Cole held the t-shirt tight against the cut. It was close enough to his left eye that he only saw a white blur with a red blur that trickled past a couple times every minute. Cole wasn’t bothered by the blood. He was dizzy and focused on not falling over as he walked his bike down Batston Road.
“You okay to keep going?” Frank asked. The look he gave made Cole remember when his little brother had a 103° fever. Their mother talked to Ben like he was just about gone. Cole’s stomach wrenched, thinking of that.
“Yeah. Just lightheaded,” Cole said. Frank nodded, keeping pace in front.
Behind Cole, Jacob watched for cars. A few passed. One came less than a foot from Jacob’s bike before swerving away. Jacob flipped him off and called the driver a dumb fuck. That got a small laugh from the other two.
“What are you gonna tell your mom?” Frank called back.
“How ‘bout that you can’t do stunts for shit?” Cole answered. That one got a solid laugh from Jacob. Cole laughed too, though the long inhale afterward almost brought him down.
“I thought you’d keep riding,” Frank said. “Makes no sense to stop on the pipe like that.”
“I know you didn’t mean it. Don’t worry. I won’t rat you out,” Cole said. Frank made a sound that showed he heard Cole without having to admit his relief.
Cole figured it’d be close to half an hour before they got back to the neighborhood. If they rode through the tracks in the field, it would have taken a third that time. But when Jacob saw Cole’s eyes after the collision, he knew it was a concussion. He told the other two that they’d do best to walk the distance. Neither argued.
The boys passed through the back side of town. They walked by strip malls and industrial buildings, a couple holdout houses from the thirties and forties, all surrounded by the developments that sprung up in the seventies. The three were all natives, born into those developments when they were new.
They slowed to cross Morgan Road where it intersected Batston. Cole watched a car approach from Morgan on the left. At first, it looked like the car was going to continue straight across the intersection, but then it stopped and turned left.
After the car passed, the boys started crossing. Cole lost hold of his handlebar for a second. When he pulled his arm up again, a drop of blood had landed on it--but it looked pure white. Cole adjusted the angle of his head and the red appeared. The sunlight made it glare.
As they crossed over Morgan Road, Cole thought about the blood. He slowed to a stop, staring down the part of the street that the car turned away from. Whether it was the blood, or the sun, or something else, a feeling came up inside him.
Frank and Jacob noticed that he’d stopped. They stopped too, right in the middle of the intersection.
“Come on,” Frank said.
“Should we call for a ride?” Jacob asked. “I got a couple quarters. There's a phone in the--”
“Guys. Think for a second. This street...”
Frank and Jacob looked to where Cole was looking--down Morgan. But there wasn’t anything to see. The street was wide, and curved as it declined maybe a quarter mile down from where they stood. The edges of buildings and houses were further off, with little clumps of trees breaking them up.
YOU ARE READING
A short story about three boys in the 1980s, and the sudden sense of dread they feel when they pass a certain intersection in their town one day. ---------------------------------- Author's Note: This was intended as a short story, to be complete as...