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2 Heart Beats pt. 27 by Ray Printer Friendly

I wake up, and immediately know that something is different. I stand slowly, and that gives it away. In my world, you don’t ever stand slowly. You either stay where you’re at, or you get the fuck up. Standing slowly, that’s for corpses.

I feel different. Weird. Not lonely, but something like that, like when you’re used to waking up next to an old friend, and one morning, you’re on your own. In this case, I’m not sure if the old friend I’m missing is the gun I sleep with or the battle pains I carry with me always.

They’re both gone, though, and instead of finding it a relief, I find it disturbing. And then the headache hits, and the feeling like I’m about to launch my guts all over the place. If I didn’t know better, I’d say I had a wicked nasty hangover.

And then the door opens. What door? Good question. I’m just now noticing my surroundings, and to be off my game this much means I’m going to die. You don’t wake up this stupid and live long, not these days.

My brain feels sluggish and foreign to me, like when you try to walk on legs that have fallen asleep. It’s mine, but it ain’t exactly under my control.

I glance up.

“How you doing?” My mother asks.

Knowing where I am, knowing when I am, I answer like I’m supposed to. “Better than I’ll be doing in a couple of weeks.” Because in a couple of weeks, all hell will have broken out.

“You been seeing things?”

Seeing things? You might say that. You might say that I’ve seen the end of the world and battled through it, killing every moral I ever had, fucking over friends and companions and loved ones that I never accepted as loved ones. “I guess you could say that.”

She starts laughing. Not a little laugh, either. She laughs long and hard, she laughs like she means it. When she finally has the breath to speak again, she asks, “Did you see the clowns?”

“Yeah, I saw the clowns.” I don’t see what’s so funny, except for maybe the irony, if you’re into that kind of thing.

“Oh, those clowns. They kill me every time.” She’s still laughing, and I wonder about her choice of words.

“Yeah, that’s a real hoot, the world ending because some clowns don’t understand to stop, drop, and roll.”

Her laughter tapers off, and she wipes a tear out from under her eye. “I wonder if you’ll ever get it. You were such a bright little boy, I didn’t think it would be a problem, but you lost that knowledge somewhere. What happened to you, darlin’?”

“I guess the future happened.”

“Maybe so. Maybe so. I dated one of those guys. The third clown to get out of the car, his name was Brad Newberry, and I let him feel me up once. His hands felt all hot and dumb, though, so I made him stop.”

And right here’s where I break script. I know what I should be saying, I know what I said, back when we had this conversation before, but fuck that.

“I ended up killing about eight of them. One of those weird coincidences, right? Just happened by, and recognized their clothes. I stopped the car and climbed out and blasted each and every one of them. They were already dead, of course, but by then, details like that didn’t seem to matter much.”

She stares at me, a smile dancing on the corner of her mouth.

“You think you know things?” She asks.

“I think I know more than I did before. You know me?”

“I know you. You’re my son, no matter what you do.”

“You say things like that, I wonder if you know the things I’ve done.”

“I know the things you’ve done, I know the things you’ll do. And you’ll always be my son.”

“If I went there right now, killed each and everyone of those idiotic clowns, would it save anything?”

“Nope. Maybe you’d be the one to knock over a candle that would start the fire, or maybe you’d be the one to release the virus or whatever it is that caused it. You can’t change the past.”

“Bullshit. I’m chainging it right now, by having this conversation.”

She looks puzzled. Startled. Guilty.


“You don’t know anything. You think you do, but you’re wrong.”

“You sick bitch. Why? Because of the guy? The guy you dated?”

“Don’t be stupid.”

“How ‘bout you help me out, then? Because I can’t think of a reason why you’d intentionally start the end of the world. So help me out.”

Instead, she catches me with a left hook that knocks me ass over teakettle. I trip over a pile of dirty laundry and smash my head against the wall. Just before I pass out, I see her toss an envelope down at me.

I wake up quick, and I’m instantly alert. I move fast, despite the pains, despite the wounds. The pistol is under her chin before I realize my arm has moved. Kennedy. My main man, even though she happens to be a chick.

“It’s time,” she says, and waits for me to lower the pistol.

I shake my head, trying to clear the cobwebs. “Time.” I want to ask it, but that would be a sign of weakness, so I state it.

“Time to move in. Today is the day that you piss in Cupcake’s skull.”

I stand, finally understanding. Just a dream. Haven’t had one of those in a while.

The envelope falls from my lap, flips as it floats to the ground, and then comes to a rest.

“What is that?” Kennedy asks.

I stare at the envelope, positive that it wasn’t there when I dozed off.

“Probably bad news,” I tell her.


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