Salmon Run
Ian Wrisley
Flash Fiction Winner

The door complained as it slid open. Sharp fingers of the late afternoon sun forced Sour's eyes into a squint. This was San Francisco, then. His thirty-third birthday. His eyes opened as they adjusted to the light. Crip limped around him and heaved his twisted legs over the side. Cinders crunched as Sour eased himself out of the boxcar.

As the last of the daylight died they set their camp. Crip's dark hands crumpled last week's newspapers and lit a fire. The headline, "Germany in Poland" blazed into tiny sticks. But the fire was little comfort to their shrunken bellies.

Sour poked cautiously around the yard. One car caught his eye. Most refrigerated cars were locked, having hooks or knobs to which chains were attached. This one, a Seattle & Pacific, was open. He pulled on the door and felt the rush of cool air. Match light revealed ice and enormous fish crammed together. Inside he hoisted one onto his shoulder.

At the fire they cut pink steaks from the salmon and ate the oily meat until they couldn't move.

Sour, in Teutonic gutturals, told Crip about last year when a farmer's wife had given him an entire pie for painting a fence and how the sweet tang of the apples and the dry crust was like the loneliness stuck to the roof of his heart.

"But you mit me is zhe entire verld," he concluded.

First published: November, 2003