Fall 2023, Volume 35

Fiction by Wolfgang Wright

The Sword

The sword was a gift from Barry’s college days. Steve, his roommate from freshman year, had been doing some online shopping, and in order to qualify for free shipping, decided, on a lark, to toss a sword into his virtual basket—or, at any rate, that’s what he told Barry while he watched him unwrap it, though he, Barry, suspected an ulterior motive. After all, Steve was a psychology major, and ever since Barry had confessed to him a fascination with swords, Steve had been on a mission to get to the bottom of it, given that Barry wasn’t into science fiction and fantasy, didn’t practice a martial art, had no particular fondness for historical periods in which swords played a prominent role, and was generally opposed to violence. Presumably, Steve had thought the appeal was phallic in nature, and that by placing a sword into Barry’s hands, he, Steve, would unearth some hidden sexual perversion buried deep within Barry’s subconscious; but if so, then Steve was sorely disappointed, because when Barry took hold of the sword for the first time—and, indeed, at any time after that—he, Barry, failed to become aroused.

For the first couple of years, the sword remained under Barry’s bed, stored in its original box, if for no other reason than because weapons were forbidden on campus, though in truth, every time Barry did get it out, he had no idea what to do with it, other than stare at its ornate design. Perhaps that was why when he got his apartment he chose to hang it in the living room, where for several months it stood as his principal decoration, until his girlfriend moved in and replaced it with a shelf for handmade dolls, at which point the sword once again found its way back under the bed. Later, when he and Erin married and set off for the suburbs, Barry shoved the sword into a closet on the top floor of their house, along with all of his old accounting textbooks, clothes he never wore anymore, and a collection of kettlebells he hadn’t worked out with since his brief flirtation with CrossFit. Over the next several years he forgot all about it, until Erin and their son went to live on the coast in a bungalow with a blonde qigong instructor named Guy (pron. “Ghee”), and suddenly he found himself entertaining the idea of placing the sword in the umbrella rack by the front door. But he couldn’t see the purpose in it, the sword would only remind him of better times, and there were too many of those reminders lying around the house already—the Formica table in the basement, on and under which he and Erin had first made love, the playset in the backyard, where he and his son had chased each other during games of monster and tag, not to mention the entirety of the dining room, where the three of them would eat their meals together as a family; hell, even the dishwasher, because he and Erin used to unload it together, brought back fond memories and compelled him, against his will, to confront his current isolation.

Rarely during all this time had Barry ever “wielded” the sword, and when he did so he was always careful never to strike anything with it, and nor did he let anyone else strike anything with it either, except once, when Steve, very drunk, took a thwack at a tree and wound up spraining his wrist. And yet, when one night after brushing his teeth he heard the TV on downstairs, and the microwave beep, followed by the faint smell of popcorn, the sword was the first thing that sprang to mind. (Actually, his first thought was that Erin had returned in order to beg for his forgiveness and then make wild, passionate love to him, but he quickly ruled that out when the channel flipped over to wrestling, a “sport” which she abhorred.) Perhaps the sword was so quick to his psyche because he didn’t own a gun, or because everything else that might work effectively as a weapon—the kitchen knives, a claw hammer, his golf clubs—were either downstairs or in the garage; but whatever the reason, when he finally slinked down the hallway and located the sword in the dark, first latching onto a vacuum, and then a rolled-up poster of Einstein (the famous one with his tongue sticking out), he was filled with a sudden sense of power. Not that he was actually planning on using it in self-defense—no, he just wanted to look intimidating, to scare whomever was down there, because he suspected that, by themselves, his white socks, boxer shorts, and a T-shirt that read “Relax and Count Rabbits” weren’t going to put a fright into anyone.

And in fact, for the first several seconds, the intruder, a brown-skinned man with short hair and baggy clothing, who was seated on the couch with a bowl of popcorn on his lap, did appear to be scared: “Dios mío, ¿eres un fantasma?” he muttered as soon as he caught sight of Barry, which Barry, having taken four years of Spanish in high school, translated roughly as, “Holy shit, are you a ghost?” Nevertheless, the intruder overcame his fear quickly, and after setting the popcorn aside, flared his nostrils and began to curse. He then got up and began waving his finger at Barry, who no longer felt quite as confident as he had when he’d first taken hold of the sword, and in fact retreated backward a step and bumped into the wall. But the intruder came forward anyway, still cursing at him, and not knowing what else to do, Barry closed his eyes and lunged, thrusting the sword forward like a fencer. Suddenly, the cursing stopped, and in its place there was gurgling. When Barry reopened his eyes, he saw that he had pierced the intruder through the neck, all the way into the spine. Immediately, he retracted the sword and looked on in horror as the intruder, gushing blood, collapsed onto the floor and died.



