RJ keeps a small plastic bag of pills in his coat pocket. Every four and a half hours he swallows one, without water. He has been driving for 38 hours and 42 minutes without pause, except for gas and food. He has 3 pills, $24.19, and 16 hours, 35 minutes left until they reach the Mexican border. He keeps careful track, mentally decrementing pills, money and minutes in a manic series of hypothetical scenarios. Derrick never drives.
Derrick looks up from his large hands. His mouth is set in concentration and deeply-felt concern. He looks at RJ for a long moment before speaking: “Yo, hey, RJ.”
RJ doesn’t return the look -- his eyes never leave the road as he snaps: “What.”
“What’d he say?”
“What’d who say?
“Y’know. Him. When you killed him. What’d he say?”
“I don’t fucking know. I don’t remember. Why d’you care anyway? Shut the fuck up.”
The clock is broken, and blinks 12:00. RJ counts the blinks out of the corner of his eye. An hour and 13 minutes later, by RJ’s count, Derrick looks up again: “Hey, RJ.”
“Why’d we have to put him in the trunk, anyway? I got all my stuff back there.”
“Maybe I should’ve put you in the trunk with your ‘stuff’ and sat him up here. Then maybe I could drive without hearing retarded questions.”
Derrick looks down, and then up again. He glances in the passenger side mirror and his eyes widen. He squeaks: “RJ?”
RJ says nothing. His knuckles are white against the wheel and his teeth grind against each other audibly.
“There’s a cop car behind us. What’re we going to do?”
“We’re going to pull over and act respectable and hope they don’t search the goddamn trunk. I’m going to talk and you are not going to say a motherfucking word, got it?” RJ’s voice cracks. He fumbles with the pill bag in his jacket. Unable to open the bag one-handed, he throws it to the floor.
“Just shut up.”
RJ rolls down the window and waits. Derrick looks at his hands and fidgets. Under RJ’s seat is a loaded .357 magnum.
“Do you know how fast you were going?”
“No sir, officer. My retarded cousin here was asking me stupid questions and I wasn’t paying attention.”
“Oh really? License and registration, please. Where’re you two goin’ so fast?”
“Mexico.” Derrick says, and grins at the officer. RJ turns and glares at him.
“Uh-huh. For what?”
RJ turns back to the officer, forcing a smile. “Visiting my abuelita, officer. Nice lady. She offered to put me and Derrick here up for a week or so.”
“Uh-huh.” The officer shines his flashlight around the interior of the car. “I’ll just bet she did. You boys got anything in the trunk?”
“Just luggage, officer.”
“Mm-hm. Are you aware that this car has been reported stolen?”
RJ’s smile fades briefly and then returns at blinding intensity. “That was just a prank some friends of mine played a while ago. Pushed my car out the driveway and around the block and I flipped out and called the pig-umm, police. Meantime they got it halfway across town, a little at a time, y’know, and I’m running myself ragged trying to figure this out and then one of ‘em comes up to me and says hey we found your car and they’re all there grinning and waving. They thought it was funny. Y’know. ”
“Sure. I’m going to have to search the vehicle. Please step out with your hands where I can see them.”
RJ reaches under his seat.
Eric Kenron is from Chicago. He is constantly breeding ideas, and
cultivates a Darwinian mental environment in which only the fittest ideas
survive to be written. He particularly likes noir, fantasy, and sub-genres
ending in “-punk,” but is not averse to writing in other genres as well.