Patrick Swaney

The tumble of drinks and conversation is enough to wake me. The man and his pet possum are back on my porch. This is the third night in a row. I’m carrying my flashlight. I flip the outside switch anyway, with what I hope is authority, and the porch goes quiet. Somehow I feel like I’m interrupting. The possum is in my rocking chair, his tail wrapped around a cigarette. He smokes casually. The man clutches to the railing nearly upside down. I squint at the scene. The amount of scotch left in the bottle tells me it’s late. It’s late, I say, I was sleeping. I ask the man and his possum to leave. The man tries to answer but his upside down words come out garbled. The possum gives me a glowing look that tells me they will not. I point the flashlight at each of them, but the effect is lost in the illuminated porch. Come on, I say, this is unreasonable. But the possum is unflappable. He takes a drag off his cigarette and pours the last of the scotch. A breeze comes up ticking the tall grass against the railing. The man sways a little. The possum offers me the drink. I decline. All I want is my bed. This is the last time, I tell them, as I latch the screen door. But no one believes me.

Patrick Swaney grew up in Michigan. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in the Indiana Review, Conduit, and Redivider among others.