Black Racer

Contributor: Joe Forrest

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Deano looked out the window as the old sedan pulled up. After all his years on the planet, he still appreciated a good car. His eyes weren’t as good anymore, but he knew a classic. When the young man stepped out of the car however, his stomach turned.

The man stood and stretched. He looked like he’d just walked off the set of Rebel Without a Cause. His hair was greased back just like when they were kids. He pulled on an old jacket. Deano could almost hear the creak of the leather. The man ran a hand through his hair, followed by a comb. Then he looked straight at Deano. His eyes were cold, his skin pale, and you could tell he was full of ill intent. A real bad mama jama as they used to say. He made his way for the front door.

Deano waited for the knock he knew would come. He wasn’t in a hurry to answer it when it did. Three knocks that reminded him of heartbeats. Deano didn’t move. Three more knocks, each hitting him in the chest like a hollow-point slug.

Not knowing if he could take another three knocks, Deano pulled his old, creaky bones from the chair. He opened the door and just like he’d thought, what he saw was impossible. Ernie, that rat bastard, young as he was the day he died.

“Ya ain’t gonna invite me in, old man?” asked Ernie.

Deano's mouth felt like it was full of cotton. “S-sure, Ernie. Come on in.”

Ernie smiled and pushed by him. He made a show of looking around the living room. He pulled a pack of Pall Mall’s, no filter, from his coat pocket.

“Mind if I blow smoke, old man?”


Ernie rolled his eyes dismissively. “Not like it really matters to ya, huh? All eat up with cancer like ya are.”

He lit one of the cigarettes and took a long drag. One of the pictures on the mantle caught his eye. He picked it up and examined it. A man, a woman, and two kids looking happy at a picnic. Ernie paid particular attention to the woman.

“Damn, Deano. She’s a hot little number, ain’t she?”

Deano went from scared to angry. “Put the picture down, Ernie,” he said.

Ernie smiled again. “Yeah, yeah, Deano. Cool ya jets. I was just pokin’ fun. Ain’t got a need for her kind no more.” He took a drag of the cigarette. “Have a seat, buddy. We need to talk.”

Deano was reluctant, but did as he was told. He sat down in the old recliner, the one his wife had bought him so long ago. It conformed to his body and made him comfortable. Tonight though, tonight it wasn’t so comfortable.

Ernie sat down on the flower print couch opposite of him. He kicked his feet up. That smile was still on his face and every fiber of Deano’s being screamed in fear.

“Best remain calm, old fella,” said Ernie, all nonchalant. “Wouldn’t want the ticker to give this late in the game, now would ya?”

Ernie took another drag as he stared at Deano. The silence in the room was deafening.

“What do you want, Ernie?”

Ernie leapt to his feet. “Bingo, bango, bongo! Now that’s the million dollar question ain’t it?”

“You’ve been dead going on forty years, Ernie. I killed you myself.”

“There it is,” said Ernie. “There’s that realization. No foolin’ you, huh, Deano? You’re talkin’ to a dead man, the man you killed, and ya tremblin’ like a babe. You’re one cool cat, huh?”

The .38 special was in Deano’s hand and firing before he even thought about it, old habits being what they are. Three bullets ripped through the space between them, slamming into the other man’s chest. They pushed him back a bit, but he was otherwise unmoved by the action. Three holes in the t-shirt was all that marked the passing of the bullets. Not a drop of blood was in sight.

Ernie laughed. “You really didn’t think that was gonna do nuthin’, did ya?”

“I suppose not,” said Deano, lowering the gun, defeated.

“Now, you’re a smart man, Deano,” said Ernie. “I always said ya was smart. Ya was even smart the way ya got rid of my body. No one ever knew.”

Ernie crept towards Deano. There was no longer anything human in his movements. He was like a shadow, liquid and smooth.

“Ya had to know your sins would catch up,” he said.

“You’re not Ernie,” said Deano.

The smile left the other man’s face. “No, no I’m not.” His voice was flat now, no longer belonging to Ernie.

“Who are you then?”

The other man considered this for a moment. “I’ve gone by many names. Old Bones. The Shadow Walker. The Pale Man. Tonight I’m the Black Racer. Humans always have a name for me. My real name is what I am though. You know it. I know it.”

A fire seemed to light deep in the other man’s eyes. Deano was afraid. It was like looking into two tiny supernovae. It was like staring into creation and…and…

“Say it, Deano,” said the Black Racer. “Say my name.”

It came out a whisper. “Death.”

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Joe Forrest lives in Phoenix, AZ where he holds down a boring old job. At night, he comes up with crazy stories in the hopes that one day he can do it for a living. He also drinks copious amounts of alcohol.
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