THE DORLEY CYCLE
If I close my eyes and keep them shut for long enough will I wake up with what was days ago? I can catch my breath coming in streams of steam and I know today and now won’t go anywhere anytime soon. I wish I can taste alcohol right now even if it makes me stupid and reckless, because maybe that’s what I need to start this car and drive it stolen through and out of Dorley.
I’m shaking scared.
If I sit here and do nothing would I be a bad person? After ten years in prison, cause’ I’ll go there, will I have a clear memory of letting Jackson die in the back seat of a police car? Would I be able to look myself in mirrors and forget that it was me that let him down after he came back for me and saved me? Looking at him right now forehead pressed against the window his chest barely rising… I wish I could decide who I want to be.
Man I hated the guy ever since he came to see us. He made me feel like shit and I was afraid of being alone with death in that stupid cabin and I was afraid of staying alone with the wind outside. The only thing he saw and cared about was me stealing his money, when all I wanted was a quick escape from his hate and dad’s dying coughs. I wanted to be normal, not have to look down when I walked through town because I was about to become an orphan. I tried impressing him but he found reasons to be mad and to treat me like a spoiled kid. He seemed to hate the place, hate me, hate my dad. And my dad, he thought I was ashamed of him, because all he wanted was for us to have a decent life and hoped I’d trust him enough for him to try when in truth I knew he was just a wannabe skipper and only managed a small boat and caught little to none. I couldn’t bear that, not after he got worst. I told myself that that’s why I ran all those times when I should have stayed.
Honestly I don’t know if I’m a bad person or not. After today I just don’t want to be afraid. I won’t leave Jackson to die just like that. I owe him his life for what he did, for coming back. I was a coward. I will not be one now. For all that’s worth I’ll get him out of here.
“Hang in there cousin.”
I drove fast through Dorley, just another police car leaving town, losing in its rearview mirror a ghost town with shadow buildings swallowed by the waves. I heard them, Jackson and Paulie talk about monsters out there somewhere, new ones, scarier. Even leaving Dorley behind, I don’t feel safe. I don’t have a breath of air. Maybe I won’t for a long time, not after I knew where we’re going they might be. I promised Jackson I wouldn’t go after them on my own. I can’t say I’m brave enough to anyway, but if I have to I know enough to defend myself.
I stopped on the highway junction seeing cars drive past fast not paying attention. Then suddenly there was a car approaching slowly, casting long then short lights on me. It had its turn signals on, wanting to make way and take the road to Dorley. My heart knocked against my chest.
I can do my best or worst here, but I don’t know a better idea, and for sure it wouldn’t be dumber than a teenager driving a stolen cruiser with an unconscious guy in the backseat. I flashed my lights, red and blue slowing everything down in an instant, and stepped out as soon as a station wagon pulled over. I ran up to it, catching the window going down.
“Listen officer I know I didn’t do nothing wrong. I’m just on my way to see someone in Dorley and…”
The woman in the driver’s seat fumbling for her documents from the glove compartment rose up and looked at me with her mouth open.
“I need help. My cousin is in the back seat of that car bleeding. I have to get him to Boston or somewhere and help him or else he’ll die. Please, please help me.”
“Hold on, hold on kid.”
The woman flung the door open and got out keeping her distance from me. I stood in the way of the lights of my borrowed car, shaking, I could feel it. She said nothing so I got nervous even more.
“Listen Dorley burned down, the whole town. We were attacked in the panic and he got hurt real bad. No one wants to help me and I wasn’t thinking when I took the car. ”
“Alright slow down kid. One thing at a time. Is the whole town dead or…?”
I shook my head at her sticking to lies.
“Some got evacuated, some got body bags.”
She looked at the sky and I knew she could see black smoke floating above. Then she turned back to me.
“I have family in Dorley. Do you know where they might have gone?”
“Boston”, I blurted out, dismissing Salem, hoping she’d have this lie too. “Everyone is taken to Boston Medical. Family and relatives should check there.”
“That’s where you want to go too, right, Boston?”
“But not Boston Medical?”
I just stared at her unable to think of a way around this. For all she knew me and Jackson could be responsible for the fire.
The woman fished out her phone. I looked at my hands greasy with blood and covered in scratch marks.
“I’m not lying to you. He needs help or else he’s going to die. And I can’t leave him to die. He’s the only family I have. You should understand if you have someone you care about.”
She took her attention away from her phone and her hand dropped. I could see 999 on the screen, but not dialing.
“What’s your name kid?”
I opened and closed my mouth.
She put the phone back and grabbed me below the elbow quickening me to go back to the cruiser.
The woman opened the back door and let go of me staring down at Jackson.
“Is this your cousin?”
She kept quiet just looking at him for a long time not saying a word to me.
When she finally turned to me her face was paler and she was biting down hard on her lip. She stroked her short hair, tangling a thick lock around one finger. The woman reached a hand to me, like to stroke my face, but it fell to my shoulder, bony fingers digging there.
“You better help me get him to my car and fast.”
I didn’t ask why she helped after all. After a few I was sitting in the backseat of her wagon, a blanket over my shoulders and Jackson resting his head on my knees. I kept silent and kept pressure on his wound with an old t-shirt the woman gave me. He was still breathing. I pulled another blanket tightly over him.
Just like that we were going to Boston.
Thank you for reading!