Greyson, Griffin, Guillermo

Matt Bell


Perhaps only their mother could distinguish between them, could reckon their slight variations in weight, the distinct cervix-bends of their skulls. I never could, not when they were infants, and not when they were toddlers either, all dressed alike in the preference of my now good and gone wife.

Even as teenagers they each ate the same amount of porridge each morning, the same third of a meat-can at dusk. The first time I caught one of them masturbating, I caught all three, circled between their bunks, each mimicking the motion of another’s hands. Ditto drinking, ditto the glass-pipes, ditto the new milk-drawn drugs I’d never heard of before their schoolmaster called.

With their mandatory facemasks and goggles on, no one could tell them apart, but then no one could recognize anyone else either, at least not after the baggy state-issued jumpsuits, the preventative head-shavings.

Even with all this handicapping, some people remained more charming than others, and if there was anything each of my sons possessed equally, it was charm.

All these excuses and more were given by the women in town, after every wife and daughter and matron and maiden from 14 to 45 swelled with my sons’ seed, with the fruits of their inseparable loins. After it became difficult to know exactly whose child each was carrying amid whole seasons of houses packed with breaking bellies, a whole sequence of summer and fall and winter filled with spread legs, with emptying wombs, with new mothers looking to my own for shotgunned weddings, promises of child support.

Behind barricaded doors, my sons celebrate their success. This is how you start a dynasty, one says over dinner.

A kingdom, says the next, then corrects himself. A franchise.

In a world that’s dying, says the third, isn’t this all sort of beautiful?

What possible answer but this, these childbirths swelling this town with red-headed babies, with fiery scalps waiting for the state-razor, whole streets lined with my sons’ progeny, with their strong genes wiping out the faces of their children’s mothers in deference to their own perfect jawlines.

How many babies are born before we realize that all their children are boys? That now women are the past, thanks to my one-note issue, to their deadly sperm making deadly pregnancies, taking each of their partners the way of their own mother: blood-wet, breath-gasped, split-wombed, never to recover from the makings of their children.

Now all these babies left behind. Now only me and my three sons, only us four shut-ins against a town full of adultered widowers, of angry fathers parading our yard with my many grandsons in tow.

Now the first babies being left on our doorstep. Now all the rest, following soon after.

Now my walking out onto the front porch to see the rows and rows of abandoned twins and triplets, the exponential crop of my seed.

What loud reverberance of hunger-cries they make! What diaper-complaints! What pain, what suffering, and amid it my boys, still unfeeling for what they have done!

What else to do but to lead outside these three useless fathers, these three no-use sons of mine?

What next but to make them take up the scythe and the shovel?

What point was there in anything else? What good fathering could boys as bad as they possibly do?

So at last their lesson in how to reap. And how to sow. And how, when there is nothing left, to plow it back under.


Recent Fiction from The Fanzine:

“The Odditorium” by Melissa Pritchard

“Identical City” by Joshua Cohen

“The H Word” by Carlos Kotkin

Paintings by Joshua Hagler:

Page One:
“Descent into Wilderness”
oil on canvas
92 x 78 in.

Page Two:
“The Assassination”
oil, moths on canvas
72 x 120 in.