"A Fine Prospect" by Literary Awards Finalist, Matt Oliver

Three boys walk up 47th Street, as if they own one side and consider buying the other. They wear jean vests with, “AXEMEN,” embroidered in gold across the shoulders. Below “AXEMEN,” one of the boys has the name “Farmer” and the other “Easy” written in smaller letters. The boy between them wears a vest with the name “Prospect.”

Farmer extends an arm to halt Easy and Prospect and points to another young man. “Boys, we got us an Outlaw,” he says. He signals the others to follow. The Axemen quicken their pace. Outlaw runs. The Axemen smell fear, pursue their prey. Farmer strikes first, pulls Outlaw to the street. Outlaw jumps up, raising fists to fight.

Farmer smiles, says to Outlaw, “You fucked up, Son.” The Axemen circle and taunt their victim, like hyenas preparing for the kill. Prospect delivers a blow to Outlaw’s head.

“Kill the bastard,” Farmer commands. The Axemen pound and pound and kick and pound. Outlaw jabs at the air; a tooth flies and blood runs down his face.

The bloody tooth hits Prospect; he recoils, looks Outlaw in the eye, drops his fists.

Farmer comes near to Prospect, whispers, “Kill him, Prospect. Don’t be a god damn coward. Kill him.”

Prospect doesn’t move. Farmer and Easy leave Outlaw lying in his own blood, turn toward Prospect. “What the hell is wrong with you, boy?”

Prospect backs away. Easy pushes Prospect into Farmer’s arms. Farmer holds tight, “Scared of a little blood, Prospect?”

Prospect shakes his head. Farmer pushes him away. “Kill the Outlaw.”

Prospect runs. Farmer and Easy chase and curse him. He runs faster. Tears and snot drip from his face. Prospect keeps running.

Matt Oliver has published one story, “Liberty,” in the anthology “Bar Stories” from Bottom Dog Press. Excerpts from his memoir have been finalists in the Writer’s at Work competition and the Writers at the Beach competition. Matt completed his MFA at Old Dominion University where he currently teaches writing courses.

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