Del Rio, TX
Something in my stomach says nothing wants to live here, especially not childhood. We wake to taxidermied turkeys on the cabin wall. Eric’s dad, Donnie, cracks open a beer and a dozen eggs. Donnie says, Eat. We eat. Donnie says, Let’s go. We go.
We ride four-wheelers past barbed-wire fences. Circle a stagnant pond, send birds flying arrow-shaped. Some look lost, straggle behind like me. We park. We hide.
They load guns and I pretend, put bullets in my pocket. Donnie says, Turkey. He sweet-talks it with his paddle box. The bird cackles beyond the fence. Eric clutches his gun, moves to a knee. His Texas Children’s Hospital wristband tilts against his palm.
Eric says, That’s the neighbor’s land. Donnie says, Fuck the Johnsons. He calls the turkey. Clucks and purrs. Whispers to Eric, Shoot it, goddammit. Eric eyes his scope. Can’t see it, he says. I just can’t.
Donnie grabs Eric by the ear like he’s luggage, sends him to his feet, the back of his knuckles hook the line of Eric’s jaw. Eric tears up, says nothing. Donnie says, You pussied out. You sure fucking did. Eric watches that bird run. Wonders how many days until another son pulls the trigger.
We drive back, Eric knuckle-marked, Donnie’s lip fat with a wad of dip. Out the window, clouds widen the sky. Sign says 315 miles. We’re Houston bound. Then we stop. Border patrol. A routine check.
Where y’all headed? Harboring any illegals? Donnie looks back at me. Well, Donnie says. Just one. He and the officer laugh. I pat the bullets in my pocket.
Patrick Font is a writer and musician from Houston, Texas, and he attends the University of Arkansas MFA Program in Creative Writing & Translation. He is an assistant fiction editor of The Arkansas International, and his writing has appeared on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.
Cover Photo by Jaroslav A. Polák