“Big Game Hunter” – Fiction by Matt Patrick

Successful Hunter – Alexander Pope, 1912

An old hunter’s animal head collection gets inquisitive in “Big Game Hunter,” Matt Patrick‘s curiously surreal flash fiction from our Fall 2017 issue.

{ X }

IN HIS OLD AGE, THE HEADS MOUNTED ON THE WALL STARTED TO TALK TO HIM. At first asking the obvious whys, but over time the conversations began to wander.

The lion asked: Does the sun still beat on the savannah?

The shark inquired: What’s it like to live without gills?

The human head, as always, stays silent.

Every once in a while he toys with the idea of getting rid of them. Stripping the walls bare. He can’t do it, of course. He would miss the company. Not that he’s particularly hospitable to them. The questions often go unanswered as he drifts into his imagination and hunts far more elusive game.

The hippo asked: What did you do with my body?

The gazelle inquired: How does it feel to take a life?

The human head says nothing.

The hunter tries to picture what sort of gun he’d need to bring down happiness, or a bond with his son. And if he did bag them, what sort of mount do they need? Can they be taxidermied?

The second hippo posits: You must hate hippos. Why else would you kill so many of us?

The third hippo concurs.

The human head motions, as if to spit.

Someone visits the hunter. A young person. Not his son, maybe a grandson? Granddaughter? The young person politely follows his lead and ignores the heads as they pester him. The young person leaves. The hunter is alone for a long time. He isn’t sad, he tells himself, but a lesser man would be.

{ X }

MATT PATRICK is a writer and educator from Staten Island, New York. His work has previously appeared in Monkeybicycle and Big Words Etc.

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