Fire and Milk

by Andrew Rhodes

The Civil War was a very frightening event. It was the first ancient modern war of our time, and those involved experienced shortages of foods like milk. Some of the soldiers had nothing to their names but their guns and the Bibles they carried. They were probably very confused.

I was enjoying a quiet evening at home, reading about the Civil War, when Michael Douglas walked in. That’s right. Michael Douglas walked into my house. His silver hair was slicked back flawlessly. Without provocation, he started talking about the wildfires in California. “You can’t imagine,” he said. “The suffering. The devastation.”

I approached him. “Excuse me…Mr. Douglas. Oh my God. I’m such a huge fan, but what are you…?”

“But ask yourself,” Michael Douglas continued, ignoring me, “what do we really know about fire? It’s elemental makeup? How many molecules are in a spark?”

“Well. Fire gives us heat,” I said.

Michael Douglas smiled. “That’s right, friend. Fire gives us heat. And you know what else it does? It makes my damn throat dry.”

Michael Douglas was a fire eater. I realized Michael Douglas needed something to drink, so I ran to the fridge and poured a glass of milk. I gave it to Michael Douglas and he took a long gulp, and when he brought the cup away from his face, milk was on his lips and nose and dripping from his chin.

Michael Douglas smiled at me. “You know what they say. Milk always brings milk.”

Those words sounded so beautiful coming from Michael Douglas, and I kept saying them to myself after he left.

Later I suddenly realized it was a quote—but from where, exactly? The Bible? The Greeks? Stephen King? I don’t know where I’ve seen it, but I’m certain it’s written. Somewhere these words are written: “The harvest has ended, the summer has passed, and we are not saved. The righteous perish, the rivers turn to blood. But above all things, milk always bringeth milk.”

Andrew Rhodes is a fiction writer from Mississippi. His stories have appeared, or are forthcoming, in publications such as New World Writing, Gravel, upstreet, The Laurel Review, Star 82 Review, Crack the Spine, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Punchnel’s, and Crime Factory.