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February 13, 2023


Francis Yasha

(remixed from Inspection, originally published in Sundog Lit)


  1. A modest superhero smells a basil plant growing nearly a mile away. He arrives to the scene in a matter of seconds and asks, “Did I hear myself mentioned?” The basil plant is silent. It has always been silent. The superhero slumps against the wall of the alley, which is blind on one side and open to the street on the other. What was he doing here? God, he could sure use a break. Some people are passing the alley, and with suspicion, they eye the superhero, who freezes mid-gesture, addressing the plant. A dog tears away from the people, freeing his leash from the hands of a girl. “I knew it, I knew it!” cries the girl, running after the dog. The dog stops before the basil plant, tears it from the earth, and begins chewing. A few more chews, and it is nearly gone. The girl takes a deep breath, then begins pummeling the superhero.

  2. A man returns home for the holidays only to discover that he requires surgery, and furthermore, that the surgery must take place immediately, during the holidays in question. “Not to worry,” his doctor informs him at the appointment, “it is a minor surgery, though an incredibly urgent one.” She nods to the man’s sister, then to a potted basil plant situated on the countertop. The man steps over to the plant, lifts it from the counter, then dashes it against the wall. He bends down to sift through the dirt, identifies a small video camera, and flourishes it towards the sister. “Who’s watching?” he asks. “You know exactly who’s watching,” she says, “And for good reason, too.” They turn back to face the doctor, but the doctor has vanished. “Where did she go?” asks the man. “Where did who go?” says the sister, “Anyhow, we’ll miss you at the celebration.”

  3. Every morning before breakfast, a girl steps out to the garden and examines the growth of her basil plant. The girl’s father follows, trotting in the shadow of her form. “Who’s there?” asks the girl, sensing somebody’s presence. She looks around, but the garden is empty. She turns, but the house is empty, too, and the television is on fire. Now there’s a rustle in the garden. The doctor crouches over the herbs, potting them with a trowel. The girl closes the door, sits on the couch, and watches the television burn.