Zebulon Huset


We plotted murder with red saucer sleds slung under our arms. The details changed each time we trudged up the hill. A brick, a knife, a samurai sword, a trained ten-point buck with a taste for human blood, plastic explosives wrapped around a spark plug even though we were pretty sure, even at our tender ages, that it couldn’t be that simple. Sometimes we’d climb the back fence, mace the dog. Usually we’d lure him off with a steak, feeling bad about thinking we could mace a dog even in the murder scenario. More often though, there was no dog. Sometimes it was a penthouse, an underground fortification, a jungle island. There was always some Macguffin or other to keep us this side of evil.

We planned heists as we rode bikes through the forest or along rivers. Creeks were the best because the paths weren’t paved and wore wild in places. Sometimes it was ski masks and home invasion on some sonuvabitch drug dealer that did drive-bys. Or the bank that laundered the cartel’s money. One time a blood diamond mine which was eerily reminiscent of the underground fortification hit job, and we stopped our planning for awhile. Rode in silence. I’m not sure exactly what it was, I know his uncle had died earlier in the spring, but they weren’t close that I knew of. I was burned out after the morbidity of the winterlong trail of terror we’d left in our imaginary wake.

We attended funerals as we cruised through high school. There was syntax and cosine and proofs and Australopithecus and morning announcements over the intercom with more bad news. Once, a kid fell asleep at the wheel, the two buddies in the backseat had no chance once the car started flipping. Three suicides spaced out, and one tucked in just before what to most was graduation. Two by bullet, two by rope and oak, both of which were celebrating being newly single teenagers. One got electrocuted in the bath and the family insisted it was an accident, so it was an accident. One drowned while drunken cliff diving. We didn’t see each other as much as life trounced along and we quit our fantasy criminal life. One kid was hiking and a huge pine cone fell on his head just right and that was lights out for him. A pine cone. That’s up there with the kid at my cousin’s school who got bit by a poisonous frog doing Habitat for Humanity. No one stopped driving or hiking. The park service chained off the cliff and now kids swing from the chain before jumping off the cliff into the river. No one stopped riding in cars. Kids still volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. The sun rises.


Zebulon Huset teaches a community creative writing class in San Diego. He received his MFA from the University of Washington, and his writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Southern Review, The New York Quarterly, The North American Review, and The Portland Review. He publishes a writing prompt blog here.