This is our axe swinger, Galen. After coming home from work one evening Galen found his wife Marguerite and first-born Ella dead. An unlikely breeze had blown in form their kitchen window and extinguished the flame of their 1936 magic-gas stove 1000. The stove had been a recent addition to their remade kitchen; ‘it has character’ she’d say. While reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,for what must have been the eighth or ninth time, Marguerite was lulled to sleep by a dangerous combination of carbon monoxide and the honeyed wisdom of Maya Angelou.


The happenings of that day changed Galen in an instant. Every conviction about good and bad, right and wrong, trust, justice, and faith had splintered into indistinguishable fragments as unintelligible as the scene before him. In disbelief Galen began walking aimlessly. He snapped. Galen began to suffer hallucinations. Everything took on a wood-like appearance. He saw knots in the eyes of passers by, in the wheel wells of vehicles. His corduroy pants transformed into strips of bark, hands resembled the leafless branches of late autumn trees, and wrinkles on the face of the elderly became growth rings. This was not the worst of it. Unfortunately for Galen and every person and object within a three block radius, his hallucinations were accompanied by and irrepressible urge to chop. The emotions within fed on the passing time.


Galen took a deep breath. He knew his attempt to settle himself would fail, but he had to try. Being aware of the passion taking over and the common sense slipping away, Galen wept. He wept for his lost loves, for himself, and for the horrible events that would soon arise. Galen’s disorganized thinking steered him to the closest hardware store where he purchased a 2-½ pound axe. Upon exiting the store Galen was met with the same breeze that had extinguished the flame of his gas stove, only this time carrying the aroma of red cedar. The air moistened his palate and filled his lungs. He was intoxicated, and Galen began to chop. He chopped cars, he chopped the sidewalk, and he chopped people. Galen was arrested and charged with more crimes then he realized. He plead not guilty by reason of insanity. When asked if he had any words for the court before him, Galen stood up, thought briefly of the events of the past month, and said, “what else could I have done?” Galen spent the next 5 years in prison rubbing two lead pipes together, swearing to himself he could create fire.  As the legend goes, a fire originating from Galen’s cell burnt down the prison, which incarcerated him. No one has heard form Galen since.



- Daniel Embaye