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The International Writers Magazine: Life Moments: From Our Archives

James Leonard
He had no idea how long he had been there. It felt like he had woken from a bad dream into a living nightmare.


The weight of the car felt like an elephant sitting on his chest. He tried breathing through his mouth; it was as if someone took a skill saw and ran a white hot blade from his chest cavity straight through his brain. Moments later when he opened his eyes his legs quivered. Shallow breathing through the nostrils was a little less painful. I can't blame this on anyone but myself, he thought. Damn.

Driving home from work, heard the low rumbling sound coming from the exhaust then pulled into the dirt parking lot of an old olive oil factory to have a look; that was how he fucked-up; breaking rule number one, never jack a car up on an uneven surface. Never thought the jack would kick out on him. He was now aware of the hot exhaust pipe searing the flesh on the right side of his face, emitting an odour so foul that the smell of engine fluids and fear were overwhelming.

His mind began racing; someone's got to see my legs sticking out from the front of the car, it's only a matter of time before help comes. Just then a dim light slowly spread across the parking lot. Headlights! he thought. Seconds later the realization set in; it was a streetlight. Gonna be dark soon. His eyes closed. Ice cold flakes of snow were stinging the several inches of exposed flesh above the ankles. His eyes slowly turned to the left and could make out the half-dollar sized snowflakes tumbling down from the sky with a vengeance. He passed out.

 When he came to there was several inches of snow on the ground, the temperature had plummeted, his legs hidden by snow, body numb and darkness. Panic set in. Maybe this is payback. Bad karma those young punks at work would call it. Nothing to do with bad luck, or God. Sure, I'm a real prick on the job, and yeah, I like to fire the never ending supply of morons that wash up on my loading dock. But, hey, if those shipments don't go out on time it's my ass. 15 years in, nobody's gonna screw up my job. Karma, what goes around comes around. Bullshit. Just bad luck.

Staring at the rusted frame a drop of brake fluid landed in his right eye, he caught a whiff of the skunk he ran over several days earlier. Time lost all meaning. He imagined in the nearby triple deckers people were having Christmas parties; homes warm and lit up by lights: blues, and greens and reds, yellows and orange. Kids putting out cookies and milk so Santa can take a break at their house. Hugs and kisses, and, hope Santa's good to you. The smell of pine.  Maybe someone will come out on their porch, see the car; the only one in the lot, think it's stolen and call the cops. He could see what caused that noise; the exhaust pipe broke apart about six inches from where it comes out of the engine and a foot from his face. He drifted off.

The snow now was high enough that he could no longer see from under the car, legs no longer visible to passers by. Minutes later two guys; Zero and The Preacher crossed the railroad tracks and slid thru a hole in the chainlink fence on the far side of the parking lot. Earlier they had beat and robbed another homeless man who had been carrying 60 bucks. They bought themselves a couple bottles of cheap wine and some rock.


"I hope we didn't hurt that guy too bad," Zero said nervously.

 "Don't worry about him, he'll live." replied The Preacher.

"There was a lot of blood."

Preacher gave him a dirty look. "Forget him, he'll get over it, let's find a place to party. Damn, it's Christmas Eve!"


They noticed the lone car blanketed with snow and walked over to it. The man under the car heard the boots crunching in the snow. MY GOD, I'M SAVED, I PROMISE.... Zero and Preacher brushed snow of the side windows.

"It's probably a hot box some kid's dumped here, hey Zero try the door."

Zero is happy as anything. "It's empty, jump in man."


The last bit of air in his lungs was forced out by the four hundred pounds of  weight in the front seat, his eyes bulged and fluid ran down his chin.

Zero turned the key and the engine roared to life. Preacher was elated. "Gun that bad boy, get some heat in here, turn on the radio!" he whooped. Within 10 minutes it was warm enough to take their jackets off. Wine drunk and crack smoked, they relaxed.


"We really lucked out tonight, how did that happen?" Zero wondered aloud.

Preacher smiled then answered Zero. "It's called Karma my friend, Karma."


The car slowly filled up with deadly fumes.


"Preacher, what does Karma mean anyways?"

"What goes around comes around my boy, what goes around comes around."


© James Leonard Jan 2010
jleonard5455 at

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