by David James Keaton
Away from the smoke and screaming, I head for the roof instead of the exit, amazed to discover this garage is the only thing I’ve ever revisited from my youth that is actually bigger than I remember, except maybe my older brother who I can't shake loose from my back axle. I actually check my gas gauge nervously, wondering what's the furthest anyone has ever driven indoors and how much ramp could possibly be squeezed into a building this small. Tires screeching, my bumper missing as many kneecaps as possible, or if it's a family, steering away from any child in the middle, I decide this garage is designed like the queue at an amusement park, where they corral you through a zigzag of sweaty rails and force you to walk by the same miserable faces nine times in an attempt to avoid angry hordes surrounding the roller coaster with torches in hand. Even my car gets confused and the headlights flicker on uncertainly in the dark, something I didn't expect until I was safely six hours and a state away. Finally reaching the sun-soaked roof, I remember once when my youngest brother, upset about an incident at baseball practice, wouldn’t give up the only toilet in our house even as I pounded on the door and read to him about horrors of middle child syndrome and then some trivia about the average intestine being curled up so tight that it was at least three miles long if you ever unraveled it. Then my car is in midair, both brothers gone, wheels spinning against nothing, as I wait for the comfort of a flush to bring me back down, knowing that you can only unravel most things once.
David James Keaton's fiction has recently appeared in Crooked and Pulp Pusher. He is a non-fiction contributor to The College Rag and the University of Pittsburgh’s online journal Hot Metal Bridge.