Story from Richard Simac

In the Cool of the Day

The backyard was a confusion of Victorian classicism and Medieval cloister. With its 2-by-2’s painted like fluted columns and plywood painted with trompe d’oeil triglyphs, a crumbling shed stood like the cella of a long-abandoned temple. The half-caved roof let bits of light illume what was once hidden. In front of the shed’s doors, one missing, the other with sagging hinges, a concrete Venus standing on a seashell held a scalloped dry birdbath basin on her head.

In the opposite corner of the yard, the Virgin Mary, her heel on the head of a serpent, brooded with downcast eyes. Near the gate, St. Francis held both his face and his right hand aloft for a fluttering starling to perch. His left hand clutched a crucifix hung with a simple cord around his neck. Even what appeared to be the remains of a conciliation cross lay toppled among a patch of overgrown honeysuckle that conquered the eastern half and slowly worked its way across westward towards the setting sun.

As if the center of this known world, a peach tree with cankers on its trunk and scabs on the fruit completed the scene of apocalyptic desolation.

The house itself fared no better. Many of the windows were boarded. The screens all were ripped out. A partially shattered front window gaped with sharp edges, like the grin of a demon. Gaps in the roof tiles almost looked intentional, as if someone were making a found-object art piece. The front gutter hung crosswise. During heavy rains a torrent of water cascaded over the front steps, then pooled in the yard to flood both the street and the basement.

Big Bob lived there, with his dozens of cats that he never let out. On hot days, the smell reached up and down the street. No one ever saw him. He was like a god who existed only in fairy tales. Neighborhood parents warned their children, beware.

The boys used the shed as a clubhouse during the summer. Today, the sun began to set and the cool of the day descended upon the hot and humid earth. Rickie and Danny slid through the broken fence slats on the far side of the yard. When they entered the shed, Robbie was spread out length wise on the floor. He smoked a Camel.

“Benjie here says he has hair on his balls,” Robbie said. He was older than the other three. Much older.

Benjie stood on the other side of the shed with feet spread and hands on his hips. Robbie took a long drag then offered the cigarette to Rickie and Danny. Danny took the cigarette.

“You two talking about each other’s dicks?” Danny said between puffs.

“Only interesting thing to talk about,” Robbie said. He signaled for the cigarette.

Rickie sat on his haunches, took one last drag, then passed.

“I got a dick as big as yours,” Benjie said.

Robbie tossed the butt of cigarette through a tear in the back wall of the shed.

“Big as mine?”


Robbie stood, undid his pants, and flung his dick out. With a few shakes, he was hard. Benjie did the same.

“Lemme see your balls,” Robbie said.

Benjie dropped his pants to his ankles.

“Balder than a baby,” Robbie said.

Danny and Rickie laughed but when Benjie looked at them, they stopped.

“You gonna leave?” Robbie said. “Or you gonna watch?”

“Just watchin’ is gay,” Benjie said.

Danny stood, shrugged to Rickie, and took his dick out.

“Let’s go,” Robbie said and he began to jerk off. Benjie did, too. Danny tried but his dick stayed flaccid.

“Don’t leave me hanging,” Danny said.

Rickie unzipped his jeans and barely took the head of his dick out and just played with himself.

The afternoon air was quiet. A car passed a block away. Maybe there was the drone of a plane thousands of feet above. Or the deep moan of a truck horn. Besides those, no sound. Except the soft, mechanical, repetitive muffled movement of the boys masturbating.

“Jesus Christ,” Robbie said, “fuck me.”

He came on the gray pressboard floor of the shack. Robbie put his dick back in his pants and buckled his belt. He stood behind Benjie and rubbed his shoulders.

“Come on, you can do it,” Robbie said.

Benjie cried out, like a wounded animal, then dribbled a bit on his hands. Danny stopped. Rickie zipped up his jeans.

Robbie shook a cigarette out, put it between his lips, lit it, and took a long drag. He sighed and smiled at the three boys with him.

“Like what you see?” Robbie said. He stepped to the open door of the shed.

With their eyes opened, the other three boys turned towards the house. Danny covered himself in his shame. Big Bob stood in the shade of the peach tree. He wore stained jeans and a fraying sweater. The uncut grass reached to his belt.

“Perverts,” Big Bob said. He limped as he walked back to the house.

Richard Stimac has published a full-length book of poetry Bricolage (Spartan Press), over forty poems in Michigan Quarterly Review, Faultline, and december, and others, nearly two-dozen flash fiction in Blue Mountain, Good Life, Typescript, and three scripts. He is a poetry reader for Ariel Publishing and a prose reader for The Maine Review.