A month later, as he was coming home from work, Barry spotted a kid with a bicycle standing halfway up his driveway. The kid looked to be about sixteen or seventeen, with dark brown skin and a slender frame. He was staring at the house, but when he heard Barry’s car slow behind him, he looked over his shoulder and moved out of the way—not down the driveway toward the “For Sale” sign, as Barry would have liked to see him do, but off to the side toward the front lawn, as if all he were doing was giving Barry enough room to pull into the garage. Barry stopped his car in the street. He had no idea who this kid was or what he was doing here, and it didn’t help that the kid had the same complexion as the man who had broken into his house, the man he had killed. He thought about grabbing his phone and dialing 911, but he didn’t want to be that guy—and besides, the kid didn’t look threatening, he didn’t look like anything really, just a kid with a bike standing in a driveway. So instead, Barry steadied himself, took a few deep breaths, hit the button on the garage door opener, and pulled inside.

But before the garage door was able to close again, the kid made a move. He came forward and tripped the sensor with the front tire of his bike. The garage door reversed directions, reopening. Though he had shut the engine off, Barry remained inside his car, doors locked, watching the kid in the side view mirror. The kid didn’t budge; he seemed to be waiting for Barry to make the next move, and so after giving it some thought, Barry slowly eased open the car door and poked his head out. He looked directly at the kid, trying to signal to him that what he, the kid, was doing, was highly unusual. Then he glanced at the bike and saw the flat.

“¿Atacado?” Barry asked, pointing at the front tire. “¿Necesitas ayuda?”

The boy grinned; he seemed to be on the verge of laughter. “I think you mean ‘achatado,’ man. And for the record, I speak English.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean—I just thought…is that what you want?”

The boy picked at what must have been a single hair growing out of the bottom of his chin. “No, man, popped that on the way over. Had to hoof it the last three miles. Anyway, I’m José Lopez. You may remember my father.”

Barry saw the resemblance now. After killing the intruder, but before the police had arrived, he’d had a chance to stare at the body, in particular the intruder’s face, and he could see that this kid had more or less the same features—a round head, soft cheeks, and flat, thin lips. His eyes were different though. Whereas his father’s eyes had been small and narrow and angled slightly downward as they came together, José’s eyes were big and wide and set on an even plane, like two golden brown suns setting at the same time. In addition, there didn’t appear to be any anger in them, more curiosity, though this didn’t mean that Barry was about to let his guard down.

“Listen, it was self-defense, okay? He came at me. The police said he was on drugs.”

Now the kid did laugh. “I’m not here to avenge his death, man.”

“Okay. Then what are you here for?”

“I want to see where it went down.”

“Where what—oh, you mean…? I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

The kid turned his head for a second and gazed at a passing car. He made like he was going to wave at it, but at the last second decided against it. “Ever since I heard about it, him dying,” he said after turning back to the garage, “I’ve had this voice inside of me crying out for me to see where it happened. I thought it would go away on its own, this voice, but it’s only gotten louder. Sometimes it wakes me in my sleep. So I came here to appease it. Isn’t that what you would do?”

Yes, it was what Barry would do, and had been doing in his own way by seeing a therapist. What this kid seemed to be talking about was closure, which Barry was seeking as well, not to silence a voice, but to put an end to the anxiety that had overwhelmed him since the killing. Still, that didn’t mean that he and the kid were on the same page, that they had reached some sort of understanding. On the other hand, if he allowed the kid into his house, and it somehow brought him some closure, perhaps he, Barry, would get some closure as well, or at least get a sense of what it was like, so that he would know what he was searching for. At the very least, it might get him off the pills he was taking, which also made him lethargic.

“O-okay,” he said.

The living room was just inside the door, off to the left. The kid, José, wandered in with his hands clasped behind his back and began looking around as if every detail within the room were worth committing to memory. No, that wasn’t quite right. It was more like he had read an account of the incident online or in the paper and was trying to match what he had learned with the reality before him, perhaps searching for discrepancies, something that would prove his father’s innocence. Already Barry was having second thoughts. In an enclosed area, José seemed suddenly bigger, more imposing—not yet threatening, but that wasn’t a surprise, because the kid was obviously smart: he would wait for Barry to get comfortable with him before he made his attack.

