Life in The Slow lane…
I don’t like the fast lane. It isn’t that I can’t see the advantage of the fast lane and getting wherever the hell it is you need to get in the fastest possible time. I can. I just don’t agree with it anymore.
When I was seventeen, just back from the Navy, I couldn’t wait to get on with what I considered real life. My wheels were spinning. I needed a girlfriend, a job, a life and I needed it right then. It needed to be immediate. And so I went looking for all that stuff and that is the last time I remember life being slow. After that life sped up and I lived it full-tilt. I thought that was the way you do it. Burn it up. No regrets. Don’t look back. Hurry up and get a little older so I can drink legally, so we don’t have to sneak around and see each other only in the back seat of my Chevy. So we can get married, have children, get a place of our own, raise our children, oh, I can’t wait until the terrible twos are over with, and… What do you mean you don’t love me anymore? Hurry to get past that pain. Think about slowing down, but that just makes the pain worse so I hurried right into another relationship. Another marriage. More children.
Drink a little more because sometimes when things started to slow down I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand it because I could see things clearly when I slowed down. See the mistakes, feel the pain of failure, and I didn’t want to see it because it damn well wasn’t turning out the way I thought it would. So I sped it back up…
Now I’m here. I’m here and I’m slowed up. And I can clearly see all the things that I rushed past. The time I didn’t get with my children. The lovers that I shared something with and then they were gone. The two relationships that did mean something and I still didn’t slow down for. Time. Only time, but time can not be purchased only spent. And thinking about what has passed is no good at all. It can not solve a single heartache. It will not bring someone you love back. It can only keep you in a place where you are not dealing with reality. Where you overlook the ends because not only do the means not justify them, they are not even the same ends you were looking for.
I deal with real time now. I stay in the slow lane. In a hurry? Drive around me. All the things I could not wait to get to in the future I had right there in my past. Did you read that? Those things were never to be attained, they were already attained. Free of charge from life. Right there. And I hurried right past them. We all do sometimes.
I was a little too young to be a hippie. I sometimes wonder if I would have made a good one though. I have always wanted to drop out of society… As long as I can have my electricity… And a computer… And a truck to drive into town… Okay, maybe not. And I could never smoke pot it made me sick. So maybe I would have made a piss-poor hippie after all. But the ideal. The live life on life’s terms philosophy I could definitely have embraced wholeheartedly.
I Didn’t though. I joined the rat race. And I didn’t like the rat race so I stayed on the fringe of the rat race waiting… Where is my great life? What the hell is this? This is not what I wanted at all.
But it was. Maybe it is only maturity that makes us look at things differently. If so, thank God for it. It is okay to hate the rat race. We have to live it anyway unless you are really going to fill a knapsack with energy bars and walk off into the forest. No. You’re not and neither am I. So where is the solution?
The slow lane. No bull. The slow lane is the answer, but you will have to change your attitude to really appreciate it, but if you can you will find all the things that you thought you were running that rat race for are right there.
Right there is your child that you love and keep not spending time with. Right there is the man or the woman you love. The job you can be happy with. The life that can mean something.
There was a time in my life when I made on average twenty grand a week. No. That is not a misprint. And do you know how happy I was? … I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t tell you because every fiber of my being was caught up in making that nut every week. Every bit. There was nothing left over. And there were men and women who knew me that wanted to be in my place. Truly.
I have done nothing but spend money and have not made a nickle in six months. Scary. It is when you have faith in yourself and you go for it. But what I do not do is put all of me that there is into things that are only really designed to pay the bills. I don’t.
I breath the air every day. I tell the people I love that I love them. If someone needs my time I give it. Yes, I work a lot of hours, but it does not own me anymore and it is not the reason I’m living… Can you see that?
Here are some words from a song I wrote called A Minor…
“I was never fixed in this world anyway… I was just sitting here waiting on a bus for the next.”
And that was true. I lived here in this world. Worked here. But it was not in my blood. I didn’t enjoy it. See it as good, or fulfilling, or enough… I just didn’t. So I just waited for it to end.
I don’t do that anymore. I live. I live for real. One of the things I have noticed is that people will make time for you, love you, and even tell you if you give them the time. So I do. I do, but I have noticed that a lot of people just smile and hurry past me on their way to… Well, I really don’t know, and I’m not sure they do either. But I know that if you slow down there is some space for you right here in the slow lane. You can ride shot gun with me. We’ll just take our time and enjoy the view…
Rapid City Three
Rapid City Cowboys and Zombies Three by Wendell Sweet
PUBLISHED BY: Wendell Sweet – Blog Edition
Rapid City Cowboys and Zombies Three
Copyright © 2013 by Wendell Sweet All Rights Reserved
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please point them to this blog entry. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This short story is Copyright © 2015 Wendell Sweet. Portions are copyright 2013, Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and or distributed without the author’s permission. Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
To the Tuesday night Guys.
