portion of the artwork for Trevor J. Houser's fiction

Cuernavaca, 1954
Trevor J. Houser

In an arroyo surrounded by volcanoes my great uncle had dinner under a vast, star-sprayed sky. There were thirty men around a long table. The table had a white tablecloth and fine china on it. The men ate things they shot that morning. There was quail, pheasant, wild boar, goose, rabbit, and dove. When they were done eating what they shot they retired to big burlap tents. They lit pipes and wrote letters to ex-wives and people named Archibald. Everywhere in Cuernavaca there were volcanoes and people with mustaches. It was autumn, but warm. My great uncle’s friend Jim Armstrong brought a bottle of scotch to my great uncle’s tent. They talked about Hong Kong and textile companies they owned. The air smelled like volcanic ash and quail.

“I think I saw my dead wife by one of the volcanoes today, my great uncle said.

“Hm,” Jim Armstrong said.

“Did you see any dead wives where you were?”


They finished the rest of the bottle.

“I’m going into the desert now,” my great uncle said.

Jim Armstrong watched my great uncle walk out of the tent into darkness that smelled like tequila and gunpowder. The darkness was almost a different kind of darkness that is hard to explain.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 35 | Winter 2012