FanPost

Quick Stop: A Crime Short

Hey Guys. I'm sending a batch of short stories I've written off to hopefully be published in New Yorker Magazine. While I was sifting through my files, I found this gem. While it is DECIDEDLY more graphic than the typical New Yorker fare, I thought I might be able to provide ample distraction from all of your jobs. It's a consolation... Hope y'all enjoy it. 

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Quick Stop: A Hard Boiled Crime Short

By: Justin Biehle

 

            There’s always something oddly frustrating about grocery shopping. Like how sometimes when you come home from a long day at work and really have to take a piss, but you just sit on the couch instead, determined to start relaxing immediately. I don’t necessarily hate grocery shopping. I think it has more to do with the fact that I always have to do it at the time when I’d just rather not. I want to relax on the couch and have a soda, but there’s no soda. Grocery Store. I want to stay in and not stop at the Burger Joint, but there’s no food in the fridge. Grocery Store. It always happens when I just don’t have any will for the world. I want to just sit and do nothing, but I have to go get something at the store to help me do it. Typical.

            This particular time wasn’t one of those times. I actually did have to go to the store and had done things like make a list of all the stuff I needed. I had managed to actually eat everything in my fridge and was bone dry. On top of that, I needed light bulbs, toilet paper, some Lysol, and batteries. It was a real excursion this time. I even made plans during the day to do it. I left work and made my way to the store just like any normal person would. Parked my car just like any normal person would. I drive an old muscle car that’s been completely restored and is obnoxiously loud. I drive it because I like it and because, honestly, would you expect any different? I walked in the store and did my business, just like any normal person would.

            I’ve noticed that even though I’ve been to the store probably a thousand times, I always get lost and end up reading those stupid signs in between the aisles like some bumpkin looking at a sky scraper for the first time. It’s not really my fault, because I think that some products are put in the most ass backwards places in the store. Garbage bags have their own billing on the sign and are usually one aisle over from the sign entitled “House Cleaning”. Are garbage bags not part of any red blooded American’s house cleaning arsenal? Exactly. Why in the hell do the colors of the caps on the milk jugs stay the same, but the contents of said jugs always change. You get one brand, skim milk is the purple cap. Say that brands sold out, so you get another, this time whole milk is in the purple. I’m not really telling you this for any other reason than to really flesh out how annoying grocery shopping can be at times. Anyways, back to my shopping bonanza.

            I brought my list and got what I needed. No flash, no flair. I just got what I needed and went to my checkout aisle. I call it my checkout aisle because it always seems like if I don’t have one item over the express checkout limit, I get the slowest checker in the whole damn store. It’s like my own personal hell. I set my items down on the belt and noticed that they had new gum on display on those little impulse buy shelves right by the check out. I love new gums. I figure the monotony of my life as reached such a level where new gum may just be the best thing about it. It’s exhilarating, the flavors and such. I threw the gum in with the pile, swiped my credit card, and got the hell outta Dodge.

            There’s this one place between my house and the store where the road dips in such a way that hauling ass over it in my car gets a little bit of air. It’s really a hell of a lot of fun to drive fast over, so I do it whenever I get the chance. I’ve lived in this area for about five years and it hasn’t gotten old yet. Ironically, this is kind of what started the ball rolling on this whole evening. I gunned the engine and I flew over this little jump. I mean, I really flew. Got more air than I usually do. The groceries that were sitting on the seat next to me got rattled off onto the floorboard. I looked over for a second to make sure the light bulbs hadn’t broken, and that’s when I noticed the toilet paper. Or lack thereof. All of that trouble making a list, and actually writing “toilet paper”, and I had forgotten to buy it. I scanned over reasons that I could’ve forgotten it. I was right by the toilet paper section. I bought Lysol for God’s sake! I couldn’t really think of a reason other than just forgetting. Maybe it was just too awkward to walk around the store with a giant stack of toilet paper. It’s not like you buy toilet paper to do something else with, besides wipe your ass. The whole idea of traipsing around the store with a bale of ass paper was always kind of weird to me. Weird or not though, I didn’t have any, and that only meant one thing. I was gonna have to swing by the Quick Stop.

