’72 Skylark, 19

It feels like it might rain as I step outside of the bar; ordinarily the air here is dry and grainy, but tonight it shimmers on my skin. The highway is desolate, glinting under the high moon. I’ll be a failed hitchhiker for hours, in all likelihood.

I walk by the fat nose of Miriam’s car, its enormous headlight eyes bulging in the direction of its owner. Myself, I don’t look back. I can’t; I’m Lot escaping Sodom. The faster I move, the less likely it is that someone shoots me in the back while they can still see me.

So fear keeps me moving, as usual, but this time I’m unleashing it on purpose, with all the indifference of a tidal wave. Fear moves me past the trunk of the vintage car. I could open it if I wanted to, now, and peek inside or steal the rich man’s secret, but fear pushes me away, gently, and I sway into the night like a ship rocking as it balances in the current. A coward after all, and always. That’s for the best, I think, and better than cruel.

Behind me I hear the clap of a gunshot. I’ve lost track of time, from standing to here; the shooter could have been anyone. Even that bartender. But I don’t flinch, and I don’t even consider turning around.

the end

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