Literary Yard

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The Incident at Mule Deer Run

By: Charlie Dickinson

Clamping cellphone to his fleshy ear, he glowered at the backyard, waiting on the rings.

            “911, do you need police, fire or ambulance?”

            “What can you send? Hurry, I gotta dead body here.”

            “Okay, and what’s your address there?”

            From the back porch steps, he stared past the prone corpse, through the fence pickets, into the street.

            “Mule Deer Run, yeah, four-o-nine Mule Deer Run—”

            “Okay, and what’s going on there? You said a dead body—”

            “Yep, a dead bum. He’s lying in my backyard.”

            “Okay, you sure he’s dead?”

            “Sure, I’m sure.”

            “Okay, he’s not breathing?”

            “Not that I can see, he’s just there, not moving.”

            “Okay, doesn’t appear to be breathing. You take his pulse?”

            “Are you kidding? I’m not touching bodily fluids.”

            “What bodily fluids?”

            “People sweat.”

            “Okay, can you describe this male person?”

            “Like I said, a bum. Crappy clothes. Looks like he needs a bath.”

            “Okay, but you said he’s dead.”

            “Yeah, not moving.”

            “Okay, any idea of his race? What color is his skin?”

            “Hard to say. Skin’s dark, like he’s outside a lot. Could be Mexican—”

            “Okay, race unknown. How big is he? Height, weight?”

            “I don’t know, six-foot, two hundred, why do you ask?”

            “On the form. Okay, this person have signs of violence, you know, blood on his person?”

            “Don’t see any. As I said, he’s lying there, clothes probably out of a Dumpster.”

            “Okay, do me a favor. I want you to go to the body and tell me the color of his hair.”

            “Oh, I have to?”

            “This comes up on the screen: You’re on a mobile device. Just walk over there.”

            “Okay, you insist.”

            Cellphone pressed to ear, he got up, went to the body. “You there?”

            “Okay, what do you have?”

            “His hair’s dark. Black.”

            “Okay, black hair. His eyes, what color?”

            “Can’t tell.”

            “Why not?”

            “His eyes, they’re closed.”

            “Okay, let me get this straight. A dead man’s in your backyard, estimated six-foot, two hundred pounds, dark skin, black hair, you’re not sure he’s breathing or not, you won’t check his pulse because you won’t touch sweaty skin, and our transaction is now running over three minutes and counting. So you want me to send over a County vehicle and personnel to check this out because you can’t tell the difference between life and death. Is that correct?”

            “What does it matter? Don’t you understand? I just want the damn body out of my backyard!”

            That said, his lungs seized on a sudden intake of air. Beneath him, the body’s right index finger wiggled, moved.


Charlie Dickinson has published short fiction at Amarillo Bay, Eclectica, Mississippi Review, and elsewhere. He posts a blog at, and lives in Portland, Oregon, USA.


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