Frank and Elvis

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
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A music filled road trip to perdition in a Caddy.

Submitted: April 13, 2017

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Submitted: April 13, 2017

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A cool jet of night air rushed in through the wind wing. The breeze calmed Mike’s nerves, and he relaxed for the first time since leaving the valley. He lit another cigarette and shoved the 8-track tape into the player. As he set the cruise control for 70, Mike caught himself smiling in the rear view mirror. The Calais moved like a torpedo toward it’s final destination.

Heading east into the desert, he left L.A. far behind. The sky and the scent of the air changed with every passing mile. Moving along the highway, Mike knew he had changed too. This revelation occurred to him an hour ago when he threw the picnic blanket into the back seat and tossed a can into the trunk. Miles rolled by as the tires hummed along I-10. The instrument gauges’ soft blue green glow reflected off  the chrome radio knobs. Frank sang about flying, the lonely and New York over and over. Mike watched the painted smile of a PSA 727 pass low over him as it made it’s final approach into ONT. He crushed out his smoke in a never-used ashtray, turned up the volume and sang out loud “Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars”.

By 3 A.M. Mike made it to Indio and cut down 86. As he slipped deeper into the Coachella Basin the sharp fishy smell of the Salton Sea fouled the air. Mike stopped in Mecca to get fuel and a pack of smokes. Pulling under the service station's blinking fluorescent light, he caught a glint off the revolver on the seat beside him and decided that the glove box would be a smarter place to keep it for now. He got out and started to fill the tank. A bad bulb flickered and buzzed above him, each time casting a jaundiced light over the island. Mike intercepted the attendant with a wave and an “I got it, thanks.” before he got too close. He then pulled a gallon can from the Caddy’s trunk, filled the container and replaced it. He walked over to the attendant stall, paid the old man a fiver and pocketed the smokes and his Blue Chip stamps. After pulling out he realized he’d forgotten to clean the windshield.

The smeared bug guts made for a glary moon lit night. Mike’s mind was somewhere else as he passed date palm farms and closed roadside stands that sold burgers, fries and date shakes to the tourists during the day. Mike was too busy replaying the night’s drama to notice the scenery. Francis Albert Sinatra crooned on and the night smelled worse.

Mike headed east on Dos Palmas Springs. The Caddy floated over the swells and down into the troughs like a big blue ship. He caught himself believing that he was on the bottom of a great ocean. He could look out and spot long tall sprigs of seaweed, seemingly moving with the night current, and other strange flora one might find in a seascape, then he’d remember why he was here. An hour later he was deep into the Chuckwalla Mountains. He decided it was time for a change. Frank got tossed into the desert night and Elvis was elected to close out the evening.

Mike wasn’t really in the mood for “Love Me Tender”, but he let it play as the Caddy eased over the crest and glided, as only a Caddy can do, down into a deep and narrow valley. The sun would be rising in another hour. He brought the sky-blue tank to a stop. Mike reached across the seat to retrieve his .38 revolver from the glove box and got out of the car. Elvis sang on as Mike grabbed the can of gas and a gym bag from the trunk.

It had been a long night for a man who was used to getting to bed by ten so that he could be at his desk bright and early to prepare for the day’s class. But the school year ended a week ago and this was his vacation. He never intended for it to start this way, but here he was.

Mike opened the right rear passenger door and pulled the red picnic blanket off the still-breathing child molester. The man’s blackened eyes opened slowly and immediately caught Mike’s cold stare. He made a feeble attempt to plead with his kidnapper, but only succeeded in gurgling something incoherent. Mike lifted the can and rapped it a few times on the inside of the door jamb, each time sloshing a bit of gas out the top. The man jerked awake again and weakly thrashed about losing even more blood through the multiple .38 caliber holes in his body. He kept thrashing while Mike washed down the Caddy's interior. The young teacher tossed the empty can on to the child molester's chest and smiled at him when he pulled out his trusty old Zippo lighter. Elvis hit his stride with “Viva Las Vegas” and Mike joined in at the chorus as he flipped the lighter open. Elvis was about to leave the building.


Mike never thought about it again; the beating, the slow reload, the pleading, the screams or that drive through the smelly desert with Frank and Elvis.


© Copyright 2017 R.Guy Barringer. All rights reserved.

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