NEW Story: Drip
Baron had been working in the twilight of violence for over twenty years. In that time he had not given much thought to children or family, except for those that lingered as ghosts from long ago. Despite popular misconception, Baron did on occasion daydream, and in those daydreams was an abstract picture of his heir — a dark-haired son not unlike himself.
Tzipora was not a son but she was not unlike him. She gave him a new perspective on life — a reason for going on, and a universe outside of service to the state. And how she adored him. She demonstrated that in how she talked, and how she childishly defended any casual observation or guessing of him. They were old friends — war buddies, in fact — and spent many evenings talking about the world and the things in it. Yet a paternal dimension of their relationship existed. Tzipora was young and full of questions, and wanted desperately to be taught. So he guided her when she asked for it, and answered her questions. And there were so many questions.
In his daydreams he taught his son to use the gun. There were guns in the home but Tzipora was not allowed to touch them, because she had been prescribed antipsychotics fourteen months into her life in Vekllei. She didn’t end up needing the pills; they only gave her tremors. It wasn’t until she was diagnosed properly at eighteen years of age that she as allowed to use the guns with Baron.
They went hunting for meat, since there had been more shortages that year, and in summer Vekllei is full of a most obscure pest called a Pademelon — a type of Australian wallaby that had been introduced just prior to the War by accident. Now they were all over, inoffensive as they were. The meat was tasty and the government encouraged you to cull them, so they were hunted commonly. Tzipora had some knowledge of how to use a pistol but hadn’t fired a long gun. Baron showed her how to use the sites and hold it. She didn’t kill anything, but Baron bagged two. Tzipora figured out how to skin and clean the animal and they ate wallaby steaks that night, which tasted good but were gamey. She shared the rest of the meat with a neighbour who had helped her repair the boiler.
In the echoes of Baron’s memory was a distant, youthful dream of riding a motorbike overseas, maybe across Asia or through the Middle East. Eating from street vendors and sleeping wherever you could. Was it so crazy? After twenty years of work he had plenty of money to withdraw for travel. He wondered if Tzipora would like to learn to ride a motorbike — and what she’d think of such an idea.