A Curve in the Road
by Jeff Crook
Kyle struck the Rottweiller's bloated corpse at 57 miles per hour. Until that moment, he'd been having a good day. It was Friday, Sammy Hagar was playing on the radio, and he'd taken the curve just a little too fast and crossed the double-yellow line, wheels in the sand and broken glass. Which was fine, except for the bloated dog lying like a speed bump in the suicide lane. A dead Rottweiller is a remarkably solid animal, even after three days. The impact ripped the wheel from Kyle's hand and sent him careening back across two lanes of highway and onto the shoulder, where he wiped out a row of political signs and three mailboxes before regaining control of his vehicle. One of the mailboxes belonged to the Rottweiler's owner. Because he was driving on a suspended license, he didn't stop. He was glad he hadn't hit the school bus. He drove home and parked his black 1977 Pontiac Firebird in the carport with its damaged front end close to the wall so his old lady wouldn't see when she got home. It was Friday. The power had gone out at the plant and they'd let everyone go home an hour early. He'd been looking forward to getting home before his old lady and maybe shakin' the snake, but he just sat in the parked car gripping the wheel so his hands wouldn't shake. His heart wasn't in it anymore. He'd been looking forward to his weekend. It was the first Saturday they weren't scheduled to work in almost three months.
Kyle struck the Rottweiller's bloated corpse at 57 miles per hour. It was lying in the suicide lane, but it had not committed suicide. Until that moment, the Rottweiller had not been having a particularly good or a particularly bad day. Its last good moment was three very warm September days before, just before it was struck a glancing blow by an eighteen wheeler. The glancing blow was sufficient. The truck driver had swerved to hit the Rottweiller crossing the highway. His boss was a cocksucker and the dispatcher was a royal cunt and he was still trying to pay off the balance on the rig he'd wrecked the summer before last because the fucking insurance company had dicked him over. The Rottweiller crossing the highway had made an easy target. Even so, he nearly missed it. The glancing blow failed to satisfy, but he was afraid of wrecking this rig, too.
Kyle struck the Rottweiller's bloated corpse at 57 miles per hour, opening it like a ketchup packet. The resultant humorous projectile struck the windows of a school bus traveling in the opposite direction. Until that moment, the children had been having a bad day. Many of the boys found the incident funny beyond measure. Some of the girls feigned sickness. One girl threw up in the loser kid's backpack. She had stuck her finger down her throat for this purpose, using the event as cover. She hated him because he was a loser, and the loser kid failed to register surprise. Some children were disappointed to have missed the moment of impact. One boy broke into song, "How Much is that Dog Shit on the Window?" The bus driver told them all just to sit the fuck down and shut up.
Kyle struck the Rottweiller's bloated corpse at 57 miles per hour. Its rigor-free limbs spreadeagled as it skated across the asphalt, lubricated by its progressing liquefaction, sliding like a cartoon dog over cartoon ice. When it struck the grass margin, it rolled up briefly in a black and brown ball, then flopped out like a tiger skin rug in the tall grass. An ant found it there and sent out its pheromonic signal that the buffet had opened. Later that night, blinded by headlights, Royce Rogers stepped into the colony while walking home from the Ebony Club, where he'd been having a bad night with the ladies. Ankle deep in dog gore with a million ants swarming up his boney leg, Royce leaped into the road.
About the author:
Jeff Crook is the author of four novels (Dark Thane, Conundrum, The Thieves' Guild, The Rose and the Skull) and several shorter stories published here and there. He is the editor of the Best of Memphis anthology and the upcoming Southern Gothic Online literary webzine. (http://www.southerngothic.org)