The Dark

Posted on August 11, 2013


Another flash piece.

You’d be afraid of the dark too, after a night like that.

I was back from college, visiting Crandall. He was one of those guys who had no aspirations beyond high school. He was going to stay in the same place and be a big fish in a little pond.  He was the Big Man. His daddy owned the car dealership and he always had cash  and cars (and chicks too, d’uh), and what the hell would he ever leave for? I was never like that. I built models and  read books and didn’t always go to parties on Saturday. Some reason though, that crazy  bastard liked me. He took me under his wing and made sure nothing much ever happened to me. So when I came home on break before I headed out on my summer internship, we hooked up.

We were driving one of his dad’s humongous new convertibles fast on the back roads outside of town. The ones that rose up slowly into the hills with a nice view. He had a bottle of Jack in one hand and a cigarette in the other, and he looked over at me as serious as if he was going to kiss me. “Dude, I always envied you.”

“What the hell you talking about?”

“You are smart. Serious. You got a future.”

“You are rich, deviant. You are going to knock up some beauty queen and have a beautiful house and two-point-seven kids.”

He looked over at me slit eyed, “Yeah. Yeah, I suppose I am and you are going to be locked away in a cubicle somewhere. Poor bastard.” He flicked the cigarette away and concentrated on driving faster.  “We’ll probably both drink ourselves to death, though.” We came squealing around a corner onto a straight away and there, just at the limits of the lights you could see a big snapper crossing the road.

“Oh, no. Don’t do it.”

He looked over at me and shrugged like it was fate. He put both hands on the wheel and pinned it. Just then another vehicle came around the corner at the other end of the straight. Looked like one of those big four-by penis-extender mobiles with the light racks and tires that belong on a dump truck.  Probably had a Confederate flag on it somewhere. Or a General Lee flag he thought was a Confederate flag. He was going fast and picking up speed too.

“Don’t you do it you bastard,” Crandall muttered. I could see it was fixing  to be a duel on who could hit the turtle first. Some twisted version of chicken.  As we bore down on it it became obvious we would lose by inches. Just as the truck hit the reptile, Crandall swerved to the right and rose up, his feet pushing his buttocks to the top of the seat so he could swear at the truck and hurl the bottle right-handed, making that he was twisted almost backwards in the seat.

Just then the twelve-pound turtle came flying over the windshield and caught him under the arm at about what, eighty miles per hour? Between that and the momentum he had pushing himself up, it sucked him right out of the car. Swear to God, which I do a lot more seriously now, he was there and then he was gone.  The car was heading for the shoulder and I grabbed for the wheel to straighten it out. All that did was instead of sending me straight off the bank, the tires hooked in the soft soil and the car began to roll. First roll pitched me beautifully out of the car like a Jai Alai ball.  And then, all I remember is bouncing and tumbling with the car right behind me pirouetting  graceful as an Olympic skater, or maybe like that big spaceship going over in 2001, excepting for the terrible crunching noise on every touch down. It was like a big hungry mouth that kept snapping at me, right up to the end.

That’s when I landed with a sucking sound in the muck at the bottom of the slope, and the car came over me like a giant hand landing flat upside down, me lying perfectly where the seat would be, the car almost as smooshed as if it had been through one of those crusher things and me trapped under it in the mud.  You’ve never seen dark until you’ve seen coffin dark.

To their credit the truck pulled over, probably to kick some ass about the bottle. Crandall wasn’t dead, but he had some busted ribs that went through a lung and had him burbling blood. He was out of it so they tossed him into the back and high-tailed it out of there to the hospital. They never thought to look for anybody else. Once I figured out I wasn’t dead I just lay there waiting for somebody to find me. I couldn’t get a signal and I was afraid I would suffocate or freeze to death first, so I played with the heater controls to see if I could open them up for air, but I couldn’t roll over or anything. I won’t lie, it was scary rolling down that slope, but it might’ve been scarier in that car.

It was about two o’clock the next day before anybody saw the car and pulled if off of me. By then I’d pissed myself several times and had been trying to dig my way out. I was gibbering a bit. I had hypothermia even on a spring day, but other than that there wasn’t a mark on me.

And old Crandall, he was wrong about one thing, though. A week later, I got to my new job and looked at that cubicle under the flickering fluorescent lights and, well, I just couldn’t do it. I spent the night in one coffin, I wasn’t going to spend 30 years waiting to get out of another.