I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you each a very happy New Year; may it present you with all of the joy, love and opportunities you hope for.
On with the show.
This is a portion of a fiction work in (very, very early) progress, and I hope it makes you all want to read more; follow me @mattjkonrad to find out if I ever finish the damn thing.
Saturday, July 4
The first fireworks exploded over the Mississippi as I ran through the alley behind my own house. I didn’t know the exact intentions of the man chasing me, but the gun and the yelling and the broken window he’d left at Elise’s place led me to believe that he wasn’t trying to return misdelivered mail.
As another fiery bloom took shape over the water, I paused for a split second to check on his progress. Just before the BOOM, I caught a glimpse of him silhouetted in red, exuding anger even though I couldn’t see his face. As the light faded, he turned toward my back porch, and I swore to myself; I’d been hoping to steal into my house and figure out what the hell to do next, but if he was heading that way, my plans were going to have to change.
And then I saw him passing my house with a single disinterested look, his eyes focused on the corners and the exits.
He’d seen me. My plans were going to have to change fast.
Fortunately, my small scraggly side yard butted up against an auto repair shop, and I knew where there was a flap in the fence. The head mechanic had cut it out last summer so his wife’s unlovable pair of yap-dogs could sneak out and shit on my property instead, and I figured I was well within my rights to use it myself. I made my way to the appropriate section of fence, hoping against hope that the grand finale wasn’t in the offing; I crouched, pushed the corner, and wriggled onto their asphalt, leaving nothing but a big heaping pile of my dignity behind, and opening onto a lot of lousy options.
The expanse of parking lot between me and the garage was exposed, well-lit against thieves and undoubtedly covered by some kind of alarm; I was about as likely to be able cross Lake Ponchartrain in my t-shirt and jeans. I could have potentially made a sprint for the little front office, but it was about the size of a phone booth, and I didn’t relish standing in a shooting gallery.
I figured my best chance at hiding was the line of cars just to my left. There were four or five in various states of disrepair and they weren’t all that opaque, but I could get behind them in a couple strides and reassess what had gone wrong with my life.
And so I took a deep breath, mentally measured the distance to the beat-to-hell green Camry closest to me, closed my eyes and tried to steel the shaking in my knees long enough to walk over without my teeth chattering and giving me away.
It took four steps. Each one of them seemed to last a damn eternity, but the only explosions that punctuated the sultry New Orleans night were those from the fireworks display. As I settled in behind the Camry’s wheel well, nothing shot yet but my nerves, I had to laugh to myself.
I’d had a lot of lousy rebound relationships. But this was the first one that was about to get me killed.