My Left and Right in the Wire
How many wolves get caught in the wire, their paws almost reaching the ground? I saw some when my brothers sent me to check one the crops and I spent the early morning digging up guns from the soil. Each had heads nodding deeper into the tangle, their eyes pulled back in anger and fear. They flashed teeth to intimidate the wood and metal, heavy breathing ‘til they spotted me coming through the crops. The flash of brown hair sent them into cries from the backs of their throats. The overalls sent full bodies into motion, paws swimming through dew, twisted spines kicking back into the sun -risen sky. I flinched at first; stuck in my mind to think they would snap free for blood, but once they dangled for a moment I ventured closer, the right still committed to his snarls, the left docile, eyes straight, head on. I hunched close enough to feel the smell of the warm breath, though I held my face in my hand, fearing his swing would reach me. Instead, he sniffled, nostrils flaring in and out, and I stared into black eyes, layer under layer, and decided to cut the beasts down.
Blood puddles formed around their paws, mixing with mud, as the right finally quieted. I reached out for a wrist, to push it back under with just a finger, but they flinched and yelped, the thrashing of teeth and focused eyes, I withdrew and lifted up off my knees ‘til I could hear the silence, ‘til the breathing returned heavy and nervous. The right held his jaw pointed up to the sky, his eyes reaching behind him. His sudden jolts made my heart skip beats and trip over my arsenal. The left kept his eyes on me, moving nothing more than his tongue to lick his drying snout and his eyebrows arched. I tried to speak but the sound in the back of my throat came out as nothing more than an indistinct growl. I knew the words weren’t coming out as I heard them in my mind but I knew nothing of speaking to these dogs. I just hoped that they would understood, throwing my neck back towards the roof of my house and the barn beside it and then gesturing my return. The left seemed to understand but the right ignored me, exhaling hard against the fence, expanding lungs pierced hat deeper in each movement.
I ran with the shot guns wrapped up in arms clung tight to my chest. The barrel lay cold across my cheeks and pointed into the sky while the butts hit my shins. I made it past the fields and to the bridge. The water ran shallow but cold, muddy puddles building up around the feet of the trees hanging over head. I reached down for my shoestrings after tying all three guns together in my bandanna and sticking the spreading their legs to form a tee-pee. Blood and dirt filled the legs front of my overalls and the chill from the early morning wind made them stick to my scabs. I tied my shoes and washed my hands in the water; little sticks and leaves crossed over pebbles, but I had no time to watch. I took the bridge, plank by plank, not bothering with the handrails as I passed them by. Rustles and scampering were an earshot away, near the tree's edge of the clearing and wondered in those were my wolves’ friends, those who escaped the barbed wrath. I got lost in the thought of jackals and hands, helping hands of mine. I could see where I was heading;, the tool chest on the work bench, far back in the brown roof barn. I could see the wire cutters so strongly that I left my three pronged tee-pee, standing strong, one but stuck out into the water.
Roger says you are too young, Daniel spouted from the top of his bunk. The ceiling fan looped around almost to touch his legs, the only limb visible, hanging off the bed. But what do you say? I want to know what you say. He said that he thought I was too young too, if Mom were to find out she would drown us both, Roger too. I told him that I would be the only one who would know. And think of the mouth you've got. I stared at the stuffed animals I hid under my own bed, too low for the two to see them and thought of hunting for deer. They never brought one home but Roger said he hit one once, climbing up into trees and tossing up the guns one by one. They left the house in their old Sunday pants; Roger in khakis and Daniel in green corduroys, hitting just above the ankle. Mom tried to scrub the dirt out for me to wear but the stains sunk in too low. I could imagine the jokes and laughter and sneaking soda out the fridge and up the trees. I imagined kicking the bark to build a tree house and great antlers peaking out from behind the brush. We would come home to tomato soup and Fireman Joe Sandwiches, warm from the pan, and tell Mom we had been down by the stream looking at fish that flowed by somehow slower than the water or swinging into the hay in the barn. I won't tell. Daniel slid from his bunk. I know you won't, because if she finds out where we hid Dad's guns I'll use one on you. He laughed and told me to dig them up and not to worry about Roger, would leave after breakfast.
Daniel promised to let me shoot just one shot but I dug up all three guns anyway. I pulled down the loose lock from its latch and dragged the barn door through the dirt it stubbornly kicked up into clouds. The sun was out to the right so I draped my scarf over the handle and unzipped my coat. I skipped the light switch; the one bare bulb only lit the room at night and layered shadows in the day. I looked up towards the hay loft, some nights I could see the blond curls of an angel hanging from there. Laughter and giggles, plus the sound of Daniel's voice hushed and echoing against the metals. The pitchfork and broom laid intertwined, part of one another as I sat under the work bench with my legs crossed and knees pulled up to my chest, afraid to climb the ladder and peak at her beautiful face, touch the lining of her wings, until it got quiet and is saw two sets of legs and bare feet head towards the door, the light from the moon closed off behind them. That is where I spotted the wire cutters, squeezing them between my fingers, careful not to make a sound. They sat in the box on top of the work bench, an old fishing box, under lures and plastic wrapping. Even some old fishing line wrapped into a ball. I would dig out the colorful lures with moving eyes and store them in my pocket 'til the stabbed me, making the tips of my fingers plump and bloody. I gathered the wire cutters and tested them of the wood of the door, then against hay swept into the corner. Isnuck out of the barn, leaving my scarf behind, hoping it would distract the watchers from the window.
I put them in my back pocket and ran towards the bridge. The water pushed underneath a bit harder, no fish now, far down, past the trees and the cleared fields, crops and the houses down the countryside. I felt miles of tension, my left and right in the wire, my scarf swinging from the barn, blowing in the wind, trying to escape the big looming shadow. Now my neck was cold a streaks of water slapped up against the slats in the bridge, wetting my socks and the carrying larger twigs than before, but I kept moving. When the two saw the wisp of my hair and my bare neck it sent them into panic, panic or relief. Both galloped in place, rowing their arms in the air and howling in a soft purr. The right snapped back his neck in excitement. But I ran to them quick, no longer scared of their snapping jaws. What Roger said never affected me anyway. In the trees you can't see in front of your own face, you can't even see the creatures when their eyes are on you. Now we were out in the open, and my left's eyes fixed on me. I knelt in their blood and started with the left. The right's shaking and snapping still startled me. As I twisted the cutters from my pocket I heard him whispering in my ear in cries and heavy breaths. I cut the top of the three wires first. Left fell limp in a yelp and hung with front paws fishing for the dirt. I heard a snap in the wire and he fell back. With his thud the right kicked and howled to the sky. I shifted my cutters to the right of the post and cut the bottom line. He slid out and whimpered off into the woods.
I could still hear his cries when I looked down to the left, his hair matted, the grey and brown, not sure if it was from his bleeding or the mud, perhaps a bit of both. He didn't move, kept his feet out in from of him and his eyes open. I could see the blood spreading from under him. I put my hand against his hard rising ribs, hoping for him to snap back and chase after the right. He didn't move. I looked back to the barn for help but no one would be able to hear me. I thought back to the bridge and the tee-pee stuck in the mud. Water hit in big drops on the back of my neck and I wondered how long it would take to reach them. I ran and tripped at the foot of the tree, my shins digging into the mud, now more water than earth and I looked for the guns, two dragged away with the stream but the third laid flat on the ground with my handkerchief still tied to the barrel. Daniel kept ammunition in his sock in the top drawer of his dresser but I checked for one shot down the barrel. I could not tell. I stood, not able to tell the rain from my tears, marched back to my left, aimed and fired.