written for Daily Flash Fiction contest, 8/22/19
|“We’ll walk the tracks home.”
I glanced toward the railroad track. A segment gleamed in the darkness, lit by a sliver of light from The Tavern’s only window. “Too dangerous. How about a cab?”
“No money left.” Charlie staggered through the parking lot. I wondered if his already gravelly face would meet the pavement. I’d hate to take him to the hospital in this state, his long beard matted from drooled whisky. Townsfolk would talk.
“We can take Destiny Lane,” I called after him.
“Too much walking.” Destiny Lane meandered for a mile in narrow, sharp curves. Cars careened off on Saturday nights. They say Destiny has a purpose -- ridding our fine town of drunkards and undesirables, like Charlie, as they drive home from The Tavern. We didn’t give it the chance. We walked.
Charlie took the rail, disappearing into the darkness.
I strode along the Lane until it met the tracks. Charlie shuffled slowly toward me. A bright dot appeared, creating a silhouette of Charlie’s stooped form. “Charlie! Get off the track! Train!”
His pace quickened. A sober man would slide down the steep side-hill to safety. He had time, though, if he stayed on his feet. Soon I saw his eyes, wild with panic. Mine probably looked the same.
“You made it!” I relaxed as Charlie stepped onto Destiny Lane. He gasped for breath, his hands on his knees. “I told you so. You damn near died.”
Charlie belly-laughed. “‘Damn near died’ ain’t the same as dead!” I smiled. Crazy old fart.
The light approached, now big as the moon, and the train blew its whistle. The heavy wooden crossing arm fell quickly -- too quickly. Charlie died immediately from that bang on the head. Died happy, still laughing. Destiny chortled, too, I figured. Another drunk gone.