canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999


by Bruce Holland Rogers

The elder son went before his father and said unto him, "Let me go to the concert next Saturday, for the band is to be Good Charlotte."

And the Old Man said, "Who are you to go to any concert on Saturday when you have been grounded two weeks? And why is the lawn, which ought to have been mowed yesterday, still untouched by any blade?"

And in the morning at breakfast, the father could not drink of his coffee for it tasted of rust, and he complained bitterly to his wife.

And the son said, "Did I not ask you to let me go to the concert? Now the water is turned to rust."

But the fatherís heart was hard, and he said unto the mother, "Run the cold water a bit to clear the pipes before you make coffee."

And in the evening of the same day, when the father put his feet up to read the paper, there arose a great cry from the living room. "What in Godís name?" said the father, and went to see his wife who stood pointing at a frog on the coffee table.

And the younger son was called to make an account of the frog, and he was made to take it back outside and not to bring it again into the house.

And the older son said, "Did I not ask you to let me go to the concert?"

And the next morning, there arose again a great cry, this time from the bathroom where the mother was combing the hair of the younger son. "Lice again?" said the father. "They need to fumigate those kids. I have had it about up to here with that school!"

And the older son said, "It is not the school that keeps me from going to the concert."

But the fatherís heart was hard, and he gave his son such a look.

And in the evening of the same day, the father said, "Who left the screen door standing open? The house is full of flies!"

And the son said, "Let me go to the concert, for all the guys will be there and I alone of all the guys will not."

And the father said, "You should have thought of that before you went and got yourself grounded."

And upon the morning of the next day, the car would not start, and the father tried to get a ride from a neighbor, but the neighborís car also was afflicted.

And the father said, "I guess I will have to take the bus."

And the mother said, "Wait a second. Whatís that on your nose? Honey, youíve got a pimple."

And the father said, "I know, I know. At my age."

And the sky darkened, and there was hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it upon the land since last summer.

And the hail smote the windshield of the car that would not start.

And the son said, "Let me go to the concert, else, if you refuse me, I will this afternoon bring locusts into the house."

But the father made no answer, and when he returned at the end of the day, on the kitchen counter he found empty milk jugs, cookie packages, yogurt cups, ice cream cartons, soda cans, and candy wrappers, and all the fruit was gone from the crisper.

And the mother said, "If you wanted to make it a rule that he couldnít have his friends over after school, you should have spelled that out when you grounded him."

And that night, which was to be a night of watching television as a family, a thick darkness befell the room and they saw not one another nor the TV, and the mother said, "Looks like the whole neighborhood is out."

And the son said, "Let me go to the concert, for I am bored out of my skull and have suffered punishment enough."

But the father said, "Pester me no more on this and take heed to thyself; ask not again, for in that hour you ask me again, from that hour will you be grounded until your eighteenth birthday."

And upon the morning of the Saturday, the son had such a headache, like unto death, and he moaned most grievously not for himself, but for the suffering of his parents who must mourn his passing in the knowledge that it had been in their power to grant him a dying wish, yet they had refused.

But the fatherís heart was harder than the heart of Pharaoh.

And it came to pass that the son listened to the songs of Good Charlotte on his iPod alone in his room, and he did not die.



Stories by Bruce Holland Rogers have won a Pushcart Prize, the World Fantasy Award, and two Nebula Awards, among other honors. He teaches fiction writing for the Whidbey Writers low-residency MFA, and also teaches writing seminars in Greece ( and Italy ( Subscribers from all over the world receive his newest stories by e-mail. See He recently lived near the St. Clair subway station in Toronto, but now resides in Eugene, Oregon.







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