Mar/Apr 2020 • Vol. XLII No. 2 The Unexpected |

Cold War Kirby

I bought Imani a green anole with some money I earned shoveling snow. She named him Gex. He was ribs-thin with a needle-sharp nose and turned brown or green whenever the mood struck him. After school we tossed twigs and bark into his hand-me-down, waterless fish tank, laughing as he dodged the falling debris. Until the day Imani dropped in a half-dead daddy longlegs. Gex, in a gruff, estranging voice said, “What the hell is this?” “It’s a spider, Gex, for dinner,” Imani replied in the same way she spoke to the characters on DuckTales. Gex turned to me expectantly, and when I decided to leave it between the two of them, he sighed. Then Gex rolled his lizard eyes and turned softly back to Imani. “Awweee, thank you, Imani,” he said. “But I don’t really like spiders very much.” Then he glanced back at me. I hated when people spoke down to Imani like she was a baby. And I wasn’t overjoyed with Gex’s boldness in selecting food. I imagined him coaxing Imani into

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Joseph Earl Thomas is a writer from Northeast Philly, whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Apiary, Philadelphia Printworks, and The Offing. A memoirist and poet, he also wonders how things might have gone had he fallen in love with hominids first, and so writes speculative fiction only by the night. He is currently working on two book-length projects: Sink, a memoir about coming of age as an undereducated blerd in the city, and a fantasy novel, The Gift From Alondria.

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