They were driving back from a documentary about farmed salmon, a topic that Janet was vehemently passionate about, sometimes overly so in Gary’s private opinion. Especially when the topic arose, or didn’t arise—at which point she’d force it into small talk—during cocktail parties hosted by his fellow professors. He didn’t always appreciate the zeal with which she sometimes sounded off; it appeared to him an exhibition of self-righteousness. But outwardly, he genially supported her causes. Gary was, after all, a wilting sort of person who avoided confrontation with the same extra sensitive caution one might undertake trying to lay a sleeping baby in a crib.
(First published in SubTerrain Magazine) The second eagle, the one he’d been dreaming about for nearly two decades, graced Walter’s life like a bookend – by falling from the sky and landing in his back yard, several feet away from where he was cutting wood. It was a Sunday morning, late in September. When he cautiously approached the bird, he saw the valentine-shaped stain from a bullet in the chest, just below a thick and regally ruffled neck, which was slightly crooked and unmoving. “I’ll be damned,” said Walter, poking the bird cautiously with a piece of wood to check that it was dead.