What a Badger Might Say If You Met Him Down a Dark Alley One Night in May

by Rowan MacDonald

I met the badger on a cold night in May, in the cobblestone alley two streets down from the Rose and Crown. I needed to pee after too many pints of the Crown’s finest and knew my bladder wouldn’t survive a journey to the nearest taxi rank. The alley was deserted and poorly lit, with overflowing dumpsters from Italian restaurants like Franco’s and Alessio’s. I found a quiet spot beside one of the dumpsters and relieved myself, all while trying to navigate my shoes around the realization that liquid flows downhill.

“That’s disgusting,” I heard from nearby shadows. “I almost stepped in that!”

Needless to say, I was embarrassed and startled by the sounds of a thick West Country accent, the type you might find on a farm in Somerset barking instructions to a sheepdog.

“I didn’t think anyone was here,” I said.

And that’s when he revealed himself.

He strolled out from behind a dumpster, standing on hind legs, and glared at me. It was the kind of unimpressed look one may have seen from their mother during childhood, when she discovered you smashed the bathroom window with a football one Sunday afternoon. He was wearing a stylish purple waistcoat, complete with an antique pocket watch.

“I like your pocket watch,” I said to the badger, hoping to break the mood.

He seemed pleased and rubbed it with his paw.

“It’s a family heirloom,” he replied. “It was handed down from my great-grandfather.”

“Well, it’s very impressive,” I continued. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m in town for business,” he explained.

“Oh, I see,” I said. “You should be careful with that watch. There are lots of unsavory types around.”

“Yeah, like those that urinate in alleys,” he laughed.

I stood there wrapping my head around the fact I was talking to a badger. What does one even ask a badger? What business was he in town for on this cold night in May? I remembered a childhood spent watching The Animals of Farthing Wood, which featured a badger who befriended a mole.

“Do you like moles?” I asked.

“Do you need a melanoma check?” he asked with concern.

“No, I had one of those,” I laughed. “I meant the wee burrowing moles.”

I simulated a mole wriggling through dirt by crouching and rolling haphazardly through discarded newspapers and litter.

“Ha! That’s karma,” he laughed, pointing to the fact I just rolled in some of my own urine.

“My wife is going to kill me,” I sighed.

“Does this happen a lot?” he smiled.

“No, it’s actually the first time I’ve met a badger,” I explained.

“No, rolling in urine, you duffer,” he laughed. “Is your wife pretty?”

“Yes, she’s very beautiful,” I said. “Do you have a wife?”

“I’m widowed,” he replied. “It’s actually the reason for my business trip.”


“Yes, I’m here to track down the man who ran her over,” he clarified.

The badger slowly pulled a small knife from one of the pockets on his little waistcoat.

“This is a family heirloom too,” he smiled.

“It seems you have inherited many nice things,” I commented.

“Well, yes,” he reflected. “But only because all my family are dead.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“But are you really?” he pressed. “Because you lot continue driving fast cars, building roads, and constructing new houses.”

“This is true,” I sighed.

“Where are we meant to fit into all that?” he asked.

“You have a point,” I agreed.

“No, mate, I have a pocket watch and a switchblade,” he said. “Now, how about you take me to the town planner, by way of prick with the blue sports car?”

A collage with a bright blue background featuring a black-and-white 360 view of a room from above with the words "Is there intelligent life on earth?" printed at the top.

Is There Intelligent Life on Earth

by Jeff Hersch

Rowan MacDonald lives in Tasmania with his dog, Rosie. His writing has previously appeared in White Wall Review, Miracle Monocle, Sheepshead Review, Defunkt Magazine, FLARE: The Flagler Review and Stereo Stories. His work has also been adapted into short film by New Form Digital.

Jeff Hersch provides analog collages for the modern being. Like his thoughts, these pieces are often constructed in short, frantic spurts of energy, with bursts of self-doubt, though calm and subtle. Also like his thoughts, these pieces represent everyday observations and conclusions about the vast world that erratically suffocates us, with little time for a quick escape or chance to relax, as we are currently inhabiting an advanced state of infinite stimulus.

His works lend themselves to your own interpretation of meaning – if any – but should also serve as inspiration and demonstrate the simple notion that you too can and should create something/anything on a regular basis.

When he’s not hunched over his desk cutting and gluing clippings, Hersch finds the time to play in bands (Glazer, Civic Mimic, Postman Agitator) and volunteer as the executive director of Flemington DIY, a non-profit community arts space in the town he grew up in.

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