SmokeLong Quarterly

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Story by Chad Simpson June 15, 2006

My brother calls and says to get to the bar as fast as I can, he thinks he just died.

Later, he will show me the bruise—a tire-wide swath of mottled purple and pale green—streaked up the inside of his thigh and the middle of his chest, where his own car ran him over. He will be high on something, and half-feral, and he will call it a miracle: how the tire track stops just below his neck; how the car didn’t crush him.

And I will imagine him standing next to his car as it began to roll downhill. I will imagine him catching up to the car and getting behind it, putting up his hands like he’s Superman stopping a train. And I will imagine the car running straight over him.

I will laugh because that’s what I’m conditioned to do. I won’t tell him how many times I have woken in the middle of the night—my heart beating like a wild thing in my chest—having dreamed him dead.


When I pull up to the stoplight across from the bar, my brother is lying on his back where it happened, and his friends are making an outline of his body on the street with masking tape. Before I decide to just keep going, I watch him lie there, perfectly still, his hands splayed at his sides. His friends try to work the tape around one of my brother’s boots, but the tape keeps getting twisted, folding over on and sticking to itself. His friends laugh, ecstatic, and tear at the tape with their teeth.

I wish I could join them. Instead, I train my eyes on my brother’s chest.

He still thinks he may be dead, and his heart. Beneath his shirt, where the bruises have not yet begun to form, his heart is racing. His breath, I can tell from where I’m sitting, it can hardly keep up.

About the Author

Chad Simpson is the author of Tell Everyone I Said Hi, which won the 2012 John Simmons Short Fiction Award and was published by the University of Iowa Press. His work has appeared in many print and online publications, including McSweeney’s Quarterly, Esquire, American Short Fiction, and The Sun. He lives in Monmouth, Illinois, and is an associate professor of English at Knox College.

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

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