2 December 2011 § Leave a comment
He smiled at the stewardess on his way off the plane. She blushed, said nothing, grinned. The thick Miami air rushed at him in the jetway, a blitz of deja vu and bitterness as a dying elephant sat upon him. A whole new set of memories.
Air conditioning on the Tri-Rail tasted like plastic. Early morning commuters filed upstairs, easch taking their own set of four seats until solitude ran obsolete. Americans and their fear of touch. He smirked and let his eyelids fall. Cellphone chatter echoed in the fluorescent, stalemoving air.
Benito cruised 95 southbound, convinced it was the road to hell.
I’d charge more than two coins to ferry souls through here, he thought. South Beach glowed orangewhite. Miamisky is never black, but looms Halloween at night, as cars with neonglowing chassis bump and groan, trunk locks uncertain security. Mamacitas in high heels and short dresses patrolled club lines while bouncers looked on, their sweetvicious smiles collecting attention like they were still playing pogs for keeps twenty years on.
He looked at his white tee and sighed. He had the shoes, but would have to find a sharp top to stand a chance in these trenches. Traffic was light for a Saturday night. Benito reached for the stereo.
The Civic bumped offbeat. Someone screamed.
Shit. Tomorrow was the day. Don’t fuck it up now.
He stopped. Sweat beaded. He got out. The beat went on.
You killed him, she said, apologetic. Sad. He stared at the flattened cat behind his car, shaded red in the tail lights. The sharp orange gleam spread. Bloodstained asphalt. The girl in the lowcut jeans and the lower cut top, a couple of years too late, stood next to Benito as people gathered. A slow procession. Most just looked on from patios and lines. A dead cat wasn’t worth losing your spot, after all.
Did you see it, she asked, finally saying something else.
If I did, do you think I would have hit it? He asked back.
Perplexion. She bit her lower lip. Her hair, a layered shoulder length and blonde fire hazard, kept still as she glanced left, then right. Benito didn’t move. He just stood there paying more attention to the sogn leaking from his windows than to the cat in the street.
Was it yours, he asked the girl.
No way. I don’t bring my cat downtown. How ridiculous.
She looked around again.
Maybe you should go, she said.
His vehicular catslaughter didn’t interrupt the night, which kept up the grind like a fierce Monday sun. Staggering, Benito got back in the car, bodystoic mindrace. Blue LEDs emanated from the dash, judgmental, unforgiving. A small crash of palm and plastic cut the light. The face of the stereo fell to the floorboard. He sniffed. Skin bristled.
Stop sign. City bus.
Traffic light. Red. red. red.
He lit a cigarette, dragged it into his lungs like fresh air, an old friend. The phone rang.
She lurched. The driver muttered. Gritted her teeth. Dash lights and dance music. She pushed in the clutch, turned the key. How hard can this be?
The car circled the grocery store parking lot like an eight year old discovering infinity.
Outside the night simmered. Ready to envelope anyone brave enough to face it.
Turnpike traffic flew along with high beams at ninety. Steady streetlights flickered in the humidity. July was not kind, now or ever.