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Mr. Fox

Melanie Boeckmann | Terri Kelleher

At the gas station, Clyde grabs a six pack of sausages. “Are you for real, man?” Malachi is fed up by now. He prides himself on being a good-natured and patient companion, but Clyde’s aberrant and impulse-led behavior causes him to doubt his mental health. “I need protein,” Clyde defends himself and pays for the meat. Malachi refuses to look at the cashier as he puts the coins for his soft drink on the counter. Outside, Malachi hits Clyde on the left arm, hard. The sausages tumble to the floor, unbroken. Plastic has saved Clyde’s dinner once again. “Ouch. What are you doing that for?” Clyde yells and bares his teeth in an animistic expression. “You are nuts,” Malachi concludes. He has planned to say much, much more, but Clyde’s bare teeth and the slight growl deep in his throat convince him otherwise.

Clyde has recently stopped shaving and his red beard itches most of the time. He absentmindedly scratches his chin and cheeks and drives both Malachi and Nina mad. Nina he has only met a few days earlier at a run through the woods. “I like your style,” she told him and stroked the hair on his neck. “Thank you.” Their naked bodies on the muddy trail, entwined. Nina’s dark skin and the crusty mud. Clyde’s copper beard all dripping.

Now, several hours after the last exchange of bodily fluids, Nina has to admit that Clyde’s “style” is actually quite bothersome in the coffee shop. Among all those nicely dressed people quietly sipping their drinks. Malachi throws her a look heavy with significance. “You see?” this look says. Clyde noisily licks the last hot chocolate drops off the lid. He then notices their faces. Nina’s eyes squeezed together in disgust. “What?” Clyde’s tone is accusatory. “It’s kinda gross. The way you drink,” Malachi lets him know. Clyde shrugs. “So what? Nina, you want to go to my place?” Nina’s lowered eyes and silence tell him the story. “Not right now. I’ll call you later.” On his way out, Clyde looks over his shoulder and catches Malachi putting his hand on Nina’s arm. Clyde growls and touches a deep scratch on his left cheek.

At home, Clyde pours himself some water and uses his tongue to feel the glass’s rim. Arrogant Malachi. Scheming, untrustworthy bastard! He’s gonna show them whom Nina should run through the woods with! Only when he notices dark red stains on the tile floor does Clyde realize he has crushed the glass in his hands. He licks his wounds and inspects his biceps.”I’ve grown stronger.” Nina would have said “leaner,” instead. They must be stopped from committing their crime! But when Clyde returns to the café both Nina and Malachi are gone. Clyde sniffs the air: it’s going to snow soon.

The steps to Malachi’s apartment are long and tedious; including an F-train ride and a detour through the suburban forest for a bathroom break. “Malachi!” Clyde screams one floor too early. “Malachi! Show your goddamn face, you coward!” A door opens and there he is, his friend, looking down on him from the top of the stairs. “What the hell is wrong with you, Clyde?” Malachi wears neither shoes nor shirt. Yet he seems angry, as if anger was his prerogative and his hands in Nina’s panties their natural place. Oh, the presumptuousness! Clyde jumps upstairs, two, three steps at once and stops directly in front of Malachi. His nose inches away from touching Malachi’s lips. He has no time to wish he were taller, as Malachi pushes him away. “Go home, you idiot. Get cleaned up. Shave. Become human again.” “How dare you!” Clyde growls and looks Malachi right in the eyes. “You know what she really likes? She likes to fuck outside, under the sky, noisily and getting muddy. Get it, Malachi? You won’t go down on her tonight unless you roll around in the dirt first, asshole!” Clyde is a millisecond too late in realizing that the fist Malachi makes is aimed at his stomach. He stumbles backwards and gasps for air. Malachi steps forward: “You want more?” Breathing works again, Clyde notices, and lifts his head triumphantly. “I am Mr. Clyde Fox!” he yells and runs down the stairs.

From Malachi’s bedroom window Nina watches him disappear into the green surrounding the apartment complex.

About Melanie Boeckmann

Melanie Boeckmann writes both flash fiction and longer-form short stories. Her recent work is and will be published in Smashed Cat, Sleet Magazine and HOOT Review.

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