/ There Is No Easy Way Out, No Short Cut Home
There Is No Easy Way Out, No Short Cut Home
A.P. Smith
10 April, 2006

Contributors: Image by: Marian Grabmayer

The traffic stretched on for miles in both directions. James and Mark sat in their car in silence and the car radio was broken. Friends for years, James and Mark were on their way home from a rollercoaster park and while generally they chat like songbirds, the long drive and now stand-still traffic had killed any conversation between them. They hadn’t moved for almost an hour and suddenly Mark spoke up, saying, “I hope it’s a bloody, deadly car accident up ahead.”
“That’s terrible!” James said.
“But at least it would justify this gridlock,” Mark said. “I don’t really wish anyone dead, but ya know.”
“I guess.”
“A car accident has to be the worst way to go, like getting trapped inside the car with your guts all over your lap knowing you’re not gonna hang on long enough for the paramedics to pull you out of the wreckage.”
“Have you ever been in a car accident?” James asked.
“No, you?”
“Yeah, once,” James said. “Just bruised and cut but the car was totaled.” Then he thought about it some more. “It was pretty scary.”
And again, silence filled the car as they inched forward ever so slowly.
“How do you think you’re gonna die?” Mark asked.
“You mean what would be the worst way?”
“No, like if some psychic told you the day and time and way you’re gonna die, what do you think she would say?”
“Suicide,” James said, and they both laughed. “But really, I think I’ll kill myself when the time comes, like when I feel like I’ve lived my life.”
“Bullshit,” Mark said. “That’s so easy to say when you’re young.”
“I’m serious. I think I have a control issue.”
“Sounds like it,” Mark said. And they laughed again. “But how would you do it? Buy a gun and blow your brains out?”
They laughed.
“No, I’d be too worried that I’d fuck it up somehow and just end up shooting my face off and living the rest of my life as a blind, deaf mangled faceless human being.”
“A fate worse than death…”
“Exactly,” James said. “I’ll probably jump off a building or something. It’s hard to fuck that up.”
“Yeah, but what if you have a family or a wife, what about all the people you’re leaving behind?”
“No one lives forever,” James said, smiling.
Silence. Stagnation. Someone in a car behind them honked.
“I hope I get stabbed at some underground poker game,” Mark said. “I think that’d be a cool way to go.”
“Yeah, well, you’ll probably die of ass cancer.”
They laughed, and suddenly the traffic subsided and the cars began to gain speed. Then, slowing again, James and Mark drove past the cause of the traffic jam: indeed it was a car accident, a grisly mess of cars crushed and crumpled like sheets of paper, with strewn glass and blood on the asphalt. Police cars and ambulances lined the side of the road and as James and Mark rolled past, they noticed a pair of white sheets covering what could only be two bodies lying on the ground.
Gaining speed, with the carnage behind them, James and Mark said nothing, each thinking of the surely unexpected way in which they will both meet their ends.

A.P. Smith
(United States)


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16 Jun, 2006