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Asphalt

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I feel the headlights on me. The trees lit up next to me. I move off to the side of the road more. The car slows down a little bit, and then the tires squeal as it speeds up rapidly. They crash into a puddle and soak me entirely. “What the f***!” I scream at them. I can hear them f***ing laughing as they drive away leisurely. I look down and spot a piece of the road that’s broken off into a reasonably sized chunk. Without thinking, I bend down and grab it. I don’t aim; I just throw it.

Red lights show me his legs as he gets out of the car. He’s got work boots on with his pants tucked into them. He slams the door and walks quickly back towards me. “Hey. Don’t you f***ing move.” I’m already frozen. He’s close enough now that I can see him; he’s at least in his mid 20’s. He’s got like two inches on me. High and tight haircut, dirt stained white-tee. I feel like I should run but there’s no way I’m outrunning him with this backpack on and I can’t just bail on it.

He doesn’t say anything at first. He just pushes me. I give an inch. He pushes me again, harder, and I stumble back a little bit. “What the f*** were you thinking? You just shot glass all over my girlfriend. You almost f***ing hit her with that bit of asphalt. What the f*** were you thinking?” He’s getting steadily louder. He pushes me again; I almost fall. “What the f*** were you thinking?” He’s screaming.

“Look I’m sorry. I didn’t think I was gonna hit you. I didn’t even look. It was an accident.” He pauses and looks at me; kicks the toe of his boot against the street. Uses his thumb to crack all the fingers on his right hand. I’m getting a nervous sweat. My legs are shaking. I hope it’s not noticeable. He looks at me. “Well, if it was an accident…I guess that’s coo-” he breaks off and suddenly slams his fist into my right cheek, just below my eye. Half of my vision goes fuzzy. The punch was hard enough, but the surprise of it knocked me back. “Ah. F***. Ow.” I pick my head up in time to see his fist coming at me again. Sparks go off in my nose.

My backpack stopped me from falling straight back. I’m in a weird propped up position. I’m motionless; not by choice. I don’t know what to do. He towers over me, looking down. We make eye contact. He swings his leg back and slams his boot into my ribs. The kick knocks me on to my side. I don’t see the second kick coming but I feel it slam into the small of my back. I cry out. I hear the boots stomping away. I hear a car door open. He says, “Grab that...well f***ing find it…got it? Come here.” I can hear two people walking now. I lay motionless. Someone pulls my backpack off. It’s him. “He pushes me over onto my back, “Look at me.” I’m having trouble focusing but I manage. He stands up. There’s a woman standing behind him. She’s in a pink tracksuit with a belly poking out. She’s cradling the chunk of asphalt like it’s the baby in her stomach.

“Give me that.” She hands him the asphalt. He crouches down and holds the chunk menacingly so it blocks my view of his face. I cough; turn my head to the right and spit some of the blood out. “I’m really sorry I broke your window. I wasn’t thinking. I’m kind of having a bad day.” I sound drunk, like my tongue is too big for my mouth. He laughs. “A bad day? You’re having a bad day?” I swallow and try to sound more serious. “Yeah. Look. In my backpack. I can give you a hundred dollar bill. I know that won’t cover the window. It’s all I can give you though. My parents threw me out today. I literally have nowhere to go.” He sets down the asphalt and gets up close. “Do you really think,” he pauses, “that I give a f*** about YOUR problems?”





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