One mile before the Mexican Border a beat to shit Trans-Am pulled into an empty and unlit Texaco parking lot and sat idle for over twenty minutes. Inside the vehicle, on faded leather seats with hands resting on a customized bad ass chrome chain steering wheel with four spoke grip style sat a man contemplating his future and unconsciously bobbing his head up and down to the Kid Rock song playing in the background.
Curtis had known life was unfair since his dad left his mom when he was six. He accepted that a lot of what happened to a man was outside his control, that the best one could typically do was prepare for the worst and try to have a good time in between the hard times. He also acknowledged that he was not an intelligent man, but could occasionally grasp that the hand life had dealt him hadn’t been a great one. Curtis always tried to have fun, and he had played the cards the best he knew how but Jesus titty fucking Christ, how do you even get from there to here. Just a week ago he was a normal guy, living in a upscale yet understated trailer park, dating a teenage stripper, and occasionally abusing meth and prescription pills. Now he sat in an empty gas station with three homicides on his soul and he was seriously headed to Mexico, a country Curtis did not even know the location of until he purchased a map last week.
He was also out of Skoal.
Looking back, Curtis didn’t even know why he had killed Charlene in the first place. Yeah, he loved her but he wasn’t in love with her, otherwise, why would he have kept fucking around with that slut Misty? Curtis could’ve let Charlene just go, like a man, but he didn’t. He needed the validation of cheap cooze. Hanging his head in a gas station parking lot at 3am with silent tears streaming down his face he knew that what had happened to him happened because he was chicken shit. He tried to pass it off before as just getting a nut off, had even pretended for a while that he liked Misty, but he knew that was bullshit.
And the cop. Jesus Christ, that cop. Curtis didn’t even know him, and had destroyed him. He probably was a decent guy. Probably had a family, loved his wife, probably even made her breakfast or something gay like that before he went to work that morning, never knowing that he would come across some hick hopped up on Christ only knows, and that the neck his wife liked to kiss or that maybe (please god no) his kids wrapped their arms around when hugging him would be ripped to shreds by a bullet from a gun that had already lain waste to two others.
The worst was that Curtis felt good at first about what he had done. Powerful. Shit happens he had thought while driving off, high as fuck. He just was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fate.
Now, sober for the first time in weeks, Curtis doubted his motives and decisions. He even doubted fate. Maybe what happened to a man wasn’t outside his control. Maybe life was just a series of never ending and unforeseeable repercussions to choices one made. He probably could’ve finished middle school, gotten a GED and made some serious money working in the Costco warehouse or something fancy like that. He didn’t have to get mixed up with some girl who he didn’t really even know and he could’ve tried to be a better boyfriend to Charlene. It was unreasonable to expect her to be perfect, she was after all only seventeen. He had committed murder, but still could’ve taken his medicine when that cop pulled him over. He had no right to interfere in that man’s life. What seemed brave at the time, now made him feel smaller and smaller, and Curtis began to sweat every time he thought of that poor guy, whose life had been wrecked by a selfish asshole to afraid to be held accountable for his own terrible decisions.
It’s not too late whispered a voice inside his head. You can still turn yourself in.
The reappearance of his long dormant conscience caused him to shudder. Owning his mistakes now would almost certainly get him sent to the chair and it is one thing to face the cold truth of one’s moral shortcomings in an empty gas station parking lot, it was another thing entirely to put them out there and be judged by the whole world and by the state of Texas.
you can still be a man. you can still face this. you can die free, if you just do what you know you need to do
He thought back to their first date. He had picked Charlene up outside her momma’s house and Charlene was crying cause her momma’s deadbeat boyfriend had beaten the shit out of her again and took her money and went out boozing. Curtis had sworn that if he ever saw Randy he would break his goddamn jaw and Charlene looked at him like he was King Arthur or something. He still remembered the fireworks reflected in her eyes at the Monster Truck rally that night, and how she had giggled and put her arms around his shoulder when Gravedigger finally made his appearance. She had liked him, he could tell, and even though she only gave him a handjob outside of the Waffle House that night, he could tell she was holding back so he would respect her.
yeah you really respected her when you were pile driving Misty
Curtis new that he was a loser. He also knew that he was a coward. He fired up the car and pulled into the nearest liquor store, bought a book of dirty phrases in Spanish, then headed toward the border.