Whenever I think of this story, I get a funny feeling. A bad, funny feeling that makes me want to go and read the story again and prolong that bad, funny feeling. A man buys a little man in a cage and keeps him like a pet, and Bender pushes this scenario to its extremes, exploring our darkness and our innocence at more or less the same time. I can’t tell you how much I love this story – and the reason I can’t tell you is because I worry about what that says about me.
First published in Tin House, Fall 2004. Collected in Willful Creatures, Doubleday, 2005/Windmill Books, 2013