Fast-forward: 7:09 PM Saturday - After The Blood Spilled – Ext
Heavy stink of gasoline.
Smoke fish bowled in the confined space. The muscle car, darted left, clipped the yield sign. Mint green. She named it Lucky. The engine roared. Braless in a tight tank top. She was seeing two of everything, and almost puked. Arial struggled with a fifth of Jack Daniels, fumbled a burning menthol cigarette.
Stolen. Her father’s Dodge Charger crashed down and swerved, scrapped the bright orange fire hydrant. She had hit something hard, in the road back there, maybe a deer, then drove over it. She cringed when she thought of how it felt under the tires. Arial hoped really hard that she didn’t run over Bambi, those breath-taking big, brown deer eyes.
Hands slippery, she dumped half of the Jack all over her tank top. A puddle on the seat seeped into her crotch. The alcohol splashed her mom’s 357 pinned under the back of her thigh.
It happened three weeks ago. Moms funeral was quick, and neat, ashes dropped in the ocean off Cape Cod. Her mom was happiest when she remembered the ocean.
Back home in East Cleveland, Arial was lost like Dorothy down a looking glass. The text message from her sister Pria. A section in the middle made her dizzy. Her sister was
pissed about an article on JMobScoop.com. It linked her moms death to the Jewish mob, something about extortion and embezzlement, and an expensive counterfeit of one of her mom’s paintings.
The way Pria had worded it tweaked vague memories of events leading to mom’s death that forced questions, like broken bottles, to crash through her brain. Confusion, cotton candy thick, jig-sawed her intellect.
Medical examiner said she blew her face off with a 357 magnum. Something wasn’t right about the splatter patterns on the wall. Her mother was an Asian American named Thai. Only 42. The bullet blew out the back half of her skull; it mashed bits of brain into the walls. Arial had been the one to find her, dead in her studio. Nausea slithered in her gut when she remembered the bits of brain and chipped skull slipping down the wall, the heavy stink of blood.
Seventeen. Not coping well.
Another gulp of Jack, it burned.
She fixed the bow in her hair. It was printed in bright yellow smiley faces.
Arial looked at the Jack bottle in her fist. Shame spread, in dizzying waves, through her face. She fumbled over the smart phone buttons. Suicide my little booty! No freaking way! The plan formulated in her scattered brain but she couldn’t execute it if she was dead. Daddy’s muscle car jumped the curb, and smashed! Through! A cluster! Of gleaming! Garbage cans! They burst up and outward in wide arch’s, like 3-D images battering a camera lens.
Dangerously over the middle line into oncoming traffic, she jerked the car, hard left.
The Dodge Charger launched up over the hill, screeched wide around the dented post of a crunched-up street sign. The stink of the exhaust, it billowed in thick clouds. Dirt and rocks clattered against the Charger.
A cat squealed.
Rewind: 6:39 PM Saturday - Before The Blood Spilled - Ext
Traffic. Too fast. The purr of the Rubicon engine. I focused on the texture of the sound, and slowly unclenched my fist. Disheveled hair, it was slick with sweat, fell in my eyes. Everything rushed at me like blurred video. I jammed on the brakes and smashed my head against the steering wheel.
The tires screeched.
The scent of vanilla and hazelnut filled the cockpit of the Jeep. I gripped the rough paper surface of the hot coffee cup.
Old school Morbid Angel, Chapel of Ghouls-style, it was way too loud. Obituary, Disincarnate, and Dimmu Borgir discs, skidded with a clatter off the dash. Abruptly, the sun blustered up over the horizon. It thrust a sharp pain through my eyes.
A crush of speeding cars on a construction-dappled highway in downtown Cleveland.
The random sound of glass shattered. People cussed out windows.
My vision blurred.
Several frantic moments, I was incapable of opening my eyes. I juggled the cell! Thrashed! To unbuckle the stupid! Fucking! Seatbelt!
I swerved left, and nearly toppled the Rubicon.
A shaking and terrified French Bulldog in the passenger seat. His name was Lucky. Scrambling, the pup whimpered and dropped with a thud. Forced myself to concentrate through the girls voice on the cell, still yapping about shoes. I fought to see. The dog hadn’t made a sound since that vaguely sickening crunch-thud.
Fuck! He hit the floor hard. I suppressed the fear that spun in my gut.
Tires screeched; horns blared.
Jerked sideways in the seat, I swerved the jeep around a shredded piece of tire or road kill, maybe a dead fucking body. The cell smashed against the window, with a sharp crack, like something broke.
In a scramble I said, “Hey! Becky! You there?”
“Pink buckles and stuff, super cute… (pause) Luke, What’s going on over there?”
“Driving in Cleveland.” I said.
“Right. Sure.” Becky said. She snapped the gum in her mouth. And blew another bubble between suppressed hicc-ups. She squeaked and made a funny noise because she didn’t like when people heard her hicc-up. It made me smile.
“I broke the dog.”
“That means you killed the dog. No killing the dog!”
“What! No… Shut the fuck up with that shit, please!” I was scared. I might have. My words sounded mean to my own ears. I didn’t mean to snap at her.
“Where is he?” She said.
“I cant see.”
“Cars, and noise, fucking life; everything. (pause) He’s on the floor.”
