In an untended playground, circled schoolgirls stitch flags. The
teacher reads to the girls from a newspaper: stories of distant heroes
vanquishing evil. A bird sings. The junkman's wagon rattles through the
gates. He tips his cap and winks at the teacher. She quickly returns
her gaze to the newspaper. You delicious peach,
he thinks. He halts at the fountain to let his thin horse drink while
he rolls a cigarette, tearing a rough square of paper from the book he
keeps under his seat. The volume describes modern methods of pork
Book of Smoked Bacon, he
In his cart lie remains of the smashed village clock: gears, bent Roman
numerals, the long iron hands. The bell could not be budged by one man.
The headmaster stands at his window, looks down at the junkman who
lights his cigarette and shakes the horse's reigns. The horse shakes
his head and looses a shower of piss splashing over the cobblestones.
"My poor beast is uncouth," the junkman says to the teacher. The girls
giggle. "God bless you both," says the teacher. The noisome cart gone
up the road, the headmaster brings a telescope to his eye, focusing
strictest attention upon the teacher's soft mouth as the dozens of
small fingers draw needle and thread through bright-colored fabric.
Philip Brooks has had stories in The Quarterly, The Kenyon Review, elimae, Willow Springs and others. He lives in
Ohio with his wife and son.
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