The Iowa Review - - CONTENTS - Mikko Har­vey

The charm­ing man from Ok­la­homa had sym­pa­thy for the shy boys of Amer­ica. It’s not wrong to be quiet, he said, but it is wrong to feel si­lenced. A semi­cir­cle of faces nod­ded.

The pro­gram the charm­ing Ok­la­homan de­vel­oped also con­ve­niently ad­dressed the un­sta­ble neigh­bor­hood rab­bit pop­u­la­tion. It went like this: —Hire a man with traps. —Catch a bunch of rab­bits. —Rent a cabin in the woods. —Bring a troop of shy boys. —Re­lease the rab­bits. —Have the boys hunt them. —Kill as many as you can. —Don’t let the boys use guns. —Teach them how to break necks with their hands. —When night comes, col­lect the dead. —If a boy wants to eat what he’s killed, fine, cook it. —If not, dis­pose of the bod­ies dis­creetly. —Re­turn the boys to their fam­i­lies.

The man was con­fi­dent in his meth­ods. True, killing rab­bits was not ex­actly ad­mirable, but nei­ther was wast­ing your own life too ner­vous to grab life prop­erly. He ex­plained this phi­los­o­phy —which he called ex­treme ex­po­sure ther­apy— over din­ner to his mus­cu­lar teenage daugh­ter, who said, Cool, and chewed a chunk of potato.

The charm­ing Ok­la­homan had no idea he had just set a se­ries of events in mo­tion. He couldn’t have guessed how deep the need in th­ese boys went. He didn’t know they would grow de­pen­dent, seek out rab­bits on their own to calm their fray­ing nerves, stran­gle rab­bits to steady

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