The streets of Rapid City were deserted, but I paid that no mind. It could appear empty and would make no difference in reality. In my world reality did not have much of a place, being mostly a notion.
I suspected that the dead were long gone, but that did not mean they hadn’t left some for me to deal with. They were known to do that, had on more’n one occasion that I could recall. I was not about to get myself caught that easy. I had no wish to be dead for ever and ever.
There was bodies ’bout every ten feet or so. Slaughtered. They wasn’t lookin’ to turn these men the way they was some you saw, no, they had meant to murder and murder is what they had done.
In the last six months I had already begun to wear a reputation as a murderer myself. It was a hard jacket to wear at times. Some men understood it, some men were downright uncomfortable with it, some had to know if they could take me. I had gone hunting the dead. Killing the dead. And it was ironic to me that after just six months I had a reputation of killing more of the living than the dead. Wasn’t true, of course, but like I say you got to wear the jacket. It ain’t a world where there is always time for questions at all. It was, in only six months, a world where it was best to kill immediate like. Fast. No thought: If not it would be you that was dead.
I had come across the Gulf Coast from Texas and taken some time in this town or that town. Mostly killin’ what should have been already dead. It was in a little pine board town just west of what had been Natchitoches that I began to see a livin’ in this. Purely by accident, but that was when I got fitted for that jacket and I been wearin’ it ever since. Was a woman in that pine town that got herself bit. Her man got to thinkin’ it would pass, or the federal boys had a fix up their sleeves they’d be along with right quick, so he chained her up inside their shack and waited. Love will make you do things like that. Not the only time I seen it.
The dead came for her. Ever night they came for her, and ever night he kept them from getting’ her. Drove them off, but the others in that town wanted something done about those dead that kept comin’ around ever night and killin’ some of their own. They didn’t know what the man had done.
There was a sheriff in that town, mostly scared of his own shadow, and it was him that come to me with the offer. I had just killed a man the day before in a gunfight. Livin’ or dead, that sheriff saw no difference. I checked the street careful as I walked.
I had taken thirteen of the dead out. Hid myself and waited for them. And then I had found the wife. Sent her on her way too. And the husband. Left me no choice. It may be that helped to fit that jacket a bit better. People get to talkin’ and the leave a lot of the story out. Not that the truth always sounds better. But the towns I hit after that pegged me as a man killer and a gunfighter. Hired me more often than not. That’s been six months passed now. And I had worked my way to this little pine board town. Done a little better than the others maybe… Maybe someone had a care for this place, hard to tell. What was easy to tell is they seemed all to be dead now.
I stopped now and stared down at drag marks in the sandy street. They lead off to the shadows of an alley across the way from where I walked. I loosed my gun strap, stretched the leather of my gloved hands for a good grip, and stared hard at the mouth of that alley. Spots of blood dotted the trail. In this heat that blood would’ve turned to rust in no time and then been picked apart by the wind what seemed to favor this street. No sir. That was fresh. It didn’t take no special sense or ability to see that.
A second after I loosed my strap they came for me. Six from the shadows direct in front of me, and the real threat from the sides. I had my second pistol out fast and threw myself down into the dust and rolled hard to the left, firing as I went. Killin’ shots, what I could see. I was up and runnin’ a second after the roll began when the dead were still trying to find their asses, and when I turned around and sighted I got four more, but missed one who was on me before I could get a head shot in. I put a knee in her guts fast like, crumpled her up, and put one in her head as she lay wondering what had happened. It was over that fast, but it was not the end.
I counted them up, nine; drug them out of the little pine board town and lined them up in the sand. Took their heads to be safe. It ain’t pretty work, then went to get my horse where I had left her nearby. They had done for my horse while I was afoot in the town. Cut her throat ear to ear, left her to bleed out. A zombie don’t want no horse flesh. They will partake of it, but they will not regular. And these had been feeding fine, judging from the dead that lined the streets. They killed them and ate them. They didn’t kill them to turn them, unless there were more I had not yet seen. That is the way the dead do it when they want to send a message to you. The message says I can do this and you can not stop me from it. I have my own message system though. My message is lead. Notched to fly apart and take their heads apart. And if I had not already got the ones what done this piece of work, I would.
