Trampled papers carpeting the rubber floor mat. Stray ashes coffee-stain-stuck to the stick shift and its leather sack. You love saying sack, and she knows why. Hates you for it. Loves you for it. You're in her Datsun (back before the name change), driving down Washington, past brick ranch houses, half-dead lawns and cracked driveways chalked full of the metal things no one can be rid of, and she looks over at you. All tussled strawberry hair and a man's white dress shirt rolled over rotund wrists, her hands Indian burn the wheel as she asks you if you mean it, like her whole conception of the world depends on you saying yes.

No fucking way, you say.

So she spits on you. Spreads a wad white and cotton-sticky over half your face. Language condensed. It smells just like you figured it would, and you don't even wipe it. Just stare at her steady-eyed and let it tickle drip.

She shivers for what she knows is next, and you let fly. Tongue launch like you picked up on the dirt diamond. A boy's advantage and she knows why at the thud, sticking strawberry hair to her peach freckled forehead. So she laughs like she knew she had it coming, was begging for it, and fires back. All kissy-lips and white bubbles. A strand tarzans off her chin as you throw an open hand out, block only some of the spray, and wipe it on her shoulder as she pounds the horn and flies through a red light intersection without even slowing.

The sun webs strands of stinging light off intersecting windshields. Covers confused lookers-on. Still, you see an arm lifted out the window of a small pickup like, what the fuck?

Then you're gone, the two of you zooming up the hill flanked in juniper shrubs and flowering plums, gutters decorated in deteriorating Styrofoam cups and wax paper.

What? she says. I couldn't have braked. I was going too fast. Then she catapults her face at you. Her lips whistle-puckered, she blows and tags you square in the mouth. You even swallow a little.

And the thing about the gag reflex: it activates. So you hawk and snort, bring up something gelatinous, tobacco stained, scary green.

You wouldn't, she says, downshifting for a turn at a four-way stop as you dig your fingers into the crumbling rubber armrest and tilt your head back. You chamber the missile while she corners to the tune of a cat giving birth, cowering into the wheel at what she knows is coming. She closes her eyes and swerves into the opposite lane.
You look up for oncoming traffic and swallow in fear. But the street is empty. Just black chicken scratch cracks on gray asphalt and faded white lines.

She slows as the laughter settles amongst the wrappers, the loose change, all the lost things. Then she looks at you like she means it too, and you let your hand airplane out the window.

About the author:

Kyle Deacon has recently moved back to his hometown in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he is writing short stories and raising a beautiful boy with his wife, Tiffany. Before that, he was finishing an MFA at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. Before that, he was living in Denver, Colorado, where he was confused, trying to figure out how to balance real world responsibility with the desire to write short stories. Before that, he was a history major at the University of New Mexico, where he took a creative writing class because it seemed like an easy elective. Before that, he had no idea that work could be fulfilling. Some of that work can be found in other great journals like Memoir (and), The Red Clay Review, Mississippi Crow, Word Riot, and the Wazee Journa.l