Feather in the Tar: Sal and Genie

          “Whoosh, stirrrr, clunk, clunk,” fills the bedroom.

          “What the hell,” Sal stirs from a starter sleep.

           “Whoosh stirrrr, clunk, clunk,” the bed tremors.

           “Shit, earthquake?” He sits up in his bed.

           “Whoosh, stirrrr, clunk, clunk,” louder, closer, the bed shakes more violently.

          Sal unwraps the covers from around him; blueish boxers are his only modesty. He sits up and knocks over the full ashtray next to him with no damage to the dull, spotty whites. It’s been a fitful night; an empty vodka bottle lays on the nightstand and the scent of stale cheap perfume hangs in the air. Old-school-repro, GI pin-up playing cards are strewn about the room, and the bathroom door is closed. An earthquake doesn’t make steam sounds. The nearest rail line is over 2 miles away, and it is not heavy enough to shake the motel.

           “Whoosh, stirrrr, clunk, clunk,” a cloud blows into his room from under the door. Sal swings around facing it. The hollow plywood door shakes with a loud bang. Splinters and the knob fly in his direction, but he ducks, and remnants land at his feet. His mouth drops open, but a thick, hot cloud obscures any detail.

           “Whoosh, stirrrr, clunk, clunk,” A crude stainless boot, and a thin leg in jeans with stainless cage wire incasing it, and pistons, rubber tubes, and Cat 5 emerges out of the mist. Sal can’t look away.

          He raises his head. “Fuck me! Your dead,” he yells.

           “Whoosh, stirrrr, snap, swoosh,” Sal’s body drops to the floor, nothing where his head use to be. It lands in the corner of the bedroom, nose pointed towards the bathroom, eyes and mouth still wide open. The strong smell of copper overwhelms the perfume.

           “Whoosh, stirrrr, clunk, clunk,” the vapor sinks and dissipates as the sound moves away.

           “Sal, Sal? What was that honey?” Genie opens the bathroom door, looks around at eye lever. Sal is one of her regulars. She is always good for a laugh and warm, sticky bennies against long dark nights.

           “Sal?” She looks across the room and see his dead mug staring into her fake blues. Her mouth drops open. She looks down and sees Sal’s crumpled remains, and a deep red puddle of life’s bitter wine.

          Genie screams. It’s the kind you only hear in B-horror films. Purse in hand, she doesn’t stop screaming until she rounds the last of three flights and is out onto Lombard. The clerk barely has time to look up and see a platinum, pink, barefoot flash hook around the fire hydrant on the corner, running towards Chestnut.

          A standard issue black and white is parked a couple blocks away in the vicinity of Genie’s dash. The blue caps are having a coffee and shooting the dough with the owner of the Last Star Donut shop. Pale as a ghost and still flat out fast, Genie passes them, and the Chinese owner laughs out loud. Genie is her regular 4 a.m. double chocolate crueler, cigarette, and vitamin-D homogenized.

          Genie’s a block away when the fun drains out of the blues’ faces, and they pursue, one on foot and the heavier one in the car.

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