Apr 21


You were chasing demons with a Marlin .22 magnum rifle: floating demons, carried by
wind and gray mist. Demons who showed their horrifically hideous distorted faces only
through glass or in mirrors. Raising the rifle when the howling spirits appeared, you pulled the
trigger. But never hit your target. The bullet passed straight through them. A miscalculated
shot that, had you still been an Army Special Forces Staff Sergeant, might have proved deadly.

Following you, the much younger woman crept slowly down the house’s dingy hallway.
Your haggard wife, in the melancholic kitchen, clanged cast-iron pans as she returned them to
their cabinet homes.

“We couldn’t get them with the .22,” you announced merely to break the overbearing
silence, “nor with the Mach 2*.”

The much younger woman, breaking her apparent stoicism, snickered, “We should
have used the M40 grenade launcher.”

You turned, placing a worn hand on her shoulder, and began leading her back down the
dingy hallway.

“I have one of those; it shoots real good,” you told her, holding open the battered
screen door for her. You glanced over your shoulder, towards the kitchen down the hallway.
The young woman stood before you, until you embraced her roughly. Your work-hardened
hands scraped her youthful waist as you pressed yourself to her. From the blowing wind’s chill,
as best you could, you shielded her. When it began scattering downed dry leaves around and
across your firmly planted-on-the-ground boots, the both of you closed your eyes.

She nipped your suntanned neck gingerly with her small white teeth.

“Here,” she pleadingly whispered. Pushing her so that you could make eye-contact, you
firmly told her “No”.

“Your wife…” she said, biting her bottom lip.

“…knows,” you finished. The young woman’s eyes sadly sparked. You couldn’t feel it,
but in her chest her heart thunderously thudded. Planting light kisses from her lips to her
cheeks, you stopped short of her neckline below her ear.

“She says just not the bed. She says she doesn’t care; we can go anywhere. Just not the
bed,” you softly explained. The young woman, wrapped tighter in your rough embrace,
clinging to you, rested her head on your solid shoulder.

Peering, she saw in the doorway your wife, standing and staring, biting her bottom lip.
Ignorant to their glances’ melting, you only felt the young woman bury her face into the crook
of your neck. Vaguely, you became aware of the hot tears streaming from her eyes, cascading
onto and burning into your skin.

–Nicole Yurcaba

* Refers to a small .17 caliber rifle, which is the equivalent of a necked down .22 long rifle