Wednesday Words: Dead Guy in a Subaru
A new feature here on the Isle of Glass (and one that forces Lady Rose of Avalon to actually make plans to write things): stories, poems, and other kinds of original writings, posted for your pleasure. Please feel free to link to this to share with others, but please also respect the intellectual property of others: DO NOT SHARE AS YOURS someplace else. (It pains me to have to say that, but there it is all the same.) Thank you, and I hope you enjoy this latest offering.
Dead Guy in a Subaru by Rose Vanden Eynden
Copyright 2021. All rights reserved.
There’s a dead man sitting in my neighbor’s car.
It’s a Subaru Outback. Kinda looks like the woody station wagon my mom drove in the 70s. The dead guy is behind the wheel. I’m certain it’s my neighbor.
I don’t know his name. He moved into the condo next door a month ago. I’ve surmised he’s single, like me. He has a scruffy brown dog he walks a few times a day. He works some kind of swing shift, maybe 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., but I don’t actually see him come home. I’m usually good and drunk by then.
Don’t judge me. If you saw dead people in cars, you’d drink a lot, too.
Like that kid in that movie, I’ve seen lots of dead people. Not just in cars. I saw one girl in grade school, on the playground, staggering away from the jungle gym with a bleeding head before she dropped to the concrete. I saw an older man at my baccalaureate mass, sprawled in the aisle after a heart attack struck. So many in college: suicides, drug overdoses, car accidents, someone who choked on his own vomit like Jimi Hendrix. I dropped out after that one. Jimi may have been cool, but his death wasn’t, believe me.
These sightings have increased over the years. Nothing triggers them. They just happen, usually a day or two before the person actually dies. Sometimes I know the guy, usually peripherally, like a co-worker from another shift or a friend of the friend hosting the dinner party. Often I don’t know them at all. I’ll see someone dead at the mall, and the next day, I’ll read about them online in the local news headlines. Dead. As a doornail.
I know what you’re thinking. If you can see someone die before they actually do, can’t you stop it from happening?
I tried, once. I was walking hand in hand with my boyfriend, him on break from his counter job at the coffee shop, when I glanced across the street. There he was, lying in the crosswalk at the corner, his neck twisted and broken. I cried all night, and the next morning, I begged him not to go to work. His boss called me right before lunchtime, after the delivery truck hit him.
Since then, I’ve never tried to warn anyone. They’d think I was some crazy drunk. I’d rather be just a plain old drunk, thanks.
When I look out the window again, the dead Subaru guy is gone. I go back to the kitchen, turn the radio up louder, and finish washing the dishes.
The doorbell rings about an hour later. It’s the new neighbor. I open the door to him smiling on my porch, a large manilla envelope in his hands. “Hi,” he says. “We haven’t met yet. I’m Jerry, your new neighbor.” He points to his condo and then offers me the envelope. “I think the mailman gave me this by mistake.”
I read my name through blurry eyes. He’s too young to have a heart attack, isn’t he? Does he have an aneurism that takes him out? Does he decide to pump his garage and the Subaru parked in it full of carbon monoxide? I blink several times before tears can fall, before he notices.
“Thanks,” I mumble. I close the door quickly and move back to the window where he can’t see me through the curtains. Jerry stands on the stoop for a moment with a puzzled expression on his face. Then he turns and walks away, heading toward his place across the lawn.
I toss the envelope on my desk and reach for the bottle of whiskey that’s always there. When the new For Sale sign goes up, I’ll pretend I don’t see it.
I’m good at pretending I don't see things.