Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dead Man Running by Demetra Fisher

It was late and I yawned loudly as I walked over to my car in the empty parking lot.
Everyone else had already gone home. I was the only one left. I was on the late shift of
the local Micky D’s, and it was my job to close up three times a week. Tonight had been
a killer and I couldn’t wait to get home. The high school had a basketball game earlier so
the restaurant had been packed from nine until closing. When I opened my car door and
slid in, I looked at the clock on my dashboard and realized it was later than I thought.
With a ten minute drive home, I wouldn’t get to bed before two thirty at the latest. Shit.
That meant that I would only have a few hours sleep before I had to get up for my classes
at Community College. Oh well, it could be worse. At least I’d had a full crew tonight to
help close up. There were times when I had to do all of the closing duties myself and
didn't get home before four. So, as tonight went down, it wasn’t too bad.

All things considered, I was feeling pretty good except for being tired, that is, when I

turned down Old Sleepy Hollow Road. Then, out of nowhere, a man running down the
road jumped out in front of my ear. I had to yank the steering wheel over hard to avoid
hitting him. I slammed on the brakes at the same time and the skidding must have made
a lot of noise, because the man jumped like someone had poked him. When my car came
to a stop, I got out to make sure that the guy was okay, even though I wanted to pound
him. What the hell was he doing jogging down the road at this hour? Was he crazy?

“You crazy or something?”, I asked him. “What the hell are you doing running this late

at night?” I waited for him to answer me, but he didn’t even tum around. Then, I
recognized the shirt he was wearing. It was exactly like one of my old tee shirts. ln fact,
it was my old tee shirt; I knew as soon as the man turned around to face me and I saw that
it was Joe from the convenience store up the road. “Hey, Joe”, I said then. “What’s
going on, `bro?”, I asked him.

Joe just looked at me kinda funny, like he didn’t know me or something. He still

wasn’t talking and I was beginning to feel more than just a little weird about the whole
thing. All of a sudden, he spoke.

“You know who I am?, he asked me. His eyes were huge.

“Yeah, I know you”, I said. This was getting weirder all the time. “You’re Joe

Norris, aren’t you?", I asked him. I walked a few steps closer to get a better look at him.

“I don’t know”, he said. And that made me stop in my tracks. What the hell did that

mean? I was beginning to think that this was gonna be along night.

“I don’t know who I am”, he said, “or what I’m doing here”. Oh, boy. He didn’t know

who he was. What the hell..? I shook my head in disbelief. I looked him over good and
suddenly realized that he was barefoot for some reason- All Joe was wearing was a tee
shirt and a pair of jeans. Just why that was, I didn't know.

“You lose your shoes or something,  I asked him. He just shook his head like he

was trying to remember or something. Oh hell. ._ I couldn’t just let him keep on running
down the road. “Want a lift?"  I asked him.

“Okay”, he said. We walked over to where my car had stopped and as we got in, I

suddenly remembered that I had no idea where Joe lived. “Where to?”, I asked him

“I don’t remember”, he said after awhile. Oh yeah... He didn’t have a clue. Great!

What now?

“Maybe I could stay with you tonight?”, he asked me. He was scared, I knew, but did I

have to take him home with me? Oh hell... there really wasn’t any other option. It was
the middle of the night and I had no idea where else to bring him, so I said, “Sure You
can stay at my place tonight”.

“Thanks”, he said softly. I knew he must have been relieved.

When we got to my place, I had to clear out some of my stuff to make room for him on

the couch. My place is kinda small, so the couch was the only other “bed” available.
He was okay with it though. I guess he thought that it was better than nothing.

Once we got settled, I started thinking about what I was gonna do about him in the

morning. Where would he go once the sun came up and I had to go to class? I couldn’t
just leave him here, could I? Questions popped up in my head, one after another, making
me toss and turn as I tried to figure out a game plan for the next morning until, slowly I
drifted off to sleep.

I woke up to the smell of bacon frying. When I came out of my bedroom to see what

was up, Joe was standing at my kitchen stove in his boxers and the same tee shirt he was
wearing when I found him, cooking breakfast.

“Hey, man”, he said, smiling. “How'd you sleep, bro? Thanks for letting me stay here

last night”, he went on as thought nothing strange has happened the night before.

“You okay‘?”, I asked him. I was wondering if I had somehow dreamed up the whole


“Yeah, I am”, he said. “Funny thing, when I woke up this morning, I remembered

everything. Weird, huh? Sorry I freaked you out”, he apologized.

“That’s okay”, I said. “I’m just glad you’re okay”. I was so relieved I didn’t have to

worry anymore about how I was gonna handle the whole situation today that I just stood
there and smiled at him while he continued cooking. “Smells good”, I said.

As I watched him walk away, I knew I was looking at a dead man. And I was scared

for him.

Just before he reached the steps to his  door, he turned around and spoke to me one

last time.

“Oh, I almost forgot”, he said softly. He was staring right at me.

I held my breath. I cou1dn’t look away. Somehow, 1 knew what was coming next.

“You’re next”, he told me, his eyes really glowing this time.

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