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Bad Traffic

Story by Matt Rowan (Read author interview) September 25, 2012

art by Monica Mulder

There was a scarecrow on the highway, one day. We drivers noticed it impaled and hanging limp on a rusted pole pressed into a slab of the concrete median.

Like a sword in stone.

The scarecrow was secondary. There was begun a line of strongmen who parked along the highway and went to work attempting to free the rusted pole. To what end, that wasn’t clear. To back up traffic? It sure did, because not only were their cars clogging the highway with surplus travelers but gapers slowed to watch, some getting in little accidents.

Nobody was strong enough, but they kept trying hard. A little boy tagged along with his father, who was very strong. While his father wrapped his hands with tape and clapped talcum powder, the boy climbed up the median and removed the scarecrow’s old straw hat.

The spell ended. The scarecrow was suddenly restored to a real-live man.

He reached back and pulled himself up and off of the pole, a knot of pain shown in his sun-dried complexion.

He was free.

He wanted to hug and kiss the boy, his savior.

Instead, he immediately crumbled to the ground, motionless, sad.

“At least it was quick,” said the strongmen, looking at the desiccated body fused limp to roadway, a lot like a fallen deer made crushed by someone’s Honda. An ambulance was called to the scene but caught in transit, in the slog, attempting to reach him.

The strongmen continued their efforts with the pole.

We watched them, slowly inching forward in the midst of bad traffic.

About the Author

Matt Rowan is a writer, editor and educator living in Chicago, IL. He’s primarily responsible for Untoward Magazine and has a story collection, Why God Why, forthcoming from Love Symbol Press. You can find some of his stories in or forthcoming in >kill author, Banango Street, Necessary Fiction, and Knee-Jerk Magazine, among others. He also blogs for Artifice Books and himself at literaryequations.blogspot.com.

About the Artist

Monica Mulder is a passionate autodidact that spends time dabbling in music, photography, teaching, writing and traveling. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a BA in psychology and found that formal education left much to be desired. In the years since, she has worked to continue educating herself through life experiences and always reading and exploring. She taught English for two nonconsecutive years to adorable kindergarteners in Seoul, South Korea, and recently spent a month volunteering in Haiti.

This story appeared in Issue Thirty-Seven of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Thirty-Seven

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