Thought Fox

Rob McClure Smith



She said the thought foxes ate Ted Hughes and how it was poetic justice and it was, except it wasn’t true. She gets things backwards and pronounces it sgniht, which is also the Slovak word for sweet pastry and has led to more misunderstandings than you can shake a stick at.

Actually he was eaten by dream crows and by the hawk roosting in the forest behind my house with the big eyes. I’m glad I installed those eyes, more foresight than windows. Now my home is a looker.

I said she was too. I have my charms, bought from the witch in the gingerbread cottage and kept in a jar looks like a propped open door. I’d prefer she was a seer to tell you the truth, which I never do, honestly. I tell depressing lies. I make things down.

She signed a pledge of environmental irresponsibility, boycotted meatless Monday and threw plastic bottles and bubble-wrap into aquifers and reservoirs. The usual. She took her bike everywhere in the back of her smoke-spewing gas-guzzling muffler-denuded Ford Ram and dreamed of the day she’d drive a Prius off a cliff.

When I caught her extracting the corpse of the sustainability coordinator from the worm bin, I said ‘enough is enough.’ I like tautologies and Tanya Donnelly and those little sweet pastries from the Cheesecake Factory in Bratislava. She said ‘Sweetie-pie, that thing you’re basting looks like a human brain.’ It was a human brain. I wanted the sustainability coordinator to be of some use. I said, remember how Ted’s bones were so usefully recycled by the badgers when they built their glockenspiel?

I saw them do it from my eye window. A thin and listless crowd gathered to watch, such as you see at a track meet. I shook my stick at them and they assumed I was a pole-vaulter. I’m actually German, although my name is Walter. I pulled a shade and winked. The street was doing that thing to the moon I like. Who is this Tanya Donnelly she asked? An ex-girlfriend of Ted’s, I lied, who pulled her heart out onto a beating plate before him. She hated those TED lectures that much.

She said honey pie this sweetness makes my mind odd, like a poet’s. You could have roasted a duck in the trunk of her Ford Ram, and she did. It wasn’t a good move. But it was a track meet, sponsored by the Sierra Club. Everyone ran in circles, like clocks in a washing machine. Tanya played the Star Spangled Banner on a bar mangled spanner and a badger won the high hurdles and donated them to the Salvation Army. I took my copy of Birthday Letters for a long walk in the forest and left it there like I did Hansel and Gretel that time. The dream crows scoffed the trail of pastry crumbs I dropped. Poetic justice. The forest smelled of thought fox and I could scarcely wait to leaf.





ROB MCCLURE SMITH‘s fiction has appeared in magazines like Chicago Quarterly Review, Barrelhouse, Gutter and Barcelona Review.