New Fiction for Bad Survivalist: “The Woodcutter” by Mike Itaya

Bad Survivalist: Mike Itaya

The Woodcutter

In the medieval woods of 1307, a gentle woodcutter and a spinsterly-type lived in a pristine cottage and shared a lonely life together, so lonely that in a moment of fraught miscalculation, the couple agreed to board Trina, a terrible person from Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Trina had a chainsaw tattooed above her bottom, and used “blow the roof off this motherfucker,” as a catchphrase, and repurposed the “welcome” bran muffins to break the only window in the cottage, and generally ignored her suffering lessors—except when the woodcutter taught her to flint a fire, a skillset she immediately used to burn down their pergola.

Having enough, the spinsterly-type suggested the woodcutter take the girl out to the deepest section of the woods, and bury her in a leafy grave. At first, the woodcutter dragged his boots.

“Accountability’s not really my thing,” he said.

An answer his wife found unacceptable: “You sandbagging penis-noodle.”

The woodcutter’s wife was willful, whereas he was not. One year, she cooked lemon pepper chicken for six contiguous months to win a fight he didn’t realize they were having.

The woodcutter soon agreed to his wife’s terms.

The woodcutter, whose heart still wasn’t really committed to murder business, resorted to subterfuge and an Ariana Grande CD to lure the terrible woman from Pascagoula, Mississippi into the deep woods. The two reached a clearing that the woodcutter used to hide from his wife while he pretended to cut wood, but was really drinking the last of their cooking sherry, which tasted pretty terrible.

Trina, having fulfilled her side of the bargain, advised the woodcutter to “Pony up, before I blow the roof off this motherfucker.” She immediately put the Ariana Grande CD into her Discman, and soon was butt-deep into a banger. She danced around the isolated clearing, gyrating her fanny so furiously, that her chainsaw tattoo seemed to the woodcutter to swim in the air. The woodcutter’s vision got blurry, his chest felt volcanic, and his axe slipped out of his hands, falling to the ground shortly before the woodcutter collapsed there.  

Groggily waking up alone in the clearing, the woodcutter understood two things: Trina had stolen his wallet; his murder-mission had gone south.

When the woodcutter returned home to his wife cooking turkey sliders, he played it cool as a cucumber. “I went totally feral out there,” he said, adding a thousand yard stare, which instead made him look like he’d eaten the bran muffins, rather of secreting them in the outhouse as usual. The woodcutter sat in his uncomfortable seat, rotating his wife’s mirthless sliders behind his lips, and he experienced—perhaps for a reason unclear to even himself—a beatific vision from his future exactly as it might occur: a Trina letter posted Key Largo, a pair of purple underwear that smelled like coconuts, palm trees, and freedom, a benediction of gift-panties that he’d stand holding as gently as a newborn babe, holding for so long his wife would certainly spot him and think, Here is a man who will soon know regret.

Mike Itaya lives in southern Alabama, where he works in a library. His work appears or is forthcoming in Oracle Fine Arts Review, The Airgonaut, Bending Genres, decomP Magazine, and Queen Mob’s Teahouse.


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