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Danine, Part 10
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stripper

I've never dragged a body before, and it isn't easy. Least of all with Calvin -- he hid his size well in his clothes but the bastard must be over two hundred and fifty pounds. Plus I'm tired, and I realize I haven't eaten for a while. I get Calvin about ten feet and then drop him, go back to the truck and take a swill of vodka, hoping that the alcohol will provide me some fortification. It helps some -- the sharp pain in my head becomes a dull one, but it doesn't help much in getting Calvin's body down to the creek.

Once I get him down there, it's not so hard. I roll him in. He splashes and floats around a bit in the water, but then his jacket gets wet and he starts to sink. I float him over to a deep hole, muddy from the eroding banks, and I let him go down. He'll come up, I know, but not tonight, and probably not tomorrow. By then, I think, I'll have something figured out. I watch his hand as he sinks -- muddy water flows over his Class of '88 ring, a silver ostentatious thing. I feel like I should say something, but if there is some kind of afterlife he's probably pissed as hell at me now, whatever it was that actually killed him, so I don't say anything, just hoist up my pants, wade out of the creek and walk back up to the truck.

As I'm walking I feel something in my pocket, and for the first time I think to check Calvin's pockets. Part of me doesn't want to, or just wants to take everything out and throw it into the creek, but I do. There's no wallet, but in the left front pocket there's a money clip full of hundreds. I feel the thickness of the wad of bills and resist the urge to count it right then and there. Instead, I reach into the other pocket and pull out a thick, tiny cassette tape. It doesn't look like a cassette I've ever seen, and I figure it must be some kind of computer backup thing. I put both back in my pocket. I pat the wad of bills in my left pocket and try not to think of how much could be there, of how far that could get me.

I hear a car's engine down the road and crouch down in the grass. Unless someone's looking, I doubt they'll be able to see the truck, since it's about ten feet off the road. It looks just like some rancher's old truck parked out on his property. I peek out just enough to see the car as it goes by, a blue and white Plymouth Fury -- Calvin's car.

Danine.

She's going about fifty miles an hour, tearing up the gravel as she goes past. After she passes, I run up to the truck and hop into the driver's seat. There's some blood on the steering wheel, but I wipe that off with a rag, start the car and drive down the road after her. I can see her taillights up ahead, and I follow them and hope the truck isn't going to fall apart. She's pulling away from me fast. I flash my lights, figure I've got to talk to her, that everything will be fine if I can just find her and go back to her hotel and stay with her. Then I see her brake lights come on, and she brings up a huge cloud of dust as she turns onto Davidson's driveway. I keep going, but I stop at the bottom of the driveway where no one from the house can see me because of the trees. I turn off the truck and get out.

I run up the hill next to the driveway, hoping like hell I don't trip over anything and break my leg. When I get to the top of the hill I stop behind a tree. I can see Calvin's car parked in front of the house. Danine's outside halfway between the car and the house, the car door hanging open. Big Hat is outside. I can't hear what they're saying, but she's crying and pacing back and forth. Big Hat is out there and he's talking, from what I can tell, but his hands aren't as agitated as they usually are. She keeps pacing, and he keeps talking, and once he reaches out to touch her but she recoils from him.

Davidson comes out, and when he does Danine rushes past Big Hat and gets up in Davidson's face, and she's crying and yelling. I want to get closer but don't know how without being seen, and besides Calvin's pants are starting to fall down off my ass and the ground is cutting up my bare feet. But I can't stop watching her, can't stop looking at her face. Davidson finally puts his arm around her and leads her into the house. Big Hat looks around, walks around and gets into the driver's seat of Calvin's car and drives it into the garage as I turn around and make my way back to the truck. Before I open the door, though, I support myself on the truck and throw up in the ditch. Nothing comes up, but I feel better. A little.

I need a drink. I need sleep. I need my own clothes. And I need to find Jack.

end of essay
Joseph G. Carson Portrait Joe was the original guitarist for the now legendary Clark Schpiell and the Furry Cockroaches without Butts, playing two chords in a four-chord song under the assumed name of Jason, which he has taken to be a metaphor for his existence (the two chords part, not the Jason part). He has contributed several long pieces to CSP, including the crime novels Danine and Inheriting Dust, the latter of which is still in progress. He has also written the occasional humor piece, movie review, and political essay. | more essays by Joseph
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