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Farrah Fawcett, Guardian of Highway Bridge Abutments

Story by Joe Kapitan (Read author interview) June 24, 2014

art by David Swartz

The Monday morning I had given up all hope of ever finding you, I pinned a note to my shirt, swung the car into the outside lane, lined myself up with the I-70 bridge abutment and hit about 75 when the angel Farrah Fawcett appeared on my lap and stomped on the brake pedal. The car locked up, slid sideways into the guardrail, sparking metal grinding us to a stop. The air bag blew her into the back seat. I was covered in talc and windshield shards, a cut on my forehead but otherwise fine. Farrah was unharmed. She leaned forward and cradled my face in her hands and told me to be strong. Soon, she promised—like the first time she came to me, when I was maybe fifteen and she was wearing that incredible red one-piece and she snuggled in next to me in bed, under my arm, and I told her to be quiet, my folks were just down the hall. She just laughed, stroked my three-haired chest with the backs of her fingers, and she said it would get easier. She’d help me. She promised.

But she didn’t at first. For the next decade, I seized up around girls. My throat constricted and I couldn’t talk right and the sounds that leaked out were pale and alien. I dropped books and spilled drinks. The more I liked them, the worse I crashed and burned. No matter, Farrah said when she visited at night, they weren’t right for you. They never were, so I buried myself in that mane of hers and cried until I swore I’d give my life over to her if she would find the right one for me. It’s going to take some kind of woman to replace me, she said.

The Tuesday morning I had given up hope of finding you, I had my note and got into position when I saw an SUV with a flat stuck in the berm ahead, directly between me and the abutment. I slowed down and parked about fifty feet behind, put on my flashers, went to see if I could help. A graying old woman in a wool coat and scarf stood next to the car looking helpless. When I got closer, I saw it was no old woman, with no gray hair. My angel, teased Farrah.

The Wednesday morning I’d given up on life, I woke to find my car stolen. The cops found it five miles away, undamaged—no fingerprints, but a few long blond hairs on the headrest. I took a taxi to the impound lot, looking out the window and listing all the new things I’d never considered driving my car into.

The Thursday morning when I got my car back, it was raining and I stayed in bed, buried in blankets. I imagined Farrah standing out there along the highway in the downpour, waiting, wondering where I was, her feathered hair getting soaked, hours of blow-drying wrecked by raindrops.

The Friday morning I swore would be my last, I was in position once again when the car one hundred feet in front suddenly swerved left and struck my abutment head-on, exploding in a cloud of metal and glass. I screeched to a halt on the berm and half of me was out of the car and running to help, but the stronger part held me motionless, watching the smoke sprout flames, waiting for the sirens. I didn’t think Farrah would be permanently harmed, but she needed to feel something of what I felt—a singe or two, where it counted. But when I got back to my apartment, there she was, watching the breaking news: a single young woman, Thirty One, had lost her life in a highway collision. I guess I’ll have to start looking for another one for you, Farrah sighed. So sad. Come here and sit down, honey. Which I did, and I hated that I did. I wanted to be holding that young victim instead, pulling her from the wreckage, even smoldering. I wished Farrah had burnt in her place. I wished I’d noticed that Farrah had no wings, and I wished that this wasn’t going to end with me always burning right alongside her.

About the Author

Joe Kapitan is a full-time architect from Cleveland, Ohio, where the sun doesn’t shine from November to April, giving him ample time to write pale and cranky short fiction.

About the Artist

David Swartz currently resides in Lisbon, Portugal, where he’s studying painting at the Faculdade de Belas Artes.

This story appeared in Issue Forty-Four of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Forty-Four

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