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SmokeLong Quarterly

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Grendel

Story by Steven Douglas Gullion (Read author interview) September 29, 2009

art by Robinson Accola

Grendel found some slacks he liked at Kohl’s, so he bought a half dozen pair. All pastels—robin’s egg blue, butter yellow, blush pink, etc. They looked good with a simple mock-T and the woven-topped loafers he’d picked up at a twofer sale at DSW. This became his uniform that summer, and he wore it everywhere: attending an art installation in the park, terrorizing villagers, cruising the lake on his Ski-Doo.

He was mulching the roses one day, in slacks that were a particularly bloodless shade of pistachio, when a mole stuck its head out of the ground. He’d had a lot of trouble with moles and their tunnels, so when this one showed itself Grendel snatched it up between his thumb and forefinger with a zesty “Hell, yeah!”

The mole looked like a fetus, and he thought about eating it. Blind little booger, screwing up his lawn. That made him think of the Saxons, other interlopers, and how their limbs had tasted in the middle of the night. Sometimes, when he allowed himself to be melancholy, he would wonder how life might have turned out had he been friendlier, more outgoing, instead of slaughtering everyone he met. But, at the end of the day, he preferred solitude. He was a non-joiner. That’s just the way he was.

He carried the mole inside and found an empty Easter basket, still full of artificial grass and the empty halves of plastic eggs. He put the mole in the basket and sat down at the breakfast table with a cup of decaf. He watched the mole sniff around in the basket, making a nest in the plastic shreds. He sipped the coffee and slipped his loafers off. He rubbed one foot against another. He wished he had X-ray vision, so he could look deep inside the mole and see its organs. Scan its tiny soul for lumps.

About the Author

Steven Gullion’s other fiction has appeared in Night Train Magazine, The Barcelona Review, The Adirondack Review, and issues 5, 21 and 22 of SmokeLong Quarterly, among others. He is currently working on a novel about an armadillo.

About the Artist

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-Six of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Six
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SmokeLong Fitness--The Community Workshop

Next Date to Join: January 1!

On September 1, SmokeLong launched a workshop environment/community christened SmokeLong Fitness. This asynchronous community workshop is happening right now on our dedicated workshop site. If you choose to join us, you will work in a small group of around 10-12 participants to give and receive feedback. Each Monday, you will receive a new writing task (one writing task each week) designed by the senior editor team of SmokeLong. The core workshop is asynchronous, so you can take part from anywhere at anytime. We are excited about creating a supportive, consistent and structured environment for flash writers to work on their craft in a community.