Iowa Writes

CAROLYN S. BRIGGS
from the story The Killing Station


Corrine entered her bedroom with a man who was not her husband, a knife down her pants, and a suffocating urge to kill. Shag lifted his triangular head from the branch.

"I'd watch it," Corrine said. "You smell like fish. He's hungry, hasn't eaten in a week." She put her hand under her shirt, gripped the handle of the knife and waited for him to bend over.

"I think I can handle him," Swinton said. "I'll take care of him and any other business we might have back here in your boudoir." He pushed back the top of the cage. "This snake makes me weak in the knees with love."

She had the knife out now, up in the air, ready. She moved toward him. He seemed to have forgotten she was even in the room.

Corrine entered her bedroom with a man who was not her husband, a knife down her pants, and a suffocating urge to kill. Shag lifted his triangular head from the branch.

"I'd watch it," Corrine said. "You smell like fish. He's hungry, hasn't eaten in a week." She put her hand under her shirt, gripped the handle of the knife and waited for him to bend over.

"I think I can handle him," Swinton said. "I'll take care of him and any other business we might have back here in your boudoir." He pushed back the top of the cage. "This snake makes me weak in the knees with love."

She had the knife out now, up in the air, ready. She moved toward him. He seemed to have forgotten she was even in the room.

"I think I can handle him," Swinton said. "I'll take care of him and any other business we might have back here in your boudoir." He pushed back the top of the cage. "This snake makes me weak in the knees with love."

She had the knife out now, up in the air, ready. She moved toward him. He seemed to have forgotten she was even in the room.

He reached his hairless hand into Shag's cage and traced the body with his finger. "Oh, yeah, that's what I like," he murmured, leaning over until his lips were close enough to kiss. "This is what I came for."

Corrine slashed without hesitation. She plunged the knife into Shag's body, nearly halving him. The ease of it surprised her, not so different from dividing a rump roast for two weeknight suppers.

"What the?" Swinton still held the top half. The rest of Shag's body dangled by a tether of bloody hide. "What did you do that for?"

Corrine had never seen Shag extended to his true length, no coils, no alert head watching, just dead weight with his tail curlicued on top of her pastel blue braided rug.

"Go ahead," Corrine said. "You take half and Gerald can have the other. Sound fair?"

"Jesus. You killed him for no reason," Swinton said, nearly crying."He didn't deserve that, that old snake. That beautiful old thing. What's the matter with you?"

"You should probably go now," Corrine said and held the knife up, waving it at him. She felt a warm trickle down her palm and under her sleeve, but she did not look.

"There was no call for this to get ugly," Swinton said. "It was just a business transaction, that's all."

"Right," Corrine said, her teeth set, her voice lowered.

Swinton laid the snake back in the aquarium, lining up the two halves. He patted the spliced place carefully and stood up. He wiped his hands on his jeans. "It's going to break Gerald's heart when he sees this."

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


CAROLYN S. BRIGGS

Carolyn S. Briggs grew up in Eldora, Iowa. She won New Letters' Heartland Short Fiction Prize in 1997 and published her memoir This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost (Bloomsbury) in 2002. She is an assistant professor of English at Marshalltown Community College.

This page was first displayed
on March 02, 2006

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