Alexander Helmke

The truck’s slogan said THIS CARRIES TWO TONS OF HOPE but the body in back weighed far less. Kit stole the truck while it idled in front of a donation bin. The driver was sorting furniture or clothes or baby-those on the lawn.

Maybe the now-trunked woman was an accident. She was wearing sweatpants bundled at the knee by neon straps that warded off every vehicle, except. Kit thought she was attractive running on the sidewalk but now unmoving and up close on the pavement, hell no, just ugly and bleeding. Even the ugly breathe, gotdamn.

He lifted her into the back. Got her shirt off too. Those things tucked into her sports bra looked like two veiny vegetables under there. He used to throw produce at the neighborhood recluse. Kit stopped taking things off of her. This was as far as he got even with conscious girls. He wanted to smoke. He smelled the empty baggy. Peripatetic headlights and streetlights and that means you drive.

Kit’s cousin Karl lived in a sad ranch house. The seven in the address hung to a one, a gallows. Two solid getaway treads leaked into the grass up to the garage.

Karl sat in a permanent back broken recliner, chewing into an old clear sports bottle. An old fish tank bubbled and tumbled old beer cans with algae labels. Words bannered across the bottom of the TV in black bars.

Said Karl, Christ. The deaf boxes won’t stop talking.

He pointed the bottle at the noise.

You got some? said Kit.

No. Out.

Out. Why out.

Leslie took the rest.

Karl and his ex-wife Leslie argued about this stupid embroidery framed over the fridge. It said THIS AINT A HOUSE ITS GODS. Said she, It could be more than one God. Said he, It’s not but what if it is. They fought about that or their unborn dead thing. He never hit her. She left since the pastor told her that any man who takes a life couldn’t keep his word.

Kit kicked a decaying piece of woodwork by the kitchen door and pieces of the fleur-de- lis pattern scattered over the linoleum floor. The can’s beer tab would not work so he opened it the old way.

Karl was abusing the TV again.

Said Kit, Say Karl, know anything about license plates?

For your stolen truck?

I bought it. Came with a naked girl inside.

Karl was punching the knobs now. His knuckles were bleeding.

Bullshit if I ever heard a thing, said Karl. Then I have all the cheerleaders in my basement. Chained and young.

Karl laughed, punched the set again. The rabbit ears swayed.

Said Karl again, And have you ever seen titties? Ever? Titties? Nah sir you have not.

He laughed and laughed.

Kit listened to the fish tank’s gurgle and hit Karl’s nape with the pistol’s butt.

At the rest stop, Kit drank from the fountain. That solitary grill bolted to concrete, far away. No one used it. An old man with suspenders choked his dog when it barked. It barked more. It choked more. Kit opened the trunk.

There she was still breathing without shirt. He removed her socks and held them in his fists and remembered the only time he tried dirty snow. He was thirsty. Drowning did not matter.

He watched her ribs rise and thought about how many times the parents tried to make her. Probably honeymoon, at least late teenage. Yup, one gently misled fuck. Kit was sorry he missed conception. But he could learn a similar love, sure. She could help.

 
 
 


Alexander Helmke is a founding editor of Revolver, a Twin Cities arts and culture magazine. His ebook, Bonfires, was published by Thought Catalog in February 2013. His work has appeared in Thought Catalog, The Mercy Review and Spontaneous Combustion Vol. 1.