They wanted him to stop kicking like that— it made their eyes corkscrew, drilled the sun in the sky so light dumped out like blood from a leak. The boy in the trunk wouldn't die. They drove and drove, and he dented the trunk's tight lid, called their names, then pounded the wheel wells with a tire iron. The sun filled their skulls so they felt like hell and the boy in the trunk wouldn't listen. You'd think it was burning hot in there, you'd think he'd be gone, passive, but no. The boy in the trunk banged on and on until the noise grew godalmighty unforgivable and they had no choice but to pull into the woods, leave the car, try to hitch a ride with someone quieter, someone who could listen without interrupting. They'd had a hot day. The road simmered to the overheated sky. But from far away they still heard him, the boy in the trunk, his empty cry.
A Story About Dying
The old cat was dying in the bushes. Its breaths came slow, slow, and still it looked out over the sweetness of the back lawn, the swaying of tall grass in the hot wind, the way sunlight warmed the garbage can's sparkling lid. It closed its hot eyes, then struggled them open again. + In unison, the dogs explained themselves to the passing freight train. + I don't know where it's gone, her husband said without looking up from his paper while she stood on the back porch shaking the food bowl, calling one of its names. + All this the dying old cat observed from beneath the bushes, its head sideways in the grass, its fur wet where the dog had caught it in its teeth. + And now there's another train, and the dogs are explaining themselves again. + The food makes that sparkling sound in the metal bowl and the cat tries to lift its body from the grass but it's feeling hollowed out, empty and strange as though it's floating just above the tips of grass, as if its paws barely touch the blades' rich points. + Sometimes, the dogs explain themselves to each other, or to passing cars, but mostly they address the trains. We are powerful dogs, they say, but we are also good, while the children on bikes, while the joggers, while the vast, mysterious trains pass them by. + The cat is still drifting above the grass tips, and the sun is so bright the yard sparkles, and wouldn't it be nice to rest there on the garbage can's hot lid, there by the potted plant, there on the car's hood? But it wants the food glittering in the metal bowl, the food that, also, drifts above the grass tips. + And then the cat floats down the tracks, the train's long call a whistling in its head. + And the dogs explain themselves to it, we are good dogs, good dogs, as the cat grows impossibly far away, we are good dogs, as the cat is almost a memory, is barely a taste in the mouth of one of the chorus.