Do the birds sound different today? It’s such a lovely day. No, just different, like they know something that only they sense and are trying to tell us. That jetliner is flying rather low. It’s the mists coming from the marshes. How can it fly so slowly and stay aloft? It’s an illusion. Something to do with water vapor and the horizon and the sun. Did you put the wine in the basket? Think of all the people on the jetliner looking down on the marshes, the forests, the farms. Actually, it’s not a commercial jetliner, I don’t think. It’s a supply vessel. You can tell by its size and shape. They take forever to fly away. Filled with cargo. Or troops. You know that cargo sometimes shifts in flight. Sometimes it all goes down together. All the cargo, and the crew of course, pilots just flying the thing until the very end. Going through protocols. Sometimes there are soldiers squeezed on board, just hitching a ride. I’ve read that about cargo, but not air cargo. I’ve heard stories about poorly loaded container ships going down in high seas or mysteriously in ideal conditions after abrupt shifts in their cargo. Rogue waves. Wind shear of the seas. Cargo and sailors turned upside down. There are sandwiches and wine in the basket. And some fruit and some of the little crunchy things that I got at that place you like in the middle of the block. Oh, the little crunchy things from last time? I love them so much! Thanks. That was so thoughtful, especially since I know how much you despise them. Also your book is in there, in case we’re stranded. I brought the two I’ve been reading, and another one, so we’ll be okay. Did you hear the gunfire? Maybe it’s something else, someone demolishing something. Demolition and gunfire are two entirely different things. Are they shooting skeet? They do that, you know. No, ducks I would think. From the side of the road. They drive up, pull out guns from their trunk, send their dogs to the edges of the reeds to stir things up, and just start shooting like it’s the most normal thing in the world. I’ve also seen them flushing grouse out of brush under the power lines. You don’t typically think of hunters in four-door sedans. They own guns and a Peugeot. They’re funny, right? You should see them ordering at the meat counter. They’re probably on their way to church. Poaching on their Sabbath. Perhaps they started thinking about dinner before God. It’s not poaching. It’s actually legal if it’s at the edges of farmland. With a rifle? Rifles aren’t used to kill fowl. They use birdshot. So birdshot isn’t dangerous? Not from the roadside, but occasionally for hunters. Even on sober excursions. And for the ducks, of course. Did you bring the chicken? Yes, I did. I love the way you cook it and then chill it. It’s so much better chilled than hot, although I like it when the chill goes away just a little bit, when the flesh comes back to life in the outside air. I’ve been looking forward to it all day. It’s a tradition by now I would think, and traditions don’t slip my mind. I woke up thinking about your chicken. Even as I had a coffee. I almost completely ignored the newspaper, and my coffee too actually, my mind was so focused on the chicken. My cup was full one moment and then the next, suddenly empty, and I couldn’t remember one sip. I no longer read articles and only read headlines. Merely knowing that something has happened seems to be enough. I skip around and don’t finish anything. Did you bring the newspaper? No, I prefer not to ruin outings with the news. That’s strange, the jetliner disappeared. I think you’re right, it did. It’s as if the air couldn’t hold it up any longer. How long have we been talking? Maybe we’ve seen news in the making. We should have just brought the newspaper. There’s no avoiding it. And it’s good to have along with the books. This is delicious, isn’t it? I will eulogize you and your signature chilled chicken at your funeral. I’m not having a funeral, nor will I permit a memorial service. It’s in my will by the way. Then I will sing the songs of your chilled chicken all alone. Oh my god, so good. Have the birds stopped singing? The shooting has stopped. Apparently they got what they wanted. Or maybe everything has flown away. Where did this sun suddenly come from? From behind the clouds. Could it be any lovelier today? Pour me some wine, please. It just seems like yesterday that there was frost on the leeks.
Wade Nacinovich's work has appeared in Sleepingfish, The Brooklyn Review and Pindeldyboz. He lives in Portland, Oregon.