Jul/Aug 2018  •   Fiction

This is What We Do in the Dark

by Nolan Allen

Image courtesy of British Library Photostream

Image courtesy of British Library Photostream

We took turns cursing at Mrs. Bowen's conure, Lazarus—or "Lazzie," as she called him. This bird had a proclivity to quote the Bible in the face of unholy talk.

I dug my scabby elbows between the fence posts in her front yard and spit swears into the open bay window. "Fucking piss stain!" was the poetry I shared with the bird.

It was dark, but it was the kind of dark that could only get darker. There was a red night-light giving off a limp glow through the window. We waited for Lazarus' silhouette to appear to us there.

Billy was impatient. He hung his belly over a picket and jammed his feet between the posts, rocking the fence. White flecks of old paint chipped off, down into the dead grass where our feet couldn't care to tell the difference between the crunch of organic matter or something lead-based.

"Lamb of God, take away the sins!" It came from the window. Lazarus peered from behind a potted cactus, creating an unnatural silhouette. The fence shook, and Billy let out a "Sonofabitchwhore!" He said it succinctly, as if the son, the bitch, and the whore were all part of one organismal trinity.

Lazarus began to pick away at the screen in the window, his talons holding him against the mesh as his wings beat like mad. Laughing, Billy said he had never heard the bird mention the lamb of God before. If Billy leaned any farther over the fence, the picket could pop his gut.

I watched as Lazarus forced his beak through the screen, then his head. His eyes scanned blankly, as only a bird could do. Billy screeched his best impression of the bird as his belly shook like a hubba bubba nightmare. When I looked back to the window, Lazarus was gone.

"Praise him, he has risen!" This time it came from over our heads. I whipped around to face the road—Billy leaned back so far that he fell on his ass. In the naked light of the street lamp, I saw Lazarus glide like a kamikaze toward the power lines.

There was a moment when all was quiet, Billy twisting in the grass like a ruminant, and then I lost sight of Lazarus.

A shotgun blast in outer-space, that's what we heard. I felt it in my teeth. The street lamps went dark, and the damp red glow in Mrs. Bowen's bay window disappeared, leaving nothing but a black rectangle where the window once was, like a television ready to be watched.

Below the transformer, beneath the flaccid hang of the power lines, we saw Lazarus.

"Jesus Christ," Billy said. "That bird is fried."