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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chuck wants to fly. But everybody and everything in the Nevada desert has conspired to keep him on the ground. Now, at 25, he's pissed.



a short story by Anisse Rezzak




It’s hot. Unbearably. 

But I bear it. I have to, cos I cannot stay one more day with Harris under the same roof. Fuck Him. And fuck mum too I guess... He does.

I don’t like it, not one bit. If I had the guts I would shoot him. The guts and the money. I know this much now, since I first took a glance at gun prices. I don’t even have that little.


So I’m painting the school walls. It’s 2pm on a sunday, in august. In Nevada. And for some reason, we have to be out like an egg on the frying pan. Me and Luis that is. Spending the whole afternoon burning my eyes with my face next to that blinding white paint in the sunny desert.

Luis thinks he is funny. Well he was, the first day, when he laid out all his jokes on me. They were actually good. I should have seen it coming, at four pm that day, when he made the same joke he did 6 hours before. I hadn’t noticed the pattern yet.


Now I know it all too well. It’s music to my ears, that and the humming in the sky. The base is somewhere in Lincoln County. I was obsessed with it as a kid. I never got in, of course. Air shows at best, like everyone in this town. I wanted to fly those goddamn planes.


Everyone in my family thought I would. No, they told me I would. They should have told me the truth. That I was too stupid to get the grades. When I got my graduation, it was worth as much as the shirt I have on now. It’s Tesco - my mum got it one day that I had stained myself right before we went to see grandpa. She said I had to be clean to show him respect. He’s a veteran. So we showed him respect, the one he wanted. And he gave her cash.

So when I got my degree, the day I went to show him respect in that navy blue Tesco shirt, he told me I should join. I told him I wasn’t interested. I told him I wanted to fly.


“If you can’t fly, you sail, if you can’t sail, you drive, and if you can’t drive you walk.” In that order. 

I said “No grandpa, I only want to fly”

“He wants to fly dad”

“Well try it from the Hoover Dam”

“Dad come on”


It’s funny how some lines stick. 


One that didn’t is when I said I wasn’t high. 

The plan was, get a job as a mechanic, then go to some airstrip somewhere and ask to do the same on a plane. Then one day say “hey can you teach me how to fly ?” 

I got the job at Harris’ garage. The one he works at, not his.

That plan tanked at step one. The line didn’t stick. Not one bit. 


The paint does. I should use rubber gloves but it’s too hot. I got sweat dripping out like crazy. Luis wears them ...and a hoodie. It’s like he said to himself: “the struggle is not intense enough. I need intensity. When I tell my rags to riches story on some mexican talk show, the rags part needs to be on point.” 

The problem with a gringo like me, I know that the rags part of those stories is just that. A story. That’s my big problem. I can’t sit and listen and get carried by a story. I hate movies, and I hate tv shows as well. That last part is problematic, I can’t hold a conversation with a girl. Except tell her that I want to fly.


The air is hot, it’s so hot it chokes the shit out of me. “You have a tremendous evening Chuck … tremendous…” That was Luis’s twelfth Trump impression of the day. He got the hand gesture right though. And like that, he went his way.

I have nothing left to do now, and the pay is three days away. Two hundred and twenty dollars that I would have to hide from Harris cos he wants me to pay for the scratch on Mum’s car. 

It’s hot and I feel sick. Not from the stomach though. The head is sore, but it ain’t the head either. I don’t even think it’s the body. It’s like I’ve had too much of something, but I haven’t had anything in abundance. Go figure.


I’m walking past Wendy’s when my battery dies. “I laughed when they asked if my piss clean…” was the last line I heard. It’s gonna stick for the rest of the day I think. 

I wonder if she heard me. I’ve been told I rap too loud with my headphones on. She passes by me and giggles, phone in one hand, strawberry lemonade in the other. She’s a minor.


I started hearing that phrase in my head when I turned twenty-five. Until that day I looked at every girl from any age as if we were in the same school. And as if we were in the same school, they didn’t look back at me. Now I have this strange feeling inside, like I’m dirty or something if I look at a sixteen year old’s thighs. That’s stupid.


