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FOUR SINGLE PANEL COMICS
BY KEVIN HYDE
Rated T for Teen

You are mowing the lawn when the birds in the trees begin critiquing your technique. If thatís straight then my mother was a jay, two crows say. The mockingbird does not mock, merely insults. Cheap, it says, too cheap to buy a riding mower. A groundhog traverses the sloping lawn with a movement that suggests a nude slinky descending a staircase. A nude slinky? But arenít all slinkies nude? As you second-guess your own cognition, a finch lands in the swath of grass just ahead of your pushmower and stares you down. You attempt to master your embarrassment, but, finally, you yield, to the finch and its authority, and shift the mower and its cylinder of teeth to the next axis over from the one you were on. Iíll take the finch in a pinch, the crows say to each other and laugh. You vow, not for the last time, to stop buying birdseed, and to stop caring so much about the goddamn lawn.

News That Stays Newsí News

Every day the newspaper deliveryman throws the daily through the window. Youíre not sure why he goes to all the trouble to tie a brick to the paper, but you suspect it might have something to do with the aerodynamics involved in the task. Your front lawn, a exemplar of greenery, generates a good deal of oxygen; per science, that makes the atmosphere of the front yard very thick indeed. If the newspaper deliveryman were to toss an unweighted paper towards your door, it would probably bounce right back in his face. Or burn up in an arc of flame before reaching its destination. All the news thatís fit to break and enter comes tumbling through the bay window each day, and for that small blessing you are grateful. Youíve never spoken to the deliveryman, though youíve seen him at the grocery store, counting out grapes in the produce aisle like a pharmacist counting out pills, dropping them singly into a plastic bag. Maybe heís an amateur viticulturalist, you speculate to your wife.

Always An Augur, Never A Haruspex

This is a little-known fact about the butcher that you uncovered one day on your way to buy milk. You saw him, standing in his yard in a half-open bathrobe, where he was spreading nets along the ground, engaged in what you took to be the pressing preoccupations of lunacy. He traps magpies, but not for sport. More, he tells you, for augury. The magpies are attracted to rubies he lays out in the yard, rubies that he inherited from his mother, who had acquired them during her time in India, and had had them set in rings. A magpie is basically a very smart whore, the butcher tells you. Even the males? Yes, especially the males. They want to adorn their nests with every small, flashy thing. Magpies, if they were to possess the technology, would work exclusively with chrome. You ask the butcher how he learned the skill of augury. Just as I learned the skill of butchery, he says. Very carefully.

Unfaithfully Yours

You watch as the man next door takes a sip of his martini. Still in his suit, heís watching the sunset from his deck. A pearl-handled revolver sits in his other hand. His evil dog Alfred is watching you watch his master. The dog walks back and forth in the yard, along a parade route of its own choosing, and keeps its eyes on you as much as possible. One hypothesis is that the man is getting ready to play russian roulette, the two participants being himself and his dog. If you had to bet, you would bet on the dog. If they were playing the card game of russian bank instead, the odds would be in the manís favor, with his higher reasoning skills, but in a game of survival like this, thereís no question, the dog will do whatever it takes. This may, in fact, be part of the dogís plan. He might have been planning this for months, and have weighted the revolver precisely to his own calibrations. The man seems too calm for a moment like this. Does he know heís forfeiting his life to his own pet? You want to call out to him and warn him. He should not have taken in a strange dog, no matter how pitiful it looked, no matter how strong the urge for clemency was. An hour later you hear a shot, followed by an imperious bark. 

[Forever after at http://eyeshot.net/hydecomics.html]

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