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  Table of contents Issue Nineteen FATE IN MERC 88



he conspicuous '88 red Mercury Cougar sped down the road passing Mary's Dairy & Diesel Fuel and the old Citizens Bank with the rusty time and temp tower. Its tires squealed as the driver pulled the wheel sharply around a corner just past Ferguson's Funeral Parlor. No one in Bellville saw the Mercury that afternoon. It was as out of place as a pig at a picnic. But today, mowing lawns, planting seed, and dumb luck kept all eyes off of the outsider who decided to take a detour through the town.

Albert James sat behind the wheel; a thirty-one-year-old divorced factory worker from Memphis. He wasn't quite himself today. He hadn't shaved recently, his eyes were a little too open and his knuckles had several bloody, unattended cuts. Albert was a nervous happy. He was thinking of the factory where he worked and how he hated that shithole. If he were there now he would storm in with an ax and before Jim Jacobs and Bill Crowe could land a look he'd split their skulls like ripe melons. But that was behind him, and besides, he never was the killn’ type. Killing was the Devil's work. His father had killed. It was in Vietnam. He cried about it for years. He was an alcoholic. He cried when he beat Albert and his mother. He cried when he made Albert watch as he raped his mother. He cried when he raped Albert when he was 13. Albert cried and wondered why. Why his father killed himself. Why Albert hated him. Why Albert hated his mother for turning her head. Why Albert's wife left him. Why Albert hated, hated women.

The thumping was coming again. Albert turned the radio dial louder and began to sing along with Johnny Cash, **we got married in a fever**hotter than a pepper sprout**we been talkn’ 'bout Jackson**ever since the fire went out**I'm goin’ to Jackson**. Albert reached between his legs, squeezed himself and smiled as the Merc powered on.

A man isn't a man when he becomes one with a machine. His thoughts wander. Albert was expected to be quiet at work and pull the tool and die hour after hour. Susan was one of the office clerks at Southern Distribution Shipping where Albert worked. She didn’t know Albert. But, she looked. She looked at him. Albert always seemed to have that effect on women.

Susan Perkins woke in a panic. Unsure immediately why, she felt out around herself in the darkness. She was wet with sweat. Her tank top and shorts pasted to her skin. Her head hurt badly, her mouth was filled with the taste of copper-- which she didn't associate with blood. She felt the enclosure around her. She couldn't sit up. There was a humming, vibrating and the occasional bump. She is in a car...trunk? Suzy began to scream and pound her fists against the trunk lid. Oh my God, Oh oh my god, Oh my God. Help me, help me, help me. She continued to pound until she passed out again from exhaustion. And for the first time and the last, God would deliver for Susan.

The ‘88 red Mercury left Bellville behind without a second glance. Susan didn’t know who was driving her or where. And all Albert could think is, “That little bitch will never look at me funny again”. Albert had big plans for Susan; he’d planned them for months. At the onset, the plans went a little crooked, but he got them back on track. And now he couldn’t wait to see her squirm.

As the Merc moved on to the entrance ramp for I95, police lights caught Albert’s eye. The last thought that went through Albert James sick and long-tortured mind was fuck the cops. The tanker was laid on its side just off the road…all but about three feet of it. The Merc clipped the tail end of the newly turned-over fuel tanker, sending an immediate explosion into the night sky. If Albert hadn’t been such a cheap, sentimental bastard, he may have lived. If he didn’t have a car that was nearly as strong and heavy as a tank, they might not have caused an explosion.

Susan felt or saw nothing. Her prayers were answered in a blink. God had answered.




Jason Campbell attended Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where he lives and writes short and flash fiction. He has been published in multiple magazines across the country and has won creative writing awards and scholarships.

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