A Short Story

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There was no why to them up and disappearing as they did, leaving behind their lizard farm, Grandma Candy, and their student loans.

Their reason was simply to go, no strings.

To go go go go go until they reached the far end of the globe.

After a while though, Perry started to notice the longer Arthur and him were on road, the more waitresses and bank tellers, hotel clerks and barmen, gas station attendants, just people stuck on the sidewalk in no syllable towns started to look at them like we were ghosts. The pair of them had read Kerouac, had studied Ginsberg and Cassady, obsessed over the words of Wharton, Patti Smith, and Annemarie Schwarzenbach. All the roads are open! They would howl into the sand-laden, bug thickened night air hoping to catch that same magic on the page that silently, was a plea to the Gods for recognition. Before their go-go, they were nothing but odds and ends workers serving drunks drinks at a place called The Last Can in LA.

They wanted more and the road was their answer.

Boo! Perry belted at an old man gassing up. They were somewhere outside San Antonio. The old man had a large AM/PM soda cup in his stony hands, staring dead-eyed at Perry. BLABABALLLLLPPPPFFFFF, he shouted. Spit and boogers shot from Perry’s nose and mouth.

He really wanted to scare the old-timer, but his words were as affecting as he felt.

You see that shit? The old man didn’t even flinch. Perry knocked on the dusty window of the diarrhea green pinto they’d stolen from Candy.

Eh? Arthur said. He lit a cigarette. Smoke rolled over his chop-block, pot-marked face. See what shit?

Old man over there, Perry said flicking his sharp stubbled chin at the old man. Didn’t even notice me. Me!

Why would he?

Cause’ I yelled at the fucker.

Arthur shrugged. Let’s go go go.

Rattling up a nameless road in Lousiana thirty out of Baton Rouge, they followed signs claiming the best ribs in town.

The seats of the place were Push-Pop cherry red and smelled like cigars and cayenne.

Scuse’ me miss, Arthur said clearing his throat. Their waitress was passing them for the third time. Can we get some service?

The waitresses screeched and shot back. A splash of coffee shot up onto her sky blue blouse. Perry and Arthur tried to apologize but before they could, she was already in the back of the kitchen sobbing.

As they left, both of them heard her garbled cries, There wasn’t anybody there but…there was. I swear. I swear. I swear.

There were daily arguments of turning back, returning to who they were.

Nothing back there but who we were, Perry told Arthur pulling into a Motel 8.

We were something, Arthur pleaded. Someone.

Go then. See if I give a shit. Quit.

The next morning, Arthur took a shower earlier than usual. Thick white steam filled the bathroom. As he brushed his teeth, he rubbed the clouded mirror. He saw his nose, his eyes, ears, lips; his face. Arthur brought a finger and poked his cheek. He felt it. He was there.

I am here, I am here, I am here, Arthur told himself.

He stepped out of the bathroom and saw Perry was already out of bed fully dressed. His bag was slung over his shoulder. The door was wide open.

You leaving me here you bastard? Arthur shouted after him.

Perry didn’t even flinch as he stepped outside and slammed the door.

The pounding of Arthur’s fists merged with the churning rubble of Grandma Candy’s Pinto as the road remained the same.

Mitchell Duran is a freelance writer. He earned a Master’s in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University in 2019. Find more work at Mitchellduran.com

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