George Washington Goes to Washington…State!!!
A Short Story by Doug Dean
Written using the suggestion "Washington"
Originally featured on 08-08-2007
As part of our series "Out of the Sandwich"

I shift into fourth gear as I cross the Columbia River by way of the Interstate Bridge. As the frame of the bridge passes over me, for some reason I think of my first time on an airplane. I bump it into fifth and take the exit heading east. A guy at an Arco told me that the views of the Columbia River from this road are pretty awesome. Honking. I forgot to signal.

I don’t give the bitch in the red Camry the finger because I’m sick of giving the finger. I’ve been giving the finger to Camrys, Altimas and SUVs for two weeks now. It doesn’t change things and it stopped making me laugh or feel better after the first ten times.

I’m through 26 states now. It’s official. I just have to make it through the next 24 in the next two weeks or I’ll become mortal again. Which would mean death. And potentially Hell.

But I’ll make it. I’m making good time and this new hybrid I’ve got gets even better gas mileage than I had planned for. I’m going to come in way under budget.

Oh the view of the river is quite nice. Through thin patches of trees I can see the deep blue water between here and Oregon.

I think I’ll smoke. I roll up the windows and crouch forward — keeping my eyes on the road ahead — to open the glove box. I pull out the glass piece I picked up yesterday at that head shop. Heck of a good deal. I grab my bag too.

Mart would kill me if she knew how much ganja I brought on this trip. She might know, considering that she probably ran out and had to call Tony. Oh well, fuck it. She could’ve just come with me. She was invited. And this trip ensures her immortality as well so I can’t see how she has any argument whatsoever.

There, it’s packed. I light up. Just two hits and put it away. I’m not looking to get blotto or anything. Just take the edge off for a bit. I roll down the windows and the breeze circulating through the car calms me even more. I could go for some food. Maybe some Ding Dongs and a soda.

I see a plaza coming up, I can stop there. I signal and change lanes.

What the fuck is she honking at?! I signaled!

I give the bitch in the Celica the bird. I feel a little better. There are some kids hanging around outside the 7-11. They look about fifteen or so.

As I walk up the sidewalk to the door I hear one of them comment about my clothes.

“Hey, nice legs!” They all laugh. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to tan my calves.

The air conditioning inside the store feels nice although the clerk looks cold. I try not to sound stoned.

“Ding Dongs?”

He points to the third aisle.

It’s hard when you’re walking through a convenience store not to be dazzled by the gaudiness of all the products. All such bright colors competing for your attention, and I don’t want to wolf out. I just want to get a little snack to tide me over until I can make it to the winery. I’ll eat my real dinner there. There they are. I’ll get some chocolate cupcakes too. Just in case it’s farther away then the directions say.

I hand the man three handsome looking dollar bills and while I’m waiting for my change I glance outside. The kids are still hanging around. I don’t see the one that made that crack about me before.

I put the coins in the pocket of my khaki shorts and head towards the door.

Oh man! He’s keying my car.

“Hey you punk! What do you think you’re doing?” He gets up and stands on my hood. He’s a stout little guy and reminds me a bit of John Adams.

“What are you going to do about it, geezer?” He’s stomping on the hood with his hands in the air. I turn around and the clerk is gone. Maybe he’s calling the police but I doubt it.

I put down my bag of Ding Dongs and Red Alert Mountain Dew. That car is only a month old. And it was expensive.

“I’ll show you what I’m going to do about it.”

I run over with my arm outstretched to clothesline his legs. He jumps over my arm, putting two nasty dents in my hood. Thank god I’m high or I’d kill this boy.

I reach up and grab his shirt. I hold him up with my right arm slowly move towards the others. He’s kicking his legs and his hands are grasping tightly against my forearm. I punch him hard in the gut once still holding him in the air. He moans before he stops kicking and clawing.

I’ll humiliate him in front of his friends. That’ll do, I guess. Hundreds of dollars in damage to my car, but I can’t afford to have the police involved.

“You guys think this punk is a real hero, eh?” I point to nerdiest looking one. “You! Is this punk your hero?”

He shakes his head. I bet this kid bullies all the others in the group. He’s that kid.

“So what do you think of him?” The nerd shakes his head.

“I don’t know,” he says in a nasally voice.

“Yes you do! Now tell me!”

“He can be a jerk.”

“Go on!”

“I can’t talk about him when he’s right there.”
“Yes, you will. I created Free Speech for just this reason!” I hold back my smile.

“He’s a bully.” The group tries to hide behind the nerd. I point to another one. He’s a chubbier kid. I’m sure this punk has made fun of him too.

“What about you!? You like this kid I’m holding?” He shakes his head.

“Tell me one thing you don’t like about him or I’ll pick you up too!” He stares for a moment.

“He’s a bastard.” They all laugh. The kid starts wriggling again but I shoot him a look and he stops.

Then I hear the sirens. The clerk must’ve called them. They talk into the loudspeaker. “Drop the child and put your hands up!”

I do. The kid grunts when he hits the sidewalk. “Turn around!” As I turn I hear the kids mumbling to each other behind me. I hear them all run away. One of the cops from the car takes off after them. It leaves just one. I’ve got my pistol in the car but I won’t need it. The cop is young, looks like Thomas Jefferson — a pretty boy.

I keep my hands up and continue to walk towards the police car. He opens the car door and draws his gun.

“Freeze!”

“I’m not resisting you officer! No need for the gun!” I inch closer.

“I said ‘Freeze’ maniac!” I point to my car.

“Those kids were destroying my car officer. I just restrained one of them until you could get here. Can I please put down my hands now? My joints are aching really bad.”

“Alright then.” He starts to put his gun away. He looks down to guide it into the holster. I take two large strides and use my shoulder to sandwich him between the door and the car. He struggles for a second but I elbow him hard enough to knock him out. I grab the car keys from the ignition of his cruiser. I throw them onto the roof of the 7-11.

Cool. I’m outta here. Oh, wait. I run back and grab the bag with the Ding Dongs and my drink. Now I’m outta here.

24 states to go. Leave it to Washington to be one of the toughest one yet.

Read More By Doug Dean

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Portland Fiction Project

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