“Is that the couch?” José asked. “The one my father was sitting on?”

Barry nodded and muttered something approximating a “yes.” He glanced off to the right at the kitchen, where all the knives were, and wondered, if it came to it, would he be able to kill again.

“And the TV was on. That’s what clued you in that someone was here. It didn’t say what he was watching.” Again, José pulled at the hair under his chin. “Lemme guess…wrestling. He was obsessed with it. Didn’t care that it wasn’t real. Used to tell me nothing was real. Toda la vida es sueño. Did they teach you that one in school?” He didn’t wait for an answer but swung back to the couch, to the wall behind it. “What about this? This faded area. Was there a picture here? Did he break it?”

Barry shook his head, recalling the photo that used to hang there, of he and Erin on their wedding day. “That was already gone. It…I’d already taken it down. Everything else is the same though, except for the rug.”

José got down on one knee and lifted up the corner of the rug, a cheap gray lattice throw rug that Barry had purchased in order to cover up the blood stain, not realizing at the time that it wouldn’t be necessary.

“There’s nothing here,” José said.

“No, the, the cleaners, they, they did a good job.”

In fact, once the bioremediation specialists had finished their work, there wasn’t a trace of blood left, but Barry had chosen to put the rug down anyway in order to cover up what had happened there, not that it had helped. Even now he could not shake the image of blood rising up like flood waters within the intruder’s mouth until it began spilling out and running down his cheeks. It was at that moment that he had been certain that the intruder was dead, and that it was safe to leave him and call the police, something that he now regretted he hadn’t done in the first place, when he had first heard the noises. If only he had thought of it, instead of the sword.

“And where is the sword?” José asked, as if reading his mind.


“The sword. It said you killed him with a sword. Where is it? I’d like to see it.”

“No. I mean, it’s not here. The police have it. They’re holding it as evidence.”

“When are you getting it back?”

“I don’t know. Maybe never. I’m not sure I want it back.”

José nodded, understanding, though he seemed disappointed. He let go of the carpet and sat on it, Indian-style, resting on his wrists behind him, facing Barry. “Describe it to me.”


“I want to picture the scene. I can’t do that if I don’t have an image of the sword.”

There was a chair next to the door, where Barry would often take off his shoes. Now he sat on the chair and tried to remember what the sword looked like, which turned out to be more difficult than he was expecting, given how long it had been a part of his life, and even when the sword did come back to him, it did so only in fragments, like pieces of a puzzle arranging themselves in his mind.

“It had a skull for the pommel—that’s the little knob at the end of the handle. And the handle itself, that had a snake coiling around it, like, well, like snakes do. The guard—that’s the part that goes outward, that makes a sword look like a cross—that was made to look like an angry bat. And the blade, the flat part…have you ever seen a topographical map?”

José nodded. His eyes were open, but he seemed to be in a kind of trance, as if using the full force of his concentration to imagine what Barry was describing to him.

“Anyway, that’s what the design looked like, only I think it was meant to represent scorched earth or something, or the uncertainty of battle. I could never figure it out. But the blade itself, the edge of it, had these waves in it, you know, like a cartoon drawing of the ocean.”

“Like this?” José asked, drawing with his finger undulations in the air.

“Right, except that they kept getting narrower until they got to the end of the blade, which was just a regular point.”

“Was the edge sharp or blunt?”

“Blunt. It was more for display than anything else.”

“Still, you chose it to defend yourself.”

“I never actually meant to use it as a weapon. I just wanted to scare him.”

“So if he hadn’t come at you, he’d still be alive.”

Barry nodded. The boy seemed to consider this before speaking again.

“And he never once reached for his gun?”

“I never even knew had one until after.”

“He always carried it, to feel tough. That was the dream that he was living.” Suddenly, he leapt up and clapped his hands together. “All right, that’s it. You can take me home now.”


“My bike, remember? Achatado.”

Barry shook his head. “I can’t.”

“Why not? You got somewhere you need to be?”

“No, I just…the bike, it won’t fit. My car’s too small.”

“So we’ll take the tires off and throw them in the trunk.”

“Why can’t you walk it home?”

“Because, man, it’s like twenty miles, and when I get home it’ll be dark. And mine’s not the kind of neighborhood you want to be out in after dark. ¿Entiende?”



