Jump by Alex Layman is a declinist story. Anarchy and violence and a vast ocean of cleansing nothingness. America tomorrow?America today.
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Jump by Alex Layman
Leroy’s face turned to jello when it hit the pavement. The orbital bone broke his fall, and was the first to disappear. Chips of it went shooting out his nostrils. I didn’t know that was possible. He lay there bleeding while the others scrambled around him, grabbing rocks and hailing “Fuck you!”s as though they were as effective as grenades. Steven and Grace raced for the subway station, refuge in the underground. The cops would never find them there, they’d hoped. Victor raced the other way, looking for more victims. His hat was pulled low, fists red, white and blue; bruised and bloodied, still clinched. They were looking for revenge.
I was frozen in the moment. Looking at Leroy, bleeding on the ground like a poorly-imagined flashback to Normandy. But there was no sand, only concrete and tear gas and clashing ideals and cops who were just as afraid as we were. Well, as afraid as I was. I shouldn’t speak for people like Victor, he wasn’t afraid, he was mad. Everyone was mad, everyone frantic. The streets were chaotic, foreign words crowded the air, yelling and blasts rang out through alleys down the way from me. Smoke began to rise from the subway entrance. Steven and Grace had disappeared behind the fires.
I took off my shirt and put it over Leroy’s gnarled face, pulled out his ID, and ran. I didn’t want him to be a martyr; he wasn’t, he was a victim. When I hit the 52nd Street Bridge, my hands gripped my knees and my eyes swiveled in my head. My pants were covered in blood and city grime, my red skin felt feverishly hot from flash grenades and exhaustion. Pacing, hands on head, I took the ID and threw it over the bridge. It fluttered all the way down like it was unraveling from a cord. I watched it all the way until it awkwardly spun upon the water’s surface. The ocean was taking the only proof of Leroy out to sea, where all things are set free.
I held my breath the whole way down. It was an eternity until impact. I never knew the ocean could be so cold.
Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the flash fiction blog & best of in print for the Current. He created, facilitates and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings and writing, at lylerosdahl.com.
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