Stefanie Brook Trout
Cries, cries, all I hear are the cries. They never stop, never quit, it’s never quiet. Can’t move, can’t breathe, can’t get the goddamn stink out of my throat. Foul, foul, foul, foul, foul, foul, foul, fuck. I know I’m swine, but I can’t deal with this shit, too much shit, and piss. Most of it leaks down through the slats into the giant stinking pit below, but with no mud or straw to cover up the splatter, it just reeks and reeks, and it smells like corn, so that every time I eat the corn, the shitty corn, all I can taste is my own shit and that of two thousand other beasts. Shit is the constitution of our pitiful lives. Wiggle, wiggle, my phantom tail wiggles, the only part of me that’s still alive. I lost it when I came here, but I can still feel it somehow. When the immobility is too much to bear, I wiggle my phantom tail, and I think at least my tail is free, if not me, at least a part of me is free. The cries, my god, the cries. Make them stop. Make them stop. Make them fuck this shit and goddamn piss. I’d rather have a wolf blow down my house of sticks or straw, rather he bomb my brick abode than suffer this shit piss hell fuck of a nightmare. I’d rather be cured with Applewood smoke and wrapped around a date or a rib or even a crab-stuffed shrimp topped with a dollop of hollandaise sauce. I’d rather be stuck in some brat’s teeth at the local 4-H than breathe another dark day in this dank pit pile of pig fuck. The screams are getting louder, and I can feel them in my bloated belly, reverberating in my shaky legs. The screams are coming from me, ripping me apart. Like if Farmer Fatty Fuckface reached one sweaty hairy hand down my throat and the other up my ass, grabbed hold of everything inside me and ripped it all out from both ends. But he’s not going to do that. He’s coming at me with a needle now instead, and I’m going to take a big greedy bite if he gets his hand close enough to my fat puffy pig piss shit snout.
Stefanie Brook Trout writes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama that explores the dynamic interactions between people and their surroundings—including social and built environments as well as the “natural” environment (whatever that means). Stefanie co-edited Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, a recently released collection of new short stories, essays, and poems about the Midwest. Stefanie is currently a candidate in Iowa State University’s interdisciplinary Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing and Environment, where she is the graduate communications research assistant for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Learn more about Stefanie on her website: http://stefaniebrooktrout.com.
Duke ran off while I was investigating an interesting dropping a sick eaglet left on my mailbox, and by the time I was done trying to chase him down for forty-five minutes, I’d missed the bus and had to ride my bike, in loafers, all the way to work with all of my samples tucked away in all the various pockets of my fishing vest, starting to stink in the eighty-degree morning heat and my briefcase in the front basket of my handlebars until I almost got hit by Mrs. Rasmussen pulling out of her driveway, and the case launched over the trunk of her car, clipping it on the descent and spilling open with all thirty-two copies of my report and my hand-written notecards going everywhere, and just as I’m thinking myself lucky for the lack of wind blowing from any direction and starting to scramble to pick them up, Mrs. Rasmussen’s automatic sprinkler system comes on and drenches everything, including her hair because she had rolled her window down to talk to me, and of course this is all my fault for being in her way when she was trying to pull out, so of course she doesn’t even think to offer me a ride, so by the time I get to the office, I’m late for my own review, stinking of shit and sweat but looking as if I’d just stepped out of the shower, having forgotten to take my clothes of first, and I don’t have any copies of my report or any usable notes, but I do have fifteen baggies of bobcat scat, and I take them out, one at a time, and try to arrange them as artfully as possible—five, four, three, two, one—at the head of the conference table.
At 60, my father wears his first beard.
“I never knew I could grow one,” he says.
Like my mom’s limited imagination in coming up with hairstyles for her daughters—down, up, or the “special,” which was nothing more than a half-ponytail—my father only knew three options for his face—mustache, goatee, and clean-shaven—for three-fifths of a century.
But now, finally, my father has made a beard: a dash of salt for every pinch of pepper.