The Prey – a short story by Donna Walker-Nixon

The Prey

Dürer never saw a rhinoceros
Based on an Indian’s verbal description
He created wooden plates of body armor.

An old aggressive black rhino attacks the old man who sees his reflection in the bathroom mirror. Like the artist, he has never viewed a rhino, and he repeats, “Put on the whole breastplate of Christ’s armor, so you may be able to stand against the hoary devil’s wiles.”

A boy paid $350,000 to the Safari Club of Dallas. Once that old man could have been that boy, planning one last safari to Leopold’s Dark Continent. Now blood connect-the-dots toilet paper masks nicks on his chin.

A tiger shark once circled him when he lost his balance and fell into crystal blue waters on an Iron-Man John bonding experience he took his son white water rafting in Australia. He winced and pretended to feel no pain from the nine stitches that reattached a patch of his flapping mouth to his body.

Now he must satisfy himself through memories. His acne scars turn pink and red. Coumadin thins his blood to the texture of a bloody Mary.

He hallucinates that the dik-dik over his office toilet has come back to life. Naked he runs to the office, with its statues and heads from a life long past. He fancies himself as Ulysses when he tells Diane he will embark on one more jaunt to allusive rhino. He finds the name of the safari club in the Yellow Pages and still buck naked, he writes a check and snubs out the cunt of his unlit cigar in one of three elephantine ashtrays scattered around the office.

Once he had an executive washroom where he seduced underlings who he enchanted as he sought human prey while associates noted, “Strike another one up for wily Will.” Others fell prey to his demands. One bought a $300 cocktail dress she could not afford. Young teens in his junior high Sunday School at 1stPres also swayed to his demands.

In the inner sanctum of his home office the maid passes over moulting species of stuffed animals from Jurrassic Park II. She told other maids in other homes. For him, one day merged into the next, then the next, and finally all the nexuses he’d ever need.


The bitter pill of failure delineated his daddy’s wrinkled chin and turkey neck. He worked long hours at the cotton gin to keep the family treading polluted water. Enough is enough, he told himself, and signed up to be a campus boy at the women’s academy, where with other campus boys he lived at The Shack on the second floor of the carpenter’s shop. He unloaded coal from rail cars, milked cows, and performed duties deemed unacceptable for females.

With most of the other boys, he finished his studies at Baylor and immediately signed up for the army, where he wanted to bring back to life charred remains of Jewish prisoners. He returned from Dachau a war-weary man.

He died, alone nude in his office, tamping an unlit cigar into an elephant foot ashtray while Diane practiced advanced yoga poses. She had no use for his trophies, and for a hefty tax write-off she donated them to his university. Her only dictate: the stuffed creatures remain on display for students to view for fifteen years.

The university placed his prey willy-nilly in a musty classroom in the library, next to the copy machine Mac and Clyde used to print syllabi and other documents. Once a young assistant professor of Romantic poetry brushed against scaly patches where the dik-dik had moulted like a cat with dandruff. She paraphrased Wordworth, “The child becomes the father of the man.”

Donna Walker-Nixon founded Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature in 1997. She co-edited the Her Texas series with James Ward Lee, and she co-founded The Langdon Review of the Arts in Texas. In 2010, her novel Canaan’s Oothoon was published. And she was the editor of  Her Texas: Story, Image, Poem & Song.

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