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The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Body Count

One More For the Road
Gordon Ray Bourgon

They agreed: one more, that’s it. The killings were getting harder. Each one presented a new set of complications. The latest, Mr. Jackson, for example, did not want to go easy. Even with his throat slit he still kept on swinging, spitting profanities laced with blood and anger. In fact, he got a good kick in on Courtney, just below her sternum, winding her, driving her to her knees. Finally, as his blood left him, so did his strength and he collapsed at Jimmy’s feet. That was two hours ago.

Because their selection was random, they never knew what degree of desperation they would be up against.
It was Courtney’s idea to stop. Just by her silence he knew she was serious and would not waver.

They started all this as a way of leveling out the bad done to them by doing bad to others. If Courtney could no longer embrace her children, the twins – Charlie and Miranda – then others, whose lives were blessed with children, should not have the right to live. If she could no longer hear her little ones’ sweet voices, then a profound silence should swallow up the rest of the world. What her and Jimmy were doing was only fair, and just.

They drove their battered Dodge Ram pickup around town, slinking down streets like the perfect, unsuspecting predator, chose a likely candidate, parked, and waited in silence for night to fall.

Dead were the people they knew, with families, happiness, dreams lived and yet to be lived. When it started, Jimmy knew Courtney killed for revenge. She was angry at God and used innocents to mete out her vengeance. After spilling the blood of three, taking their lives with persistence rather than precision, a thrill began to reveal itself on her face.
Before, when life made sense and the twins were babies, Courtney told Jimmy she thought people who killed indiscriminately must take pleasure in their work. "They probably don’t understand why someone doesn’t say to them ‘Nice job, guy’."

He wasn’t certain, but Jimmy thought he saw her lick the blood of a woman off her knuckles when she thought he wasn’t looking. He was right, and would have been horrified if he saw the smile that brightened her face afterwards. He noticed a strength, a sureness begin to legislate her thrusts and slashes, and stealth dictated her movements. It was a new Courtney surfacing: impressive, terrifying.

Jimmy watched, did as he was told. They drove away from the scenes as though leaving dinner parties with friends.
The slaying of Mr. Jackson behind them, Jimmy drove the pickup to County Road twenty one, a two lane, quiet stretch of road flanked by corn and soybean fields. He drove toward a dying sunset sky marred by grey, rough-edged clouds. It would be dark within a half hour. Darkness was ambiguous for Jimmy: it offered cover, sanctuary, and it opened up opportunity to kill with his wife. He glanced in the rear view mirror. He saw things that weren’t there, or thought he had. He looked again, and again; a troubled conscience wanted him to see whether or not the time had come. He had been feeling for some time now, this will all soon come to an end.

He wanted to talk to Courtney about it, not the killings, but the moving on without their beloved children. He knew she was strong; after all, she turned her despair into anger, her bloodlust into obeisance. But Courtney stopped talking. Since Mr. Jackson, she fell into a deep and dark-heavy silence.
"You know, no one blamed us," Jimmy said, focused straight ahead, fingers tightly gripping the steering wheel. "You just thought they did. You wanted them to. I know you want me to prove it, but I can’t. Can’t now that they’re all dead.
"I blame me. I didn’t get the furnace fixed. I didn’t get the proper detector put up."
Jimmy stretched his fingers, one hand at a time. Knuckles cracked and he felt a stiffness overcome flexibility. He cleared his throat.
"They call it the silent killer. Carbon monoxide. They died peacefully. Should have. Should have blamed me, sweetheart. We shouldn’t have done all that stuff. Those people weren’t to blame for me being a bad father."
"I know how much it hurts, dear. I want the world to go away, too."

The flashing lights were visible now. Four cars, a tactical unit, two ambulances. Jimmy could make out the shapes of six armed officers poised with rifles behind their cars stretched across the road. This was it. The end.

One last look in the rear view mirror. He tilted it so he could see the back seat. There they were: his children. Smiling faces, twinkling eyes, shiny lips full of life. This was how he will always remember them, not grey and still, not like something someone forgot to put out with the trash.

Jimmy began to accelerate the Dodge Ram. It rattled and hummed as a weak protest. He looked over at the passenger side. Courtney had paled. Rigor mortis had already begun to set in. She looked peaceful: eyes closed, legs pressed together, blood-stained hands folded neatly on her lap. He brushed fingers across her cold cheek.
"This is the last one, dear," Jimmy said, slamming a foot on the gas, gripping the wheel. "One more for the road."

And they flew down Country Road twenty one, through a dimming light, toward a wall of flashing light, into an oblivion in which their deeds and names will never be forgotten.

© Gordon Bourgon March 2009
gordonbourgon at

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