Reads: 363

The bus beneath him sways and rounds the corner. He watches the sun rise and pops another painkiller. Swallows it with a mouthful of water. Then more water. More water. I should be dead.

Under layers of plastic kitchen wrap and medical tape, the bandages lay soaked against his skin. He wants to hold the wound, scratch away the wrappings. He doesn't dare. Any sign of blood on his clothes and he's done for, that much is for sure. It would be easier to rent a car, less risky. Twenty thousand in bills will pay for whatever he wants, but he resists. He has other plans for it.

The greasy air soaks up the light, filtering from it virgin tones. The smoke, the steam, translates its waves and smears it over asphalt. The city sweats.

Al takes out his new bought smartphone and enters the old numbers. The ones worth keeping. Takes the battery out of the old phone and drops it under his seat. And slowly, reluctantly, he dials the land line from memory. It goes through.

One ring.

The bus is on the highway now, where fast food bags blow under wheels. Carcasses of tires lay on gravel shoulders strewn with glass.

Two rings.

Dead things, cold, stare from the ground. A mulch of matted fur and bone. Behind, a toddler's rattling cough.

Three rings.

He smells the sickly sweetness now. I'm gonna puke, he thinks in fear. He clenches a fist and a throb of pain racks his body. Please pick up.


Thank god. “H- Hi Audrey. It's me. It's Al.”

“Alex? Alex Pike?”

“Yeah, hi. How... ah... how's home?”

She sighs. “Oh Alex it's... well it's a bit hectic at the moment. Ashley's beside herself. The poor man. It's hard to know what to say, you know?”

“Ah... yes, that's right.” I couldn't agree more.

“It's good of you to call, Alex, certainly is. But I got to go and check on things, you know? But it's good you got in touch. You're doing good with the... doing good are you?”

“Yeah I'm good, Audrey. I won't keep you, but ah... I was wondering if you had...” Go on, ask, you fuck. “Do you have Jess's number? I got a new phone... lost my contacts, y'see.”

It's quiet for a second. “Yes, yup. Good to hear you two are still keeping in touch.”

After the call ends he enters the number and stares out into the fields. Wonders what's wrong with Ashley. He decides to call Jess later, when the bus stops. When he's regained his nerve.

Al swallows another pill. More water. An hour later he falls asleep, cradling his arm and shivering against the window in the midsummer heat. He dreams of rocks and salty air and lips he's never tasted. And death.

Submitted: December 08, 2015

© Copyright 2021 keithdaniels. All rights reserved.


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