It took a half hour of tugging to get my saddle off’n the horse and lug it back to town. I was not sure what it was I could do with it with no horse to wear it, but I was goddamned I’d leave it for the dead or time.
I come back into the town and made my way down the street slowly. Alley to alley. Building to building. I found four of them hiding under the supports for the saloon. There was maybe a two foot high crawl space there and they had wedged in tight. I backed up and they came out fightin’. Probably knowin’ they would die for sure if they did not. I checked the rest of the town, and afternoon was then comin’ on strong and I began to look for a fortress, not at all sure they was done with me, or I was done with them for that matter.
The church building set apart from the rest. The balance of the town had been slapped together, and like most pine board towns it had been done rough and slip shod. The term pine board town, or Piney as some said, had been coined to call these towns collective like. It did not mean they was pine, or even wood. It was a term only, because they was built with scavenged materials, and most of that was pre-apocalypse pine plywood. There was miles of the stuff in warehouses all over the south. There for the hurricanes that ripped through so often. The other favorite was tin roofing sheets. This town had favored chipboard. A substance that would not be long for this environment at all. A cheap alternative to the plywood. They had wrapped that with tar paper. It looked as temporary as it had turned out to be.
I carry with me some necessaries in my saddle bags, and I took them out and set up the little town before nightfall rolled all the way out.
It was a soft evening, and I could tell why those that still lay dead in the streets had favored it. The air rolled fine and cool off the desert working at the sweat on my brow that had risen as I had worked on the town. I sat in a wooden chair on the porch of the church and looked out at the wide sandy street and the desert that rolled away from it. Calm like. I waited for the dead that I knew would be coming for me to finish what they had started with the horse. They had cut me afoot for a purpose.
The blue moon had rose and she had begun to sail when I spied them comin’. I would love to say you could hear them, but it ain’t that way at all. They is quiet. Not like the livin’. The livin’ take noise with them wherever they go. The dead take quiet. It is goddamned unnerving. They can be where they were not just a second ago.
I had pulled both pistols and crossed them on my lap. Fingers through the guards, lightly caressing the triggers like they was a woman I favored, but I will tell you, in some ways, these were favored more and more by me over women. It seemed I got into trouble with women, out of trouble with these guns. Two of the men I had killed had been killed over women. Part of that jacket I spoke on. I believe that once you begin to kill it don’t take much to cross a border. And I have crossed borders easy.
I saw one. That one slipped just a bit out from the shadow. Another man mighta thought it was just a heat shimmer. The days heat leavin’ a buildin’ I’ve seen that too. It looks alike, but this was not that. Something told me this was not that and I took from that small look the speed of the walker and tracked slow like, and then another ripple come, and Another. So they was there then, I told myself. They was there.
I marked that first one and began to look in earnest for the others I knew had to be there, but I could not spot them, and so I went back to trackin’ the single one, askin’ myself if it could maybe be just the one. If it could. It warn’t though.
When the one that I was trackin’ slipped up the next time I let it begin. Best to have the odds on your side than them have them. The shadow slipped, I fired. I heard the impact as the body flew back into the side of that building. Cracked the wood. That started round two.
I had left that chair and took to the darkness at that first shot and I kept to it. If they like the dark and make it their tool you got to take that away from them. Make it your tool. Bring the fight to those godless bastards and stick it right down their goddamned throats too.
I crossed the sandy street and made my way into the shadows of that alley. If they had been there I mighta been done for there, but they was not there, and I had figured with close reasoning how they would not be there. It didn’t fit. It was too exposed for them. They like to sneak until they got to fight. When I mad the alley they cam out in the street, and the plan they had had to catch me flatfooted backfired. I had them in the bright moonlight and took a dozen out before they could turn and fade. Four in the street was not dead, but I taken my time and introduced them proper. Then we began to wait again, and the night wore on.
It was no more than a handful of minutes when I heard a noise over by the building where I had dropped the first one. A deep intake of air, and I knew I had lung shot a man. I could hear it. And walkers do not breath. They got no need for air in that way. I think they suck air in through their skin. I don’t know. But I do know they don’t breath, and ain’t no lung shot going to make no walker sound that away. I had shot a man. And, although that man was not dead yet, I had killed him. What remained for me was the mystery of what that man had been creeping on me for. And had I knowed it, I woulda killed him fast like, because a man will and can use a gun, unlike a walker. God forbid those bastards ever overcome their fear of fire and pick it up. We are done for then.
A minute or two after I heard the man, I saw a fast blur to my right, the other side from the church, and I blazed that whole building, dropped my clips, reloaded the ones I had emptied while I listened and waited. I listened to the lung shot man’s breathing and it was not good. I allowed my head to get lulled by that yearning to hear that man pull his breath so much that I almost missed it when they came at me.
