"You know what? The bastard blows me out of the water. This guy writes Maine like Ardai writes New York. If you're not reading him, you don't know what you're missing." --Chris F. Holm, author of "The Collector" series, The Killing Kind, and Red Right Hand.

"A refreshingly new voice in noir." --Ed Kurtz, author of Nothing You Can Do and The Rib From Which I Remake the World.

"A glorious boilermaker of noir and East Coast gothic. The action is taut as a sprung snare and Bagley tightens the screws with every page." -- Laird Barron, author of Swift to Chase and Blood Standard.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Leaving Rachel: The Love Hurts Blog Event

Patti Abbott, Aldo Calcagno and Gerald So decided to give you all a big, bloody Valentine this year. They asked a bunch of crime writers to post love-themed flash fiction this morning. They call it Love Hurts. You will find links to these bits of Valentine’s nastiness on Gerald’s blog and Aldo’s Powder Burn Flash. My own contribution originally appeared on the late, great Flashing in the Gutters in May 2006.

Leaving Rachel
By Patrick Shawn Bagley

The night before graduation, we drove out to her father’s camp on Embden Lake with my acoustic guitar and two fifths of Smirnoff. The place was like something out of an L.L. Bean catalog, with deer heads and a togue mounted on the walls. No one had been there since before ice-out, and the cabin smelled of pine and mothballs. Fishing rods and a single-shot twelve gauge stood propped in a corner by the door.

I laid my guitar on the couch and broke the seal on the first vodka bottle. Rachel opened the bedroom windows to let the fog creep in while we sat on the bed and drank. We didn’t talk, just passed the bottle back and forth, listening to the loons call to each other across the water. Later, Rachel lit an oil lamp and we made love in the dim yellow light. She climbed on top of me. “It’s not too late,” I said. “We can still get you a ticket.”

She moved slowly above me, bearing down with her hips, whispering, “Not now.” Her tears broke cold against my skin. “Not now.”

We woke early and sat naked under a blanket on the porch. The morning was gray and damp. The loons were still at it. My head hurt, a dull and muzzy sort of ache. I didn’t look at Rachel. “So are you coming with me or not?”

Her hair brushed my shoulder as she shook her head. “I can’t.”

“Can’t or don’t want to? You’re twenty-two years old, for Christ’s sake. Don’t tell me you can’t.”

“You aren’t from here. It’s easy for you to just go, but everything I love is right here.”

“Except me.”

“Except you.”

“I guess you’ll get over me,” I said.

“Don’t be like that.”

“Like what?”

“You know what I mean. That way you get.”

I kicked off the blanket and went inside to dress. Through the windows, I saw her walk down to the lake. There were other camps nearby, but it was too early in the year for most of the owners to be around. I heard a light splash when she dove in. I hurried to get everything ready, then went out to wait for her. The water was freezing and she wouldn’t stay in long.

Rachel surfaced right where her father would put in the dock once he opened up the camp for summer. She walked out of the dark water, pushing her hair back away from her face. I waited until she opened her eyes. I wanted her to see me when it happened.

The shotgun blast rolled across the lake. In its wake, everything was quiet. I put the gun back in the cabin and came down to the shore with my guitar and what was left of the vodka. I sat on a rock and played her a song, then. The loons sang their own tune, but it wasn’t for her. The rain came slowly, like a dingy gray hangover.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Terrific mood in this one, Patrick. The details set the story perfectly.

Gerald So said...

I wasn't expecting the ending, yet wasn't jarred by it, either. Well done.

Steve Allan said...

"The loons sang their own tune, but it wasn’t for her. " I really liked that line.

Good story when it appear in FITG and good story now.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Any Valentine's Day with a shotgun blast is a good one in my book.

You're a sick fuck, Bagley. God love ya.

Sophie said...

Loved it. My kind of story.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

I feel the love.

Patricia J. Hale said...

A perfectly painted picture. Almost had a film quality to it. Enjoyed it, thanks.