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ADELAIDE Independent Monthly Literary Magazine / Revista Literária Independente Mensal, New York / Lisboa, Online Edition  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT DID YOU SEE?
by Joel Worford

 

 

It’s eleven P.M. and your hand is on your belt. You don’t see me. There are no streetlights in this neighborhood, so at first, you don’t see me. Or her.
Your friends are with you. Sam has two daughters. His oldest headed for college before you put your uniforms on this morning. First year, golden hair—like her mother’s. You still call her ‘princess,’ like you did when she was little. Pink cheeks and laughter at the dinner table. Your son is going to miss her when she’s gone. Good folks—practically, family.

Jacob, you’ve known since high school. All those days ago, this was the dream. Class clowns. High school ruffians, but this was the dream. Shoot the bad guys. Stop the crooks. Cuff the criminals. Justice. Democracy. Good. Evil. This was the dream.

It’s eleven P.M. on a Tuesday. The best time to fuck when you’re in high school. Too late, everybody’s asleep. Too early, no danger in the dark.

She and I met the week before prom. Brown eyes, freckled cheeks, real beauty.  Last minute, scrambling. Will you? Yes. Dinner, dancing, stars. Best night of my life? She agrees. More dinners, more stars. True love. Four months later—fucking in the dark. Suburbs, tree, cul-de-sac. The usual spot. Eleven P.M. on a Tuesday.

Who knows who called? Must’ve been one of the neighbors. Up for a late night snack. Or a late night piss. Who knows? Saw two kids fucking. Divorced? Lonely? Bitter? Whatever. Sees two kids fucking. Calls you.

You get the call. You’re here but you don’t see us. You’re wasting your time. Should be downtown, getting the bad guys. Two kids fucking. This isn’t the dream. Two kids fucking. No bad guys. High school ruffians, at best. No good. No evil. Just kids.

You’re about to leave and I’m about to come.

“Guys, let’s get out of here.”

You all turn around. I finish.

“Wait, I heard something.”

You all turn around. It’s a miracle, Jacob’s hearing. After all those concerts. Screamo, metal, punk. High school scene. Hundreds of bands. No earplugs. Still hears. It’s a miracle.

Strain to look.

There are no streetlights in this neighborhood, so at first, you don’t see me. I see you. As does she. She’s scared, I’m not. Just kids fucking. No bad guys. No crooks. No evil. Just kids fucking. High school ruffians, at worst. No need to escalate. Slap on the wrist. Go home.

“Over there.”

Flashlights. Squinted eyes. Here we are. I’m pulling my pants up. She’s fixing her dress. You’re approaching. She’s embarrassed. She’s scared. I’m nervous.

Remember, just kids fucking.

No need to escalate. Slap on the wrist. Go home.

The look on your face. I’ll never forget.

Surprise? More complicated than that. Suspicious?  Not quite. Excitement? Not only. Combine the three. There it is.

“You kids can’t be out here tonight.”

Slap on the wrist? Check. Apologies? Check. Explanations?

“Just two kids fucking.”

“Ah.”

Awkward silence. ‘Go Home,’ pending.

There’s a pause. You’re staring at me. You’re thinking about those bad guys downtown. Those crooks. Those criminals. I look like one of them. You’re thinking about justice. Democracy. Good. Evil. This is your chance.

“Can I see your IDs?”

Your friends are wondering what you’re doing. They’ve seen the news. They don’t say anything. You’re the boss.

Idenitification? Check. You’re talking to her.

“What’s your relationship to him?” You’re pointing at me.

“He’s my boyfriend.” Her voice is weak.

You pause again. You look her up and down. Pretty girl. Pink skirt. Tall boots. Well dressed. Todd’s kid? That’s right. Good family. Good genes.

You look me up and down.

Nappy hair. Crooked mouth. Ashy knees. White tee. Whose kid? Don’t know.

You look at her again.            

Pretty girl. Lots of options. Why him? Seems suspicious.

“IDs look fine.”

‘Go home,’ pending.

“We’re going to need to search you.”

‘Go home,’ vanishing.

Explanation?

“This is unusual, you see?”

Unusual.

Your friends look worried. They’ve been online. So have you. Don’t want to be trending. Make it seem fair. You point at her.

“We’ll search you first.”

She’s looking at me. Frightened eyes. You’re moving towards her. I move towards her.

“Stay where you are.”

I stay where I am.

“Wait…”

You don’t wait. Your hands are on her. She’s crying now. You’re moving fast. She’s not the one you want. Just for pretense. She’s crying. I’m trapped.

I’ve seen the news. I’ve been online. I’m frustrated. I’m angry. You’re finishing up. She’s crying. Finishing up. Hand on her leg. Now I’m yelling.

I’m yelling. They’re yelling. You’re yelling. I’m blind.

Hands on me. I’m blind. She’s crying. You’re yelling. I’m struggling. Jerk my arm. You watch it move.

You see something. You reach for your belt. I know what you see.

You see Sam and his two daughters. You see Jacob moshing beside you. You see your wife crying in bed. You see your spot empty. You see your son graduating high school. You see your seat empty. You see every bad guy you’ve ever stopped. You see all the criminals downtown. You see their arms jerk back. You see my arm jerk back. You see it reaching for something. You see something.

Yelling everywhere. You swing your arm. A crack. Silence.

She’s sobbing. She’s screaming. They’re quiet. They’ve seen the news. I’m down. Still conscious. Done yelling.

Face to ground. Handcuffs.

“You have the right to remain silent.”

Exercise my right.

You’re moving. He’s moving. I’m moving. Sam stays. She’s screaming.  Distant screams.

Door opens. Head down. Backseat. You’re driving. Jacob passenger. No conversation. Long silence.

Warm blood. Stained Tee. Matted hair.

Can you see?

Scared Mom, worried Dad, no sleep.

Can you see?

Honor roll. Starting forward. Straight As.

Can you see?

Horny Teens. Starry night. Eleven P.M.

Can you see?

Scared girl. Frightened boy. Two kids.

Can you see? What did you see?

Nappy hair. Crooked mouth. Ashy knees.

What did you see?

Pretty girl. Ebony boy. Probability.

What did you see?

Hand jerk. Dead friends. Orphaned Son.

What did you see?

Good. Evil. Justice. Crooks.

What did you see?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

Joel Worford

Joel Worford is a writer and musician from Richmond, VA. His short fiction appears in the 2017 edition of Good Works Review as well as the 2018 relaunch of Random Sample Review. Joel also writes music reviews and feature articles for The Auricular, a Richmond music magazine covering local artists and venues."

 

 

 

 

     
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