So when he died, few mourned his passing except the small boy who lived at the end of the dirt road where all the roads in the county ended.

Was there any justice in the universe when he looked down the barrel of the old shotgun, pulled the trigger, and watched the flash of lights flare through the invisible fissures between his face and the site at the end of the weapon as the weapon exploded, blinding him in his right eye? The hens had been his prized pullets. They were plump and squat but laid eggs in quantities larger than any birds he had kept in his life.

Each morning he would check on his brood, but that morning, with the interior of the coup splattered in blood, he saw his hopes for the prize money at the fair dashed. A second or third place payout at the county fair would help matters just enough to pay Morgan what he owed for another month.

Morgan knew how close the old man was to the edge, and the moment of default had come and gone with the old guy unable to offer anything other than an apology. At night, the old guy would sit on his porch and listen to the sounds of the chickens clucking in their shed and think there could be no happiness on earth like the happiness he felt in his bones. The wind stirred through the green tendrils of the willow beside the creek.

Bruce Meyer

Bruce Meyer is the author of 70 books of short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. His stories have won or been shortlisted for numerous national and international prizes including this year's Lynn Fraser Fiction Prize from Freefall, the Fish Fiction Prize (IRE), the Bath Short Story Prize, the Carter V. Cooper Prize for Fiction, and a special Editor's commendation from the Edinburgh Flash Fiction Prize, His most recent collections of fiction are "Toast Soldiers" (Crowsnest Books), "Down in the Ground" (Guernica Editions) and the forthcoming collection of flash fiction, "Sweet Things" (Mosaic Press), and a collection of longer stories, "Magnetic Dogs" (Guernica). With Michael Mirolla, he co-edited the forthcoming anthology, "This Will Only Take a Minute" (Guernica) which is the first Canadian anthology of flash fiction. He lives in Barrie, Ontario, and is Professor of Communications at Georgian College.