The Crawling Prisoner Swims
Today is July 11 and I am so frustrated I could spit. I am so fed up with trying to do so many things that don’t pay off in the end. I want something to pay off for once.
I close my eyes for a second and take a deep breath. Black heat rises off the asphalt and stinks like tar. I can still see the sun burning through my eyelids. I hold my hand up to my eyes and open them real slow. That old rusty water tower behind the strip mall looks like it’s gonna fall down any minute.
Man, I need to do something daring. Maybe climb up the tower and jump. Throw myself from the top like a little bawling baby and see what it feels like to sail the zero-point-five second drop and make a big splat onto the parking lot.
Bells jingle and a big guy walks out of that little bakery in the strip mall I used to work in. Yeah, I worked in that bakery but I wasn’t any good at it and every time something fell on the floor I ate it, slathered with butter. Man, did a lot of bread fall on the floor, piping hot out of the oven.
I peek in the bakery window. The girl behind the counter is alone. Boy, she’s in for it coz today’s the day I’m gonna do something daring. Now, I’m not a criminal. I’m probably not any good at it but I can get up some guts and I watch enough TV to know how it’s done.
And I got a gun from my daddy’s gun room. No, I never shot a gun before. I didn’t even check to see if the thing was loaded before I stuck it in my belt. He got some Asian things, too, like num chucks and that metal whip thing with the point on the end. I have scars on my back from that. He used probably every one of those weapons on me.
He got lots of swords, too. I pull out the little shiny one from its sheath and it feels nice and light in my hands. The metal glistens in the hot sun. No, I never swung a sword before and I’m probably not any good at it but it feels nice in my hands. I slide the sword back in the sheath hanging from my belt.
So I feel like I’m going to a showdown when I walk into the bakery, my sword swaying at my side. The girl behind the counter starts to laugh at me.
“Who the hell you think you are? Robin Hood?” she says.
“Robin Hood used a bow and arrow,” I say.
“Well you know what I mean.” She turns and rummages in her bag.
I pull out the sword slow and it makes this cool tinny sound. “Give me the money out of the register or I’m gonna cut cha.”
She laughs again. “Stupid, you wouldn’t cut me for this amount of money. I think I have about 50 dollars in here.” She slips around the counter and pushes on by me. The door jingles as she opens it. She steps outside and lights a cigarette.
I look behind the counter then walk back towards the restrooms. I peek around the corner where I know the office is. The door to the office is closed. Papers shuffle and a man coughs. That’s where they keep all the money. I’m having some of that, dammit.
The office door swings open and The Owner stands there, a cigarette hanging from his lips. “Good God, boy, you scared the living piss out of me,” he says.
I stick my sword under his nose, just a millimeter away from his upper lip. I could shave him with this thing, I bet. No, I don’t shave yet. I don’t know if I’ll be any good at it coz my daddy isn’t and always bleeds like a stuck pig.
We just stand there like that for a second or two. The door behind me jingles again.
“Don’t move or this guy gets it,” I call over my shoulder.
“That’s what they say on TV,” The Owner says.
“That’s why I said it,” I say.
“Je-suss,” the girl says. “You dope. Get the fuck out of here or I’m calling the police.”
I turn and fly towards her. My face is burning from the heat. I pull the gun from my belt. She turns and runs out of the bakery into the parking lot.
“Don’t fuck with me,” I say to her. She just runs and runs. Pull the trigger pull the trigger pull the trigger.
The recoil makes me stagger like daddy does and I spin around, trying to stay on my feet. The Owner just stands in the doorway like a dumb old ox. I look up at the stupid water tower. Maybe I should have climbed up there. Jumped off. I shield my eyes from the sun and point the gun at the tower.
Pull the trigger pull the trigger pull the trigger. The recoil sends me flying through the air. I fall back onto the boiling hot asphalt. I shake my head like a dog and get on my hands and knees. Something sounds like thunder rumbling over my head. Metal scrapes against metal. I look up, real slo-mo, just like TV. The tower comes at me, slo-mo, too. Slop, slop, slop, water pours out the top and zishes on the asphalt. I choke, swallowing lots of that metally water.
Bawling and choking is all I can hear under water. My head bobs up and I hear sirens. Bawling and choking. Gagging now, too. Sirens. Feet splashing in the water. Someone pulls the gun out of my hand. I think he broke my finger. I try to paddle away. The crawling prisoner swims.