Dustin Pellegrini

Flash Fiction – Franklin

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                    countryside_road

Here is an excerpt from a piece of flash fiction, a work-in-progress, that follows a man and his young son as they go about salvaging something for dinner; roadkill.

Franklin

Franklin edges a booted toe under the rabbit’s neck, lifts the thing from the scarred pavement, and pancake-flips it over. It’s underside’s a hollow mess of maggots, all died red, suckling at fat tendrils of meat. A blue van cruises by, swerves into the gravel and tramples the weeds at the edge of the road. The horn calls out at Franklin, shouts in its own language as he pushes the carcass with his foot, stirring the maggots out.

He crouches to his heels, shakes up the bean in his can, and directs the nozzle, sprays a pink X just next to the thing, marking it for the ride back.

Ethan, in his favorite blue onesie, the one Franklin put cigarette burns in so his thumbs could poke through, crawls near him on the pavement, somehow loose from his special seat in the truck, the one his mother had found, had gotten from a neighbor who’d gotten it from an Aunt. Had given it to Franklin at one of their now-frequent exchanges at the gas station between their house–her house now, though he still paid for it, his name was still right there on the lease–and his new one-room place across town, and said Ethan was either in it or he wasn’t in the car. That simple. The boy crawls too close to the spraying and gets freckles of paint across his forehead. His wobbly arms and legs each pull him toward their own North, the way Franklin imagines a fish would flop until dead if it’s pond dried up.

He takes Ethan up by the armpits, the paintcan spitting onto his onesie. He wants to halt him from stretching a hand too far into the rabbit’s lining, a sight his Mother would remember, would store deep down in that vault she had in her head. The one she dug into anytime they argued and it was looking like she would lose. Franklin called it his Bank of Mistakes.

How can you let him touch that? she’d say. She’d scream. It isn’t clean. It isn’t right. No, Franklin wanted to avoid any chance she’d get of filling that vault.

Too late.

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