Throughout the journey José gave directions and every so often threw in a detail about his father, usually something unpleasant, like how he mistreated José’s mother, or that time he whipped him with a belt. Barry listened, and nodded along, but he didn’t understand why José was telling him these things. Maybe it was to make him feel better about killing his father, but if so, then it was having the opposite of the intended effect, because the more Barry learned about Antonio Lopez, the more real he became, the more human. Before he was just a man who had broken into his house—an intruder—but as he learned more about his life, Antonio became someone with a life, someone who had gone places and done things, even if few of them were good. Still, what could he do? Tell the kid to stop? He didn’t feel comfortable doing that, and besides, he’d already altered the course of the boy’s life enough as it was.

When they finally arrived at his house, José said, “You should come in, meet my mom.”

Barry tensed. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

“Don’t worry, man, she won’t be mad at you. She thinks you did her a favor. You should have seen the look on her face when she first heard the news—you know, before she pretended like she was upset about it. She looked like…” and he paused for a second, bringing the image to mind “…like she was finally going to have some peace in her life. At least he won’t be coming around here anymore trying to squeeze some money out of her. Or sex.”

“Still, I—”

“Wait here,” José said, tapping the dash. “I’ll make sure she’s decent.”

As soon as José got out of the car Barry began looking around. The kid was right, this wasn’t the kind of neighborhood where you’d want to get caught outside alone in the dark, though it wasn’t the crumbling façades or the dried out lawns that worried Barry—it was the young men he spotted in his rearview mirror a couple of houses down. One of them was skinny like José, but taller and wearing a track suit that covered up everything except his shaved head, while the other was big, muscular big, and had tattoos all up and down his arms and legs, which disappeared into his white tanktop and baggy shorts. They had come down off their porch and were looking at him from the sidewalk, or maybe at his car. Barry tried not to judge them, tried to remind himself that this wasn’t a movie, where men like that were often portrayed as gangbangers and thugs, and that maybe they were just like him, just wondering what a white man was doing in their neighborhood, in the same way that he had wondered what José had been doing in his; but this only served to remind him that he shouldn’t be here, that this wasn’t his neighborhood, and that even if he wasn’t doing anything wrong, he may not be welcome here. And that was enough to convince him to leave—and he would have, right away, except that he remembered he still had the bike. Quickly, he got out of his car, opened the rear passenger door, removed the bike frame, and dumped it onto the lawn; then he went to the trunk and removed the tires. In a flash he was back inside the car, seatbelt on, and ready to go. He checked the house to make sure José wasn’t running out after him, then threw the engine into drive. He was just about to hit the gas when he looked ahead and saw a boy—a little one, about his own son’s age—standing in the street two feet from his bumper. Gasping, Barry slammed his foot back onto the brake and held it firm.

José came running up, shouting the boy’s name—“¡Diego! ¡Diego!”—and also cursing at him. He scooped the boy up and placed him back in the yard, still cursing at him, and gave him a good spanking on the rear. The little boy began to wail, then ran back into the house. José turned, his breath heavy, and opened the passenger door.

“Jesus,” he said, leaning in, “you trying to kill off my whole family?”

“No, I swear. I just—” but José didn’t let him finish.

“Ma says it’s a no.”


“She doesn’t want to see you right now. Maybe some other time.”

“Yeah, right. Some other time.”

“Anyway, thanks.”

“For what?”

“For letting me into your house, man.”

“Oh right, that.” He shook his head out; he was having trouble thinking straight. “Sure, no problem. Any time.”

But José wasn’t satisfied. He got back into the car and shut the door. “No, man, you ain’t listening. The voice is gone. Like, gone. Right around when you were describing the sword it began to go silent and then just—whoosh—vanished. Haven’t heard it since. So thank you, man.” He reached out his hand and set it on Barry’s shoulder. “Thank you.”

Barry looked into his eyes and took a breath. “De nada.”



Then the mother came to see him, not at his home, but at his office. Had the receptionist not stated her name over the intercom—Valentina Lopez—he still would have recognized her, because of her eyes, which were just like José’s. She had other features that caught his attention as well—a lithe body, full lips, long, black hair, not to mention her breasts, which the trim of her dress, a kind of bright, flowery evening gown, accentuated perfectly—but it was her golden brown eyes, like sunsets on a distant horizon, that gave her away.

“I like what you’ve done with your office,” she began. She was sitting across from him, and had crossed her legs, taking care to press out the hem of her dress, but she still found time to take in her surroundings. “It looks very…professional. And you’re the president?”

