Stump Grinder


I drank cold tea, thinking long thoughts of cavemen and protruding brow ridges. Burt crouched at my feet, his back humped like a stroke victim, and pounded a blunt rock into a flat rock with short, strong jabs. My cavemen thoughts bled out to raping thoughts, now seeing Burt as a primitive pedophile, roughly prodding all things mindless and unwitting with his rounded tip.

Dogs didn’t bark in the distance, the slicing blades of helicopters didn’t shake the treetops, I didn’t want to know, and Burt, finding himself comfortable, pissed himself, the urine soaking through his jeans like blood through a bandage, a stubborn gash, an open mouth either talking shit or saying nothing at all. I flicked my wrist, and the tea sprayed his face. He wagged his tongue, moving it in lapping circles over his wet hole, like a dog, like god, like adulterous wives with their heads wedged between a meat hammer and a stick shift. I rode the wave of the afterthought and sharpened my blade, monocle biting hard into my cheekbone, tongue contemplating envy.

Burt spoke in truncated sentences, an early child, or a simple elder succumbing to the brevity of senility. Perhaps he was wise, or impeded. I studied his hands, compared them to my own, their certainty, digital reticence, blind worms sucking dirt, paining themselves against soapstone. I whispered hard, broke his posture, and Burt fell back, a mess of shoestrings and torn elbows. I refilled the tin cup, punched the earth, raised an eyebrow and spit the monocle, a round thing falling through a trapdoor, then jerked, broke-neck on a chain.

Burt had filled her empty eyes with his lust, poured it in like hot oil, scorched corneas, then pink foam. I stood on a platform of requisite love, of a brother, the nails hard and oxidized, flaking rust, scattered crimson of tradition, or salty cautionary tales for the better-adjusted. Burt coughed toothless, then joined me, hard-packing dark loam around shoe tops late for homeroom. The books we’d burned to a deep chorus of hooting owls, fast smoke blotting out Orion as we’d buzzed cliff side over a blackened can of baked beans, the edge of which had gobbled my thumb with its serrated teeth. I’d smudged war paint beneath my eyes, then dazzled the eyebrows of Burt, who later suckled the wound as he lay in a crib of pine branches, placated by my pulsing fraternal pacifier.

Flushed through the birth canal of dawn, her walls stretching sober, Burt boomed premature triumph, umbilical noose choking his greasy neck. I finished the death, drawing the knife across the lump of his Adam’s apple, a cardinal mist then wet rose petals, his head a Pez dispenser. Lastly, my tongue, pinned to the stump with a railroad spike, cords in my neck thick like rope, was ripped at the roots as I snapped my head back. I stuffed my maw with flickering embers, burped blood smoke and crackle, cauterized my speech.

Done, the revolution of a hiccup in my debased heritage, forgotten, now cave paintings on slate, witnessed later by Boy Scouts with kerchiefs and badges. They’d never see my brother, or me, wouldn’t want to, couldn’t guess, don’t try.

Mel Bosworth lives and breathes in western Massachusetts. His work has appeared in elimae, WORD RIOT, Prick of the Spindle, and PANK, among others. He believes in the inherent goodness of (wo)man. Please visit here for more.