ARDOR Literary Magazine

ARDOR Literary Magazine - Issue Three, September 2013

Issue One, Published January 2013

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FICTION WATCHING NATALIE SYPOLT Carlo didn't want to be in that tree house, all hot and old and smelling like wet wood. It wasn't their tree house, but somebody else's from a long time ago. Solomon had found it out back behind the trailer park where Carlo lived, back in those woods were they weren't supposed to go. Sure, that tree house wasn't nothing special and it creaked and groaned under the weight of him, but out the hole cut in the side for a window, that was Solomon's prize. "I just could not believe it," he told Carlo for maybe the fifth time. Carlo didn't ask what Solomon had been doing back here when Carlo wasn't with him, when he wasn't even home, but in school where Solomon was supposed to be. Solomon lived a way off in Crystal Holler, but sometimes rode the school bus in like he was going to school, then left. Carlo guessed that's probably what had happened that day, and the trailer park was only about a 45 minute walk from the schoolhouse. "Her house was right there," Carlo said. "And I knew that if I got Pap's hunting scope, I could see right in." "We shouldn't be here," Carlo said softly, already feeling a little seasick from the swaying of the tree house. "You'll see. You just wait." To hear Solomon tell it, getting the scope out of his grandpap's house was like stealing a secret treasure from a band of pirates. His pap didn't hunt much anymore, but he still prized his guns and kept them locked up tight. So, first, Solomon had to sneak and ARDOR | 16 SYPOLT steal the key to the gun cabinet when his pap and gran were at the store, and then bide his time to take the scope, easy, from the deer rifle. He'd held the gun for a minute, thinking about just taking the whole thing. That would have been easier, surely, and just feeling it smooth and heavy in his hands made him taller. Stronger. Nobody'd put him on the ground or rub dirt in his face or put him over their knee if he had this. Finally, though, he just unscrewed the scope and put the gun back with the others. "I was waiting on you to use it," he told Carlo. "I wanted to share it with you." That was the thing about Solomon. Most times he was mean, scary even, and just about everybody knew the stories about his family, which made him even scarier. Solomon's daddy was dead, but before that he had been in jail a couple times, and Solomon's older cousins cooked drugs in an old camper back in the woods in Crystal Holler. There were rumors about people who'd gone down there and never came back out. And then there was Solomon's uncle, Sam, who scared Carlo the most because he had these long scars on his neck, like something big and scary had scratched him nearly to the bone. So, Solomon was a bully and his family made him even tougher, but then he'd say something real nice. Like he'd been waiting just for you. Or like your mama was real pretty and cooked the best dinners, and you'd just feel so bad for him. Or so special because he'd picked you to be nice to. Then you'd do about anything. Carlo had wanted to say no to coming out here, but he was afraid of what Solomon would say and what would happen. Afraid he'd lose him, and Carlo didn't have many friends. He was scrawny and soft spoken. Lesser kids than Solomon used to pick on him, but once he and Solomon were friends, that mostly stopped. So here they were, sitting in some old tree house with the scope from a deer rifle, hunched together, and focusing in on the

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