The Kind of People We Are

I couldn’t see over the dashboard when we hit it, but my father described it as a red flash sucked beneath the beam of his Chevy Nova’s headlights. He got out and I heard him say, “Look at this,” before he sat back down and lowered a dead fox into his lap by its tail.

The fox molded against his legs. Its eyes were open and its tongue hung out against his jeans.

“She’s beautiful,” he said.

The lower half of its muzzle was covered in a pure white fur that flowed down its throat and widened at the chest. The tips of its ears and tail, and all four legs were glossy black, and the rest of it from the crown of the head until the tail turned black was a soft orange. The car filled with an overwhelming must smell and when I touched it there was a slick residue of filth on it.

Dad put the fox in the freezer when we got home. “I’ll get it mounted,” he said.

“We’re not the kind of people who keep un-skinned animals in our refrig­erator,” my mother screamed from the kitchen and woke us up that night when she got home from working the nightshift. Her voice was heavy and mean, and made me spend the rest of the night wondering what kind of people we were.

When I woke up in the morning the frozen foods were pushed to both sides of the freezer but the fox was gone. I wondered what kind of people threw frozen foxes away, and what that said about us. Then I wondered what that fox looked like when it was moving so fast you only saw one color, before things slowed down and everyone looked closely at how it really was?

Devin Murphy’s recent work appears or is forthcoming in Glimmer Train, The Michigan Quarterly Review, The Missouri Review, Shenandoah, and The Shoutheast Review, as well as over forty other literary journals and anthologies. He holds an MFA from Colorado State University, a PhD from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, and is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Bradley University.