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Highs and Lows

Flash Fiction Contest, second place

Matt Chinworth

Alex and Camila sat stationary behind the abandoned rest stop south of town. Trees overwhelmed them, hanging full as if they’d snap. They closely watched the women’s restroom.

Camila remembered when the building was soft white, but mold and dirt and the urine of desperate travelers had stained the building a demented rainbow. It was getting late and heavy trees swayed dappled light.

Alex muttered something about fucking hurrying. He turned to Camila:

“You think Fowler’s good for it? Maybe Ted could use some help.”

“He told us to wait,” she said. “Besides, they’re both jumpy as hell.”

“What’d you know about this, Mils?”

“I’ve been on more runs with Teddy than you have.”

“Don’t remind me,” he said.

Alex reached over and squeezed her thigh through torn black tights, like he wanted to hurt her. She looked away and placed her hand gently on his. He was nothing like her pa or bubba, and he didn’t know what it meant to love or to hate.

Fowler rolled out of the women’s restroom already on his bike, gestured sayonara, and steered towards the trailer park. Alex only nodded. Teddy strolled out of the dark space on foot, putting his sunglasses on. He did a Michael Jackson spin off the curb and leaned into Alex’s window, tossing a bulging bag of pills onto his lap.

“How many this time?” Alex asked.

“One hundred,” Teddy said.

“How much?”

He counted on his fingers.

“Five hundred.”

“Fuck me, that’s more than last time.”

“Times are hard. One for the road?” Teddy grinned down at him like a marionette hanging from heaven itself and held out a dirty hand. Alex undid the bag’s twist tie and fished out two pills for Teddy.

“Like a baker’s dozen, Ted. A dealer’s duo.”

Teddy winked and wheeled around as quickly as he came without saying thanks. After watching Teddy depart, Alex took out one white as an angel in the sun. He held it between his thin fingers and with a knife crushed it into a fine powder. He spread out a neat line with the blade on the center console.

“Ladies first,” he said, offering her a bump off the tip of his knife. She shook her head.

“Couldn’t do it yourself, huh?” she asked.

“I don’t know Fowler like Ted does.”

“And what when daddy finds out you’ve been spending allowance on this.”

“I’ll ask for more. You like when I take you to dinner? When I buy you underwear so you don’t have to steal it? And you want these as much as I do.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Right,” he said, starting his engine.

The A.C. kicked on and blew the fine powder onto Camila’s dress. Alex jerked her around with the car, accelerating onto the entrance ramp. Police lights danced ahead. Alex sped past his father, who had Fowler pinned to a police cruiser. Off the trunk beside them, money gusted up in the air to float down slowly.

For more from the inaugural TTV and Nimrod International Journal Flash Fiction Contest, click here.

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