The Dead Rug by Garrett Ashley

Johnny from Archie Hall was a cocaine snorting champion. All the good boys and girls at college wanted to be just like him. He could snort a line of coke a foot long in one drag. His eyes would turn blood red and everyone in the city would understand it was his night to be fucked up and no one had the right to tell him what's what. Then one night he had a little too much and croaked.

Mitchell and Willy had not gotten blazed yet. Johnny had always been the first to go. It had always been his honor. But now he was dead. Little ribbons of blood oozed out of his powdered nose onto their garage sale rug. Both of them were stunned. They locked both the bathroom door and the front.

"We killed him," said Mitchell. "We shouldn't have made him do so much coke."

Willy was sympathetic to Mitchell's theory but assumed otherwise. "If he didn't want to do so much he'd have left," he said. "Stop crying, the whole dorm will hear you."

Mitchell closed Johnny's eyes shut with his fingertips. He smelled them afterwards. "I don't know what to do," he said.

Willy pulled at his hair. The grip made his knuckles glow red. "Fuck if I know," he said. "Call the cops and explain what happened I guess."

"We're fucked," said Mitchell. The words kept pouring from his mouth. He was like a broken record that had once been ready to snort coke and experience an amazing night.

Willy picked up his cell. "I'm calling 911."

"He's fucking dead," said Mitchell. He'd never seen anything quite as pale or as stiff as Johnny. "We might as fucking well bury him tonight. Everyone's gonna think we made him do it."

"That'll be your fault," said Willy.

"Don't hit that button."

"I'm getting him an ambulance."

Mitchell slapped the phone out of Willy's hand. "Our lives are fucking over if you do that."

Willy dropped his head and held his breath. It was 3:30 in the morning and he had never felt so alive. "What are we going to do?"

Mitchell pulled the corners of the rug out from under the bunk beds and wrapped his dead friend up like a tortilla. He pulled one end towards the door and begged Willy for help.

"I'm not doing that," he said.

"The hell you aren't. Half is on you." Mitchell wiped the tears from his cheeks. Down in the carpet he could see the bottoms of Johnny's ten year old sneakers. The ones he'd worn every day since they met.

Willy turned his phone off. The temptation to just call for an ambulance would eventually fade away. He helped Mitchell carry the dead rug out to his purple tempo and threw it into the back seat.

Mitchell shut the door and showed his teeth. He squeezed his eyes shut and held back the persisting need to scream.

"Let me go to my car and grab something," said Willy.

Mitchell was alone with the rug. He watched and hoped and prayed for some sign of movement. He remembered the sounds Johnny had made just before his head fell and bashed against the cold tile floor. If there was any blood there he would clean it tomorrow. He thought about where to go. Where in the world he could hide the rug.

Willy came back and sat in the passenger side. "It's not so bad," he said. He took quick breathes like Mitchell had never seen before. Willy had always been the calm one. When Johnny got on a spectacular high Mitchell was the only one that could ever get him to relax.

"Alright?" said Mitchell. He started the car. "What'd you bring?"

"We can take him to the railroad tracks and throw him out at the Hollow."

Mitchell recalled a place out in the middle of the woods where students liked to go and throw out their trash. The Hollow always smelled like a month old dead person. No one would ever notice Johnny wrapped in a filthy garage sale rug.

About thirty minutes later they carried the rug through the woods to the Hollow. "I don't think anyone'll see the car," said Mitchell.

Willy looked behind him and back to the rug. He couldn't take his eyes off it.

"Alright?" said Mitchell. "I'm feeling better about it already."

Willy didn't speak. At the Hollow they dropped the rug off by a torn couch and several mounds of garbage bags. The railroad tracks ran north and south a few feet away. Mitchell tried not to vomit. But he was thankful no one had ever noticed the garbage there. Johnny would rot and no one would ever know.

"Goodbye, I guess," said Mitchell. "I don't really know much about you, except you really liked doing drugs." He wondered what they would have said at a regular funeral. How the family might have cried and how the preacher might have prayed. "Say something, Willy. Say goodbye, I guess."

Willy reached behind him, pulled a revolver out of his pants, and pointed the barrel at Mitchell's forehead.

"Where did you get that?"

Crack. The echo ran down the railroad tracks. Willy looked north and south. No one for miles that could see him. And he knew that no one would ever find him. Crack. The second explosion rang through his mind. He remembered his first kiss. Graduation. Induction. He remembered moving out of his family's house, the tears in his mother's eyes and the smile on his father's face. He wondered how they would cry at his funeral.

That was the only thing he had time to imagine before falling face first into the trash with Mitchell and the dead rug.


i.ayris said...

Garrett. Blimey. What a great piece. Loved the BANG BANG BANG style. Spot on. And the dialogue fizzed and crackled and popped like spray cans on a bonfire. Loved the little details. And the characterisation was so consistent all the way through. Even at the end, which got me right between the eyes. Very, very good.

Anonymous said...

Loved the conflict between the 2 and didn't really expect the ending.

Nice read,

Bill Baber said...

yeah, nice twist at the finish... well told!!

AJ Hayes said...

Nice use of the senses too. Could see, hear and, especially, smell the scenes. Set up the Kapow! very nicely. Good stuff.

abhinav said...

Great story, the ending was pretty surprising.

Strange how much you can enjoy a well written story which is filled with darkness almost from the first sentence.