It Just Goes Downhill From Here By Ryan Sayles

So you’re out of breath when you swing open the trunk’s lid and you eyeball the space inside there and compare it to the dead hooker cooling ever so slightly at your feet.

You were never really that good at spatial relations to begin with but you think that maybe if you took out the spare tire and the gym bag you packed but never ever used even though the company bought you guys memberships at the meathead emporium down the street and if you toss out the tool kit and the roadside assistance kit that you wouldn’t know how to use even if you had to, if you yank all that crap and throw it out you know, damn good and well, there’s no room for a corpse. Start cussing your wife for wanting the compact car. Even if the hooker were Asian, she’d be too big for this.

One second you’re promising a twenty for some action and the next second you’re letting her get up on your lap thinking you’re going to spend twenty and receive forty and then the next second after that you feel her gun pressing into your hip and think, all nonchalant-like, I’ll just mosey on over to it and make sure this whore ain’t gonna strong arm rob me and then you mosey on over to her thigh where her six-inch barrel is and you realize, hey, this gun has a mushroom head and then it dawns on you it ain’t no gun. It’s her hotdog and she is a he and you flip the fuck out.

Good thing you had the drop on her because you’re no fighter and that he-she had you by fifty pounds. Check for an Adam’s apple better next time, bro. Because in hindsight, that thing bobbed up and down like a buoy in a hurricane and it was the first thing you kissed when it mounted your lap. No, it doesn’t make you gay. Well, it sorta does.

Beat your forehead against the trunk lid. Let yourself have a panic fantasy real quick about buying a chainsaw and a hundred pounds of lye. Real quick. Maybe a shovel or some starved pit bulls. Can you just drive off? Sure. But, the he-she is covered in your prints and saliva, and you’re still on parole for that silly little indiscretion near the playground. Man, they dropped the People’s Elbow on you for that lapse in judgment. Anyways, since the Feds have your DNA it’ll only be a matter of time—and by that, time means minutes—before they tag you with this. You’ll need to torch your car’s interior because the he-she bled so much when you went ape shit you’ll never get that faux leather detailed enough to feel good about passing a forensics exam.

What to do, what to do? you ask yourself. And as the theme music to Jeopardy clinks away in your skull, searching for answers you should phrase in the form of a question you start to realize you feel naked and in danger out here. Off the main road. By the river. Below to the Interstate overpass. Poor lighting and gang graffiti everywhere.

So, you follow your original plan and toss out all the garbage in the trunk. Grab the dead whore. Arms around the he-she’s man-sized rib cage, heaving up in short bursts to get that thing in a position where you can just drop it in the general direction of the trunk space. Heave/shove. Its body flops up and forward. Its forehead hits the hinge on the truck lid, but oh well. Not feeling it now. You scoot its arms just so and fold its legs here and there and for the most part it’s actually inside. And then, just like they did in all those cartoons, you grab the lid and slamming it to get the latch to catch. Just enough. Just when you feel like you’re gonna half to stand on the lid and jump up and down, you hear a strained click. Gotcha.

And then you hear them behind you.

Turn. See three guys. Gangbangers? Probably so, sure. They’re not white and they’re all dressed the same way in baggy clothes, so, yes, more than likely they’re thugs. You lean back and the latch un-catches and the truck lid does a slow, Vanna White reveal as it rises towards the heavens, showing off your dead whore prize.

And you look down at the corpse and you look at them and you panic because they keep walking towards you and they might not be striding in step and snapping their fingers like they’re The Jets but hot damn you think they mean you ill. You start slamming shut that stupid trunk lid again. Click.

You hear one of them shout. Hey. Hey, man. Whatchoo doin’ wit’ Carlos? And then you hear another one say, this some bullshit, man. Shit just got real. A third one said something but you’re flipping out because you know what it means when you hear “shit just got real” and you know it ain’t good. Oh no. You know this is a downright terrible development.

Now, if ever some tough guy were to tell you that you “squealed like a bitch” when you ran to your front seat, you might have to face the music for it. But there is no tough guy—outside of the thugs, anyways—so don’t worry about it. Instead, worry about when you throw the gear shifter into reverse and gun it backwards so shockingly sudden that you hit one of the thugs and give him a good twirl under your tires before switching to drive—with that bad boy still underneath you, probably also squealing like a bitch at the moment—and trying to make headway.

