by Charles Gramlich
A sky flecked like mica with stars.
I had my Harley redlined, the V-Twin burning between my legs. Dangerous. Riding fast at night. But I had nothing to lose, no one to care if I lost it.
Then I saw her lying across the blacktop.
Dead, I thought.
But she moved when I swerved to avoid her.
I got the bike stopped, u-turned, winced as I saw… Her back was broken.
I hung the bike on it’s kickstand, the headlight painting her, refracting jewels from her liquid eyes. I rushed to her, knelt.
She opened her mouth but made no sound. How could she be alive? How could she breathe with a chest half crushed? What was she doing so far from town? What sick fate had sent a vehicle to rendezvous with her at this lonely spot. There were no signs of burnt rubber. Whoever had hit her hadn’t even slowed down.
I tried to force, “It’s OK,” through my lips. The meaningless words wouldn’t come.
Then she looked past me toward highway’s edge. I turned, saw something, some shadow. When I turned back she looked like she was sleeping but her chest no longer rose and fell.
I followed where her gaze had led, and saw why she’d been crossing this road, what she was returning to.
It wasn’t easy getting six newborn puppies tucked into my leather jacket but I managed. And no hot-rodding now as I rode away. For once, I carried precious cargo.