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A Love for Chocolate: Fiction by Kevin Hopson
Ban the Box: Fiction by David Hagerty
Different Paths: Fiction by K. A. Williams
Night Sight: Fiction by C. A. Rowland
Encounter on the Lane: Fiction by Anthony Lukas
Moving South: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Just a Small-Town Boy: Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Loneliness of a Reseller: Fiction by Brandon Doughty
Food Chain: Fiction by Phil Temples
Final Notice: Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Stunning Redheads are Trouble: Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Point Made: Flash Fiction by Martin Zeigler
The Secret Ingredient: Flash Fiction by Cecilia Kennedy
Stand in Line: Flash Fiction by Lucinda Kempe
My Special Garden: Flash Fiction by Gay Degani
Revenge of the Inanimate: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
The Abductee: Poem by Sophia Wiseman-Rose
De-Icing Fate: Poem by Tom Fillion
Description of Death: Poem by Meg Baird
Basking in Sunlight: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
Found Floating Above: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
Beer-Craving Zombie: Poem by Bradford Middleton
They All Hate My Hero: Poem by Bradford Middleton
In Search of Ghosts: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Seven Hanging Trees: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Persistent Daylight: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Rebirth: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Bundy: Poem by Peter Mladinic
Calais: Poem by Peter Mladinic
The Room: Poem by Peter Mladinic
People with Dysentery: Poem by Partha Sarkar
There Has Been No Cooperative System: Poem by Partha Sarkar
Goes Back Toward the Talisman-the Future: Poem by Partha Sarkar
The Broken Seashore and the Fishermen: Poem by Partha Sarkar
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Strange Gardens
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

K. A. Williams: Different Paths

97_ym_differentpaths_cartwright.jpg
Art by Steve Cartwright 2023

Different Paths

 

                                             by K. A. Williams

 

 

Rick leaned against his car and lit a joint. He had the radio on and was digging the music. Someone took a book from the trunk of the car beside his.

“Watcha doing?” the other student asked.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” Rick put the joint back to his lips and took another toke.

“It looks like you’re smoking weed, can I try it?”

Rick studied him. “How old are you?”

“I’m 16.”

“Really? You don’t look that old. You gotta name?”

“Jack.”

Rick smiled. “Okay, Jack.” He handed him the joint.

Jack inhaled and hacked his head off.

Rick took the joint back and cackled. “Do you like this song on the radio? It’s one of my favorites.”

Jack listened. “Yeah, it’s groovy, I dig their sound. Which band is it?”

“Guess Who.”

“Uh, I have no idea what band that is.”

“No, I mean the band’s name is The Guess Who.”

“Oh, right.”

“So, Jack, do you have a favorite band?”

“Yes.”

Rick waited a second, but Jack didn’t say anything else, so he asked, “Well, aren’t you gonna tell me the name of your favorite band?”

“I just told you. It’s Yes.”

“Oh. They’re okay.” Rick checked his watch. “We should be getting back to class. The lunch break is almost over. By the way, my name’s Rick.”

***

The phone rang in Jack’s room. He turned the volume down on his receiver and watched The Yes Album whirl around on the turntable in silence. “Hello?”

“It’s Rick. We’ll have to call off our summer road trip, I’ve been drafted.”

“Shit. Me too, man.”

“Sorry to hear that. What a bummer.”

“My parents are out of town. Come over and let’s get high.”

***

Rick was sweating, he hated having an assignment in his hometown. He peered at the foreign prime minister through the telescopic rifle sight when the man came outside. His finger tightened on the trigger, and he took a shot. A plainclothes cop shoved the prime minister away at the last possible second and the bullet impacted the door behind. The cop currently in his sights was looking straight at him. It was Jack.

Rick lowered the rifle and held it tightly as he jumped onto the roof of the adjacent building. He climbed quickly down the fire escape. Rick was sure Jack recognized the blue Cubs baseball cap he always wore.

His car was waiting in the alley, and he sped out of the city into the country. Another car was in hot pursuit. Rick knew it was Jack, especially when one of his tires was shot. They were both expert marksmen. He fought the weaving car and guided it off the road, stopping at the edge of a wheat field. He jumped out and ran through the tall wheat, bending down, until he tripped and fell. He stayed where he had fallen. It was windy and the wheat was moving, so he didn’t think Jack had pinpointed his exact location.

