Old Dog Dies Alone

Cal blinked as the grass and the trees and the sun swam into focus.  Blood crept past him into the dirt, towards the car tyres.  He reached down and felt his pocket – empty.  Bastards.

It was a simple deal.  He must have done thousands like it.  But the kids these days weren’t just dealers, not even just fighters.  They were razed fundamentalists, with guns.  He could still see flint eyes, lit up with hate.

He turned his face away from the glare.  As his eyes adjusted to the darkness under the car, he saw Holly’s hind legs and her tail pinched under the wheel.  She must have been with him for nearly 20 years.  His jaw tightened, ready for the anger, but it didn’t come.  Instead, slow tears welled and spilled over his tanned weathered skin, making craters in the dust.

He tried to turn onto his side, but his shoulder flooded with pain.  He was going to need some help.

“Dee.  Dee!”

He waited.  His eyelids felt heavy.

There was no sound, except the air in the trees and the motorway at the end of the track.

If he could just get into the car…  He rolled onto his good side and shuffled himself up onto his elbow.  A white-hot iron exploded in his chest.  His head lolled onto his wrist.  He trained his eyes on the old tracks on his forearm, forcing himself to focus, driving his mind through the burn.  Slowly he began to move again, rolling onto all fours, using his head and one arm to balance on the sandy wing of Dee’s Mercedes.  With a grunt he straightened out his knees and turned, hunched in agony on the hot bonnet.  Through the window he saw Dee, slumped on the back seat.  The driver door was already slightly ajar.  He put a shaking hand on the wing-mirror, and hauled it open.  Using the door as a crutch, he shuffled his way around and lowered himself down, but before he was ready, the door shut.  He fell roughly into the leather seat and his hand slammed between the rust and the rubber of the door.  He gasped for breath as the weltering pain from his shoulder sliced through him.

He felt for the keys in the ignition. Thank Christ!  His fingers smeared and slipped with the blood from his hand.  The car purred, as the leather interior began to swim.  Cal picked up his head to focus on the road ahead.  Pretty straight.  Pretty downhill.  He heaved up his shoulder, swung his good arm over to the handbrake and grabbed hold.

He thought of Holly under the front wheel.

Despite the heat inside the car, his body felt cold.

He let his chest fall forward onto the steering wheel.  The engine’s vibration shivered through him.  He looked up at the straight track, winding and twisting in his grey eyes. He relaxed his grip on the brake, and his eyelids fell closed.

A quarter of a mile away, hundreds of people shot between white lines, negotiating the asphalt and screaming metal, whistling past the track, and past Dee and Cal, and his old dog, dead in the dust.

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