Short Story
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.
                    Gethsemane Cemetery
                                                          By David Froom



  Hello, owl.

  I’m dead.

  You might wonder how I know that.  See for yourself.  The blood, the
whiteness of the skin . . . I can feel it mostly under my eyes.  I’m so glad I
don't have a mirror.  Most of the loose pieces have dried or fallen off. I
suppose that’s a relief.

  You might ask yourself, ‘How can you tell me you’re dead if you’re dead?’
and let me tell you, that’s been puzzling me too, Mister Owl.  For one, I’m
really dead. I mean, I got run over, not once, not twice, but thrice.  Thank
God it was just a sports car or I’m sure I’d be in two pieces and, well, this
whole ordeal would be a lot more awkward.

  I think it all has to do with this silly little charm I got last summer.  Yes, it’s
quite shiny; I can see that you like that.  I’m pretty sure that’s all just tin foil
and nothing special.  It was these paintings on the side that got my attention
anyways, and when the guy told me it was a good luck charm, I just had to
buy it.  I was in Venezuela, you see, and I thought this amulet was, well,
charming.  Yeah, it’s sentimental crap, I know, don't look at me like that.

  Now what kind of lucky charm lets you get run over but keeps you living -
as relative of a term as that might be?  I dunno. Still . . . I wonder what might
happen if I let it go.  Thinking about it scares me, though I bet I’m actually the
scariest thing in Duluth tonight.  Hell, those kids sure screamed when I
caught up with them, right?  Yeah.

  The thought now going through your feathered little head is probably,
‘What kids?’ and if you’ll just hold on one minute and not fly away, I’ll get to
that.  I was out walking my dog; he’s an Irish wolfhound.  You ever see one of
those?  Kinda ugly and huge, but man, they’re just the friendliest.  I found
him out on the street a few years back; I was visiting my parents in La
Crosse.  That’s in Wisconsin, don’t ya know?  I brought him back here to live
with me and my sister.  My sister hates that dog.

  When the car hit me, it missed my dog.  I’m actually really grateful for that -
I think they were aiming for him in the first place.  Well, they missed.  Drunk
and stoned kids driving around in a car that probably belonged to their
parents, if not stolen.  They hit me, and I fell on the pavement.  I think at that
point I could have lived.  No, well, maybe not, but it was damned possible.

  The kids slammed on the brakes when they saw what they had done.  I
heard yelling and arguing.  Hitting the dog?  Fun.  Hitting the guy walking a
dog?  Holy shit.  The yelling died down and the car started to back up.  
Whatever these kids were on, it got them going so hot that they hit me
again.  And again.  They drove away, windows down, laughing like it hadn’t
happened.


  And why did I have this charm in my hand?  That’s the lucky part, I guess.  
Right before the kids hit me, I found a quarter on the road and put it in my
coat pocket.  When I reached in, I found it.  I hadn’t seen the damn thing in
months, I had even wondered once or twice where it had gone off to.  I guess
it had been in that pocket the whole time since Venezuela – it gets really cold
at night there, did you know that?  Well, I pulled it out, laughing about how
things are always right where you left them. . . then bam.  Crunch.  Smoosh.

  My dog came back sniffing and whining, his tail between his legs.  I rolled
over, thinking I must be paralyzed, lucky but paralyzed . . .  there was no
pain.  I looked up at my dog, felt him lick my face.   Jesus, I’m gonna miss that
guy.  I looked down at my legs and found they were quite fine.  My entire
stomach, however, was far, far, far from fine.  It was far from anything, hell, it
was far from me.  I could see pieces of it strewn down the road on either side
of me, from where the kids had backed up to where they had finally driven
off.  I could see the Cheerios I had for dinner, not yet digested.  The amount
of blood amazed me, even after all the movies I’ve seen.

