February '04

Louise Howerow The Movie With All the Skeletons
Elizabeth Ellen That Which Is Revealed in the Absence of Light
Ian F. King Our Anniversary
Ryan Robert Mullen M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I
Mike McGowan A Brief Succession of Events in the American Southwest

The Movie With All
The Skeletons

            Louisa Howerow

After supper, George liked watching television, especially the news and weather. Sometimes he switched from one to another. His son had bought him a small set that sat on the dresser. There wasn't much he had at the Sunrise Home, but the television was his.

Every evening he would say to Stuart, who had a room across the hall, "Come on over; don't let your mind go to rot." And Stuart would wrap his robe around his pajamas and shuffle over.

Tonight an American journalist was interviewing a university professor in a gray suit. The studio image dissolved; in its place appeared a narrow stream, trees and tall yellowing grasses reflected in the brown water. On the shore was a stall; a red canopy protected the tables' wares from the searing sun. Two long tables. Stacked with human skulls.

"Mary be Jesus." George pulled his chair closer to the television. "To leave them like that, unburied. . .how could there be so many? It's not possible."

"Who says?" Stuart, whose head was beginning to nod, sat up.

"It's like the movie."

"Which one?"

"The one we saw yesterday. With all the skeletons."

"You mean Killing Fields?" said Stuart.

"I knew that."

"So, what's your point?"

"That's where they got the pictures for the news," said George.

"You sound like Irina, telling everyone the astronauts landed outside Sudbury." Stuart waved his hand as if shooing away a fly. "Batty as a fruitcake."

"How do you know they didn't?" George increased the volume on the set. "Do you believe everything you see on television?"

"Believe? There's a word I don't often use."

"It's a simple word."

"Or, maybe not. What do you believe in?"

"These." George stretched out his hands and began to touch his head, eyes, nose, ears and mouth with his fingers.

"So the news is fake."

"Oh, come on. With all those corpses it would have smelled." George let out an exasperated snort. "You imagine letting all those corpses lie around in the heat? It's hot there, you know."

"Maybe there wasn't anyone to worry about the dead."

"What do you know? You think people would leave bodies unburied? Help yourself to an arrowroot." George pushed the box of cookies towards Stuart.

"We're talking genocide. No one cared."

George stared at the television set. "There's always someone."

"You'd like to think that, wouldn't you?"

"There's always someone," George insisted.

Stuart bit into a cookie, and shrugged.

Louisa Howerow's on-line short stories can be found at E2K, the-phone-book, The Danforth Review, Pindeldyboz, Wired Hearts and Drexel Online Journal. Stories have also appeared in print: Front Porch, Room of One's Own and The Antigonish Review.