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Fiction: 'Rubberneck'

 

Head was cocked to the side, nearly to the shoulder,

face resting, he looked out the window

at the people who were walking on the ceiling

Some of them stared or pointed, while others turned away,

or looked away, or cried, and two even laughed

Why, he didn’t know

Didn’t have the energy to ask

 

He was tired, after all 

So tired

He had actually fallen asleep, believe it or not, just a few minutes ago

Come to think of it, probably wasn’t the best time

to be catching a cat nap 

Is it really a cat nap at two in the morning? 

I shouldn’t have stayed out so late, he thought,

how am I going to get up for work in the morning? 

Outside the glass, a truck had stopped, and the driver

and the other guys looked at him, too 

Everyone was looking at him, it seemed

 

What a racket they made! 

More people arrived all the time,

the cars and trucks and vans and motorcycles they drove

screamed and yelled

It was enough to give him a headache, maybe

The folks in the crowd shouted to each other and ran around 

What’s the rush, he wanted to yell, slow down or someone’s gonna get hurt! 

But he didn’t 

He stayed quiet

Didn’t want that headache

 

Some men came up to his window then,

just came right up and looked inside!  Their hats were huge, and the guys

banged on the window 

A little rude, he thought.  They asked him questions, but he was

tired, and didn’t really feel like talking. 

“Come back in the morning,” he said, “Before I go to work”

but he didn’t think they heard.  And who could blame them?

with all the noise out there.  They looked strange, anyway. 

It was only a drizzle, really, but they were dressed in the heaviest coats

he’d ever seen

 

And it comes…

Behind my eyes, all the way up to my scalp, he thought

I hope it goes away by morning

The amber of the streetlights danced on the glass, their glow

fuzzed by the raindrops making his head hurt more

And his legs were getting sore now, too, he noticed

Too much dancing on the ceiling, I guess, and he chuckled 

The men outside banged on the window again

Go away, he whispered, come again another day

 

He went to change position a little, be more comfortable,

but he couldn’t

He was too tired, he’d drunk some,

a little

What do you expect, he asked himself, you know one drink and you’re flying 

The windshield was broken he noticed, and he didn’t feel

his headache or his sore legs anymore 

I’d better get some rest 

I have a lot to do tomorrow 

So he closed his eyes

and he

 

 

 

Matthew Herring

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