September 20, 2020

Celebrating the Coolest Local Stuff

By Paul Bastion

                 The stars danced in the water as we hurtled through the night, waves crashing under the bow of the small speed boat. Carl shoved the throttle all the way forward and the small boat lurched higher over the swells. For a moment we felt free. But we weren’t and we knew it. I knew it, at least. We were running from more than the law. I closed my eyes and saw Johnny’s body tumbling through space. I thought about telling Carl to turn back. The sack of money on the floor was not enough to banish the memory of his flailing arms and legs; his skull crashing into the concrete walls as he spun. I tugged my ponytail holder loose and let the wind catch my hair.

                “Johnny is dead,” I said.

                “He knew what he was doing,” Carl said, gripping the wheel tighter.

                Of course, he knew. We all knew.

                “His momma will never know what happened,” I said.

                “That’s a good thing, Sandra.”

                I couldn’t get the image of Johnnie’s body out of my mind as it tumbled into the blackness. I thought about our childhood. I thought about our first kiss. I thought about the cavernous reservoir and his cascading form disappearing into the deep, dark, and cold. I thought about frigid blue lips and bloated cheeks. Sightless blue eyes.  

                “But, she’ll always wonder.” I wiped my hand on my shorts, but the dark red stains and guilt wouldn’t rub off.

                “So?” he asked.

                “It’ll give her hope.”

                “So.”

Carl looked over and devoured me with red, shining eyes. The full moon sharpened the shadowy lines of his face.  A man full of desire, not hope.  

                “Hope is a curse,” I mumbled.

                Carl stood up behind the wheel, tilted his head back, and howled. I wondered how far away our island getaway was. I wondered how far I could swim. I wondered what my momma was doing at that moment.