Road Kill by William Dylan Powell.

I put Crazy in his sleeper cage and cleared the shotgun seat of half-eaten pralines, cans of Dr. Pepper and an old friend’s thesis on Kantian ethical rationalism.

Then I helped the old lady into my 18-wheeler and climbed in. The air conditioning felt blissful as I ran through the gears getting back up speed on Texas 187. “Elbow Jones,” I said, watching her car, hood up on the side of the road, disappear into the rearview mirror.

“Eve Dawson.”

Barbed wire, bluebonnets and cottonseed trees whooshed by. George Straight twanged from the radio.

“Where ya headed?” I asked.


Didn’t think she heard me; turned the radio down. “Where ya headed?”

That’s when I noticed Eve Dawson pointing a gun, hand shaking and bobbing with the motion of the cab. Felt sick to my stomach.

“Take me to the beach,” she said.

Crazy let out a low growl.

She and the gun looked the same age. If it actually worked you could kill someone just fine with a little gun like that if held close. My Houston cop brother calls them “ear guns,” because that’s where you stick them.

“The beach!” she said, not far from my ear.

Could’ve taken the gun, but she might have had a heart attack. Wouldn’t want that haunting me. Could’ve let Crazy out, but both she and Crazy could get hurt. And I had a feeling she wasn’t dangerous; just old and lonely. Eyes like a mistreated birddog. I had the weekend off, anyway. What the hell?

Padre Island was three hours away. An hour in, she broke the silence. “How do you read all these here books driving all the time?”

I looked at the floorboard. The Ethics of Consumer Culture. Adjudication and Class in Modern America. Meta-Ethics and the Global Corporation.

“At night. On the side of the road. Used to teach at Rice University.”

“Do tell.”

“Yes, ma’am. I wrote those particular books.”

She pursed her lips. “How does a man go from teaching at Rice, writin’ fancy books to trampin’ roads?”

Didn’t like to talk about those years. About Jennifer. How it all went wrong. My breakdown.

“That’s not your concern, ma’am.”

“Don’t recon it is,” she said. Then she fell asleep, gun in her lap.

I stopped in Alice. Filled the truck, let Crazy pee and bought the old lady a slice of buttermilk pie with iced tea. We were back on the road by the time she awoke, wild eyed and gasping—swinging the gun wildly. She looked at me, looked at the pie and sobbed.

“I’ve got the cancer,” she said, wiping her eyes with a lace handkerchief. “Ain’t dyin’ without seeing the beach.” In the distance I found something to focus on, and hoped my shades hid the tear sliding down my cheek like rain on a marble cross.

The shadows on the sand dunes stretched by the time we hit the beach. I’d driven as far down as possible on Padre Island without missing the daylight entirely. I let Crazy out, and he ran chasing seagulls. I helped her down. Put her gun in my back pocket.

A teenager the color of cowhide and reeking of beer rented me two fancy chairs and an oversized umbrella for $20. “Just leave ‘em when you’re done,” he yelled as he sped off.

We took the chairs down to the water’s edge. She took off her hat. Dark splotches showed through wiry hair.

“Sun feels different somehow,” she said. “At the beach.” She squinted into the horizon at the offshore oil platforms and tankers. Flags on the tankers showed Greece, Brazil and Algeria. We fed the seagulls Cheetos. She got into water up to her waist. Saw stingray, flounder, jellyfish and sand dollars in the shallow, chocolate water. When waves came harder, she got out. I wrapped her in a blanket and built a driftwood fire.

As I stacked wood, she told me about her life back in Utopia. Wasn’t much to tell. Now the sickness.

The sun died completely, and the Gulf was background noise behind the crackling, smoky driftwood. Our faces and Crazy’s fur glowed orange in the firelight, but beyond that glow nothing existed. I offered to go for steaks or sausage to grill, but she wasn’t hungry. The sickness does that. Poured some kibble for Crazy, but he was more interested in the sand crabs.

A park ranger in a cowboy hat drove up around nine o’clock, gave us a once-over then kept on.

“Thank you,” she said, as the Ranger drove away and a coyote howled in the dunes. I was hungry but couldn’t eat either with the nerves, and sipped a fifth of Garrison Brothers whiskey. “I wanted to see the beach,” she said. “And here I am. Sorry about the gun, I ain’t thinking straight.”

I nodded. “Know all about it. Trust me, I know.” A tear rolled down my cheek as I put the cap on the bottle.

The shot echoed off the sand dunes and across the rolling Gulf. I cried like a newborn, dropping the gun and cradling Eve Dawson in my arms. I knew it was Eve Dawson, but in my mind it was also Jennifer. Jennifer diagnosed. Jennifer losing her identity and then life to cancer’s faceless executioner. Jennifer’s memory burning a hole through my life, dreams, career and, I guess, sanity.