            I had lived in my neighborhood for long enough to have been in the Quick Stop about a billion times. I actually liked having the store nearby because it allowed me to make a beer/soda run without having to journey to the better stocked, yet out of the way grocery store. It also allowed me to rectify any shopping errors made at the grocery store, as I was now doing. It wasn’t anything more than a minor annoyance that I had to make another stop. Well, I take that back. The Quick Stop sold horrible toilet paper. That’s right. This wasn’t the first time I had made this error. It had happened before, about a year or so ago. I stopped by the place and scooped up what was probably the lowest quality T.P. on the planet. Still, I am a child of convenience so my imminent discomfort was assuaged by the fact that I wasn’t making a return trip to the super market.

            By this time, the sun had pretty much set behind the houses and trees I was passing, so the lights of the Quick Stop were easily visible behind the silhouettes of the trees. I sometimes pretended as I swerved into the parking lot that I was docking at some sort of space station. I was that hopeless. This time wasn’t any different. I came around the last turn making my spaceship noise in all of its glory. “Engines powering down. Thrusters are….off! We are go for docking procedures.” What can I say? I like sci-fi. I also dig convenience.

            I cut the engines and hopped out of my car. I walked around the spilt slurpee that was conspicuously melting right outside the front door and walked into the store. I always waved to whatever college kid was manning the register even though I didn’t know what any of their names were. I just figured that they had a hard enough time having to spend the night in a convenience store most people would want to be in for longer than about a minute. In this case, it was a girl. She was homely, but she smiled back at me and did that little nervous wave that girls sometimes do. After pleasantries I made my way to where they kept their wares.

            I wasn’t really sure exactly what transpired. I had been the only car in the lot when I got here, so I made the astute observation that whoever it was that was shouting had gotten here after me. I hit the deck as soon as they entered. I had already been crouching to grab my prize so the rest was easy. They didn’t see me at first because they both had their attention solely focused on the girl behind the counter. I looked at my watch. 6:49. It was an awkward time for armed robbery. I made a move to put more of my aisle between the punks and me, clutching my toilet paper as if it what they were looking for. I heard the first one speak up. “Bitch, open that fucking register and get on the ground.” I felt bad for the girl.

            “Hey, get the fucking tape out. We ain’t getting caught like Jerry’s stupid ass.” The first one said to his partner.

            “On it!” The second replied. They were working efficiently if nothing else. I heard the girl whimpering behind the counter.

            “I said open that fucking register, or so help me God I will blow your fucking head all over those cigarettes.” The guy was losing patience. It worried me a little only because he seemed like the type who would lose his shit and actually do what he was saying he would. I bunched my feet and arms as close into my body as I could. I didn’t try to look, because I didn’t want to see. I was too scared.

            “We don’t keep much in the register, sir. Besides, I just came on shift. The last guy took the deposit bag with him.” The girl said. I could barely make out what she was saying for all of her whimpering. I wished there was something I could do, but what? I had nothing on me, only my wallet, car keys, and my toilet paper. My mind drifted back to the grocery store. Why had I forgotten to buy toilet paper there?

            “You better find me something, bitch. I didn’t go through all this trouble to walk away with small bills and a fucking licorice rope. And don’t you call me ‘sir’. I ain’t your fucking daddy!” The first exclaimed.

            “I’ll be that bitch’s daddy.” I heard the second say as he emerged from the room behind the counter, his chuckle laden with perversion. “Here’s the tape.” I couldn’t see, but when I heard the girl whimper again I could only imagine that he had made his way to her. I felt so bad for her.

            “We ain’t got time for that shit, man!” The first responded. His voice had escalated again, and I started to fear that the recent turn in events meant that this wouldn’t be just a robbery anymore. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me.

            “They got a safe in the back room, man.” The second spoke up. “There’s bound to be something in there.”

            “I don’t know the combination.” The girl said. She was crying full tilt now. “I don’t- I just- I- please don’t kill me! Please don’t-“ I heard the smash of the pistol on her face, and the thud as she hit the cold floor. She was still crying, hysterically this time. I tried to will her to shut up from my hiding place across the store. Her hysterics were only putting the two punks on edge.

            “How much is that safe, bitch?” The second asked. “How much money you keep in that fucking safe?” His voice was almost a whisper, but I could still hear every word as clear as a bell.

            “I don’t- I told you…I don’t know.” The girl cried. Her voice was so full of fear that I closed my eyes in anticipation. This wouldn’t end well. My only hope was to remain unseen. I had left my phone in the car. It wouldn’t be of any use now though. The thugs would be on me before I gave out any information. There was nothing I could do for her, or for me. I felt horrible. She was less than half an hour on the clock. She probably hadn’t wanted to come into to work today. Even so, this had probably been the last thing she had expected, to be held up and beaten over what paltry amount was in the register. What made it the worst though, was that she knew I was in the store. She knew I could hear every last word, that I had heard the slap of the steel against her face. She knew I was doing nothing. Letting her die.

            “This is fucking bullshit.” The first said, oddly calm. “I don’t have fucking time for this.” I heard the second laugh. Not a sinister laugh. Not even an entertained laugh. Just sort of a chuckle, though it was certainly the most foreboding chuckle I had heard.

            “Yeah, fucking do her, man!” The second goaded. “Let’s just do her and get the fuck outta this place, man.”

            “Please.” I heard the girl whimper. Just “please.”

            “Don’t you fucking bleed on my shoes, bitch. Don’t you even fucking bleed on these shoes.” I heard the second one say.

            “Alright, let’s get the fuck out of here. Grab a few cases of Marlboros and let’s get the fuck out.” I heard the familiar sound of boxes being moved around as the second grabbed what boxes he could. The girl whimpered some more. For a while that’s all I heard was her whimpering. I didn’t dare move. Not now.

            The gunshot was a climax to the brief, unbearable seconds of quiet that had preceded it. There hadn’t been a sound. Neither thug had said a word. No clichéd monologue like in the movies, just a cold, brutal efficiency. As the gunshot rang in my ears, I watched a bag of Funyuns fall right beside me. The whole thing played out in slow motion. I had been startled by the shot and bumped into the rack behind which I hid. The chips hit the ground with a thud that, to my ears, sounded like a cannon. I knew what was coming next.

            “What the fuck was that?” The second asked. It was the one question I didn’t want to hear asked. In a few short seconds one or both would be standing over me and I would be blown to hell clutching a package of toilet paper like it was my baby.

            “I’ll check it out.” The first one said in an almost perplexed tone. “You grab that bullet casing.”

            “Where the fuck is it, man?” The second replied. He had to be the dumb one.

            “How the fuck should I know, just fucking find it and let’s get the fuck out of here!” The first yelled in a voice so ominous that it shook the floor I was seated on. I looked around me, panicking the whole time. There wasn’t anything I could do. I could run into the restrooms and buy another ten seconds to live. There wasn’t another exit, just the one that the girl, the two thugs, and myself had used in what seemed like hours ago. I didn’t have anything, just my wallet and my keys. My wallet and my keys. My wallet…and my keys. On my key ring, I had a small Swiss army knife that my mom had given me as a stocking stuffer a few years back. I had used it exactly two times, once to file my nails, and the other time for the tweezers when I got a splinter on the wood handrail out side of Giuseppe’s Pizza on Fourth Street. It had a knife blade that was exactly one and a half inches long. It was all I had. I was going to fucking die.

            The seconds it took for the thug to make his way to where I was rattled off like minutes. I felt like I had been behind the chips for hours, so the sense of prolonging the inevitable by making my last few seconds seem like days just made it feel like God was taunting me. I was, in a way, relieved when I heard the click of the hammer above my head. I sat, clutching my tiny knife, and my toilet paper, trying not to cry.

            “What the fuck do you think you’re doing back here, pal?” The first asked. His voice had once again transformed into its calm tone. It felt weird, but there was an odd, comforting sense about the way he spoke. Just the way he had planned it, I was sure.

            “Hey, Joe, who the fuck is it?” The second yelled from the front of the store, as if he expected it to be one of their buddies.

            “Just some fucking guy.” The first replied. His gaze fell, unblinking, right into my eyes. “Just some fucking guy.” I watched as the muscles in his hand began to tighten around the trigger.

            “Hey, I found the fucking bullet man!” The second exclaimed, beyond pleased with himself. The suddenness of his discovery caused the first to look away from me briefly. Even as I shot towards his face with the knife I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing. It was like one of those muscle spasms you get in your leg when you’re sitting at your desk. You know it’s happening, but you don’t know how or why. The miniscule blade exploded into the thug’s eye, a direct hit. All those years of missing baskets and striking out in softball were meaningless now. The one time I had absolutely needed a hit, I had gotten one. Joe’s gun went off right beside my ear. The hearing in my left ear disappeared completely with a thump that sounded like a bass drum. With my right ear, I heard the scream as he lurched backwards. He lost his grip on his gun as both hands shot to his face in an effort to pull my knife out. My keys jangled as they hung from his face. It was a morbidly entertaining sight. The pistol landed on the ground in the aisle, and I instinctively dove for it. As I was in the aisle making a grab for the gun I looked toward the counter. The second thug was standing behind the counter, motionless. It wasn’t until after I held the gun in my hands that he recognized the weight of the situation and began firing his own pistol haphazardly into my aisle.

            As I scrambled to get back behind my wall of chips I heard the Joe scream out in pain as one of his partner’s bullets ripped through his right leg. With his hands already focused on the wound to his face, Joe could only writhe in pain.

            “This mother fucker shot me, Benny! He fucking shot me in the leg!” Joe screamed, his hands still covering his face. He had no idea. He had gotten the knife out; the keys sat bloodied next to him.

            “Don’t worry, Joe, I’ll get this fuck.” Benny shouted from behind his counter. I have to admit, I was a little jealous of Benny. Seeing as how I had managed to turn my quest for toiletries into a full-fledged gunfight, I was only slightly irked that Benny had an entire counter to hide behind, whereas I only had part of the candy aisle and some Baked Lay’s to protect me.

            Joe continued his disturbing squirm across from me, as he tried to get his bearings again. He kept his hands pressed hard against his face and had rolled over onto his stomach. Any noises he made came out as nothing but muffled screams. I looked at him, then at the gun. His gun. I hadn’t ever shot a gun a before but I knew I would have to if I had any chance of staying alive. I once again looked at Joe. He had halfway managed to get on his knees, though he was curled up in such a way that it almost looked as if he was praying. His screams had become more of a pained moan. I looked once more at the gun before I began to raise it toward him. Behind me, I could hear Benny talking behind the counter. It wasn’t loud enough for me to hear out of my good ear. I’m not entirely certain he wasn’t talking to himself. I gradually leveled the barrel of the gun at Joe’s head. I winced as I pulled the trigger and looked away as the gun exploded in my hands. The sheer force of the blast knocked the gun almost clean out of my hands, and I had to fumble just to keep my hands on it. As I regained control of the pistol, I sat back against the rack of ships and struggled to catch my breath. I looked over at Joe only because his moaning had stopped so abruptly. He lay motionless on the floor, over a swathe of blood. His hands still clutched his face. As the ringing in my right ear subsided I could hear Benny yelling from behind the counter.

            “Joe? Hey… Joe? You good, man? You good?” I think Benny already suspected the answer because instantly his attention turned to me. “You motherfucker! You’re a fucking dead man. You son of a bitch!”

            I made the slightest efforts to peak around the corner of my shelter. After straining to reveal only the tiniest piece of the counter, I decided that the coast was clear to make the move one aisle over. I struggled to plant my feet into the tile flooring and shoved off in the direction of the adjacent aisle. As I cleared the empty space between my old spot and my new one I looked over at the counter to see if Benny could see me. He was standing behind the counter with his own pistol already leveled at the dead space, which I was now occupying. I remember a fleeting moment of panic as I saw his face staring almost directly back at mine. Once again time seemed to slow down as he squeezed a round off in those few seconds. When I landed behind the next aisle I felt desperately for any place at which the bullet may have struck. I made my way up my stomach and chest to my shoulders and felt the hole in my shirt that the bullet had punched. Less than two inches away from my neck. Benny had almost killed me flat out. I took another second to catch my breath and listened for any clues that could give away what Benny was doing behind the counter. One thing was certain. If I was going to make it out of the Quick Stop alive, then I had to be more careful. This wasn’t a movie, and I couldn’t just dive headlong between aisles like an action hero. I looked at Joe’s body, which lay motionless at my feet. I felt an almost perverted sense of pride at my accomplishment, that at the very least I had gone out swinging.

            Benny made no efforts to move from his spot behind the counter, as if he would. He enjoyed the advantage of actually having solid materials between he and I. I noticed that by peeking around the other side of the aisle. I could see the last half of the counter without Benny being able to see me, unless of course he moved along the counter a bit more. Still, it was a small advantage I possessed on a night where not a whole lot had gone my way. I began to quietly inch my way around the corner into the aisle; my gun pointed firmly where Benny would appear if he did decide to pop up on my said of the aisle. I don’t think I’d ever been so scared in my life. I felt as if the whole time I was shimmying along the racks of Pennzoil and STP, my life was teetering on the edge of some cliff somewhere. The slightest misstep and I was fucking dead.

            It was bizarre how the exact moment I was wondering why no one else had accidentally stumbled into the store that someone actually did. I was making my way ever so slowly toward the front counter when I heard the door chime sound. My head nearly exploded with a wave of emotions. Was it a cop? Am I saved? Should I warn them? If I saved them, does that I mean I die? What the fuck was Benny doing? My question was answered when I heard the voice from the front of the store call out “Hello?” The guy had no idea what was going on and Benny was still bunkered down behind the counter. He was probably thinking the same things I was. I heard Benny’s voice next.

            “Yeah, man. Everything’s cool. We just had a spill back here, fucking cigarettes fell off the racks.” That suave son of a bitch was playing this whole thing off.

            “Hey, no worries, dude. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t breaking in or anything.” The guy spoke in a surfer accent, which was odd for Texas. He even did the weird laugh at the end.

            “Yeah, well, about that…” I heard Benny answer just before his gun exploded again. He had shot the fucking kid. It was his chance, my chance to just walk away from this and he blew it to shoot some Spicoli. I felt cheated, like my one best chance of not dying had just been thrown away. I lunged up from my crouch and saw Benny looking at his work. I was gonna kill this motherfucker. It was him or me, and it wasn’t gonna be me. I raised my gun towards him just as he saw me from the corner of his eye. He moved to get a shot at me and fired just as I did. He hit me, and I hit him. His shot tore through my left arm like it had teeth. Mine hit him in the stomach. I got knocked backwards into the ice cooler and slumped down onto the tile again. My arm was broken. I didn’t need a doctor to tell me that. All those movies I had seen where the guy gets shot in the arm and keeps trucking were full of shit. It felt like the only thing keeping my arm attached was the fucking shirt on my back. I heard Benny once again from behind the counter.

            “You fucking shot me! You fucking shot me!” Benny yelled. It sounded like he was surprised at the turn of events. I can’t say I was really in the wrong given the circumstances. Besides, I wasn’t exactly tip top over here, either.

            “Fuck you! You shot me first!” It was the best I could come up with. I figured that we had kind of stalemated and there wasn’t a whole lot either of us could do to change that. Benny wasn’t going to just sit there and let me shoot him so I could get the fuck out of this place with my toilet paper. And I wasn’t just gonna let Benny take a pot shot at me so he could leave with his Marlboros and whatever else they managed to scrounge up. Still, I was hurt bad. I couldn’t just sit here behind the shelves of motor oil and wait around for the cops to show up. And just where the fuck were they? I had thought that normally, heated bouts of gunfire would be just the thing that would make those guys show up. So far though, not so much as a single car had pulled up to the Quick Stop. It was more frustrating than anything because I felt I had done more than my civic duty by stabbing one of the bad guys with my keychain, then shooting him. I wasn’t Rambo. It just wasn’t right for me to still be here shooting criminals when the trained professionals were out there somewhere waiting to do it.

            I smelled the familiar odor of a burning cigarette wafting through the aisles. I guess Benny figured that if we were gonna half to play the waiting game, then he was gonna spark up. Once again, I felt frustrated because it seemed like even though I had landed a decent shot on him he was calm as could be. Hell, it seemed like the only person on earth who wasn’t any good at killing people was me. Well, me and that dead girl behind the counter. I pinched myself for thinking that. Still, it wasn’t fucking fair. I decided I’d break the monotony. “Hey, Benny?” I asked. “What say you just let me go? I won’t say anything to anybody and you don’t have to kill me?” I figured it was worth a shot. I wasn’t any good at this stuff anyhow.

            “Why the fuck would I let you walk outta here, man?” Benny’s reply was sharp. “You think you can just shoot my fucking friend and just walk out like everything’s fine?”

            “You shot him first.” I corrected him. This seemed to perturb Benny, as he didn’t answer for a bit. I kicked myself for the kindergarten responses I had been coming up with so far.

            “The fuck I did.” That was all the answer Benny could muster.

            “So what do we do then, Benny?” I asked. “Just sit and kill each other?” I was breathing hard. I had been bleeding pretty badly from the gunshot and it had just been a long fucking day in general, gunfight notwithstanding.

            “Each other?” Benny gasped. He was short of breath himself. “I sure as hell ain’t letting you kill me.” It was our own private standoff.

            As the time passed, I glanced at my watch. 7:04. Only fifteen minutes had passed since this whole thing had started. Maybe that was why the cops hadn’t showed up yet. Even though it felt like an eternity, hardly any time had passed. I tried to examine what I could of my arm. It was broken about two inches above the elbow and it hurt like a son of a bitch. The blood oozed out at a deliberate pace that frightened me.  I didn’t want to set my gun down for fear of Benny popping around the corner. I needed to get my arm wrapped up though. I opted instead to simply not make any unnecessary movements. Unnecessary movements. That was how this was gonna end. One of us would do something stupid and the other would give him a bullet for his troubles. I felt cold. I needed to do something, but what? “Hey, Benny?” I called. My voice was something just above a whisper. “Fuck you!” I listened.

            “Fuck you!” Benny coughed. I slammed my head back against the ice machine. I was hoping Benny had just died quietly behind the counter, and that there wouldn’t be any moment of truth. I just wanted to leave. The cold glass of the ice machine’s door felt good though. I scooted over and slid the door open. As quickly as I could, I set my gun down and grabbed a small bag of ice. I winced as I stuffed the bag underneath my busted arm. It hurt like hell trying to press the bag secure with a busted arm. Still, the cold felt better. I quickly grabbed my gun back off of the white tile floor. Benny was in bad shape, but not bad enough to where he wasn’t still trying to kill me.

            The time passed like it used to on the last day of school when I was a kid. I half expected my watch to move back a little each time I looked at it. Where were the fucking cops? Where were the other people? Somebody had to have seen Spicoli lying dead at the doorway. Things were happening and not happening to make this about as fucked up a situation as it could be. 7:11. How much more ironic could it possibly get?

            I don’t know when I decided to do it or what possessed me to move, but I suddenly found myself leaving my post near the ice machines and Quaker State. I had dropped the ice bag on the floor. It had begun to melt and the water mixed with the blood on the floor to shade a disgusting pinkish hue on the white tile. I couldn’t feel my arm, but I didn’t know if that was because of the ice or the blood loss. Either way, I was slowly creeping towards the counter. Benny hadn’t made a sound for five minutes. I hoped beyond everything that he had just died quietly.

            I stood up as I reached the counter, gun pointed straight in front of me. I could see the bloody handprints on the countertop. Benny had tried to stand. That bastard had tried to make a move on me. I leaned forward to try and see if I could catch any glimpse at all of Benny. There was nothing. I continued to lurch forward until I had walked clear around the counter. Benny lay propped against the end, his gun still limply sitting in his dead hands. His legs were sprawled over the body of the girl they had shot minutes earlier. He had bled all over the floor, and his white undershirt was soaked red. I saw the bullet hole directly in the middle of his stomach, and took a second to examine the damage. His left hand had covered the majority of the wound in attempt to stop the bleeding, but the bullet hole was the size of a soft ball. I had known I was shooting a big gun but that was the extent. I had no idea I had been shooting a fucking hand cannon. I lowered the gun.

            In the instant that Benny sprang to life, I had let my own pistol hang by my side. As I raced to lift my own weapon I saw Benny’s fire. The bullet hit me in the shin and knocked my feet completely from under me. As I fell, I felt the wind of the second shot pass just over my head. That was twice Benny had nearly killed me. I hit the floor with a thud only a few feet from Benny. I had instinctively laid my hands out in front of me to keep myself upright and still held the gun in my hand. As I fired my last bullets into Benny, I closed my eyes. It was finally over. The empty clicking of the hammer was the only noise I heard for a bit as I still tried to unload my spent weapon. I needed to get help, but I just wanted to sleep. I rolled over onto my back and lay staring at the flood of fluorescent light that washed over me.

            “We got a live one here!” Somebody yelled. I awoke. The cops had arrived. Right on time. I tried to crack a smile at that one. As I stared up into the lights on the ceiling, I saw a paramedic crouch over me. Then a second. They were both asking me questions, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. One of them held me as they maneuvered the backboard beneath me. The world rocked and swayed as they lifted me to the stretcher. As they wheeled me outside I caught the arm of a nearby detective. “It wasn’t me.” I told him. “My keys are on the floor inside. I swear.” I didn’t want to end up in jail. Not after all of this. I had to make sure I was in the clear.

            “You’re ok, buddy.” The detective winked. “Don’t worry about anything.” He followed me as the paramedics lifted me into the waiting ambulance. He smiled as the doors shut between us I had never been in an ambulance before. It was a night of firsts.

I felt the shudder as we shifted into gear and rolled away from the Quick Stop. It was so surreal. I was a little less than three blocks away from my house. Something that I thought only happened in movies had happened to me, so close to my home. It was calming to know that, as the ambulance’s siren came to life with the squeal, I was going to be ok. I had made it. I had passed the test. I had survived. I had forgotten the toilet paper again...

 

Copyright 2007. All Characters property of Justin Biehle and CTS Studios.

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This is fan-created content on PoundingtheRock.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff at Pounding the Rock.

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