Yeah, that’s a problem, you think.

It’s also a problem that the other guys get your back doors open and more or less get inside before you spin enough rubber on top of their buddy to get traction. To fly up an embankment and burst onto the interstate.

No, there are no cars on the interstate when you erupt onto it. But there’ like four big rigs and a highway patrolman, though. One of the big rigs was probably four feet from where you breached and yes, he did overcorrect into one of the other rigs. Lucky for you, the highway patrolman was able to avoid the massive wreck when those two trucks tangled and flipped and started sliding along the concrete. Go ahead and look in your rearview mirror, please. See that fault line of sparks shooting up to the sky? See that black wall of boxy shadows speeding towards you? Yes. That’s both the trucks, laid out on their sides and closing in. Oh, then the patrolman’s LED cherries light up. And they do a really good job of silhouetting the two thugs in your backseat who are scrambling to come eat you.

And lucky again. One of the thugs is still hanging halfway out your open backdoor. Quick! Jerk the wheel and let him roll to safety at eighty miles an hour. Hollywood does it all the time.

So, you jerk your wheel and maybe that guy doesn’t let go. Maybe he has Thug-Strength because you just went ape shit on some he-she hooker named Carlos that this guy knows and then you ran over his buddy. A lot. So, he doesn’t let go and that sucks. What the hell. Try again.

And because the other thug comes up over the seat and you feel his sweaty, tiny hands grab your neck and face, you over-jerk the wheel. Is that a term? Over-jerk? It is now. Your wife’s favorite compact car zings off to the side where you directed it and it hits the guardrail just enough to peel that gangbanger like you were opening up a can with a battering ram. Some of him flies off that way and some of him sprays this way and some more splashes inside your car and his buddy gets the wash down and you hear the guy you just guardrail-ed as he screams for a split second before his wind pipe and vocal chords exit stage left.

But you’re still getting choked, and there’s still highway patrol on your ass. So you over-correct from the slaughter and yank back the other way. Towards freedom. Towards tomorrow. Towards the rest of your life.

But there’s just the river. And the river running through your city has never been anyone’s tomorrow.

You hit the other guardrail—the thin piece of cheap government tin between you and the cold, endlessly deep water—and what do you know? It gives. It gives easy. You pop up, soaring into the night and time crawls down to a molasses shuffle. You watch the evening streetlights serenely reflecting off the surface of the river right in front of you. You watch them move up and down as you catch some air, rocketing up off the interstate. All four of your wheels turning aimlessly but you still mash the break pedal.

There is a peace that comes over you even as you hear the flimsy truck latch snap with the impact. The lid flies up, surprisingly faster than anything else that’s going on. Carlos the tranny with a boner bigger than yours thrusts right out of that too small trunk. Santa’s bag of presents just opened and made it rain surprises. Limp and rolling mid-air, its arms twirling like an ice skater caught up in the final moments of a scratch spin. Like a missile crossed with a corkscrew crossed with a five O’clock shadow and a tasteful dab of Chanel No. 5.

Even in your blissful moment, as Carlos the tranny hooker careens out of your trunk and hits the highway patrolman’s windshield, you shit your pants just a little. Because right now you’re pretty sure there are two dead people in that black and white.

But all of that concern fades away when your own tiny, tiny clown car hits the river nose first. The thug doesn’t know if he should lay back and suffer his whiplash, or still choke you to death, or try and get out. But, the open door where his buddy was sitting before he was aerosolized into a meat froth is still open and all that frigid river water comes rushing in.

You try your door but the river pushes harder than you do and all you can think about was how Carlos put your twenty in his-her bra before the action started and that bra is now located in the lap of a dead cop in a wrecked car on a devastated highway and it was your last bill.

You’ve got three quarters but they’re not going to do much now.

*

BIO: Ryan Sayles is the author of Subtle Art of Brutality and That Escalated Quickly! He won Dead End Follies’ 2013 award for best newly discovered talent. Subtle Art of Brutality was nominated for best crime novel at Dead End Follies and top Indie novel at The House of Crime & Mystery’s 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards. Ryan is a founding member of Zelmer Pulp and on the masthead at The Big Adios. He may be contacted at Vitriol And Barbies.wordpress.com

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