Page 75 - WTP VOl. VIII #7
P. 75

 I count the seconds to myself.
“The line is dead.”
“I’ll go set you up with your own target.” Mindi is fussing with her firearms. “You can take station three.”
She glances over at me, and again I cannot keep from flinching at the sight.
I shake my head. “Thanks, but...I just wanted a taste. I’m done.”
Mindi turns to face me. I turn away and begin pack- ing up my rifle.
“You know I’m shooting for another hour or so, right?”
I keep my eyes down. “I know. That’s what you told me you were going to do.”
“And you’re going to...what? Hang out and discuss postmodernism with Ron?”
“You mean Mr. Chuckles?”
She allows a small laugh. “He’s not so bad once you get to know him. Just being protective.”
“Yeah, I think he’s got a crush on you. But no, I’m go- ing to go stash my rifle.”
“In your car? Now?”
“Mmm, yeah. While you go ‘refresh your objective.’ See? I already know the lingo.”
“Yeah, you’re quite the pro. Look, Dale. I just... Are you really...”
She puts a hand on my arm. I flinch again. She with- draws and stares at me a long moment.
“Okay, then. Right. Well, fuck it. Thanks for coming down.”
Mindi spins away. She punches Ron in the shoulder as she passes, then disappears out the side door. A moment later she reappears inside the belly of the plastic worm, her blurred form floating down the length of the range. The rain has let up a little, and a low, setting sun lights the clouds in red and orange.
I go to the counter to settle my bill. Ron shakes his head. “Mindi covered you.”
“That was good of her. She seems very nice.” “Understatement of the millennium.”
He returns to his paperback. I take a deep breath, but the air feels too thin. A massive weight sits on my chest.
“Must be tough. Her face, I mean.”
He looks up. “Her face?”
I nod.
Ron cocks his head. “Do me a favor, would you?” “Sure,” I say. “What?”
“Get the fuck out of here.”
Out in the parking lot a soft rain settles. The sky hangs dark overhead, but sunset glows at the horizon. I slog through the mud, stash my rifle in the trunk, and lift my face to the sky. Water runs down my cheeks.
With a glance back toward Manny’s, I round the car and slip behind the wheel. The interior is warm, fa- miliar, comforting. I slide my key in the ignition.
I don’t know exactly how long I sit there. My head aches and my stomach churns with nausea. I want to ascribe it to the sensory onslaught of Manny’s Best, but I know I’m lying. I know that I’m the source of my own disgust.
The sun emerges from below a cloudbank, a fierce ball of fire. It lights up the underside of the looming clouds with raging magentas, oranges, crimsons, scarlets. I am staring into the sunset when, for just an instant, an in- describable color shimmers across the fine line of the horizon. Then, as quickly as it appears, it’s gone.
I sit a few moments more and watch the sky turn dark. Then I remove my key, open the door, and start back for the bunker.
Sanders is the author of the novel Busara Road, shortlisted as a Finalist for the William Faulkner–William Wisdom Prize for a novel- in-progress. His screenplay based on the novel was a Semi-Finalist for the Rhode Island International Film Festival Screenplay Competi- tion and the Cinequest Screenwriting Competition. His short fiction, essays, and plays have been published in a range of journals and anthologies, and he is a winner of the Third Coast national fiction competition, the Dwell/Glass House Haiku Competition, and the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Autobiography Project.

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