He Heard a Crack

He heard a crack — soft,
quiet, almost imperceptible.
He was out on the trail. It
could have been anything,
say the sound of a piece of
dead, dry cactus being step-
ped on by a coyote. He was
sitting at home. It could
have been anything, say the
sound of the dog’s knees
when he rose. He was lying
in bed. It could have been
anything, say the sound of
someone stepping on a twig
while walking past the open
window. He could have been
anywhere and it could have
been anything, say the soft,
cracking sound in the fragile
fabric of a democratic re-
public made under the first
step of the descending heel
of the boot of tyranny.

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