“It’s not as big an operation as it looks,” he said, as if apologizing for his success. He was surprised by how young she was, and how beautiful. His hands were sweaty, and he placed them under the desk in order to wipe them on his pants. “We mostly deal with individuals, and several small businesses.”

“Well, as you may have already guessed, I’m not here about business. Not that kind of business anyway.”

“I didn’t think so.”

“And I’m not here to cause you any trouble either.”

“Of course not.”

“I just wanted to apologize for the other day, for not inviting you in.”

“That’s all right.”

“It was an awkward situation.”


“It wasn’t because I hold any ill will toward you.”

“Your son made that clear.”

She nodded, and leaned back in her chair. “He’s different, isn’t he? My son.”

“José? Yes, I suppose he is.”

“I worry about him sometimes, but it seems that no matter what happens to him, he always lands on his feet. He has a certain….”


She smiled. “I was going to say stubbornness, but yes, your word is better. My other boy, Diego, he’s got real problems. His father shoved him down the stairs when he was two and it did something to his head. The doctors weren’t able to find anything specific, but you can tell he’s slow,” and she twirled her finger next to her temple. “And you? Do you have children?”

He leaned forward and showed her the picture from his desk. She took half the frame and held it as he held the other half.

“He’s very handsome,” she said, then suddenly released the frame and cringed. “Was he there when you—”

“No,” he quickly reassured her, setting the picture down. “He lives with his mother. We’re separated.”

“That’s a relief—about your son.”

He nodded; he knew what she meant. Again, she looked around the office, as if for something specific. He, too, was searching for something, only internally, trying to make sense of the emotions stirring around inside of him, pulling him in one direction and the next.

“It really is a nice office,” she said finally. “Did you have to go to graduate school to become—I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten what you do.”

He smiled. “I’m an accountant. And yes, to become a CPA, I did have to take some additional coursework. And you, what do you do?”

“I work at a hotel.”

“As a cleaning lady?”

She laughed. “An assistant manager.”

He apologized, blushing.

“I also teach salsa dancing. That’s why I’m dressed the way I am.”

“I wondered.”

She cocked her head to the side. “You wondered what?”

Again, he blushed. He didn’t know what to say now. He wanted to compliment her, but thought it might be inappropriate, for a number of reasons. And so he just sat there, like a fool, until she decided to fill the silence for him.

“Well, I should be going,” she said, getting up. “I can see I’ve taken up enough of your time.”

“Dance,” he said, shooting up.

“What did you say?”

He scrambled for something to add. “You said you teach dancing lessons.”


“Well I, I was thinking about taking some—lessons, I mean. I took some in the past, for my wedding, but I’m, I’m out of practice. And now that I’m single again, I was thinking, you know, that I should take a refresher course.”

Grinning, she ran her fingers down the side of her cheek. “Yes, and José says your Spanish could use some polishing up as well.”



They went and ate first, and over dinner they talked more about their children. Because he hardly got to see his son anymore, Barry had less to bring to the conversation, but he listened intently to what Val—that’s what she preferred to be called, Val—had to say, and asked numerous questions in order to draw out her answers. Then at some point she switched topics and began discussing Antonio, adding to the list begun by her son of his—Antonio’s—many crimes and misdemeanors. Perhaps sensing his unease, however, she eventually caught herself and apologized.

“José told me that you seemed to have mixed feelings about what happened,” she said.

“It’s not just that,” he confessed, and took a large sip of his drink. “It’s everything. Whatever I do, it seems so much harder now. I keep thinking about my own ex, Erin. She left me because she got tired of the life we were leading, what she labeled ‘the middle class lifestyle.’ She decided that it wasn’t for her, and I’m beginning to wonder if maybe she was on to something.”

Val laughed. “So you want to throw everything away and live poorly?”

He shook his head. “Not poorly, I just…I wonder sometimes if I haven’t been chasing after the wrong things, you know? Things like money, and status, and having a nice house. I look at her, how happy she is now, and I think, maybe she’s figured something out. Whereas me, I’m still just as confused as I was as a kid.”

“I know what you mean. When I was young and wild I thought I had the world by its tail, but now that I’m older and more mature I look around and wonder how I got to where I am. It’s not the path I would have chosen for myself.”

“But maybe that’s the problem. We fill our head with these expectations, and when we don’t live up to them, we feel as if we’ve failed somehow. But maybe it’s the expectations that are the failure. Maybe where life has taken us is exactly where we’re supposed to be, and it’s really only our perception of things that needs changing.”

“Well,” Val said, reaching for her purse, “I know something that always changes my perception.”

