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= Being & Becoming =

an existential suspense story

by John Argo


1.

title by John ArgoTom touched the gun under the driver's seat. It was snowing so hard on the bridge that he could hardly see the car ahead of him, just its glowing red taillight rimed with constantly falling snow. He dimly saw flashing lights at the west end of the bridge, not the orange lights of road crews desperately battling the storm, but red white and blues twirling atop several police cars.

Tom felt muffled by the whiteness all around; the snow ate sound, even that of tires rumbling through the ruts of cars ahead. If he didn't—But there was a small turnout ahead, just a single parking spot where the sidewalk dipped to street level, maybe for a maintenance crew to pull up its truck.

Without a further thought, Tom pulled out and stopped. He took the gun out and stared at it, as if it were going to speak to him. It was such a heavy, powerful object, a killer, that he half expected it to resist. But he tucked it under his heavy jacket and pushed the door open; there was a little give, for it was frozen to the car frame.

Slipping and sliding on ice just under the snow, Tom made his way to the railing. Blood rushed in his ears, and if anyone saw him and shouted, he did not hear. All he heard was the whine of wind, and he felt the bite of snowflakes on top of his ears. He could taste the cold; it tasted of snow and oil and tires and river mud.

When he got to the railing, he leaned against it. A clot of snow fell away as if he'd thrown up; it twirled in the air, disappearing among the ice floes on the Mississippi. Leaning over thus, he heard the wind howling like a choir in the steel rigging under the bridge. The concrete pilings were like organ pipes, and the sound rose and fell.

The gun didn't twirl, but it dropped straight down, resentfully turning, slowly, to survey its surroundings with disdain. Two or three seconds later it made a tiny plume among the ice floes.

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Copyright © 2018 by Jean-Thomas Cullen, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.