Dead Mann Walking
Author: Stefan Petrucha
October 4, 2011
He was at the pump, had the nozzle in his hand, but for whatever reason he couldn’t seem to get it into the gas tank. Weirder still, each try was lazier than the last. He didn’t stop trying; he just got slower and slower. I was as fascinated as Ashby, watching him push the nozzle against the side of the truck again and again, wondering if it would ever go in. After a while, it looked like he was missing on purpose.
Clunk. He tried. Clunk. Again.
Then he started talking. No window, so it was easier to hear what he had to say.
“Who gives a fuck?” he said loudly. “Who gives a fuck?”
“A fuck … heh-heh,” Ashby parroted.
I had a bad feeling. “Maybe you shouldn’t be looking out there, Ashby.”
I fished in my pockets, hoping to find something shiny he could play with. The only thing I had was my recorder and the bills, and I wasn’t about to hand either over.
The light changed, so I figured we’d be spared the rest of the scene. Only the bus driver didn’t move. He was busy staring at the chak, too.
“Who gives a fuck?” the chak said again.
He stretched the last word. It melted into a familiar tone that matched the rumble of the bus. I knew that tone. One feral coming up. That chak was going down hard. Any minute, he’d be moaning. I had no idea why, but I doubted it was the nozzle. Maybe he’d had the worst day in his unlife, or maybe he’d just had enough.
No reason we had to watch, though.
I called to the driver, “Buddy, light’s green!”
He gave me a dirty look, then went back to staring.
“Light’s green, heh-heh.”
I tried again. “Maybe you want to get out of here?”
“Who gives a …” the chak said one last time.
His moaning started in midsentence, low and long, a nice, deep, vibrating bass.