The Numbers of the bEast


April 16, 2016 by Laird

For Joe Pulver.

Pulver Tribute curated by Mike Griffin


Eulogy for a Difficult Man

by Laird Barron

He hurt me when we shook hands the last time I saw him
He squeezed and squeezed as if he wanted to crack a stone, before he drove
Away at the wheel of a rusted Dodge Charger
Through the dusty, green-lined ever-after
Shot himself in California in a cabin near the tree line with a pistol
That held two bullets
One chambered and a spare just in case

He bounced at the Black Stars in his wilder days
That’s how he got the scar
I was surprised when, after so many years, he shaved off his mustache
(the cookie duster)
Said the park service preferred their rangers clean cut
I laughed and I shouldn’t have

The two of us chopping wood at his cabin on the mountain
During the presidential election, the one that turned out the way it did
Radio reception faded to static cold as termination dust on its way
Down from the bare rock summit blew under the sill of the plywood door
Elk horns and the yellow blanket I hung there to save us
We hunkered near the fire while it gnawed split pine
Red shadows dripped across his face that kept going in and out like the static
He told me state parks are lousy with serial killers
National parks are even worse
If (when) someone murders you
Defiles you and divides the corpse and not a shred is ever found
The shape with the ax is always a shape you know.

Another time he said when he was a kid he kept a lame canary
Brown and white with a crooked leg
The canary weighed twenty-one grams the morning it dropped dead
To the bottom of the cage on a newspaper photograph of
Richard Speck smiling in captivity
Make of it (he winked slyly) what you will and of course I did
Slept with a Green River knife under my pillow for going on fifteen years
Meanwhile, he called over his shoulder
I’ll be right back as he walked into the forest and never came out
Been a while since anybody has

One thought on “The Numbers of the bEast

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Swift to Chase

Man with No Name

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 14,699 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: