International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Body
One More For the Road
Gordon Ray Bourgon
agreed: one more, thats it. The killings were getting harder.
Each one presented a new set of complications. The latest, Mr. Jackson,
for example, did not want to go easy. Even with his throat slit
he still kept on swinging, spitting profanities laced with blood
and anger. In fact, he got a good kick in on Courtney, just below
her sternum, winding her, driving her to her knees. Finally, as
his blood left him, so did his strength and he collapsed at Jimmys
feet. That was two hours ago.
Because their selection
was random, they never knew what degree of desperation they would be
It was Courtneys idea to stop. Just by her silence he knew she
was serious and would not waver.
They started all this as a way of leveling out the bad done to them
by doing bad to others. If Courtney could no longer embrace her children,
the twins Charlie and Miranda then others, whose lives
were blessed with children, should not have the right to live. If she
could no longer hear her little ones sweet voices, then a profound
silence should swallow up the rest of the world. What her and Jimmy
were doing was only fair, and just.
They drove their battered Dodge Ram pickup around town, slinking down
streets like the perfect, unsuspecting predator, chose a likely candidate,
parked, and waited in silence for night to fall.
Dead were the people they knew, with families, happiness, dreams lived
and yet to be lived. When it started, Jimmy knew Courtney killed for
revenge. She was angry at God and used innocents to mete out her vengeance.
After spilling the blood of three, taking their lives with persistence
rather than precision, a thrill began to reveal itself on her face.
Before, when life made sense and the twins were babies, Courtney told
Jimmy she thought people who killed indiscriminately must take pleasure
in their work. "They probably dont understand why someone
doesnt say to them Nice job, guy."
He wasnt certain, but Jimmy thought he saw her lick the blood
of a woman off her knuckles when she thought he wasnt looking.
He was right, and would have been horrified if he saw the smile that
brightened her face afterwards. He noticed a strength, a sureness begin
to legislate her thrusts and slashes, and stealth dictated her movements.
It was a new Courtney surfacing: impressive, terrifying.
Jimmy watched, did as he was told. They drove away from the scenes as
though leaving dinner parties with friends.
The slaying of Mr. Jackson behind them, Jimmy drove the pickup to County
Road twenty one, a two lane, quiet stretch of road flanked by corn and
soybean fields. He drove toward a dying sunset sky marred by grey, rough-edged
clouds. It would be dark within a half hour. Darkness was ambiguous
for Jimmy: it offered cover, sanctuary, and it opened up opportunity
to kill with his wife. He glanced in the rear view mirror. He saw things
that werent there, or thought he had. He looked again, and again;
a troubled conscience wanted him to see whether or not the time had
come. He had been feeling for some time now, this will all soon come
to an end.
He wanted to talk to Courtney about it, not the killings, but the moving
on without their beloved children. He knew she was strong; after all,
she turned her despair into anger, her bloodlust into obeisance. But
Courtney stopped talking. Since Mr. Jackson, she fell into a deep and
"You know, no one blamed us," Jimmy said, focused straight
ahead, fingers tightly gripping the steering wheel. "You just thought
they did. You wanted them to. I know you want me to prove it, but I
cant. Cant now that theyre all dead.
"I blame me. I didnt get the furnace fixed. I didnt
get the proper detector put up."
Jimmy stretched his fingers, one hand at a time. Knuckles cracked and
he felt a stiffness overcome flexibility. He cleared his throat.
"They call it the silent killer. Carbon monoxide. They died peacefully.
Should have. Should have blamed me, sweetheart. We shouldnt have
done all that stuff. Those people werent to blame for me being
a bad father."
"I know how much it hurts, dear. I want the world to go away, too."
The flashing lights were visible now. Four cars, a tactical unit, two
ambulances. Jimmy could make out the shapes of six armed officers poised
with rifles behind their cars stretched across the road. This was it.
One last look in the rear view mirror. He tilted it so he could see
the back seat. There they were: his children. Smiling faces, twinkling
eyes, shiny lips full of life. This was how he will always remember
them, not grey and still, not like something someone forgot to put out
with the trash.
Jimmy began to accelerate the Dodge Ram. It rattled and hummed as a
weak protest. He looked over at the passenger side. Courtney had paled.
Rigor mortis had already begun to set in. She looked peaceful: eyes
closed, legs pressed together, blood-stained hands folded neatly on
her lap. He brushed fingers across her cold cheek.
"This is the last one, dear," Jimmy said, slamming a foot
on the gas, gripping the wheel. "One more for the road."
And they flew down Country Road twenty one, through a dimming light,
toward a wall of flashing light, into an oblivion in which their deeds
and names will never be forgotten.
© Gordon Bourgon
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