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Heaven by the Highwayside

Story by Mike Amato (Read author interview) March 15, 2007

The scraw of the coal-colored bird was a familiar sound that ripped across the Midwest landscape. It belted through the clean, dry air like a saw blade dislodged from its shaft.

Buck had been standing facing south-southwest and hadn’t seen Julie set her lawn chair down straddling the yellow line. Apparently, he had given her the impression that these roads were abandoned.

“Got trucks racing through here all the time, you crazy bug-eyed woman.”

Julie stood and dragged the chair across the gravel and set it on the dry dirt just off the pavement.

“That’s good,” Buck said. “Move over and let me sit by the road.” He slid his chair up next to hers and settled into it. Julie opened up the cooler next to her and passed Buck a Lone Star. He cracked it open just before hearing a distant frrmt-frrrmt of the tractor-trailer screaming from behind them. The truck blasted its horn and barreled up the road without slowing down. Buck sucked a sip from the top of his can and pointed over to a short bush.

“Rattler,” he belched.

Julie looked over and nodded. “Mmm-hmm.”

The tractor-trailer roared up from behind. The horn hurled a sharp note that drifted flat as the behemoth rushed by them, inches away from Buck’s elbow. His ratty blond hair whipped at his face as sand and pebbles pelted him in the back of his neck. The dust whipped past and Buck quickly snatched up some diesel fumes with his nostrils before they got away.

The truck rolled on, drawing away until it was out of sight. In the silence, Buck and his wife lifted their faces to the sky and closed their eyes. The golden glow of the sun, even filtered through their eyelids, baked their pupils. Meanwhile, the cold beer chilled their lips and tongues.

About the Author

Mike Amato is a working writer living in New York, with a degree in drama and fine arts from Marywood University. He is also a working stand-up comedian who has performed at Caroline’s on Broadway, Gotham Comedy Club, and had bit roles on Saturday Night Live.

This story appeared in Issue Sixteen of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Sixteen

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