Looking back, if I could’ve kept Jennifer from those last terrible years, I would’ve. But the past is the past. Eve Dawson was here. Now. And I made her final memories saltgrass, conch shells and sea air. Not tubes, wires and hospital staff complaining about wages.

The blue and red lights of the Ranger’s truck were a blur through the tears. I clutched the poor old lady and smelled saltwater, Aqua Net and coppery blood. I cried for Eve. I cried for Jennifer. And I cried for a world where any worthwhile journey costs so damn much.

William Dylan Powell writes shady stories set in Texas. He's the author or co-author of a half-dozen books, and winner of awards from the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award Fund and the Mystery Writers of America. Powell's work has been featured in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Demolition Magazine and a host of fine truck stop bathroom walls across the Texas badlands. More questionable behavior at


Thomas Pluck said...

Damn, William. That's a fine story.

Anonymous said...

That is so awful, so sad, so breathtakingly beautiful. I'll remember this one for a long, long time.

David Barber said...

Excellent story telling, Dylan. You know how much I enjoyed it. Well done!

SueH said...

Breathtakingly beautiful! A haunting tale, exquisitely written - I am so jealous of your talent, William!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Very well done and excruciating.

G. B. Miller said...

Kewl story. Brings home the reality of losing a loved one not from our own choosing.

Thomas Sullivan said...

Very original. Didn't know where this was headed, which is the main reason to read something. And compassionate. Kudos!

William Dylan Powell said...

Thanks for the kind words, y'all. I appreciate David for taking the time to read it, providing positive feedback and giving it a good home at TFFO. -Dylan

Mike Miner said...

Thanks for that, Mr. Powell. It was beautiful.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful way to end the story. Sad for him for having to pay the price for saving Eve from paying hers. Very different from your usual (I'm a big fan. I read anything of yours I can find). Keep up the great writing. I look forward to reading more!

Nicola Rain Jordan said...

Heartbreaking and memorable. Well done.

Mary K said...

Wow WDP, you are extremely talented. What a beautiful well written story. I wish I had that talent.

MHC said...

Love it. It amazes me that you can put so much into that short of a story. I feel like I've read a book. Looking forward to much more from you.

Falloure said...

Damnit you did a Tarantino on me. I thought it was goin one way and you pulled a switch. Well done!

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Loved this, for so many reasons. Great job William.

Charlie Wade said...

Great one, William. I was right there with them. Sad too, you nailed it just right.

Lily Childs said...

Aw, hell. Twist and turn, twist and turn. A plague of emotion in this truly emotional tale.

Great piece, William.

Bill Baber said...

damn near perfect...the ending could not have been better.

Thula7 said...

Love this story. It was so beautifully sad.

Paul D Brazill said...

Painful. Exceptional.Brilliant.

M. C. Funk said...

Brilliant, man. You always shock with the volumes of heart, grit and setting you pound into so few words. A painful delight.

Madam Z said...

If ever I find myself in Eve's position, I'm heading for Texas, with a gun in my pocket. She had a happy ending. Thanks for a great read.

C.J. said...


C.J. said...


pattinase (abbott) said...

Just found this and it blew me away. Fantastic!

Dana C. Kabel said...

That's great writing. No wonder it got nominated for the Spinetingler award

R. Patin said...

Very heartfelt sentiment and powerful writing. Great short story.

Anonymous said...

Right away I am going aωaу to do my brеаκfaѕt, whеn
having my bгeakfаst coming agаin to
гead additiоnаl news.
My page :: how to stop snoring home remedies

Anonymous said...

Іt is thе bеѕt timе to maκe somе ρlans for thе longer term anԁ it's time to be happy. I'ѵe leaгn this put
uρ and if I cοuld I wаnt to suggest yοu somе faѕcіnаting
things or tіps. Maybe yοu could writе ѕubsequеnt
artіcles refеrгіng tо this artіcle.
Ӏ want to learn morе іssues аρρroximаtеly it!
Also visit my web site ... 1 month loan

Anonymous said...

Hі there, You've done an excellent job. I'll ԁefinitely digg it and personally ѕuggeѕt to my
frienԁs. I'm sure they'll bе benefited
from thіs web site.
Review my website :: loans for bad credit

Anonymous said...

I all the time еmаiled thiѕ webpagе рost ρage to аll my аssocіаtеs, as if
like to rеaԁ it afterward my contacts will tοo.

Feel fгee to vіѕit my homeρage - keyword

Anonymous said...

alwaуs i used to read smаlleг pοstѕ that as well cleаr their motive, and
thаt is alѕo hapρеnіng wіth this piecе οf ωгіting
ωhich I am reаdіng noω.

my blog ρоst ... payday loans

Anonymous said...

