it was
offered. “What do you hope to accomplish in this life?” Trig knew what he
hoped to accomplish, but he wasn’t telling.

There was a road through the property, and Trig followed it loosely. He
remembered now that this was what he’d hoped to do back then, too. Sally
had liked cutting through the tall grasses even more than he had.
He’d never made it to the end of that road, though. Part of his main
mission now was to find out what was there. To find out who.

He hadn’t been a bad kid back then, even if he might be a bad man now. All
he’d wanted that day was to get away--go somewhere no one could find him,
smoke a little weed. School sucked. Home sucked. Was it really so much to
ask to find one place on earth that didn’t suck, just for awhile?

True, the sign had probably been a provocation. Provocation. He’d learned
that word in the Self-Evaluation Session that he and the other violent
offenders had had to go to every week. Provocation: what caused you to
react. Overreact, the counselors said, but that wasn’t fair. It wasn’t
always overreaction. Sometimes it was the just and appropriate response.
But yeah, there were other places he could have gone that day. For sure.
He could make it out now, just barely. The place where the road petered
out. A house, he thought. Some kind of human dwelling, anyway.
Though human might be overstating the case.

He hadn’t been high that day, not yet. Later, sure, he was a methhead,
boozer, cokefreak. He’d own all of it, whatever they wanted to throw at
him. But not then. That day he had only wanted to smoke a little grass, be
in nature, hang out with his black lab. Sally—his personal savior, the
only creature that cared about him in the entire freaking world.

The bullet had caught her clean, there was that small mercy at least. He
hadn’t had to finish her off himself. One minute she was bounding over the
field, the next she was dead. He was glad now that after the one moment of
total panic and fear, he’d gone to her and seen this. In prison, he’d
sometimes dreamed she was alive, but suffering. He would have slit his
wrists by now if he hadn’t witnessed with his own eyes that this wasn’t

It was just a small cabin, no more than a lean-to, really. An old man was
working out in the garden as he came up. Frail. Feeble. Fuck. Trig had
delayed this too damn long.

“You’re trespassing,” the old guy said without turning.

“Yeah? What’re you going to do about it, old man?”


“Yeah? You ever killed anyone on this place?” Trig knew it had to be him,
but on another level, he was unsure.

“I killed a dog once.”

“What kind of dog?” Trig asked.

“I don’t know what kind of dog. Black. That’s all I know.”

“My dog.”

“I figured.”


“So? So I regret it. I regretted it in the moment I did it. It was a

“Damn right it was a mistake,” Trig said. Inside, though, all he could
think was shit, shit, shit.

“I had a clear shot at the kid, though. I saw him go running off… I saw
him come back. You were that kid?”


“I could have killed you that day, you know. I would’ve been within my

“I could kill you right now just as easy.”

“I’m sure. I hope you won’t, but I would understand the reason.”

“What happened to her?”

“What happened? I buried her.”

Trig felt an easing up. Years had gone by with him picturing her bones
picked clean by crows and other carrion birds. Not that it made much
difference that it was worms. “Where?”

“Here, of course.”

“Where here?”

“I’ll show you.”

They walked around the back of the house, Trig thinking all the time that
it was some kind of set up, the guy was just too calm, but sure enough
there was the grave, complete with a small, primitive headstone. It read,
“To the Unknown Dog”. Trig wondered if this wasn’t maybe some dark joke.

“Sally,” Trig said. “Her name was Sally.”

“I’ll change it. I didn’t know.”

“It doesn’t excuse anything,” Trig said.

“Of course not,” the man said. He wasn’t afraid of Trig anymore, and Trig
knew it.

“You wrecked my life,” Trig said.

“I wrecked my own that day, if it’s any consolation.”

Trig thought about it. “It is and it isn’t,” he said.

“Come inside?” the man asked.

Trig shook his head. “You smoke dope?”

The man looked at him. “I could.”

“Because that would be the right thing,” Trig said.

He brought the bag of weed out of his pocket, but they both just stood
looking at the grave for awhile before they did anything else at all.

(c) 2012 Seana Graham

Seana Graham works at an independent bookstore in Santa Cruz, California.
Her latest published story, “Gato”, appears in Grimm Tales, edited by John
Kenyon. She also has stories in The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud
Wristlet, and the second volume of Carpathian Shadows, edited by Lia
Schizas. More recently, she’s been writing daily prompts for Short Story
Month at her blog Story Dump, which led to her writing this story.