  I picked myself up off the street and a pound or more of my guts poured
out.  I retched deep and hard, but without a stomach, you just can't do it.  I
dry heaved and all the while my poor dog looked up at me with worried eyes.  
I knew what I had to do with him, and I hated to do it.  Not to him, I knew he’d
be alright.  I mean, to my sister.  She hates that dog.

  I staggered down the street like something out of Thriller, though I’m
thinking more along the lines of Michael himself, not those zombies.  I held
the leash tight in one hand, the charm even tighter in the other.  I had
buttoned up my coat, and though the blood was soaking me down to my
underwear, the casual observer might think I was very much an intact man.

  When I got to my sister’s house, I almost couldn’t handle it.  I think I did cry,
but it’s so hard to tell now.  I tied the leash to her front door handle and
roughed up my dog’s ears.  He licked my hand. I put my hand on the front
door, thinking about knocking, about asking if I could come in and maybe
watch some TV with her, maybe share a beer. I dropped my hand and saw
the bloody print it had made on the wood. I wiped it off with my sleeve and
walked away.  I looked back only once.  My dog was still looking after me.

  As horrible as all this might seem, Mister Owl, I took it pretty well, I think.  
You see, I recognized the kids' faces when they backed up over me.  You
don't believe me?  This town’s not so big, Owl, you really should get out more.

  Nick Patterson.  He was in the backseat.  I went to East High with his older
brother, Frank.  Me and Frank took little Nick down to the gravel pits this
once, and he twisted his ankle climbing down.  Oh my God, that little bastard
would not stop crying.  I guess he toughened up over the years, or at least
he thought he had.  He wet his pants when he saw me later though.  Cried,
too.        
  I saw the kid that was driving, too, and though I couldn’t remember his
name then and I still can't now, I knew he lived close to Nick and Frank.  I’d
seen him around their street a few times.  It was more than just a good
guess.  It was intuition.


  It was getting on well past three-a-m when I found the car.  It was only one
street over from Nick and Frank’s place.  Whatever the kids were on, they still
took the time to wipe the car down.  But I’m sure the police will find lots of me
in the nooks and crannies of the undercarriage.

  I didn’t bother knocking.  From all the noise inside, I doubt they would have
heard anyways.  There was seven of them, five boys and two girls.  I knew all
their faces immediately; they all went to East High.  Even though I’ve been
out of there for six years, I still know all the kids.  Like I said, Mister Owl, it’s a
small town.

  The girls started screaming first.  Nick wet himself.  In the kitchen, a boy
dropped a bottle and it shattered on the floor.  No one ran.  The girls kept
screaming.  One of the boys was the first to start crying.  He sat down and
just started bawling.

  Standing in the doorway, crashing their little party, was a dead man.  I was
missing more skin than I had left, and my blood still dripped.  It squelched in
my shoes.  Well, you can see me now, owl, you see how bad it is.

  I took a step into the living room, then another.  As soon as my foot hit the
carpet, they all started screaming.  I grabbed the boy nearest to me, the little
shitface that had been driving the car.  I hauled him off his ass and... well.  
Huh. I won’t go into it.

  Hey, no, it’s not like that.  I didn’t hurt them. I swear.  I imagine that a few of
them’ll be arrested when my body is found, and the ones that aren't will never
step into a car again.  Hell, they might never step out of the house again.

  That’s right, didn’t I tell you?  I’m pretty sure someone will find me here
tomorrow.  Gethsemane Cemetery.  My grandma’s buried here.  I don't know
if this is convenient or not.  It just felt right.  You’re here, at least, so I had
someone to talk to.  I won’t make you stick around any longer, but I’m sure
glad you stayed this long, owl.  I bet you have better things to do.  Go eat a
mouse.

  I really do wonder what they’ll think when they find me. I hope my parent’s
will be okay.  I hope my sister will be okay.  I hope my dog’s okay.  She really
does hate that dog.

  And this lucky charm.  Whoever finds it better stay off the street.  And... I
really wonder what might happen if I let it go... and maybe I will.  Yeah. I’m
going to let go now.  I’m going to let go.