“It’s not another pill, is it?”

Laughing again, she rose. “No, silly, it’s what we came out for—to dance!”



They went to a club nearby and danced for nearly three hours, until Barry’s feet became sore, and Val’s, too, from all the times he’d stepped on them. Then at her request he took her back to his place, and when they got inside he watched her carefully to see how she would react to being in the house where her husband had died. But she didn’t seem interested in that, not like her son, and rather than wander into the living room and try to reenact Antonio’s death, she instead took Barry by the hand and led him upstairs. He’d barely gotten his shoes off when she came out of the bathroom wearing a stunning negligee, and soon after they were kissing and groping each other and rolling around on the bed. Sex was something that Barry was good at, or at least that’s what Erin had always told him, perhaps because the objective was obvious, and there was little room for doubt. But still, when he first entered Val, he was troubled by the thought of when he had thrust his sword into her husband’s throat, and nearly lost his erection. Then he thought of his old roommate Steve, and how he would have loved to analyze the connection for hours, and even take down some notes—and the sheer ridiculousness of that thought caused him to relax and grow again. From then on his concentration never wavered, and when they were finished he slept better than he had in years.



He said he’d call her, and he did, a few days later, and left a message on her voice mail. When she didn’t call him back, he called again, thinking the first message must have gotten lost; and when his second message also went unanswered, he sent her a text. To this Val replied, writing to him that she was busy this week, and nothing more. So he tried her the next week, and again she was busy. That’s when he decided to take some initiative, so as not to lose what they had only begun to thread. On their date Val had mentioned that José was the starting point guard for his JV basketball team, and after only a couple of searches, he was able to acquire the date and time for the boy’s next game. He thought it would be okay for him to turn up without warning, just as she had done at his office—and for that matter, as José had done at his house—but when he approached her in the stands, calling out her name, he could tell by the look on her face that he had made a mistake. Without excusing herself to the other mothers, she got right up, grabbed him by the wrist, and pulled him toward the exit. As Barry was passing behind the home team’s bench, José looked over his shoulder, and though a bit perplexed, waved at him.

“What are you doing here?” she asked once they’d found a place to talk.

“You’ve been so busy, I didn’t know how else to see you again.”

“So you decided to stalk me at my son’s basketball game?”

“No, I’m not stalking, I just…I thought we had a good time the other night.”

“We did. But that’s all it was. One night of fun. Get it?”

And Barry did get it, though it took him a moment to recover from the blow. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cause you any trouble. I won’t bother you again, I swear.”

But before he could turn away, she reached out for his shoulder, much like her son had done, although with none of his warmth.

“You’re a good man, Barry. But you’re not the one for me.”

He nodded. “Entiendo.”



A few months later, while he was mowing the lawn, a police car drove up and parked along the curb. Barry immediately recognized the officer as the one who had first arrived on the scene after he’d dialed 911, and he walked over to greet him.

“I’ve got your sword,” the officer explained, and led him to the trunk.

“So does this mean it’s over?” Barry asked. “They’ve officially closed the case?”

“No one contacted you?”

Barry shook his head.

“Figures,” the officer replied, scratching beneath his badge. “Too much crime in this city. Even the lawyers can’t keep up. Thanks to you though, there’s one less thug out there who’s committing them.”

Barry said nothing; he accepted the sword, noting its sheen.

“I took the liberty of cleaning it for you.”

“Thank you.”

“Say, weren’t you moving before? I could have sworn you had a sign there the last time,” and he pointed to where the sign had been.

“Oh, I, I changed my mind,” Barry said. “You can’t run from your problems, can you?”

The officer chuckled. “I’ve seen a lot of perps try in my day.”

Barry conceded the point, and thanked him for his service. As soon as the officer was gone, he laid the sword on his porch and finished up the mowing. Later, after putting the mower in the garage, he went back for the sword and gripped it in his hands. For some reason, he felt powerful again, not as strong as on that fateful night, but still, there was something to it. Inspired, he began swinging the sword around, wielding it as he had seen in films. A neighbor walked by; Barry nodded, but continued to wield the sword. He stepped off the porch and walked onto the lawn, slicing through unknown forces, fighting the battle of his life.




BIO: Wolfgang Wright is the author of the comic novel Me and Gepe. His short work has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Short Beasts, The Collidescope, and Waccamaw. He doesn’t tolerate gluten so well, quite enjoys watching British panel shows, and devotes a little time each day to contemplating the Tao. He lives in North Dakota.