If I remember correctly, this was the first piece of fiction I had published in print (other than stuff in my high school’s literary magazine). InkPot was published by Beverly Jackson, and was always a thing of beauty. Myfawny Collins was the editor who accepted this piece, and man, was I pumped.
As he smoked, a red-shafted flicker hammered away at the top of a barren hemlock. Rapidfire bangbangs echoed off the low-hanging cavey clouds. Drawing on the zigzag, he thought back to the last time they’d had sex. His mind wanted to correct himself, to say made love, but he knew it wasn’t true. How long had it been? More than months.
The flicker kept banging away, seeking the elusive grub. Everything fast–sudden resolution. At least the flicker, once it found a grub, still wanted another. Not so for her. She always raced to her one orgasm, seeking the coda, willing herself done and out of the bed. Away from him.
He wished the flicker were closer, so he could see the ooze of the grubs on the woodpecker’s beak. He craved the gore, the signs of life that he never saw seeping from her. God forbid there should ever be a wet spot. Condoms, always condoms, and those often empty when peeled away. He knew why, of course. The excuses of the pill doing funny things to her body, of not trusting other methods were all alibis against the truth—she needed a wall between them, even if only one of thin latex.
The last bit of nicotine scraped into his lungs, he stubbed the butt out with the toe of his shoe. The flicker, apparently satisfied with its meal, took wing.