Faults

Carl stared directly into the sun and fell to his knees. Gusts of wind blew sand from the surrounding desert, coating his suit. He spread his arms out against the sky, willing the breeze to carry him far away from here.

 

 

Phil, who was taller and wearing an equally dirty suit, approached Carl from behind.

 

“Carl,” Phil whispered.


No response.


“Carl, hey, Carl.”


He continued to look into the sunset.


“Carl.”


“What?” He growled and whirled around, jumping to his feet.

 

“What could you possibly want?”


Phil opened his mouth to reply.


“No. Don’t say anything. There isn’t anything you can do, or say, to help. I mean, look at us.” Carl gestured to the vast Arizona desert surrounding them. “You got us lost, and now we have no gas in the RV thanks to you.”


“I thou-”


“The E does not stand for ‘entire,’ Phil. It stands for ‘empty.’”


Phil closed his mouth. The two were silent for a long time, and there was no sound besides their suits flapping in the breeze.


“...Carl?”


He closed his eyes and puffed out a lungful of air. “Yes, Phil?”


“Do you want a hot dog?” Phil held out a limp, bunless hot dog. Carl stared at his business partner, saying nothing.


Phil further held out the hot dog, mere inches from Carl's face. A moment passed, and the tip of it touched his cheek.


Carl snatched the hot dog out of Phil’s hand, tore it in half, and threw it into the sand below. He gritted his teeth. “No. I don't want anything to do with you, or your hot dogs again. Ever.”


Phil’s lip puffed out. His eyes began to water. “Carl…”


He turned around, facing the sunset once more.


“Carl, I made that hot dog for you...”


Carl silently continued his fury against his business partner. Phil trudged back to their RV on the side of the road, with his head bent down like it was too heavy. A trail of teardrops led back to the RV, saturating the dry desert sand.


---


An hour later, the winds turned chilly with nightfall, and Carl shivered. He put his hands in his pockets, making his way back to the RV. A sliver of moon and the star-speckled sky barely lit the way there. His stomach rumbled.


When he arrived at the warped aluminum metal door, he stopped. A faint glow appeared through the lone dirty window. Carl heard quiet sobbing inside. Taking a deep breath, the salesman opened the door.

 

Phil was curled up with their only blanket on the lumpy futon. Balled up tissues surrounded him, and his eyes were red and puffy, glued to the TV. “It's just so sad,” he sniffed. “I, I-” Phil burst into tears and hid his face in his blanket. Carl looked at the TV, turned off the episode of How It's Made and sat next to his business partner. In the darkness, Phil continued to moan and sob. They sat like this for what felt like a long time.


Carl spoke softly, interrupting Phil’s lament.“Phil?”


“Y-yeah?”


“Can you make me a hot dog?”


Phil sprang off of the futon, turned on the lights and ran around the RV, causing it to shake and groan with the sudden outburst of joy. Carrying the small grill and package of hot dogs in his hand, Phil threw open the RV door and began to grill in the cold night, feverishly turning around a single sizzling hot dog with the tongs. Carl joined him outside and watched smoke from the grill float up, joining thousands of stars for dinner in the night sky, like they were old friends. A dim, warm light spilled out from the RV onto the arid desert.


When Carl looked down, Phil proudly presented a freshly grilled hot dog on a paper plate, again with no bun. His stomach rumbled again.


Carl looked at the hot dog. It didn’t tell us where they were. It didn't fuel to the RV. In fact, it didn't even look very good.


He took the hot dog.


“Thank you, Phil.”






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