• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 10

A Visitor

When I killed the animal I ate its flesh and threw away the bones. I went to sleep with a contented smile on my face, despite a sore stomach. A violent sound woke me in the middle of the night, a close sound. I forced myself to keep still. I didn’t even breathe. The rest of the house remained silent, as did the wide desert outside. The animal may have had family who wished to avenge it. I threw on a pair of old trousers and took my rifle. The blue moonlit sand was still asleep, cold as my bare feet sank into it. I circled the house to check. I should have saved the animal bones for soup, but another animal had carried them away. I turned on every light in every room of the house. The brightness settled me. Sleep didn’t come easy, but when it did it carried me long into the afternoon. I started my day as everyone else finished siesta.
     An open window had let the house fill with moths. I hunted them out with the yard-brush, killing the ones that refused to move, then drove into town for supplies. On the way I passed the old honky-tonk tramp, playing songs on a battered out of tune bass guitar. The tramp wrote its own songs, probably due to an inability to play other people’s. Each song had the same dreary drone. They were all about people who lived round here. I wondered if there were any about me and the animal.
     I picked the tramp up with the offer of dinner on my way back from town. People were rarely invited to my house. I liked to be on my own; that’s why it was further into the desert than any other house in these parts. It made me feel like I lived on the edge of the world.


A Visitor

     The meal was quiet, but the important conversation had been dealt with by then. The honky-tonk tramp didn’t sing any songs about me after that. It quit singing altogether. Again when I went to sleep that night my belly was sore, bloated by the large meal, which kept repeating on me. Again a violent sound woke me in the middle of the night. I listened without moving, without breathing. Nothing. I inhaled a little through my nose, and recognised the familiar smell, like sour mustard. I took a deeper, relaxing lungful, which settled me. Sleep came quicker this time. Through the night my stomach ached, but this time I had kept the bones. Tomorrow I will boil a soothing broth.