This is the thirty-ninth in a series of fifty-two very short stories I am publishing on this site, in a year-long experiment in internet self-publishing. Thank you for reading.
Johann was walking through the forest to his mother’s house. He’d been on the move since dawn, it was now noon, and he was exhausted, sweating in the summer heat. She had no phone, no internet, and no postal worker would traverse the 25 miles of rocky trails to deliver a letter to her. She’d been out here for years. He rounded a bend and there she was, standing on the porch of her cabin, shotgun raised toward him. She looked healthy, lean and strong, her hair graying. “I told you to start calling my name before you get to that last bend, otherwise I’m liable to shoot you.” “Have you ever shot anyone?” She smiled and said, “You’re drenched. Go out back, have a shower, and I’ll fix us some lunch. I love when you visit me.” Twenty minutes later Johann came into the cabin. His mother, Alma, had prepared a venison salad. “How’s Dad?” she asked. “Still drunk, last I checked.” “Oh, honey, you have to take care of him, you know I can’t.” Johann stood up and shouted, “This is why I don’t come here more than once a year!” “You’re right, I’m sorry. I ran off and left you with a lot of burdens.” There was a knock on the door. “Come in,” Alma said. A tall bearded man not much older than Johann walked into the cabin. “Oh, sorry, didn’t know you had company,” the man said. “This is Dirk,” Alma said. “Dirk, this is my son, Johann.” Dirk tipped his greasy baseball cap. “Why didn’t you try to shoot him?” Johann asked. “I know his footsteps.” Dirk said, “I’ll come back another time. I left you a deer on the porch.” He tipped his hat once more to Johann and walked out the door. “What’s the story with that character?” Johann asked, sitting down again. “We’re intimate.” “Oh gross, Mom, couldn’t you have just said he’s your boyfriend?” “He protects me from the riff-raff around here, I enjoy his company, and he leaves me deer meat, so I guess he is my boyfriend. But there’s also Lars.” “Lars?” “He helps me with home repairs but he gets drunk like your father. And there are Don and Bo.” “Who are they?” “The riff-raff I mentioned.” “So you moved out to the forest to have one continuous orgy?” “No, honey, I moved here because I couldn’t handle civilization anymore, the social niceties, all that smiling and apologizing. I like my men though. Sorry, I know I probably shouldn’t be saying this to my son. Let’s change the subject. How’s your love life?” “Same as usual, I’ve got three cuties fighting to get into my bed, but I don’t want to settle down with any of them.” “You always were a devil,” she said. They laughed and took another bite of salad.