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Rats
by Z.Z. Boone

art by Robinson Accola
art by Robinson Accola
On Friday nights, while most other seventeen-year old girls are either dating or hanging out together, my father takes me to the dump to shoot rats. We wait until dark, take a couple of flashlights, pack our .22s in the car, and park on the side of the road where the gaping hole in the chain link fence hasn't been repaired in over a year. We walk through, our beams of light preceding us, at times holding our noses, listening for places where the chirping of the rats is loudest.

"Turn off the light," my father will say when we find the perfect spot. We'll stand together in the darkness, our nerves as sharp as shark's teeth, conscious of the slightest movement. My father is always first. He'll whisper, "Now!" and I'll switch on my flashlight and arc the beam in front of us. Red eyes will glow, hairless ears will raise, scaly tails will swish, and pop...pop...pop, just like that.

A half-hour from now, when we're back in the car and on our way to Pizza Hut or Wendy's, he'll talk about my mother. He refers to her as both his ex-wife and my ex-mom. It still drives him crazy that she cheated on him with a guy they both knew, and after he found out and was willing to give it another try, she left.

"And the reason she left," he will say week after week every Friday night clear sky or rainy, "is because I approached her from a position of weakness."

"Weakness," I'll repeat.

"You always approach from a position of power," he'll say, and he won't utter another thing until I say the word.

"Power."

That conversation won't happen, though, for another thirty-minutes. Until then we'll stand in the dark, as silent as strangers, and I'll jump just a bit when his shoulder brushes mine.

"Focus," he'll whisper, and I'll focus.

"Wait on it," he'll tell me.

"And..." he'll say.

"Now!" I'll call a bit too loudly, and light as white as heaven will flood my life while rats scurry and my own gunshots deafen me.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.



Z.Z. Boone received an MFA from Goddard College and currently teaches at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut.

Read the interview.

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.
Issue Twenty-Five (June 25, 2009): Bush Chanting by Cynthia Helen Beecher «» Flying Pens by Pam Bolton «» Rats by Z.Z. Boone «» The Hobblers by Dan Chaon «» Slanguistic Lipstick by Frank Dahai «» Rain by Natalie DeClerck «» Good Friday by Steven Gullion «» Me and Theodore Are Trapped in the Trunk of the Car with Rags in Our Mouths and Tape Around Our Wrists and Ankles, Please Let Us Out. by Mary Hamilton «» Underfoot by Joan Harvey «» A Minor Setback by Tara Laskowski «» Woman in a Bar by Dorianne Laux «» Matt: How It Will Happen by Amanda Nazario «» Trace by Darlin' Neal «» Exile on Payne Street by Ryan Ridge «» Home Economics by Gail Louise Siegel «» A Funny Smell by Ray Vukcevich «» Andersonville by Lindsay Marianna Walker «» Northern Migration by Brandon Wicks «» Interviews: Cynthia Helen Beecher «» Pam Bolton «» Z.Z. Boone «» Dan Chaon «» Frank Dahai «» Natalie DeClerck «» Steven Gullion «» Mary Hamilton «» Joan Harvey «» Tara Laskowski «» Dorianne Laux «» Amanda Nazario «» Darlin' Neal «» Ryan Ridge «» Gail Louise Siegel «» Ray Vukcevich «» Lindsay Marianna Walker «» Brandon Wicks «» Cover Art "The Vanishing Lotus" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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