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Jacket 19 — October 2002   |   # 19  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |
This issue of Jacket is a collaboration with Verse magazine

James Tate


          It was around midnight, and I knew something
was out in the yard. I hadn’t heard anything, I
just felt it. It was a cloudy night, no stars
shone through. Every now and then a bit of the
moon would peek through. I walked around, shining
my flashlight up and down the yard. Frogs croaked
at intervals, and other night creatures scurried
over the leaves. I knew something else was present
nearby. Finally, my flashlight caught the face of
a man standing on the far edge of my property.
I think I frightened him more than he frightened
me. ‘What are you doing here?’ I said in a slightly
harsh voice. ‘My wife kicked me out. I had nowhere
to go. I live down the street in the trailer.
My name’s Daryl,’ he said. ‘Well, that’s a pretty
rough story, Daryl,’ I said, ‘but if I had a gun
I’d have to shoot you. I just can’t have a stranger
roaming around my property at night.’ ‘I understand,’
he said. ‘Here, you can have my gun.’ ‘You have
a gun?’ I said. ‘It’s legal,’ he said. ‘I’m a
security guard. You can have it. Go ahead, shoot
me.’ ‘Daryl, I have no interest in the world
in shooting you.’ The moon came out just then, and
I could see his face. He was just a kid, and he’d
obviously been crying. ‘I love her,’ he said,
‘but she’s got big ideas, and I guess I’m just not
good enough for her.’ She was nearby. I could
sense her sneaking up on us. Whether she, too,
was armed or coming to reconcile, I had no idea.
I whispered to Daryl, ‘Give me the gun.’

Jacket 19 — October 2002  Contents page
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