Don’t Take Me Alive

by Nathan Carson

Deckard had hippie parents. He was only a crotch-hair away from being named Bilbo or Cosmo or Elvis or Fagin. But the joke was on his folks. They’d raised him on carob and multivitamins in the woods by a crippled creek that fed jet-black cows and trees shrouded in moss the color of Kermit. Night by night and unbeknownst, he waded waist-deep, invading the creek’s deep wasteland, living out his trench warfare fantasy. The country contained more than mystery: it held guns.

His old school was a purgatory of flashing red lights: Stop. Stop. Stop. Never go, never live, never win. Shooting bottles into craquelure and splattering small animals in the phalanx of Christmas tree fields were his favorite escapes. M-300s last-second tossed in the creek made molten mushroom clouding bubbles of mud-water, and inevitably, floating broken fish parts which revolved like Vertigo. Watching whirling debris helped keep the mechanized hum of his subconscious netherworld in the peace of a victor’s cease fire. Never for long, though. Dr Wu called it “clinical depression.” But he was just another quack, like Deck’s mother Katy who so often lied.

That last day began like an atonal arpeggio; Deckard locked and loaded in chromatic steps, finally staring into the mirror with dissonance and shatter. The coastal water beckoned. Armed with explosives from the nearest reservation, he’d blown up the 76 station in leery Carltown before heading Northward toward the border with a trunk full of lead and a mouthful of jerky. Along serpentine, rain-slick roads, he flung fast food bag-loads through the window in outpouring disdain. From the chopper, his shining black sedan looked like a coffin cruising up the coastal road past Goonietown and into the One Dollar state. He’d crossed his old man back in OryGone, and had no plans of being taken. It was time to release the Kraken.

But the memories nagged him. Those musty multivitamins, nutted clusters of carob, and that gosh-dangling spider’s web in his window as a little girl… He’d seen plenty of turtles. The hum grew louder. “Father, I want to kill you.” The doors of the sedan opened, but his perceptions did not. He shut down the engine of his Praying Mantis. Though its fore-limbs quit rubbing, the hum grew louder still. Shirt unbuttoned, red sticks in hand, he lit the fuse… And counted down to ecstasy.

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