Coincidences are typically happenstance.
In The Gutter, they'll haunt you for life.
In The Gutter, they'll haunt you for life.
Fortunately for Him by Nicholas Manzolillo
I find driving to be peaceful, cause I haven’t killed anybody in a while. The intersection is quiet, even though there are two gas stations side by side and fast food shops line the road. It still feels like the country. I can still smell the deep woods just a half a mile behind me. I know I’m not safe here.
When driving across as many states as I have, you develop a real good sense of the populated areas. Where people live, there's usually a nearby dumpster spilling its black rotting guts into the night. I prefer them roads with no streetlights, but when driving state to state, sometimes the best way, the only way, is the highway. You have to ride the highway every now and then, if you want to find the best detours.
When the stars start vanishing, I know the city is close. My father was a grease monkey mutt in the hills and my mother was a mall parking lot whore who I never met. I was raised in the suburbs. The horrible purgatory between the clogged, trash-filled streets and the loose embrace of the woods.
The star swallowing glow from the city is a pulsing, living thing. It’s a crashed meteorite that has something growing on it. Something from beyond the imagination of even the gods. If cities have one blessing, it’s that they got lots and lots of people. So many people with customized lives, you could just follow them anywhere and you’d never quite know where they’d lead you.
I’m alone on the street when I stop for a red light. The radio is a slow dribble of static with the occasional burst of an instrument or lost vocal. You hear the most interesting stuff from the static stations. Sometimes, when I’m in a real state-hopping mood, I’ll listen to the static to see if it eventually turns into something. On the road, there are millions of ways to stay entertained.
I’m resting my head on the window when my unlocked door is pulled open, and as a result my stupid ass without a seat belt comes tumbling out like a jumping nugget of popcorn. I hit the pavement and land on my face. I’m stepped over and by the time I roll onto my back, the door to my jeep swings shut.
A young guy my age with a lip piercing scowls at me. The car-jacking jerk-off screams down the street before hanging a hard right. If he’s not careful, he’ll flip that thing. I laugh into the night. Someone from a Subway across the street is staring at me with crossed arms. I raise a middle finger their way and they mind their own business. I love me a hunt, but I’m not one for company.
I have a knife in my back pocket because I always tend to find a good use for a knife. My grandpa gave me this one before the cancer ate him up like a caramel apple next to an ant mound. He taught me everything I know, while my dear greased-up dad tried to scrub it from my mind. I hold the knife in my palm like a compass, and when I close my eyes there is that familiar thing that only people like me can see when they shut off the lights. It’s time to review my options.
The man with a brand-new jeep is going to stop at some point. Assuming he has a place to scrap that thing, he’ll drive straight there. He’ll stay at the shop for a little while because the people paying him will want to make sure they aren’t being ripped off.
At some point, the man with the hole in his lip will be sitting in some smoke-stained office, drinking a glass of something sweet with an ice cube or two. The shop boss will burst in and slap him. The man with the hole in his lip will be surprised and angry. A fight will break out. The office might be trashed, the drink will surely spill. The playboy pinup poster on the wall will be knocked to the floor and maybe get more wrinkled than it already is. The manager’s boys will probably come in and depending on how much of a dick the manager is, they’ll either help or watch the scuffle. A gun may be drawn but I doubt anybody will be murdered.
The man with the hole in his lip will eventually be directed to the back of my jeep. There, he’ll see the pair of severed legs sprinkled with salt and two-dozen pine-scented air fresheners. The legs will be stumpy because I used a hacksaw. I was in a rush and I’m not an artist like some of my people. I imagine, then, that the man with the hole in his lip will be in a real panic when he’s told he has to ditch the car.
Now, considering I’ve barely dipped my toes into the city, and depending on the man with the hole in his lip’s IQ, he’ll come back this way. Sort of. He’ll head toward the countryside. There are fewer roads when you get to the woods. It shouldn’t be that hard to spot him. I’ll wait beside the tall trees. It’ll be a nice gamble. If I actually see that man again. Can you imagine the look on his face? Like finding out Santa Claus is real and he’s been living under your bed.