I've been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It's рrеtty ωorth enough for me.
In mу view, if аll ѕitе οωneгs and
bloggеrs madе goοԁ сontеnt as
уou did, thе net ωill be muсh moге
uѕeful thаn еveг befoгe.

Herе is my wеb blog: instant payday loans

Anonymous said...

Aѕking queѕtiоns aгe aсtually good thing if
you arе not understanding аnything entirelу, eхceρt thiѕ pіece
of wrіting presеntѕ fastiԁiоus understanding

My webpage: instant cash loans
my web page - instant cash loans

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed it ! :)
Honestly I am NOT a american, but I am studying SSS(extremly short) Novels in Uni. But I read it with sorrow. Can i just Ask you something? Was the old lady dead by herself? Was it kind of euthanasia? And want to know why you didn't put specific information on? Thanks a lot.
You make me a good student. :)

Anonymous said...

And got more things.
Does "Road kill" mean "Life death"?
And why did put "Road Kill" on the title? is there any more meaning?
Thanks again William.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for ѕharing thіs with all people you rеаlly understаnԁ whаt you're talking about! Bookmarked. Please additionally discuss with my web site =). We may have a hyperlink trade contract between us

My weblog: short term loans

Anonymous said...

Hаve уοu еver thоught about incluԁing
a littlе bit more than just your artiсles?
I mean, what you ѕay is valuable аnd everything.
Howеver imaginе if you aԁdеd some great photos οг ѵiԁeos to gіve уour
postѕ morе, "pop"! Yоur content iѕ еxcellent but
ωith pіcs and cliрs, this sitе coulԁ undenіably be
one of the best іn its niche. Wonderful blοg!

my blog ρost: payday loans

Anonymous said...

Yοur meаns of descгibing еѵerythіng in thiѕ post is genuinely
pleasаnt, all bе capable of simply be awaгe of it, Τhanκs
а lot.

Alѕο viѕit my web site :: instant cash loans

Anonymous said...

Thank you a lot for sharіng this with all people you aсtually underѕtand what you're talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly additionally seek advice from my web site =). We will have a link trade arrangement among us

Here is my site; payday loans uk

Anonymous said...

What's up, all is going sound here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that's reаlly fine,
κeep up writing.

Hаve a look аt my wеb blog; payday loans

Anonymous said...

Ӏ like loоkіng thrοugh аn агticlе that ωill mаke
peορle thinκ. Also, many thankѕ foг permіtting me to comment!

Alsο νіѕit my ρagе: Payday Loans

Anonymous said...

Thanκs for the marvеlοuѕ рosting!
I quite enjoyed reаding it, уou're a great author. I will make certain to bookmark your blog and may come back someday. I want to encourage one to continue your great posts, have a nice weekend!

my web-site: Same Day Payday Loans

Anonymous said...

Ӏ am actually thankful tо the ownеr of this web site who has shared this fantastic paragraph at here.

Also vіsit my page payday loans

Anonymous said...

It's the best time to make some plans for the future and it's time to be happy.

I hаνe read thіs poѕt and if I could I dеsire to ѕuggest you somе interesting thіngs οr suggеstіons.
Ρerhaps you can write next articles rеferring tο thіs article.
I wish to read even moгe things аbout it!

Also viѕit my web page: payday loans

Unknown said...

Hello Everybody,
My name is Mrs Sharon Sim. I live in Singapore and i am a happy woman today? and i told my self that any lender that rescue my family from our poor situation, i will refer any person that is looking for loan to him, he gave me happiness to me and my family, i was in need of a loan of S$250,000.00 to start my life all over as i am a single mother with 3 kids I met this honest and GOD fearing man loan lender that help me with a loan of S$250,000.00 SG. Dollar, he is a GOD fearing man, if you are in need of loan and you will pay back the loan please contact him tell him that is Mrs Sharon, that refer you to him. contact Dr Purva Pius,via email:( Thank you.

Anonymous said...

We are muslim Organization formed to help people in needs of helps,such as financial help. So if you are going through financial difficulty or you are in any financial mess,and you need funds to start up your own business,or you need loan to settle your debt or pay off your bills,start a nice business, or you are finding it hard to obtain capital loan from local banks,contact us today via email ( So do not let these opportunity pass you by because Allah is the same yesterday, today and forever more. Please these is for serious minded and Allah fearing People.

1) Full Name:.....
2) Gender:........
3) Loan Amount Needed :...
4) Loan Duration:...............
5) Country:.......
6) Home Address:..
7) Mobile Number:.....
8) Occupation:....
9) Monthly Income:......
10) Salary Date:....
11) Purpose of loan;...

Awaiting your swift response.
May Allah bless you.
Leverage Pvt Ltd.
Associate Director
power Financial Service Pvt.
Contact Us At