~ from ~
~ old pulp fiction ~
It was in New Orleens, under the moss-hanging trees of Audubon Park, where Road stepped with a crunch of park turf beneath his boot ~ out of his soft clutched, broken safety braked, burned out signal bulbed, electrical wire shorted here and there, broken glassed, dented, loose bolted, chipped paint and faded hunk of studymobile.
He stood before the small lake in the park, surrounded by squirrels, black kids, and fishing poles ~ and he wondered where his reward was.
He’d done it.
And he’d done it for nothing ~ but, but for the blatant satisfaction of doing it?
No reward rang in his ears. No reward and no pay. His shoulders sagged and his head ached.
Poncho and Memo ~ gone their own ways now. And payed.
Tulip ~ humph!
The cannon ~ the authorities could muse over it.
The U-Haul trailer frame ~ discarded in some parking lot.
The stolen college books would probably be returned to San Diego State University ~ never seen by any prison inmate. The Crockjaw Parish Prison wall would be rebuilt. Road would be hunted down and arrested.
The giving was enough? The giving was all?
Road thought about how it had felt to touch the hot tip of his cigar butt to the cannon’s fuse ~ how it had felt wading the box of books and Tulip sitting on top across the canal next to the prison ~ how it all felt ~ and now his shoulders sagged ~ and Road frowned grimly at nothing.
Across the lake a man’s glossy black Labrador Retriever dog splashed into the water and took after a now paddling madly white duck ~ probably with clipped park wings. The dog’s drooling jaws closed on the duck’s tail, pulled out a mouth full of feathers.
The duck quacked horrified ~ paddled for life.
The dog ~ strong, well trained, well fed, splashed after him, almost on him ~ a matter of seconds now and the duck would be ~
A dead duck.
Said Road out loud as he watched the duck quack stupidly and paddle sloppily, in panic and too late, trying to out swim the big-dog jaws of death closing in over him.
“No reward,” said Road out loud to himself and thought about getting a job, as he watched ~
The duck took to the air and left the big black dog floundering in the lake.
The duck flapped his wet dripping and flashing white wings, defying all the laws of clipped-wing flight (mainly ’cause he’d got lost in a bush the day the wing clippers came by with their scissors). He swooped thru the air past Road’s nose. And he practically knocked Road over with a screeching knock out squawk that not vaguely sounded like, “Fuck ’em all!”
And the duck flew yonder, disappeared over the trees.
Road thought about that cry ~ the cry of a wild goose for sure. Fuckin’ duck. Yeah, Road thought about it. Fuck ’em all!
Who needed a reward?
Road stepped with a sharp little bounce back into the doorless cab of his ’56 Chevy ex-milk truck.