Seamus Scanlon –Ireland–


Seamus Scanlon TAPFNY 2016

Fine Tuned

A teenage boy with blue green eyes lies still. Waits all day. The rifle’s long barrel is brushed with cement dust to dull the bright gleam from the August sun. He sips warm brackish water. He pisses into a milk bottle during the long hours. He eats dry bread from a cracked blue ceramic bowl. The sun sears all below. In the broken street a father edges forward gripping the hand of his young daughter. She tries to keep pace on her spindly legs, tripping from fatigue. Fires burn in the east. On the northern hills smoke blossoms from concealed artillery. The lonesome sharp clap of sniper rifles fills the beautiful dead city. The boy adjusts the scope – watches – waits – he uses a bandana to wipe sweat from his forehead so it doesn’t bleed into his eyes. He moves the rifle slightly to be perfectly positioned. It makes a faint metal-against-concrete scrape. The father pauses, crouches, pulls the girl down. Cries out. He puts his hand over her mouth. They watch – they wait. He scans the windows and balconies of shattered apartment blocks. He listens to the acute silence of the carved out streets. He slowly stands up. The girl gets to her feet. She licks her parched lips. The boy pulls the trigger. The loud report always surprises him. He watches the girl somersault back against the bullet pocked wall. The father kneels, grabs her, holds her. Her blood cascades onto him and the ground. The rubble dust eats it up. The boy tracks the father far below. The telescopic sight he holds steady on the man’s left temple. The boy does not fire. He is fine tuned to inflicting full pain. He crawls back into the ruined cave of the high rise pushing his rifle before him.

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