The Modern Man by Sean Lovelace

The Modern Man came off the mountain and started tussling. He tussled the local farmers, then the villagers, then the vagabonds. He tussled the whitetail deer and the windmills and the field oxen and a cold, gray bomb (remnant of some lost war) found crouched in a hay field. He tussled all day and night, hardly ever sleeping, his eyes two red, roaring cyclones. Sometimes he would strip off his clothing and run naked through the forest, ripping at limbs, clawing at tree bark. Other times he would leap into the ocean, to swim against the tide until he sank to the bottom and was washed ashore. Flailing at the sand. Twisting in coils of seaweed. Spitting and hacking, he would bellow. Would yelp and fling himself into deep crevasses, to tumble in the dark. His skull felt delirious. The sun prickled his skin. His nostrils flared with earth and stone. He ran and ran and ran, the wind gnashing his ears. His world was rent and bent by tussling, but the impulse seemed the essence of the Modern Man—he couldn’t stop. He tussled the elderly, children, babies, dogs, tigers, water buffalo, birds, boulders, reptiles, wolves, horses, and gods. He even tussled with his own mind, asking, Why am I? Who am I here? What is all of this about? Then finally, after so many days, he looked closely at his hands—cracked and cut and hard with callouses—and staggered to his knees and muttered, “I am so tired. I must find something else to do.” A stray kitten rubbed against his leg. He petted the animal and then tied it to a large, homemade kite. He flew the kite into a sky of billowy clouds (the kitten mewling) and took a photo with his phone. The Modern Man put the photo on the Internet. People liked it.

Sean Lovelace works in flash fiction and hybrid fiction and nonfiction. He has won several awards. He is the author of Fog Gorgeous Stag and They Could No Longer Contain Themselves. His next book is about Velveeta. He teaches creative writing at Ball State University.

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