From Free-Range Chickens.


-Thank God. The barrage is finally over.
-How many have perished?
- . . .
-Please, father. I'm old enough to know the truth.
-Thirty-six, son. Thirty-six of our fellow ducks . . . with thirty-six bullets.
-I don't understand. How could the killer have such perfect accuracy?
-Simple. He holds the gun so close to our bodies that it's physically impossible for him to miss us.
-But where's the sport in that?
-It isn't the challenge of the hunt that drives him, son. It's his sick thirst for blood.
-There's more. It is said that the killer . . . is a child.
-I'm just repeating what the elders have said.
-How could a child possibly have so much rage?
-I don't know. He clearly has emotional problems.
-How could his parents allow him to attack us like this, for so many hours a day and so many days in a row?
-They are blind.
-Good Lord . . . I think I hear something!
-It's starting up again.
-I hope he chooses to shoot clay discs this time.
-Hope is a dangerous thing, son.

Excerpted from Free-Range Chickens by Simon Rich Copyright © 2008 by Simon Rich. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.