Jack’s car had a cassette deck. Loud music interrupted the silence. Rick recognized The Guess Who song. He remained still; the music made it impossible for him to hear anything at all. Jack wouldn’t find him, not if he stayed still.

Side one of the tape ended. Rick was nervous, he had to do something; he couldn’t just keep lying on his stomach. He pulled himself up slowly into a crouching position and tried to see over the wheat without exposing himself. Nothing was moving now, except him. He decided to bluff. “I see you, Jack. I’ve got you in my sights. Drop your gun, and I won’t shoot you.”

“I think that’s my line,” Jack said, from behind him. “I had no idea you were an assassin.”

Rick laid the rifle down on the ground, he’d never planned to kill Jack. “It’s not my fault the army trained me to be one. Since I’ve been caught, I’ll be disavowed and won’t live long enough for a trial. Do you plan to shoot me? Is that why you played the American Woman album for me first?”

“Of course not. I just happened to have been listening to it, and I needed a distraction. Get up, hands behind your back.”

“I wasn’t kidding. They’ll really kill me so I can’t testify against them.”

Jack sighed. “Suppose I believe you. What can I do about it?”

Rick stood up and turned around slowly to face him. “You could tell your boss I got away from you.”

“Haha, I don’t know about that. I usually catch who I’m after.”

“Surely, they can’t expect you to arrest all the bad guys.”

Jack’s eyes blinked. “You won't be safe here. Where will you go?”

“Canada. I should have gone there as soon as I got the draft notice.”

Jack holstered his revolver. “Me, too. I’ll help you change your tire.”

“It wouldn’t have needed changing if you hadn’t shot it.” Rick picked up the rifle and led the way to his Pontiac.

“I was always the best marksman,” Jack bragged.

“You were not!”

Rick opened the trunk and lifted out the jack, tire iron, and spare tire. Then he set the jack under the car and cranked it up.

Jack had started loosening the lug nuts on the flat tire when they both heard the siren. Jack pulled the car keys from his pocket and handed them to Rick. “Go! Send me a postcard.”

Rick hesitated before he took them. “What about you? They’ll wonder why you let me escape.”

“Don’t worry about it, just go!”

Jack watched Rick leap into his Mustang. The tires squealed as the car raced down the road. He squatted there thinking about how to make Rick’s escape look believable. Then he pulled his gun from its holster and laid it on the ground, before bopping himself on the head with the tire iron.

***

A voice penetrated Jack’s consciousness. “… alive.” Fingers removed themselves from his wrist as he opened his eyes and groaned from the headache pain. “Take it easy, you’re going to be fine. We’ve radioed for an ambulance.”

Jack sat up and regarded the uniformed police officer. “Please tell me you got the bastard that knocked me out and stole my car.”

The officer shook his head. “Sorry. We just got word that your Mustang was found abandoned at the docks. The fugitive has escaped without a trace.”

“Has he been identified yet?”

The officer frowned. “No. We’ve searched this car and there’s no registration in the glove compartment. We have no clue who this mystery would-be assassin is.”

Jack fought back a smile and said, "That's too bad."

 

                                                          The End


 




K. A. Williams lives in North Carolina and writes speculative, mystery/crime, general fiction, and poetry. Over 250 stories and poems have appeared in many magazines including Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Mysterical-E, Aphelion, and The Sirens Call.


She now has a Facebook page where you can read some of her stories and follow links to her self-published ebooks.


https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100088596555838&mibextid=ZbWKwL


Apart from writing, K. A. enjoys music (mostly '70s and '80s rock), CYOA and word games.




It's well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so our pal Steve Cartwright is typing his bio with one hand while pummeling his head with a frozen mackerel with the other. Stop, Steve! Death by mackerel is no way to go! He (Steve, not the mackerel) has a collection of spooky toons, Suddenly Halloween!, available at Amazon.com.    He's done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling - but mostly drooling - on tavern napkins. He also creates art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. He was awarded the 2004 James Award for his cover art for Champagne Shivers. He recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at his online gallery: www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright . And please hurry with your response - that mackerel's killin' your pal, Steve Cartwright.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2023