Excerpt from 'HALCYON, NM'

The sun had barely risen and already folks were gathering. One by one, men and women entered the town square, hardly believing the sight before them. Mothers covered their children’s eyes. There were gasps of surprise. Quiet whispers grew into a hushed babble. Which sight was most gruesome? That was in the eye of the beholder. No one had to guess twice that the five corpses lying in a row next to the car dealership was the Collins family. The statue of conquistador Don Juan de Oñate that stood in the center of the town square had impaled a body with its long spear. It was no question that the body resembled Mayor Wesley Morales.

            “The person responsible ought to be arrested!” screamed Morales from the front of the crowd.

            “Is this someone’s idea of a joke?” shouted another bystander.

“Floyd’s place! Look, it’s on fire!”

What appeared to be a human figure was sprawled halfway out the painted doorway of Floyd’s. It was a small figure with fluffy white hair sticking up in every direction. The figure was clutching at his chest. But there was no smoke choking anyone’s lungs. The flames were instead painted on the brick surface of Beal’s Credit Union, upon which each pair of eyes was now staring. Floyd’s Pub, owned by longtime resident Floyd Mercer, was ablaze in spiraling hues. Hungry, the flames spread from painted building to building: Boyd’s Grocery, Parnell and Sons Automotive, Collins Toyota, each building a real business. But it didn’t stop there. The mural spread from end to end of Beal’s, depicting the entire town of Halcyon, New Mexico up in flames.

            Floyd Mercer stared the longest at the painting. His eyes roved from each burning building, recognizing the swirling arcs of color, and praying his fear wasn’t justified. He knew the pattern of the painting well. He knew the painter. His eyes locked upon the lower left hand corner of the mural.

 He dropped to his knees.

            “No, it can’t be...”

            It was. Partially obscured by at least twenty empty cans of spray paint lying on the ground was a signature: Erik Jonson.


Thanks for reading this excerpt. If you’d like to read the rest of the story, please email me at brian.beneventi@gmail.com.

I'm currently submitting this story for publication. Look for the entire story in an upcoming literary journal.