New York Ray

Blood positively gushed down Ray’s upside-down head and he could barely see. He unhooked his seat-belt but didn’t drop down: he was wedged in there. He spun his head around and flailed his arms, blood spattering in all directions. Then he just hung there. It was his legs. They were caught up in the folded steel. He swung this way and that, trying to free himself. Nothing. More blood came down. He strained against the metal, pushing with bloody hands. A pack of cigarettes and a lighter fell down from his pocket. He reached for them and got a blood-smeared cigarette into his mouth. He just got hold of the lighter when he threw it down again, thinking better of lighting up. Blood was pulsing in his temples and thumping in his brain. He twisted around. Then he reached over and turned the radio knob- would the radio still work?

It did! A highly dramatic rock song came on, one that he recognized from his childhood- eating pizza at the corner joint with his father, drinking grape soda with a picture of a girl on the can. He could taste that New York pizza now. Flour on the crust. That special brand of New York pizza cheese. Some kind of flavor they have nowhere else in the world. Then a flood of fresh blood rushed down his face and he couldn’t see again. “MUTHAFUCKER!” But it wasn’t him who said it. It was James, somewhere out there. Made him want to call out, rush out there. Then he heard James crying. The sound was creepy, high-pitched. Positively unnerving. Ray no longer wanted to rush out there. So he hung, dripping. Now a bunch of ads came on the radio, pissing Ray off. Plus the sobbing outside. “No! No! No!” that kind of thing. Ray reached again for the lighter, the cigarette still hanging in his mouth. He had never lit a cigarette upside down before. But the lighter slipped out of his fingers, which were slick with blood and trembling uncontrollably. They he heard Mara. “James! James!” Boo hoo hoo hoo, etc. Ray spat some of the blood that was filling his mouth. He heard the voices getting farther and farther away which made him happy at first. Peace and quiet. Then he started wondering why they hadn’t come to check on him. He wanted to call out, make a sarcastic remark. He swung around a little. Very ineffectual. He stared at the radio. Insurance for bad drivers being hawked. Should have been amusing. Wasn’t. Then he fell on his head

Lying twisted on his shoulder in a cramped space but with a big smile. He flopped his legs around. They responded nicely. Then he wriggled out of the driver’s side window, dragging himself through some broken glass. There were a couple of bodies strewn around. Who were these people? He almost was tempted to go back into his car-cave, to hide. He struggled to his feet, wiping blood, picking out glass, unsteady. A scruffy dog came running over, excitedly licking his bloody hands. He pet the dog. He stumbled but didn’t fall. He took another glance at the bodies. One appeared to move a little, or was that his imagination? Like fish they serve you in Japan, so fresh they’re still spastic. He felt sick and just stood there.

“Ray,” Adrienne said, now right in front of him. She took hold of his hand. He wanted to ask what she was doing there. Then there were about 100 people around and burning spotlights everywhere, making him squint.

He was lying and taped up so he couldn’t move his arms. Adrienne’s face floated beside him. She was smiling a big, awesome smile. There was some slamming of doors and a sound that was so loud he almost passed out. But he could feel her squeezing his hand. He closed his eyes and saw the pizza again. Adrienne was over by the juke box asking Ray what she should put on. His Dad was smiling a strange smile.

He felt himself walking backwards up some stairs in a pitch black void. The glowing doorway below got further and further away but he was getting warmer and warmer, which felt good. Just as long as I keep going up the stairs I’ll be okay, he though. That means I’m going to heaven, not hell. But it was getting warmer and warmer. Wasn’t Heaven supposed to be cold and hell warm? Felt good though, warm, cozy. He kept going backwards up the stairs, which felt softer and softer with every step until his feet were sinking in. He lay back on the soft pillowy stairs. He curled up into a ball. You take it from here, he wanted to tell someone but the glowing doorway was too far away and he was alone. He laughed to himself. Of course the doorway’s too far. Of course.

“MUTHAFUCKER!” It was James again. Ray opened his eyes to see hospital curtains all around. Then James started whimpering again from the other side of the curtain. Ray lay back and smiled, closing his eyes. You made it, you motherfucker, he told himself, approvingly. He moved around a little and vaguely perceived being attached to things before he fading off to sleep again.

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