5.07 / July 2010

The Cruel Father, Learning that He Is About to Be Killed by His Son, Puts to Death All Children Born to Him

He kept a catalog of women’s eyes. Not just green, brown, blue, or hazel, but the shapes of eyes, almond or hooded or deep-set or Oriental, and how evenly spaced they were or weren’t, and how long the eyelashes, and how thick the eyebrows, and plucked or not plucked.

He kept a catalog of women’s legs, tongues, arms, fingers, feet, and fists. He kept a diary, a journal, and two running lists in two books, one black, one red. He kept Polaroids, eight by ten glossies, photo booth strips, and Xeroxed faces. He kept mementoes from weddings, cigar boxes, jewel cases, mimeographed lithograms, inscribed matchboxes, business cards, tubes of lipstick, nail polish, and mace.

In his hovel, he kept a rifle safe. In the rifle safe, he kept his papers. In case of fire, flood, burglary, earthquake, or nuclear winter, the rifle safe would keep his papers. His papers kept account of the first things, the middle things, the last things, the things to come after the last things. His papers kept the pictures of the unseen things. His papers kept the genealogies, the litanies, the spells and incantations, the secret languages, the map of the spider villages, the ant strata, news of the coming lottery, the combinations to the gates, the knot patterns, the knowledge of the buried silver, the words for the mother bird, the original arrangement of the beads, instructions for the exchange rates, the zeroes for the tunnels, the schedule for the mating season plateau.

In the morning he rose to pour the water, rinse the mops, sweep the brooms, disinfect the seats, clear the buildings, mayday, mayday. The little people watched him with wonder, and he watched the little people, wondering what they knew.

Kyle Minor is the author of In the Devil's Territory.