So there I am, sitting on the massive sidewalk at the bus stop. I’m not sitting on the bench, it’s metal. The cement is cooler. Stone cold. One day, my battery wasn’t dead when the bus arrived so I was rapping like some asperger dude. That motherfucking bus driver stopped just inches next to me, as if to say “get off the fucking street white boy”. Yeah I know he thought it like that, I know it from how he looks at me. As if I’m the one responsible for him drowning in credit. As if I voted for the Donald. 

I didn’t. But I will next time. Him or anyone that pisses them off.

He will look like shit and speak like a retard, but I will anyway. The black driver’s coming, I gotta get up now.




I gotta get up. Now. But it keeps coming. The motherfucker got some left.

Between the PUMF - PUMF of the punches - that’s how I say it sounds - I can hear mum screaming. Something like “Harris stop !” or I don’t know. That or “finish him”. At this point it doesn’t make a difference. Every word she ever said takes shape now. I never heard them, now I feel them.

It’s no punishment. I know now. 


I know that Harris doesn’t take well when you speak of his mother. I’ve never met her, I just speculated. Harris doesn’t like speculations. He’s some cold facts, hard knock fella from Washoe County. I didn’t this morning, but I know now.


For just a second, I swear I saw the bus driver by the living room door. Laughing.


Some hits sting, others vibrate… There are even some that kind of massage you. Especially now that Harris is starting to run out of breath. He’s all power and no endurance as it turns out. So that’s what she fell for...




It’s heavy. But I can bear it.

Physically I mean. Not legally. Sue me.

This morning the school janitor wanted to pay me in coupons. I said “no way sir, I’m calling the cops”. Like he did on Luis I’m sure, that bastard didn’t come to collect his due. Probably across the border somewhere. When he kind of insisted, I said “I’ll fuck you up!” I always say that. Never been held to my word. But seeing how I look today, maybe I pushed my luck a bit.

Now I have it, in my backpack. One hundred and eighty dollars. Some chinese gun from some chinese guy on Armslist. I told him I just don’t want it to blow up in my face.

I have to get something on the way home. My legs are shaking, I feel empty. Wendy’s. Maybe she’s there. She’ll get it. Her and everyone in there. That’s if there are less than ten people, assuming I’m aiming right.




The beef is juicy as fuck and the cheddar melts in it. So that’s the one day I get lucky with my burger. It actually tastes how it looks. When I got in, I saw those thighs bursting out of a denim short. I really thought it was her. Upon realizing that it meant I would never see her again, I thought about postponing it. But the way the cashier looked at my swollen face, I remembered there ain’t no postponing the point I’m making today.

The kid. He’s running and running around like a madman. So much energy, he must have guzzled up  thirty ounces of refined sugar. His mother is leaning on the white brick wall next to the glass window, in a world where he does not exist. That swiping up gesture… She's looking for some dick on Tinder. I open the app. There she is. Around three point five times better looking on an IPS screen, even with a crack across the face. Kim, thirty four. Thirty four my ass.


The frozen sugar dripping in my oesophagus is like a thousand angels singing to me to reconsider, while stroking me with the AC... I’ll be there in a minute guys. 

The  mustard, ketchup and pickle are too much for my senses. I drop the burger. I can’t concentrate. How can I fire with gastric reflux ? I stop before I’m full. 

And I think. 

Which one should I aim for first ? If I get the mother and her boy at the door, that’ll keep the others from running away. But then some of them would get around the counter and out the kitchen back door. 

The best thing to do would be a combo. Mummy at the door, and a cashier in the same movement. That will send a message. Yeah… I’m not that skillful. And I’ll waste bullets trying to put the kid down if he starts running again. I need to shoot him first while he’s seated.

The air from the AC is penetrating through the back of my T-Shirt and makes it dance above my skin. At least that’s what I imagine from what I feel. 


