A short story by AD Bane
He still could recall the day he’d died almost as if it was yesterday – yes, even he, even now. He could hardly push it from his memory, even if he’d wanted, for it’d been quite a thing to find himself there with asphalt and blood on his lips and the surface of the road racing by just in front of his face. And yet neither was it a surprise: certainly most would suspect such an awry end to such a bad idea. Yes, it had been a very bad idea – he knew it now.
It first occurred to him as he waited on the platform for the train to arrive: and little wonder that it was late. The smell of the tar shingles and the heat from the late summer afternoon made him drowsy, and he would’ve sooner been home napping in his recliner. But just the same he had to sit on the hard wood bench and wait, because she would be coming soon, brought back into his life with the fiery churning of the engines and the eerie banshee scream of the whistle. “Fetch her,” they’d said. Your bountiful duty to retrieve the old hag – that’s what they meant. And then he waited – but how long had it already been? He didn’t know. A lot of time had passed sitting there in the heat and the traffic, and the seat had grown so very uncomfortable. Yet he couldn’t move until she arrived: that was the rule.
And then it happened. Well, relatively; it hadn’t happened, that was the thing. The sky hadn’t come down upon him, the train hadn’t derailed and carved a beauteous pathway through the station; the bench beneath him hadn’t even sprung a bolt and collapsed. There sat he, right as rain, with his hands folded on his lap and his cap pushed back on his head to reveal the balding that’d been ever so deceptively creeping across his scalp. And what right had everything to be so right, he thought? The perfection of it made him mad, and he cursed. He would’ve stood right there and thrown his cane across the platform, but he couldn’t move until she arrived. He must wait for her; and so he did.
And she arrived. Forty minutes late. And what, thought he, was he to do now? At his age already so much had slipped away. He hardly had time to wait around for the elderly and decrepit who meandered along as if the world would wait for them. It would not. Sooner or later it would resume its old joyous song, and he was afraid that he’d be left behind. Certainly she would.
She ambled across the platform to him, just her and her walker and that empty, sallow grin on her sagging face. “Come Mick,” she said. “Come to mummy. Let’s go home now.”
Mick. She always called him Mick, like a little crippled puppy, and he just pumping along on the chain. Maybe he’d do it after all: he was so sick of this. Then she could do everything for herself without him!
“Did you have fun today, Mick? Did you play in the park? Did you make a new friend?”
No, no, and let’s see . . . certainly not. I ain’t five anymore, Mum.
“Are you excited to see Mummy, Mick?”
Uhh, definitely no.
Would you like me to go away to Aunt Bethany’s in Australia, Mick?
Oh, yes Mum, certainly.
The car bumped across the potholes. She always managed to hit them, no matter how he directed her to the left or the right. His head hit the roof of the old sedan and jarred him terribly. He looked at her, but she seemed happy bouncing against the belt. It was like she wanted to. He’d warned her once, nearly a mile down the road, but she still hit them all, careening at the last minute just to make sure the tire went all the way to the bottom. Every time. Sometimes he wondered how she could still take the wheel with her old, arthritic hands shaking as they were when her whole body bounced in the seat like that. Does this bother you, Mick? “Why don’t we stop for ice cream, Mick?” Lala lala lala Mick, Mick, Mick. Hag, hag, hag. If only she would stop saying Mick. If only she would be quiet. If only she would go away. Maybe Aunt Bethany would like to be called Mick. Maybe Aunt Bethany would care.
Again the car bounced in an especially deep hole. It irritated his already pounding head – and made him angry, more than anything. She was bounced too, and nearly put her head through the roof; but she didn’t seem to notice: she was still talking about ice cream and parties. Nor did she notice the blood in his mouth or his white knuckles. She didn’t stop talking. Mick, Mick Mick. She had to stop. This had been a very bad idea, asking her to come. He regretted everything now.
Yes, he could taste the blood in his mouth. And the asphalt was quite abrasive. They’d come to pick him up and take him away in the ambulance; but not her: she wasn’t talking now. No more Mick this, Mick that. She only stared at the sky, her eyes cold and white. No, Aunt Bethany wouldn’t mind to be called Mick at all. Nor would he, not now – now that she was gone. But there would be no more Mick. And no more ice cream. No more potholes. No more waiting for the damned train.
“One casualty,” they said. “Driver. He was dead before we got here.”
“Just one?” they asked.
“Just one. He was alone.”
A bad idea? Yes, certainly it’d been. He saw that now as he looked at the car overturned in the road and his own blood smeared across the pavement. Most certainly it had been a very bad idea. She would think so, too. Well, she would’ve. She could’ve . . . but she didn’t. She was quiet now, and that was all that mattered.
This work is written by AD Bane and published by adbane.com. It is solely the property of ADBane.com and may not be reproduced in part or in whole for any reason except at the exclusive permission of the author. © 2011 ADBane.com