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Story by Sean Mackey (Read author interview) December 16, 2014

art by Violet Vandever

We sit on his bed for a father-son talk where I say that if it’s just us two from now on, he’s got to be honest with me, so he does get honest: he looks off into the distance and says that I should have a look at this thing he’s got in his closet, which I guess has to be a bottle of rum or a nudie mag, whatever contraband one could have at sixteen, so I have myself a look, at what seems to be a rumpled blanket there on the shelf, till it turns on its own, a boa constrictor—he says the pet shop cut him a good deal—and I get a trash bag so he can toss his pet out, and I say how can he be such a jackass, this is why his mom hasn’t come back, the exact kind of shit she couldn’t put up with, so to prove me wrong he gets out the Yellow Pages to find an exterminator who coincidentally has the same family name as us, so maybe this guy could get us a discount?, but he’s a fucking rat exterminator, I tell my son, snakes like these eat rats, this snake is a rat exterminator, and by the look on his face this is news to him, and for the love of God he can’t fathom how to be honest about the eggplant missing from my garden—all while the snake slides past us, which we can still stop, but don’t; I always did wonder how a snake could make it down a flight of stairs, and besides, it’s clear by now that it’s hardly interested in killing us.

About the Author

Sean Mackey grew up in Long Island and currently lives in Boston. He is working on a short story collection for his master’s thesis at Emerson College. He was a finalist in Glimmer Train‘s Short Story Award for New Writers (July 2013) and Fiction Open (April 2010). This is his first published story.

About the Artist

Violet Vandever wanted to be a novelist but drawings come out when she sits down to write. She was born on an island in the Atlantic and has lived in five countries and on both American coasts. She grew up in Indiana and currently lives in Oakland, CA, with her husband and zero pets in a little red house on stilts. When the earth quakes it rattles.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Six of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Six

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