Another one. Maybe Luis’s mother ? She’s mopping the floor and comes close to hitting my backpack on the floor. Suddenly I fear I’ll get caught, but then I hate myself. I’m not the one who should fear anything. She is. That fat red cheeks and red hat boomer cramming a Dave’s Triple down his throat, he should. The braces wearing girl with her badge that says Liz and her eyes wide open like a cow head in a metal trap, she should. Her and all eight others in the building.

Sheryl Crow is safe though. She’s far away, the speakers membrane barely testifying that she was somewhere sometimes, like it matters. Fuck you Sheryl, I never mattered to you, why should you to me ?

Another bite. Just one. Jesus that’s good. Yeah Jesus… Even farther away than Sheryl.

Damn, another one. A bulky fuck with a Ralph Lauren sky blue polo shirt and a Helly Hansen red bag. I’ll definitely be out of bullets. I have to make choices. He’s on top of the list. No, the kid first, then him. 

It’s got to be now. The bulky fuck is staring at the screens, immersed in the food porn. I’m reaching for the bag and lifting it up. I put my hands in it and take the safety off.




The heavens. It’s not as hot up here, but definitely brighter. I still feel the sting of the bullet, but not today. “Now gently… like that… “verrry” good”

And so “like that”, I “gently” pull the stick: ...more light.

I didn’t feel at ease when I first saw the horse rider and his club embroidered on that beefed up chest. It brought back memories. 




That split second I found myself on the floor as if my legs were cut. The intense migraine, the larsen sound… my body that weighs a ton, the intense burn in my body and the strong smell of whatever flower on the cold and wet freshly mopped floor. I don’t know where I’m hit. I don’t know where I am, if it’s been two seconds or an hour. I just stop feeling the pain for a moment as I’m filled with adrenaline. I just realize I’m not dead. I realize he’s done with me. The kid ain’t running anymore. His mother ain’t swiping. Next to me, the fat guy is below his table. He knows the drill. He’s reciting some Bible stuff, his eyes rolled back, his breath like that of a deer waiting to be put out of his pain. Others below their tables are also waiting for their piece of the action, not wanting to risk going ten seconds before their time and going for the exit. Every second of their lives counts, because it now dawns on all of us : it’s all we have. Seconds, one after the other, until it runs out.


The smell of powder finishes to kick some sense in me. I know where it is. There. I have it in my hand. Before I know it, I’m up. Automatic. Not even thinking about it. Like it’s MY job. Like the angels carry me. They carry my hand also. This hand that was made for jerking now has two pounds of chinese steel firmly gripped. 


He’s not looking at me, he’s next to the frying pan, aiming at someone who can’t afford his polo. I get closer. Carried again. He shoots and shoots, with no expression. Like it’s HIS job.

The echo amplifies my migraine, why do restaurants have such high ceilings ? Trying to take a few steps towards Ralph Lauren, I have this question and a few others like why is blood slippery ? At that moment, while I had other priorities, I told myself, “I have to get out of here and find out”. He looks at the wrapped burger on the stands. That bulky fuck is tempted. It could have been me if had I done it the other way around. Shoot first, eat burgers later. I’ve never been focused. 

He sees me, I try what maybe is a dodge move and end up on the floor. Slippery. The bullet must have been close. I fell on my elbow and the pain is surreal. But the angels, or Sheryl Crow, or whoever but not me, is still holding the Norinco 22 caliber. He’s reloading, confident I’m not going anywhere. I’m raising my hand. He’s so sure of his dominance he doesn’t look at me. Like a girl in high school. He is dead in my sight and for an eternal painless second, I hold my breath and pull the trigger.




When I switch on my phone on the tarmac, I get the same as everyday for the last two weeks. Followers. Job offers. And another message from mum. She says Harris is gone now. I’m not answering. I’m just heading for the maintenance hangar. I got my job now.

And after that, I’ll fly again.


Submitted: March 30, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Anisse Rezzak. All rights reserved.

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