Two sides at once, and damned if I didn’t get them all as they were comin’. All but the one that took me in the back and flattened me out right there in the street.
I managed to flip onto my back, but I was no better off. I had lost both guns and that walker knew it. She was on me hard and fast. Hissing, biting at me, clipped the end of my finger, had me scared for hours because of that. I got my sticker and drove it up hard through her chest and into her backbone. She arched hard, her back bent like a bow, mouthing wide, teeth flashing, and I was trying to pull that knife free when her head blew apart and she flew off the side. I got my eyes closed, but I still grimaced as I felt cold chunks of her head splatter against my face. I held my vomit, but barely, rolled off to my right, pulled my shirt up, buttons flying and cleaned off my face as best I could. It was then I thought to look for the lung shot man I knowed had to be there.
She was some tore up when I saw her. She had sagged to the ground just about where she had stumbled to and managed the shot.
I got my face as clean as I could and then got to my shaky feet and went to her. I was looking over that finger, worried as I went. It was bit bad, but the skin did not break.
She was most dead when I got there.
“What was it that bought you creeping on me like that,” I asked?
Her eyes were bright. The bottoms of those lids filled up to overflowin’ with tears, probably from the pain. A lung shot can hurt powerful. I seen a man or two go that way. For a woman she was holding it good. “Kin you hear me?”
She breathed it. “I… Can… Hear… You.” Spittin’ blood. A flood at the end.
I pushed her shirt aside and looked at the hole. It was bad enough. Close to the heart and suckin’ air. Blowing out little bloody bubbles when it wasn’t suckin’ air. “You…” she started and that was that. Her eyes fluttered and she was gone. I caught her head as she fell back and laid her gentle into the sand. Around me was death. All around me. I couldn’t look nowhere without seeing a body. And here was another one that I had also caused and had no idea about. But when a man kills for a livin’ it has its own answers sometimes. It does. I laid her out, stood and then bent low and said a prayer as best I could.
I don’t know God. I ain’t never met him, although I know some day I’m going to. I guess it just pisses me off that the man sets up there pullin’ my strings and ever body besides me too. Never mind it though, there ain’t no one else you can say a thing like a prayer to. And she would turn, I didn’t have the luxury of time. If she had creeped on me in life, what is it she might do in death? Maybe, I told myself she had closed those eyes for the last time thinkin’ ‘I’ll be back for you in a few minutes, Mister.’ Maybe… May be… I mumbled the words and I wasn’t near so eloquent or flowing as I hoped, as I was afraid she was on her way back. I stepped back and put one in her head and damn if she didn’t jump and hiss at me when I did.
I had thought about burial, but I did not figure a burial would do much. And there was too many. Where did you stop? Did I only bury her? No, I dragged them bodies, all them bodies into the buildings. The ones the dead had killed, the dead, and the woman too.
I thought as I dragged her in, that she had to have come to be there some way. I may never know the reason she come, but I did know she had, had to have got there some way.
I stepped back and then pulled a hand cloth from my pocket. Earlier I had taken a small can of lighter fluid from my saddle bags. I had located a bottle in the church. For what it was used I could not say. I used it to hold the lighter fluid, and now I dipped the rag into it and pulled it through the hole I had jacked into the bottle with my knife.
It was all dry. The church would maybe survive, depended on the vagaries of the winds, but the balance of the town would go. Maybe the fact that I had not purpose burnt the church would set well with God. There was a hope for it. I lit the cloth and tossed the bottle into the nearest doorway. I stood, cool air at my back, heat at my face, and watched as it caught. In a minute she was burning and catching in both directions. I walked away on the road out of town.
I found her vehicle just a few miles out. I had hoped for a horse, but the truck would have to do. It would get me to a horse, and that was enough. I settled my saddlebags into the open back, flexed my aching back, and then climbed in. I had not thought to look for no keys, but a funny thing about keys was that they had fallen into disuse after the world changed up. I had the truck runnin’ a minute later, and turned her away into the desert. Behind me I saw the flames lightening the skies behind me as I drove away.
I hope you enjoyed the short story, you can get the rest of the Rapid City stories here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/276647
Here are some free book listings for you for today!
The Zombie Plague Book One: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/357698
The Zombie Plague Book Two: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/357703
The Great Go-Cart Race: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/362984
The Zombie Killers: Origins: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/412524
The Borderline: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/487747
Earth’s Survivors: Apocalypse: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/515457
Have a great week, Dell.