(When a little girl finds a severed finger on the road, the finger evokes different responses in each person it passes to. If you're just joining us, go back to Part 1)
Thank God for late night fast food.
Sam scored a large chili before walking the dark parking lot to his car. Vending machines stopped you from gnawing your arm off, but it left you restless and a little sad.
The city morgue shared space at Our Lady of Victory Hospital. Sam planted the chili between his legs and eased out of the lot onto the empty streets. Once in a while, he passed a guy wandering the half-lit sidewalks. Other times, a homeless guy nestling on a bed of cardboard. Sam thought about what the beat cops said about the middle of the night. Nothing but lions and lambs. When the predators got too hungry, the cops mopped up the mess.
Sam held the chili and steered with one hand, and spooned with the other. He blew before each bite. Damn hot, but delicious. He drifted through several blinking yellow lights, then shoved the spoon back into the cup to free a hand to make a right.
A van lurched out of a blind alley.
Sam's car crunched into the side.
In the blur of impact, he saw light, his feet, the steering wheel, and a no parking sign.
He rocked back, his face feeling leaden and detached. Bad habit not to wear seatbelts in the city. He tasted blood where his ballooning lips hit.
Splattered chili on the windshield dripped down. Kidney beans fanned across the dashboard along with big chunks of meat. Through the mess, he saw his crunched hood venting steam.
"Jesus fucking Christ."
Sam dropped his head back on the steering wheel and closed his eyes. This was the best night ever.
Outside, a door slammed. Footsteps came closer.
Beautiful. Utterly tremendous.
Someone knocked on the window.
"Hey! Hey, bud! Are you alright?"
Sam wondered. If he wished hard enough, would it all go away?
The man outside screeched. "Oh my God! Oh my God! He's dead! This guy is dead! His brains are all over the windshield!"
Sam snapped up. The guy ran, smashed into a mailbox, and spun to the ground.
"Whoa! Wait!" Sam said. "It's just chili, man!"
The guy scrambled up and pounded on the dark store fronts. "Help! Help!"
Sam wiped the blood with his sleeve.
He checked his swollen face in the rearview mirror.
He reached to open the door.
Back to Part 5.