SmokeLong Quarterly

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Last Dance

Story by Thomas Kearnes (Read author interview) December 15, 2006

Adam woke and noticed the ambulance and police cars before I did. It was early morning, not long after sunrise. I was wired, still far from sleep. People and objects didn’t register right away, like mirages in reverse.

I had Donna Summer in the CD player. “Hot Stuff,” “Bad Girls,” “Last Dance,” all the classics. I was trying to get Adam to broaden his musical horizons, among other things. He was so young, knew so little about all the great music before his time. He was asleep just a half-hour out of Shreveport, but I kept her on anyway.

“Shit,” he said. “It’s the police.”

“Calm down, they’re not looking for us.”

“Where’d you put it?”

“In the glove box.”

Adam looked at me.

“In the bank pouch with the zipper.”

“They’ll look there.”

“I think they’re busy right now.”

On the street, there was a body. Someone had already covered it with a white sheet through which splotches of deep red had begun to spread. I could see it between two of the cruisers. A few of my neighbors stood on the sidewalk. No one strained to get a better look.

“Go through the first entrance,” Adam said.

“I was planning to.”

“You think they’re going around knocking on doors?”

“I don’t know.”

“What if they do?”

“We won’t answer. They don’t know who’s home and who’s not.”

Except to wave hello and goodbye as I walked to my car, I knew no one in my complex. The body couldn’t have been someone whose identity would have stirred me.

I turned into the first driveway. I made my way through the easy grid of parking lots to my building. Adam jittered in his seat, his hand pressed to the tinted window.

“Relax,” I said and pulled into a parking space. “We’re here.” Around the corner, I saw the paramedics load the body into the ambulance. I should have wondered why a dead body required an ambulance, but things weren’t registering like they should.

I killed the engine and let my head fall against the headrest. I was red-eyed, alert and exhausted. Donna Summer charged through the last moments of “Last Dance.” The part where she knows the man who she’s asking to dance may not be the one for her, but she just wants him to dance with her. This wasn’t about forever. Sometimes forever isn’t the point.

“We should get out of the car,” Adam said.

“We will. I just want to hear the end of this song.”

Adam twisted in his seat. He flipped open the glove box to look for the dope. The song was almost over.

I grabbed Adam’s hand and held it in mine. He didn’t pull it away. It was my apartment, my car. I had paid for the dope. He looked at me.

“Listen,” I said. “Listen to this last part.”

About the Author

Thomas Kearnes is a 30-year-old author and artist from East Texas. He is an agnostic and an Eagle Scout. He has published or will publish fiction in Blithe House Quarterly, flashquake, Bound Off, Wicked Hollow, Southern Hum, Underground Voices, Harrington Gay Men’s Literary Quarterly, Forbidden Fruit, Mad Hatter’s Review and Citizen Culture. He has published or will published photography in Bathtub Gin, Skidrow Penthouse, Events Quarterly, Tattoo Highway, Fiction Attic and Noo Journal.

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

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