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Pirates by Dan Nielsen

Randy wouldn’t shut up about trying out for the baseball team. Joe slammed on the brakes. Randy’s head crashed into the windshield. It cracked. Randy slumped down unconscious with the food wrappers and beer cans.

Joe checked the rear-view mirror and drove on. He sized up the situation. Randy was bleeding. That meant his heart was still pumping. So he wasn’t dead. His legs twitched. So he wasn’t even paralyzed. No need for the hospital. They couldn’t go there anyway. Nancy worked at the hospital. Right in the Emergency Room.

Joe pulled into the driveway.

“Randy?” Joe said.

He didn’t expect a response.


“You okay, little guy?” Joe said.

Randy didn’t say another word. He was unconscious again, but still breathing. The bleeding didn’t seem so bad.

Joe carried Randy into the house and placed him in the bathtub. He fixed a drink. He looked in the medicine cabinet. He found a tin of assorted bandages. He chose the largest one, a butterfly bandage, perfect for head wounds.

Joe ran warm water in the sink. He grabbed a towel that looked like a pirate flag. Their last name was Pirate. What a joke.

Joe washed off blood to better see the cut. He tried to apply the bandage. It wouldn’t stick. He folded the pirate towel and tied it around Randy’s head. Blood seeped through. Joe left Randy in the tub. Nancy got mad when there was a mess.

Joe fixed another drink and turned on the TV. Nancy would be home soon. He’d think up something. Not that he had to. It was his house. It was his kid. It was his car. There was the cracked windshield, but insurance covered that.

Randy was standing in front of the TV.

“Dad? Why was I in the tub? What happened to me?”

“You fell off your bike.”

“I don’t have a bike.”

Joe held out his empty glass.

“Fix me a drink.”

Randy took the glass and staggered toward the kitchen.

Too much time passed.

“Randy! What’s taking you!?!”

Joe found Randy unconscious on the kitchen floor. He made his own drink and returned to the TV.

Joe fell asleep. He awoke to Nancy’s voice. She was talking on her cell phone.

“That better not be the cops,” Joe said.

Nancy held the phone against her chest. “Joe. Calm down. I’m calling an ambulance. What happened to Randy?”

“He fell off his bike.”

“Randy doesn’t have a bike.”

Nancy put the phone back to her ear.

“The porch light is broken,” Nancy said. “The number is hard to read, but there’s a pirate flag in the window so you can’t miss it.” There was a pause, then, “Yes, this is Nancy. Is that you, Gus?” Gus asked Nancy if he should notify the police. “Do that, please.” Nancy said. She turned off her cell phone, and went back into the kitchen.

Joe was right behind her. He said, “Who is this Gus character?” Now he drank directly from the vodka bottle.

Nancy didn’t answer. Joe hit her in the head with the bottle. It was plastic. It made a funny sound. Joe laughed. He hit her again. It made the same funny sound.

There was a loud knock.


“It’s open,” Nancy said. “Come in.”

Two cops entered with guns drawn. Joe laughed and hit Nancy again with the plastic bottle. It made the same funny sound.

Both cops shot Joe.

Dan Nielsen’s work has appeared in such diverse places as SELECTED POEMS OF POST-BEAT POETS, published in Chinese by Wengingbooks, and THE RANDOM HOUSE TREASURY OF LIGHT VERSE where he shares a page with William Carlos Williams. Recent publication credits include: “Hobo Pancakes,” “Story Magazine,” “The Higgs Weldon,” “Rusted Truck,” “Cease Cows,” and “Defenestration.” Dan has a blog with links and examples of his art: Preponderous

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