You Shall be a Witness to My Works
Last night, Friday the Eighteenth of May, at 11:46 p.m., a shooting took place at the intersection of 36th and Central. A young man, who has not been identified by police, died of his gunshot wounds. Anyone with information about the shooting should contact crime stoppers hotline.
On a balcony, a man stands transfixed in his underwear. He is leaning on an iron railing, looking down the two stories to a hedge of shrubs that lines the sidewalk. It is a warm spring night and he feels no chill or heat from the air on his bare chest and legs. He is comfortable.
In the street below, a sparrow lies still on its side, a slight breeze peeling back a brown feather. How the sparrow came to sleep or die in the street is a mystery but it looks as if it may have been placed there purposefully. Its tiny legs protrude from a skirt of feathers and its feet are curled as if still grasping a slender blade of grass. The eyes are pure black beads side-mounted on a mouse skull.
Transfixed on the balcony, the man isn’t sure how long he stands in his underwear but the cycle of the seasons seem to come and go around him. In the hedges below, the stems begin to grow upwards unchecked, spreading shoots and leaves along the brick walls and iron railings. He watches the stems and vines burst forth, crawling like snakes towards him. White flowers bloom from buds on the woody stems and leaves develop and grow and die according to the seasons, all in a matter of seconds. Around his fingers and up his arms and legs, the vines wrap him in a garment of green that respires on his skin and tangles in his hair.
Meanwhile, the sparrow begins to bloat and swell to grotesque proportions in the street below. The little legs push out, long and bent at the knees and the wings spread out into arms that sprawl across the pavement and then curl back in towards its chest. Its feathers fall onto the asphalt and rot, revealing a dark complexion beneath.
In its stomach are lodged four pieces of metal that glance off bone and scatter through organs and intestines. From the wounds, warm blood weeps through a red shirt and spills onto the asphalt. Now, the body of a boy lies crumpled in the street as if he might be sleeping.
Down the street, away from the body, a car speeds off. It is a red car and behind its windows sits the night of Friday, the Eighteenth of May. He is a young night who beats and pulses in the street. Hot blooded and unseasonably warm, he travels with a swagger and a howl. In his veins courses an intoxicating mix of desire and conflict, of ecstasy and confrontation that foments and bubbles into a torpor. His mind races, buoyed by the release from cold weather, in the grip of which the city has been clenched for so long, locked and cloistered.
Now, he lets out a long, hot laugh and the ground swells with growth, pregnant with roots and tendrils that burst from the earth. In his lap, the barrel of a gun cools slowly.
On the balcony, the shoots finally wrap the man’s eyes and plume down his nostrils and throat, perforating his bowels until he is no longer a witness to the things of earth, the acts of violence that root and blossom like seeds in the springtime.
Christopher Overfelt received a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Kansas and his fiction has appeared in the online publications Gambling the Aisle and Sky Island Journal. In the summertime he grows cucumbers and in the winters he takes attendance at the local high school. His fiction incorporates magical realism in very short pieces to create symbols and images in fable-like scenarios.