The Manuscript of Phœbus: How to allure the hare.

June 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

The painter, he had a son. His son’s name was Errol; the boy did not speak his own name until he was seven—the double “r” tripped over his tongue like a skipping rock. His father refused any other name for the boy’s name meant wanderer, and he was convinced that this was what his son was meant to do.

One day in the fall of seventy-five, Errol went out into the woods behind his father’s house, with a rifle slung like a dead body over his small shoulder. He staggered on, kicking up the leaves in his path. The boy could see for miles around him for the trees were tall and thin and the air was clear. Errol stopped to where he could see the riverbed, a cold and bluish streak along the horizon and sat to rest on a fallen larch.

No one knew what Errol was waiting for that day but at that moment, a spotted hare leapt across the boy’s sight. Errol steadied the gun between his right forearm and side (the chamber would leave a square bruise along the lowest rib). The nose of the barrel quivered. And then he shot. Mere force impelled the boy backward over the log, where he landed unconscious at the foot of a pine.

When Errol awoke, the midday sun was hanging over his body like a bright and burning veil. He could not remember where he was, and the painter’s black rifle lay like a corpse at the boy’s feet. Errol rose to his feet and when he saw the lifeless hare, he began to cry.

“What have you got, son,” the painter asked of the boy when he returned home. Errol squeezed the hare tightly against his chest and said nothing.

Pink water trickled into the washbasin as the boy rung out a wet cloth. His small hand was trembling as he smoothed the matted fur along the hare’s hammish belly and then followed the stream of dried blood with the side of his thumb, up and over the shoulder to the bullet wound at the collar. It was a black hole.

“My god, son,” the painter exclaimed when he saw the hare from over the boy’s shoulder.

“Errol,” the boy corrected as he slowly burrowed his finger into the flesh and removed the gleaming bullet from the hole.

sic infit

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