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Short Stories - Mounted
by William Doonan
Ned’s hands shook as he glued the beak onto the stuffed bat. “Damn,” he
shouted, throwing his tweezers onto the ground, realizing he had glued
the beak onto the bat’s stomach by mistake. “Damn post-apocalyptic
Oriole shivered, her ragged poncho no match for the evening chill. If
only her sisters had left Muncie before the troubles. If Robin and
Grackle were here, surely one of them would know how to start a fire.
Hugging her arms to her chest, Oriole stepped gingerly around the piles
of brand-new disposable lighters that littered the road like gemstones,
shimmering in the sunset.
Up ahead, she saw something flicker in an abandoned donut shop. It could
be a campfire. She approached carefully. “It could be another gang of
surfers,” she warned herself, remembering her last encounter.
Ned was gluing the last tail feather when he heard the door chime. He
turned away from the peacock as the girl entered. She was the first
human he’d seen since…since the troubles began. “Damn Buffet Rule,” he
gurgled, staring at her.
She was gorgeous. Mid-twenties, maybe five foot two, mixed Scottish and
Mexican heritage, judging by her poncho and the pan of haggis she
carried. Oriole came forward and knelt by the fire. She rubbed her hands
Ned carried the peacock to the display case, and set it next the owls
and ducks and penguins, the product of his labor these long years. Then
he approached her. He extended a hand but she cringed, spotting a
distinctive feather that clung to his sleeve.
“Is that spotted owl?”
Ned beamed. “Do you do taxidermy too?”
Oriole shrieked as her eyes darted around the room. “You…you kill them.”
“Well, yes,” he said. “Otherwise they fuss when you try to stuff them.”
She shook her head sadly.
“I’m an ornithologist.”
“I’m not currently in need of eye care.” Ned eyed her lustfully.
“Not ophthalmology,” Oriole said, “ornithology – I study birds, I love
birds. I come from a long line of bird lovers. I could never love a man
who, who, who…”
“Shh.” Ned put a finger on her lips. “You sound like that owl I
strangled last week. Look, we might have our differences, but we can
make it. At least we’ll have each other. We can forget about the zombies
Oriole pulled back. “There are zombies?”
“Probably not,” Ned said. Then he kissed her. “I mean, I haven’t seen
any but you never know.”
“This is so wrong,” she said, kissing him back hungrily. “I could never
love a man like you.”
“We’ll make it work,” he said, gingery removing her poncho and setting
her haggis aside.
“Tell me how this is going to end.” She tore at his clothes, spilling
the contents of his pockets. Ear pins, wing screws, and spools of tail
wire tangled with beak nuts of assorted sizes. “Tell me how this is
going to end.”
Ned took her in his arms, remembering the title of his story.
Order your copy today
first published in Novel spaces
in April 2012