Coconut for Bait

Kirby Wright Click to

Kirby Wright was a Visiting Fellow at the 2009 International Writers Conference in Hong Kong, where he represented the Pacific Rim region of Hawaii.  He was a Visiting Writer at the 2010 Martha's Vinyard Residency in Edgartown, Massachusetts and the 2011 Artist in Residence at Milkwood International, Czech Republic.  He is the author of the companion novels Punahou Blues and Moloka'iThe End, My Friend, his futuristic novel, will be published this year.

June Spoon, my mother, gets mad whenever Dadio swings at flies with rolled-up newspapers.  Sometimes he swings at roaches.  He doesn’t seem to care that someone might still want to check out the news.  I hate it when he uses the sports section.  Dadio dislikes animals, insects, and most creatures of the sea.  I know he despises his kids, especially me.  He avoids petting dogs and cats.  When he’s not swatting flies, he busies himself fumigating the house with Had-A-Bug to kill mosquitoes and setting traps for rats in the attic.  He uses coconut meat for bait.  Believe it or not, he once caught a crimson cardinal.  Don’t ask me how that bird got in there, but he did.  June Spoon told me that was her father’s favorite bird.  She cried for days.  She even suggested the cardinal was the reincarnation of Pops, and that God guided him to our home so he could listen to her soothing voice drift up through the ceiling.  She said Dadio might be guilty of murder, because reincarnation gave you a second chance at life before the Final Judgment.  Dadio overheard June Spoon’s accusation and smirked, mostly because he didn’t believe in God or life-after-death or “that reincarnation hogwash.”

The same week as the bird murder, June Spoon fakes stomach flu to avoid sex after a bottle of Lancer’s and The Ed Sullivan Show.  Now she’s going to sleep long after Dadio pulls on his pajamas.  “Get to bed, June,” he scolds from their room on a windy evening, his sullen voice rattling down the hall.  June Spoon sits at the dining room table, reading a crumpled paper stained with fly guts.  “In a minute, dear,” she lies.  She bites into an Almond Mounds while perusing the Obits.  She loves it how the women outlive the men, usually by a decade and sometimes even more.  She’s certain Dadio will return either as a fly or a mosquito, one that will bug her to no end all hours of the day and night.  She prays for a fly.  She imagines a big horsefly buzzing around a hunk of snow-white coconut perched on the table.  Yesterday she bought a jumbo swatter at Long’s Drugs, a pink one with a comfy handle she hid in her bathroom cabinet under the sink.  She washes the Mounds down with  tea.  June Spoon smiles.  She imagines swatting Dadio to end his second shot at life.  She figures God won’t accuse her of murder since she’s merely avenging her father’s death as a bird.  “Eye for an eye,” she whispers into the night.


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