by Brett Biebel
Two weeks after Mom left, my brother and I caught three frogs out near the lake. We named them Buddy Hoppy, Ribbit Valens, and The Big Hopper, and my brother taped them to this model airplane he’d got for Christmas like three years before. It was a P-40 Warhawk. He still had some of the glue. We climbed out the bathroom window and onto the roof sometime after Dad fell asleep, or maybe he was just lying on the floor watching TV, I don’t know.
“Say a prayer, Asshole,” said my brother, but I couldn’t think of any just then, so I said the names of stars, only I didn’t know many of those either.
“Beetle Juice,” I think I said. “Alpha Centauri,” and then the plane was in the air. It didn’t exactly fly. More like it spun and flipped like a football and rammed into this big tree we had to cut down a couple years later, and then we climbed back in through the window and ran downstairs to scope the wreckage. My brother had a lighter. He said we were going to make a pile out of the rubble and then add newspapers and gasoline until the blaze got good and popping, and then we’d cook the frogs on it. We were going to camp out. We were going to eat frog legs, but then we got there, and we could only find two bodies. They were pretty smashed up. We looked for Buddy Hopper for an hour, or maybe it was Ribbit Valens, but we never found him, and, in the end, we buried the other two under the tree. My brother made me dig the hole. I had blisters for a week. He just sat there, opening and closing the lighter and talking like a math teacher. Like a cop. He kept telling me, over and over, how there wasn’t no way the other one was alive, and listen, he said, a crash like that leaves no man behind.
BRETT BIEBEL teaches writing and literature at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. His short fiction has appeared in numerous outlets, including SmokeLong Quarterly, Hobart, Witness, and Cease, Cows, and been selected for the Best Small Fictions anthology and Wigleaf’s annual “Top 50 Very Short Fictions.” 48 Blitz, his collection of flash fiction, is available from Split/Lip Press.