14. Delighted with His Useless Gift

Lucius trots off, probably figuring its not the stupidest thing he’s been asked to do that evening. Inglorion perches on a nearby retaining wall. It’s a pleasant evening, and in a very few minutes he hears Lucius’s happy chatter, and Brutus’s soft replies. They come into view. Brutus is pulling a small, hand-drawn wagon. Inglorion […]

13. Who’s a Motherfucking Rock Star?

“Hey, buddy,” Inglorion mutters to the bird. It’s dusty up there, but not filthy — the pigeons must think it’s a real owl. After a moment, he examines statue’s base, and sees that it’s held in place by four bolts and nuts. They’re coated with rust, of course. He has a saw and chisel, but […]

12. Thirty Feet of Drop

Inglorion frowns, peers around the side of the building at his projected route. Now that he’s looking at the particulars, he realizes it won’t be a walk in the park. The fall from the first-floor ledge, which he’ll free-climb, is 10 feet. If he should happen to slip while rigging the drainpipe, he could fall […]

11. Inglorion’s Hare-Brained Scheme

As soon as he gets home, Inglorion calls out to his son, “Lucius, I need your help with something.” “Oui, mon pére?” Lucius looks up. He’s fiddling with a handful of feathers, fashioning them into some kind of head ornament. “I’m going to steal the iron owl off the façade of the Owl’s Club building. […]

10. The Iron Owl

By mutual, tacit consent, Brutus and Inglorion settle into a casual master/apprentice arrangement. Inglorion knows little about farming and water harvesting in this climate; Brutus knows a lot. Though the older man rarely provides step-by-step lessons, or even explicit advice, he’s willing to let Inglorion shadow him as he tinkers with his cisterns and basins, […]

9. Another Chapter in Rake’s Progress

Brutus seems unmoved by the adventure. As they reach his front gate, Brutus eyes Inglorion and says, “You’re still full of frisk, aren’t you?” “Yeah. The walk home will do me good. I doubt I’ll eat or sleep tonight.” “Come in for awhile. I’ll tend to that cut.” Inglorion opens his mouth to argue, and […]

8. Policing the Neighborhood

Brutus has been breaking into the same tobacco warehouse for years, now that looters have stripped the pharmacies and convenience stores. It’s perched on a narrow strip of Native American land, along with a defunct casino: a two-story building painted to resemble a barn, but with a drive-through window. The choices have dwindled. Brutus eyes […]

7. The Knowledge Grows Slowly Within

It’s full night when Inglorion walks back. It’s a sweet, cloudless evening. Brick and stone have begun to cool; the moon is waning. Inglorion can see again: The hesitant, frozen forms of rabbits crouching in the weeds; a handful of bats, flying irregular trajectories. A stray cat drops and rolls in the dirt, and eyes […]

5. “To the Pure, All Things Are Pure”

The following morning, a package appears on the front porch. It’s wrapped in brown paper, secured with twine, and addressed to Inglorion in a bold, slanted hand. He opens it with trembling hands to find the first volume of Sir Richard Burton’s Thousand Nights and One Night. The paper and binding are stiff and fragile with age. […]

4. The Thousand Nights and One Night

Now that there are two mouths to feed, Lucius sends Inglorion to buy a half-dozen pullets, saying, “Lots of people sell them around here, but I’d recommend this fellow Brutus. He sells a few from his flock every now and then, and I think you’ll find him interesting.” And so Inglorion walks a few miles […]