Fiction from Brett Biebel

A water tower against a cloudy sky

Photo: Amir Mohammad

Holy War

A kid from our town fell off the water tower and walked away. 150 feet and no hospital, no fractures, not a fucking scratch, and media were everywhere. Must’ve been a slow news week. Trucks from Fox and ABC News, and they’re interviewing all these Big Ten physicists who keep talking about subatomic particles and many worlds and statistical improbabilities, and some of these real fundamentalist-type churches set up tents on site, and you could sometimes hear them singing. Praise and worship shit. Steven Curtis Chapman or whatever. A few of them put up this massive cross on the exact spot, and this was after the whole thing died down. Everyone left, and the kid went back to drinking and driving down to Iowa to bet on hockey and baseball, and sometimes me and Maggie will head out there at night. To the cross. It’s strung up with Christmas lights the whole year round. Was a big fight at some city council meeting a while back about power supply and public expense, but then this private donor came through, and it’s like Jesus turning water into wine how these farm town Christians can always get their hands on some serious scratch, and we like to drink wine out there now that I mention it. The nice bottles. Ten, twelve bucks and just dry enough, and we talk about miracles. Money. The whole thing’s purple and giant and gold, and I ask Maggie what she believes in.

“Kids,” she says. “Crops. Anything that grows, and what about you,” and I never have an answer.  Too complicated. The way miracles are nothing but tiny numbers, and I’d get my ass back up there if I was him. Stare straight down. Measure an arc. Linger on choosing and death and significance, and what are the odds, I’d think. The chances I could somehow pull it off again.
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Brett Biebel teaches writing and literature at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. His (mostly very) short fiction has appeared in Hobart, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Masters Review, Wigleaf, and elsewhere. It’s also been chosen for Best Small Fictions and as part of Wigleaf‘s annual Top 50 Very Short Stories. 48 Blitz, his debut story collection, is available from Split/Lip Press.

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