Ice House
October Round Things NOT Balloons in Albuquerque


He noticed the crows. Their loud calls distracted him from the white noise of pain. They were circling close enough to look him in the eye. They watched as he picked his way across lava boulders in his stupid dress shoes. He was suddenly self-conscious and worried he’d fall. He was sure they’d peck his eyes out.

Velvet edges of saltbush and mesquite sharpened as dawn light hardened into day. He could tell he wasn’t thinking clearly. The wreck beat him up badly. He had tumbled around in the trunk of his wife’s sedan. The horizon had waves and there was ringing in his head. One side of his body wasn’t working right. It was hard to walk straight. He imagined taking a DUI test in this condition and laughed. Certain failure. He wiped sweat and blood off his face with the sleeve of his dress shirt and yelped as he snagged his cut lip with his cufflink. This became the most painful thing on his body for a few moments before fading into the dull roar of agony.  

Sadie had seemed so sweet and easy-going. Hard to believe she had that much violence inside her. Telling her to calm down  didn't help. Neither did his suggestion that her anger was because of menopause. Still, he was shocked when she hit him. She found out about the waitress and didn’t like being tricked. He couldn’t blame her. When they found that grave, which never should have happened, she figured it out. 

He wanted to avoid the security cameras along the highway. He’d installed the system for a billboard company and had done such a shitty job he figured they probably weren't working. But he didn’t want to take the chance.  Cross-country was rough going. Stickers clung to his socks and he was getting blisters. He needed to rest and sat down to watch the crows on what happened to be an ant pile. 

In the few moments before the biting began, he reflected on Sadie’s perverted sense of duty to her brother. He was her downfall. She treated him better than he ever treated her.  He recalled the time she'd slapped his face for calling Sebastian a dumbass. Sebastian called her a dumbass all the time. 

Ace stood up squealing. The ants were inside his trousers and biting. He tried to take them off but didn’t take off his boots first and hopped around on one leg briefly before falling back onto the ant pile in his underwear.

Sadie’s witchy friend had warned him that the consequences of his actions would pile up until the "scale of fate” tipped.  He didn’t know what she meant then but was pretty sure now. 


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