Runcible Spoon

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Night Watch


       Hal couldn't sleep. The pendulum of the clock in the hall slowly swayed back and forth, tick-tock, tick-tock driving an ice pick into his exhausted brain. He quickly got out of bed and opened the glass front of that blasted clock, stopping the pendulum from swinging in hopes that this would take care of his insomnia. Three nights in a row he had given up sleep trying to think his way out of the situation. Now he was exhausted. He climbed back into bed after relieving himself in the bathroom for the third time that evening. He didn’t really have to go but didn’t want his body to use that excuse to get up again. What had he seen the other night?  He couldn’t shake it, not completely certain it happened.  It played out over and over on the television. He had to look away now. Did the news carry what he saw that night from a different point of view? Or, was he incorporating this incident into the one he felt he’d seen? The stories were so intertwined he couldn’t separate one from the other. What was fact? What was fiction?  Regardless, they both had the same outcome. Someone was dead, and someone or two got away with it.


      He needed to take Hermy out. The dog got into some bad stuff that night and was sick to his stomach. It could have been the pizza he had delivered and didn’t finish, leaving it on the coffee table. Hermy, who couldn’t turn down a deep-dish pizza, helped himself. Hermy continued retching as Hal walked up and down the street eventually wandering up to the highway while Hermy walked off that condition. “Poor dog.” He thought. Getting closer to the highway he heard two cars speeding down the road coming closer to where he was standing with his dog. One car pushed the other off the road screeching to a stop. Two men jumped out and ran to the car they had ditched. One guy went to the driver's side and started shooting. Hal’s mouth flew open to shout, but seeing the men in ski masks made him smarten up and not say anything. Three shots. “Pop, pop, pop!” into the driver’s side door. The other guy opened the passenger side door and could have grabbed something off the seat. The gunman shouted.


       “Got it? Get back to the car!” They both raced back to a dark sedan, it looked like a foreign vehicle, not an American car. Hal didn’t know why he thought that. The murderers merged back onto the highway and tore off. Seconds later another car came along seeing the car in the ditch, stopped. Spying the bloodied man slumped over the wheel, called 9-1-1. Hal faded back into the bushes turning around, ran the rest of the way home.


      The next morning, he thought it was all a dream. It didn’t help that he drank, a six-pack the night before with that deep-dish pizza. Turning on the news that evening, they showed the car, the one he thought he saw last night. The blond reporter with the red lipstick waited for her close up and began reporting.


       “The driver was shot point blank three times in the head. The reason is still unknown. The drivers’ wallet was intact, so robbery may or may not have been the reason. Riverdale police are asking anyone with information to come forward. You may remain anonymous by calling 555--------.”  Hal switched off the television He could call and let them know what he thought he saw. They would question him he’d have to tell them that he drank a six-pack before he took his puking dog out for a walk. What did he really see?  And, if he came forward would he be exposing himself to the same fate as that driver? Was it a drug deal gone bad? Hal remained silent. This was day three, and his life was ruined. He couldn’t get a decent night’s sleep. His conscience and his consciousness were at war with one another. Hermy whined.


       “Ok, let’s go out, I can’t sleep anyway.” Hal clipped the leash on Hermys’ collar walking the reluctant dog down the sidewalk. Hal was a few blocks from home when he heard a woman scream somewhere in the night. Not again!


       “Come on, Hermy!” Hal turned around dragging the dog back home locking the door behind him after he stepped inside. He decided he was not going to watch the news tomorrow, that he and Hermy should move to a different neighborhood. What happened to the screaming woman? What color was the car that ran the other off the road? All of these thoughts ran through his mind as he lay in bed with his eyes wide open.