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Rats // Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois


I came as a convict. Typhoid followed me. I was recruited to be a rat hunter. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I was good at it. I found a vicious, sharp-nosed dog. No rat could escape us. I hauled my full gunny sack down to Town Hall. The government paid by the rat. The mayor shook my hand. His hand was soft. I’d put a dead rat up my sleeve. It worked its way into our hand shake. He screamed like a little girl.

I opened the first Irish bar in town. I married an Irish girl with white skin and flaming red hair. I drank too much. So did she. I was dishonest in all my dealings.

The mayor had it in for me. He wasn’t the forgiving type. The sheriff was his rat catcher. He threw me in gaol. My businesses went bankrupt.

I got out and hunted down my sweet Sioban. The years had not been kind to her. They hadn’t been kind to me either. We still fit together, like man and wife.


The crocodiles swim just off the coast, like all the misdeeds of my past looking to bite me, to pull me down, drown me, cache me in a cave where I can decompose and marinate for a while.

No one can swim in that ocean. My regrets won’t leave me alone.

Someone told me that forgiveness was what life was all about, meaning wisdom. They said you had to forgive yourself before you could forgive anyone else.

There are toxic jellyfish in these waters that can immobilize you, sting you to death. I wonder if they have a pact with the crocs to share the booty. Some animals work like that.

The alcoholic’s prayer is supposed to be useful. It’s short. I ought to be able to remember it.


Work by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois appears in magazines worldwide, including TL;DR. Nominated for numerous prizes, he was awarded the 2017 Booranga Centre (Australia) Fiction Prize. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and as a print edition. His poetry collection, THE ARREST OF MR. KISSY FACE, published in March 2019 by Pski’s Porch Publications, is available here. Visit his website to read more of his poetry and flash fiction.

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