by Kyle Hemmings
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I have committed a big sin, a mortal sin. It happened before I came here. While living with my mother on the farm, I found a stray sheep one day. I never thought to find out who owned her and I always wanted one because I read that Jesus loved the sheep and the humble. Not that I think I'm Jesus or anything. I built a little shed for her and made sure she got plenty of weeds and forbs. I called her Lilly, as in Lilly of the Fields. When it rained, I carried Lilly inside the shed because she would never complain. But my mother's girlfriend, a woman named Bernie, who drove an old rattling truck, didn't like Lilly. She said she was allergic to wool and Lilly was a long hair. She said Lilly was dirty, but I wondered if she knew the difference between sheep and goats. And Bernie was the kind of person that if you say “no” to once, you'll never say it again. She threatened to turn Lilly into Roquefort cheese or sheep milk or ice cream. She wasn't smiling when she said it. I had dreams of Bernie going out and killing Lilly and her blood would be Christ's blood. And Bernie, like Annie Oakley, was a sure shot and a ewe would be easy meat. So I took my father's old shotgun, the one he left us in case of emergency, and I confronted Bernie near the horses' stall. I made her raise her arms and told her she had to apologize to Lilly and kiss her on the head. Bernie said I'd have to shoot her dead. Bernie couldn't stand to lose face. It'd send her into temper tantrums. I aimed the rifle at the ground before her feet. I just wanted to scare her, you know? But when the rifle went off, it jerked against my shoulder and the bullet hit Bernie square in the chest between each breast. Mom, who had fallen out of love with Bernie for sometime, claiming Bernie could be just as mean as my father, decided to bury her near the cornfields. Mom got rid of Bernie's truck too. When the police came around asking questions, we told them we hadn't seen Bernie in a while. Mom even produced a fake letter in Bernie's handwriting stating that Bernie had found someone else and wouldn't be back. After Lilly died of old age, I had mom make a coat form Lilly's fleece. I then dug into the spot where Bernie was buried. She was nothing but skeleton by then. But still, you know? I covered her with Lilly's coat. And as much as I hated Bernie, I didn't want her to get cold from the winter. Then I placed Lilly next to Bernie. Jesus would have done as much. I just wanted to save some face for us all.
Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Your Impossible Voice, Night Train, Toad, Matchbox and elsewhere. His latest chapbooks are Underground Chrysanthemums from Red Bird Press and Terminal from White Knuckle Press. He blogs at DogPunk & Psychedelic Stinky Cat: Kyle Hemmings' Blog.