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A Reliable Man

by Jonathan Wood

I look at the dead man and try to make up my mind. Callie's still at the entrance to the alleyway telling me to get back there, that it's too cold a night to play boy scout, that I'm gonna get myself mugged. She stamps her feet and the echoes play down the walls.

I didn't drink anything tonight. Callie's pregnant. It's getting uncomfortable for her to drive and I'm doing the gentlemanly thing. So I'm sober. My eyes aren't playing tricks.

But the man has... I mean... The man has wings. He's lying face down, his bloody shirt ripped away from the body. I see where the flesh and muscle bind in his back. I reach down and touch them. Those are real feathers. Those are real wings. Real goddamn wings.

People don't have wings.

I mean, Jesus, that's something you can rely on, right? That people don't have wings. That is a fundamental truth. There's not much you can say, I am certain of this, one hundred percent, but that's one: people don't have wings.

Except this guy.

What if I call Callie to come see? What if I call the press? Even if people see this, even if this is real, they won't believe me. Because people don't have wings. Only the crazies, only the guys rejecting their meds and reality will believe me. I'll be crazy.

I stare at the body and try to make up my mind. Callie is shouting at me. Callie's pregnant. We're going to have a little girl.

I keep on staring at the body, ignoring Callie for just a little while. I keep on staring until I can believe the truth again. People don't have wings. And then I walk away.


what I like best about this one is the ending. That's typical of stories this short. But it gives one the feeling of lost worlds. Worlds of knowledge that humanity doesn't have access to because people just won't believe. it is poignant with unrealized opportunity.

Posted by: David | January 16, 2009 10:33 PM

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