The Mud Doctor by Evan Nicholls
Editorial intern Sara Larson on today's bonus short-short: What do you call someone when no one knows their name? Maybe after the items they left behind. What would you be called if you were named after what you left behind?
The Mud Doctor
lived in a trailer. He had no wife. He had no daughters, or sons. He had no mother. And no one had seen his birth certificate, if he even had one. His name was a question. He was a question. The townspeople guessed Daniel. Ethan Frome. Poodle. No one knew anything. No one ever asked him. We only spoke to him during the planting season, when we needed the soil examined. He would listen to the ground. Tell us what could grow. Then after, he’d walk to the antique store. The place with the weepy eyed dog. He loved the weepy eyed dog there and came more for the dog than the tchotchkes. We think. We don’t know. The dog would lie on the floor and he would pat it. He died the day before yesterday, and I am the town’s stone mason, and now they’re having me engrave the headstone. Only no one can say what to chisel in. I stepped up into his trailer this morning and sifted through things for a name. I only found a Bird of Paradise. Walnut shrapnel. A rotten mouse fused to the baseboard. Sea of gum wrappers. And years from now, I will be dead. We will all be dead here. But our sites will be big. They will have lawns. They will be mown every day. The finish work done with barber shears. And The Mud Doctor will have a tiny plot. And it will be in the weeds. The stone will be gobbled by barberry. And the only thing read there will be:
HERE LIES DUBBLE BUBBLE.
Evan Nicholls has work appearing in Maudlin House, CHEAP POP, formercactus, and Lost Balloon, among other. He is from Fauquier County, Virginia. Follow him on Twitter @nicholls_evan.