“Fell off the seat?”
“Yeah, but it didn’t sound good… Made this really ugly sound. He‘s not moving normal, or something.”
“He’ll be ok.”
“He doesn’t look right.”
“He never looks right; he‘s a Frenchie.” she said through a symphony of hicc-ups and popping bubbles.
“Sing the song.”
“The song, he likes when you sing it to him.” I didn’t wait for an answer, held the cell to the pups ear and tried to stay on the fucking road.
I kept running over those grooved sections on the side of the road that alert you that you’re veering off into the drink. When Lucky pepped-up, I knew Becky was signing. He pranced around, smashing empty plastic water bottles that speckled the floor in front of
the passenger seat.
Into the cell, too much like a little boy who just found his favorite toy, I said, “Sweet! Super kick-ass! He loves it when you sing.” I threaded the orange barrels and pulled off the interstate. From the off ramp… Through the yellow light, I took a left down a side street, jerked the car to a stop in front of the tennis court.
“I’m gonna see if he’s ok.”
“You off the highway?”
“See any cops?”
“Nothing,” I said
She chewed her gum. “I don’t like you stopping in East Cleveland.”
“I know, Sweetie.” I snatched the leash from the glove compartment, and adjusted Lucky’s harness, hooked the leash to the ring, popped the door, hopped off the seat.
Meanwhile Close By: Tires screeched. The Dodge Charger launched over the horizon. Ariel took a long pull from the Jack Daniels bottle.
I jangled Lucky’s collar. He appeared to be smiling. Adorable. A warmth in my heart that I never really liked because it always went away. And it confused me. Becky said it meant love. Who knew. Stumbling, I rolled an ankle and staggered across the uneven pavement.
The Dodge Charger smashed into Luke, dead center on the silver ram head logo. The muscle car dragged Luke across the pavement before it used the body like a speed bump.
Barely conscious, blood bubbled in Luke’s mouth, the taste of dirty pennies. A sharp! Blistering! Pop! Of tight-coiling pain! Swimming now…
Black. And then he was gone.
Abrupt! Crack! The absence of pain; a vibrating residue of his body, his spirit, maybe, stood beside his prone body on the asphalt, like his life force had been sucked through a straw, and spilled across open space like melting candy to swim and mix with everything. He seemed to slip between dimensions, plugged into an infinity of realities. Units of realities superimposed and merged.
Time advanced differently.
The event of his death in front of him… Like an imprint, it saturated dividing sections of his spiritual body connected to a dissolving strand, like a rope of fog, to his corpse.
The images seeped into him, with a tang that zapped and clanged; like a gush of liquid video the images were pushing him someplace else in time, slowly fastening him to another reality. Luke sat back against a matrix of colliding emotions, insights, pasts, presents and futures; he watched his death one last time.
Scrambling from the drivers seat, Luke was happy; the pup was a special, and inexplicable joy. The way Lucky connected him to Becky confused him. He had always been a fulcrum and a shield, the third arm of a trinity. Luke hated how much he loved him. The scent of fresh cut grass spun in the breeze, burning leaves in the distance.
Cracks in the jagged pavement.
Lucky bounded around in the seat, vibrating with excitement.
Next: Luke’s ghost looked at his dead body. It was stuck in the undercarriage of the muscle car. The Dodge Charger ripped free from his bleeding body, and sped down the road. The muscle car bounded over his face.
Blood pooled in the cracks of the pavement.
The charger swerved; the tires chirped, sideswiped a car and sped down a side street.
The cell tumbled and crashed. He screeched, howled, finally dropped to the ground
and scrambled around Luke.
The pup barked, urgent and anguished.
Sirens in the distance.
Luke’s ghost hovered above the scene: Frantic, Lucky licked Luke’s bloody face, scrambled in confused circles. A thin, continuous whimper screeched and echoed. Lucky hopped about and squealed, reacting like bare feet on sun-baked sand, to Becky’s voice as she screamed hysterically from the cell.
Fast-forward: 7:19 PM Saturday - After The Blood Spilled - Ext
The Charger zinged past a pink BMW that swerved to avoid mangling an infant, a
young mother, wrenched with fear, on the side walk.
Arial lost her grip on the wheel and smashed her face into the side window. Then bounced it hard off the steering wheel. Blood spilled from her mouth with a dislodged tooth.
Images came fuzzy and warped, melted into one another. A little girl on a tricycle,
like looking down the barrel of a gun. The muscle car careened toward
Nine years old if she was a day, the girl, like a statue, on the cobblestone sidewalk.
The Charger buckled and jerked sideways, abruptly airborne.
It launched in a tumble, Arial struggling against the seatbelt whipped and tossed like her limbs were made of melted taffy. The Charger clipped the linked fence that caged a schoolyard playground. It bashed down with a repulsive crunch, and plowed through several empty swings and see-saws, a slide.
Magically, Ariel stumbled from the wreckage onto a hop-scotch square.
Scrapes and bruises, missing tooth, Arial giggled. She dropped a nip of Bacardi rum,
watched it roll across the pavement. The little girl. Her blue dress. She blinked mint green
eyes. Peddling down the sidewalk, distant sirens teamed with the dissonant squeak of
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