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Kevin Cutrer.
“Phil Kills the Neighbor’s Dog on Easter Sunday”

© Kevin Cutrer.
Used by permission.
All rights reserved.

If he had been a better shot it would have died there in my yard. Long after, all I heard was ringing.
Our neighbor found it a quarter mile out in the woods, and where else but under a blooming dogwood tree.
They say the cross was carved from dogwood. They say that after Christ was killed blood dripped and stained the soft white flower.
Our neighbor didn’t pick a fight with Phil, just wept and shook his head. Just shook his head and walked away.
Phil’s wife had left him, took his son. He’d missed a month of child support. But that ain’t why. There ain’t no why.
He up and grabbed his 12 gauge, propped the barrel on the porch rail, squinted, squeezed the trigger, just like that,
with everyone we know inside, our friends — deacons, some of them — all waiting for meat, hearing the blast,
and there I was, gripping the spatula, our burgers burning on the grill. All I could think was What in Hell.
Right then I knew I’d hear that squeal, that my ears would ring until I died, but somehow I would have to love,
to go on loving Phil, my own blood, my drunk and stupid, ugly-hearted, dog-murdering and only brother.
There wasn’t any call for it, but there it was. You can’t pretend it hadn’t happened when you’d seen it.
Forgiveness is a lie we tell. Sometimes there ain’t no other way to live, but live by lies we tell.
After what he’d done, what to do? The men, we just stood around and spit. The women tore him up like panthers.

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Cutrer, Kevin. Lord’s Own Anointed. Loveland, Ohio: Dos Madres, 2015. Print. © Kevin Cutrer. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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