They look like my sons, but they’re not. I pretend they’re driving me to town as usual, but the
radio news verifies my suspicion: there’s no way Carl would listen to that man and not shout
obscenities. At eighty-two, I’m old enough to know leukemia ain’t gonna’ kill me, despite it
running wild through my withered body. No, it’ll be my heart, as it was for my pa and his before
him. I’ve done well getting this far – it’s further than they did. The engine shifts as we drop a
gear, approaching the turnpike, the freeway continuing on toward the southern cities. We’re
headed toward the open space of the mountains as I thought. I try to examine the boys in the
front, but my eyes haven’t worked in years. They’re soft focus, which is romantic and cosy they
say, but I can’t see shit.
I left my glasses at my place.
Utopia Mansions it’s called – my place – a bit like a cheap motel, but full of old shufflers
and nosers. I’d wanted a beachside residence with a view of the sea, but I got rooms smelling of
old man’s piss and cleaning chemicals. My home isn’t much different from the hospital mom
pushed me out into. Liz is laughing at me, wherever she is – she died ten years ago of lung
cancer, a lifetime of smoking and a slow death being strangled by the shit inside her lungs – but
at least she doesn’t have to live at Utopia Mansions.
The car slows further, the mountains still a purple bruise. We pass a rest area, a camper
van spilling people from inside. Kids. A dog. We used to do that as a family. “We used to do
that,” I say, my voice croaking. They ignore me and I feel like shouting. But I remind myself,
they are not my sons and I’m not going to give them any satisfaction. I stare out of the window
as mute as the dead, trying to get my brain in gear. I used to be top notch, to matter, until the
agency made cuts and our department was no longer needed. Severance they called it, a pension
and a long slide into retirement.
I look for indications of who they are – the similarities with Carl and John are uncanny –
they dress the same. Similar haircuts. Of an age. New clothes. Both of them. That’s the thing, my
sons never went for fashion; thrift store or second-hand was their style. These two are dressed
up to look like my sons, but wearing new clothes, judging by the creases in the never-worn-
before shirt. The way fake Carl holds the wheel too; his hands are uptight and professional, not
the slouch that Carl takes, one hand always itching to hold a cigarette like his mum.
And he’s not smoking.
And they still say nothing.
As we pull into a petrol station, I see the restrooms,
knowing this might be my only chance.
John started inventing stories as a child and haven’t stopped. John writes on Twitter (@EverexJohn) and publish work regularly on his blog (http://johneverex.blog ) as well as through chanillo.com His writing comes in various forms and lengths, including microfiction, flash fiction and short stories. John also write poetry, being especially fond of haiku. Currently, he is working on a new novel, which will be published in 2020. In addition to writing, I am a father, husband and teacher and currently live in the south of England