Concise Prose. Enough Said.
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Where Someone You Loved Has Died

By Leslie Hale Roberts

I knew someone had died when I heard the motorbike coming really loud and fast and then stop, right below our building. It just stopped for about a second and then you could hear a ‘pock’ sound, or maybe more like when you drop an egg on the counter, only with glass and metal and some screeching sounds, too. And you could hear it over Sid’s CD player, which was always too loud but my husband never made him turn it off and I’ll be damned if I’m about to play the mean stepmother. Not in this house and not this time around.

I told my husband someone had died even before he went downstairs. I could just feel it and even though he didn’t believe me—he never does—he called the police and told them somebody might be dead. I don’t get hunches for nothing, and this time I was right, too. Some young boy about Sid’s age was racing up the street when he shouldn’t, and some car poked its nose into the intersection a little too far, and the boy didn’t see it, probably because he was going so fast, and the next thing you know, he was dead. My husband said parts of his motorbike were all over the street but the boy’s body was still whole, even where it landed. It landed against a parked truck, right against the radiator, and they said he was dead instantly, and my husband thought so, too, that no one could have lived through something like that. I knew someone had died, though, just by the sound. My hunches are usually always right.

The boy’s mother or some woman was there the next day putting a wreath on the spot where he died. She wanted to paint a cross on the cement but Art Stanley, the shop owner, said no, it would drive away business and he was probably right but it was a shame, after all. You see a lot of crosses out on the highway, it’s too bad you can’t put one up in town, where someone you love has died.

Sid said he thought the boy was into drugs and stealing and was not a very likable person. Sid said he didn’t have many friends, because hardly nobody at school was talking about it or even went to the funeral. Nobody in my house went; none of us knew him but, even so, I felt a little bad for not going. I know I didn’t have to, but being there and listening to when he died made me feel like I should have gone or done something to help, I don’t know. My husband said not to worry, that there was nothing anyone could do and the number of people at your funeral didn’t matter to you or to God, just the people on the ground left behind.

It’s sad and funny how things work but about a week after the boy’s death, Sid got into a fight with some boys down the street and one of them pulled a gun and shot at him but missed, thank God. Then Sid said he was going to kill the boy and promised he would and swore up and down and my husband did his mightiest to keep Sid from doing anything stupid and then he reminded Sid how easy you could die, from anything, just look at the boy on the motorbike, he never thought about dying—or he probably didn’t or else he wouldn’t have been driving so fast—and look what happened, life could be over so fast.

Sid was still upset but the talk seemed to settle him down some and he never more talked about killing anyone, that I heard, anyway. I guess they had a little trouble at school later but Sid kept himself from doing anything and there never was any big trouble with those boys after that.

Luckily I stayed out of the whole thing. Like I said, I wasn’t about to be the mean stepmother, not any more, not this time.


Leslie Hale Roberts is a resident of Northeastern California, married and living with his soul mate, a father, writer, musician, disabled athlete and outdoorsman. His work is concerned with the observation and understanding of people in conflict with themselves and their realities. Where Someone You Love Has Died is from Leslie’s unpublished collection of experimental and traditional short stories, Voices from a City of Gold: Stories from Oroville. Stories from the collection have appeared in, Outrider Press 2001 Anthology, Oasis, Arte Publico Press, Brazzil, and VerbSap.

Photo Blue Cross courtesy of H. Assaf, Lebanon.

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