“Close to the Fire” by Bill Kitcher

Jerry backed the ’68 Ford Fairlane into a driveway, then jammed it into Drive, and stomped on the accelerator. The tires squealed and he crossed the road, went up a slight incline, and smashed into the corner of a house.

Amy, Luke, and Petra laughed and whooped and clapped.

Jerry let the car roll backwards onto the street. Amy leaned in his window and kissed him. He reached for her arm but she pulled back.

“Ain’t got time for that,” she said.

Jerry pointed to a parked car. “Is that a Porsche?”

“Saab,” said Luke.

“Foreign. Whatever.”

He gunned the engine and drove straight into the Saab, crumpling its entire side. Its alarm went off.

“OK, down to Main,” said Amy, getting into the car with her backpack. Luke and Petra got into the backseat and made out.

Jerry hit the gas, and they headed toward the setting sun. Jerry squinted. They were doing 70 by the time they ran the stop sign. They almost cleared the intersection but a truck hit the back of the car, crushing Luke and Petra. The car spun a couple of times and came to a rest near a parkette where a couple lay huddled in a blanket.

Jerry and Amy were only a little bloody. They got out of the car to the sound of gunfire. A man stood on the roof of a building opposite, taking out anyone who waved at him.

Amy threw a discarded table through the window of a bakery. She climbed through, took a couple of cookies, came back out, and gave one to Jerry.

“Chocolate chip,” he said. “It’s good.”

“Best in the city,” said Amy.

“There’s a cat,” said Jerry.

“Don’t do it.”

“What difference does it make?”

“I’ll know.” She snorted. “And, unfortunately, now I know too much about you.”

He finished the cookie, wiped his mouth, and kissed Amy. He looked up at the sniper. “Hey, Jimmy! Over here!”

Jimmy fired a bullet through Jerry’s head.

Amy opened her backpack, took out a joint, lit it, and inhaled. She exhaled very slowly. She took a bottle out, removed the stopper, sniffed it, then jammed a rag into the opening. She lit the rag, watched it burn for a bit, then threw it through the window of a furniture store. A matching sofa, chair, and hassock burned.

Amy sat down, close enough to feel the heat. She inhaled and looked west.

The sun dimmed as predicted and the freeze began.


Bill’s stories, plays, and comedy sketches have been published and/or produced in Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, England, Guernsey, Holland, India, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, and the U.S. Recent stories were published in Eunoia Review, Once Upon A Crocodile, Ariel Chart International Literary Journal, Litbreak Magazine, New Contrast, The Bookends Review, Spank The Carp, Little Old Lady Comedy, Black Petals, and Slippage Lit, and he has stories forthcoming in Brushfire Literature and Arts Journal, The Rockford Review, Close To The Bone, Evening Street Review, Truffle, and 2 stories (one co-written) in the Horrified Press anthology, “Twisted Time”.

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