A DIP IN THE ROAD by C.W. Blackwell

The phone buzzes and a text scrolls up the screen.

It’s Jenivette.

I’m done, she says. Leaving your broke ass.

Jenivette always liked nice things.

I glance at the road and back to the phone as I hammer out a reply. It’s full dark and there’s a heavy mist on the windshield. The road is straight but there are dips every quarter mile, the kind that leave your stomach in the air if you take them faster than you should.

Faster than you should, could be my life’s motto.

Or my epitaph.

When I look up again the windshield is flooded with headlights. There’s no time to brake, no time to lay on the horn. Barely time to blink my eyes.

The sound is apocalyptic.

The car flips twice before I’m blasted through the windshield. I tumble over the broken yellow line like dice on a craps table. Only this craps table is made of wet asphalt and there’s not an inch of felt in sight. 

My body rolls to a halt.

I watch the sky, try to focus.

The moon simmers in a blue gauze.

I lift my head, pat myself down. So far so good. I spit out a mouthful of gravel and quickly realize they’re my own teeth. The blood comes next.

My car is nowhere in sight but there’s a white Cadillac with headlights beaming into the sky, smoking. It’s half on the road and there’s barbed wire fencing draping the hood. I try to stand and now there’s real pain. I almost fall back down but I catch my footing.

I hear a car door groan.

Not a door — a trunk lid, yawning open.

There’s a woman easing herself from the trunk compartment with a torn dress and a face full of blood. Blonde hair in a messy ponytail. She doesn’t see me until I call to her.

“You alright?” I say.

She turns, watches me with one eye. The other is swollen shut.

I suddenly worry why she was in the trunk to begin with.

The driver door opens and a fat man stumbles onto the road. His jaw is viciously broken. There’s a pistol in his hand and he fires off a round. The muzzle flash brightens the dark highway.

I fall to the ground and cover my head.

Another shot.

Then a third.

I hear sounds of a struggle and I look to see the blonde woman standing over the fat man, choking him with a fistful of barbed wire. The gun falls from his hand and the fat man slumps into the mud. The blonde shoulders into the backseat and comes out with two briefcases, one in each hand.

She walks to me, sets one briefcase down.

“Got a cigarette?” she says.

I sit up, check my jacket pocket and hand her a pack of Camel Lights and a Bic lighter. They’re crushed so she takes one and tears off the filter, lights the broken end.

She takes a deep drag, blows an endless plume at the sky.

“You saved my life, you fucking idiot.”

I shrug in the dark. “I didn’t mean to–”

And you nearly killed me.”

“I’m really sorry.”

“How far to the next town?” she says.

I point down the highway. “Just a mile to Knightsen.”

“And the other way?”

“A couple miles to Bethel Island. Just across the river.”

She kicks the briefcase and it pops open.

It’s full of cash.

“You walk that way, I’ll walk toward Knightsen. You never saw me and you couldn’t pick me out of a lineup.”

I shut the briefcase and set it on my lap. “Whatever you say.”

She turns and walks down the road, barefoot. Limping. The other briefcase swings at her thighs. She spits out the cigarette and lights another as she disappears in the heavy fog.

Somewhere I hear my phone buzzing.

C.W. Blackwell was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California where he still lives today with his wife and two children. His passion is to blend poetic narratives with pulp dialogue to create strange and rhythmic genre fiction. He writes mostly crime fiction, dark fiction and weird westerns.

Copyright © 2019 C.W. Blackwell. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.