Harold the Night
F.W. Birt

Coming home from my dead end job at the House of Paints, I crawled home in the stagger hereby known as my car, and stopped to gas up. Up next to me at pump six trolled an Impala, looking like a rusted cloud, or something shot from the sky. Out climbed His Darkness, his Royal Darkness, and I smiled, as if somehow smiling would defend me, not knowing how his lips twitched over his teeth, his teeth like uncertain moons, and that his body would stink of the road and thousands of curbside brawls, and that, in a moment he would have a switchblade under my chin, telling me to fill it up. In that screaming dream of a moment I noticed first the Missouri plates, not the numbers, and a monogram over the right breast of his bowling shirt, at the most remote point from his heart, and this moment I believe I was paralyzed by the bigger greatness of his loss of cause than my own pitiful life; of all the doughy faces before the guts of their televisions who have opened up something meaningless inside themselves, made all this darkness possible. I pumped his tank full and watched his taillights die in the jaws of the avenue, and I breathed, counted the rubble in my hand, enough for a buck of fuel, of escape.

I drove until the engine sputtered clean and my own personal gas tank registered zero, past the high rises and utterly murdered sections of town, past bars like closing eyelids and beds for spread legs, and shell casings embedded in walls like the skin of a dying leviathan, submerged, this town. I ended up near Renton, on the interstate, and watched the sun pronounce its diabolical flare on the untrained distance of my eyes, where a cop was waking me, prodding a nightstick into my ribs. He wanted all the easy answers, all the usual gift wrapping, and all I could think to tell him was Look Here, Fucker, See What I Mean, but what came out of my teeth was a hiss, a dreamy hiss leaking through the machinery of my teeth. That, and the words that follow this: The night just came from Kansas City. And he is approaching you fast. home