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Danine, Part 9
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"I'm gonna show you what the real world is all about, Frank. I'm gonna show you what happens in the real world when you don't respect someone else, when you shit all over someone." He tears around a corner, and I slump over to one side like I'm off balance, I catch myself on the door with my left hand while with my right I reach into the glove compartment. I rustle a bunch of paper, but I get a finger on it, and I stay slumped against the door while he gets the truck under control.

"This is some great piece of shit vehicle you got here," he says, and puts his right hand on the wheel to steady it, the gun's barrel pointing out toward the windshield.

I try to move quick, but it's difficult when you're naked from the waist down. I pull the gun out of the glove box while kicking at his right wrist, hoping to pin his hand against the wheel and keep his shiny silver barrel pointed away from my face.

He shouts in surprise and looks over at me, sees the gun in my hand and tries to bring his up. But I've got a good hold on his wrist with my bare foot, but he's strong, and so I brace my back against the door and kick at his wrist as hard as I can, hoping to use the steering wheel as a lever to break his grip on the gun.

And it works, kind of. But I end up kicking the steering wheel too, and as Calvin pitches to one side the steering wheel turns about a half revolution. We must be going about forty miles an hour, and as the tires turn, obeying the wheel, the front end spins around. There's a scattering of gravel like the sound of a scattershot shell being fired into a concrete wall. I feel the truck start to tip as we slide sideways. The left side comes up first, and I see Calvin rising over me. I twist to keep from breaking my neck when it tips. I take my foot off Calvin's wrist, and he twists towards me and fires, shattering the window behind my head. I roll of the seat and onto the floorboard, and I'm not sure if I mean to pull the trigger or not. He fires again, and I don't know where the bullet goes.

We roll all the way over on our side twice, I think, maybe three times, and land hard right side up. The wind is knocked out of me, and I can't breathe. I'm lying on the floorboards, and I feel something hard and metal under my leg. I reach down and pick up Calvin's gun. I put it back down on the other side of me where he can't get to it.

"Calvin?" I get back onto the seat. I feel vulnerable, sitting there with nothing but a shirt hanging open. I can see a shape, perfectly still, in the drivers' seat. "Calvin?"

I pop open the passenger door. It opens easier now than ever. The dome light comes on, and I see Calvin, his hands still on the wheel, his head slumped at a bizarre angle, his eyes wide and glazed. A stream of blood is trickling from his mouth and nose. There's a huge purple and black stain on his forehead, with a small patch of blood and hair in the middle. On the ceiling of the cab there's a tiny splotch of blood and matted hair.

"Calvin?" I say, but more just because I don't know what else to say, and feel like I should say something. Should do something. I am about to reach and touch his neck, feeling for a pulse, when it occurs to me that that's probably not the best idea.

I'm sitting there trying to figure out the next step. The truck is still running, the headlights are still on, when I see a hole on the underside of his jaw. There's hardly any blood, but on the opposite side, right above his ear, there's another hole, this one larger and filled with blood, which trickles down his left ear and onto the shoulder of his jacket.

"Jesus," I say, and slump back in my seat. I open the glove compartment and stick both guns inside. I figure I have to get rid of them, but for the moment I just want to get out of the truck. I step outside. The idling engine mixes with the summer wind. It's hot outside, and dry. I wonder what time it is--four o'clock, maybe even five. This time of the year, the sun will be up in an hour, hour and a half. Already the sky has lightened from black to deep gray.

I'm not really thinking too good anymore. I'm naked, which doesn't help, and when I recognize where we are I go into action before I can think to stop myself. It's where the road runs by the creek, where Jack and I had gotten all those stones for Davidson's driveway. We'd fished a bunch of them out of one deep section about twenty feet away from where the truck landed.

I try to open the drivers' door, but it's jammed. I go to the back of the truck and fish around for a crowbar. I come across one and lift it. It seems to twist for a second, coil up in my hand, like it's come alive, but I tighten my grip on it, and it feels like rusty iron again. I look up into the cab and see Calvin in the passenger seat now, turned around in the seat and staring out the rear window straight at me. My heart jumps a beat or two, and I resist the urge to throw the crowbar through the window. I take a deep breath and look away, steady my grip on the bar and then head to the drivers' door to pry it open. When I get there and look inside, Calvin is back where he was, dead again, like he should be. It's just going to get worse, I tell myself, unless I sleep. I need to sleep, to wake up. Reset myself. But I don't think I'll be able to sleep for a while yet.

The door comes open hard, but it comes. As it opens, I see Calvin's body slump, and I feel the pressure of his body weight trying to force the door open. I get out of the way and let go, and he tumbles out and lands on the ground, his feet still up in the cab. I throw the crowbar in the back and grab his lapel. I get blood on my hands but I can't find anyplace decent to grab that won't, and I drag him a few inches, until his feet drop clear of the cab, and I get up inside and look around, turn off the headlights and shut off the engine. There isn't much gas left, and I need to get . . . somewhere. Away from here.

I do the thing I least want to do, now before I lose my nerve. I take off his pants, which he wears too tight for him, and so I've got to get my fingers in next to his waist and yank until they come off his ass, then I manage to get them down to his ankles. Except then I have to take off his shoes. That's the part that makes me feel strangest, untying a dead man's shoes. His shoes are too small for me, and his pants are too big, but the pants I make work as best I can, then finally get around to buttoning up my shirt. Everything's quiet now, except the wind, and even that's died down, this soon before the dawn.

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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