Lucky Strikes

“She broke my heart. Broke it.”

This. For the last five minutes. Annoying coming from a friend, but still, I’d listen. Hell, I’d sympathize.

But this is the Sonic drive-in guy. The one on skates.

He has yet to hand me my strawberry lemonade, two cherries. Waving it around frantically. Half must be decorating my car door.

I don’t care if she broke your heart or cut it out with safety scissors. Just give me my drink already.

I sat, contemplated the silencing power of the Mace stashed on my keychain versus any possible blowback. Then it happened. A female voice screamed an obscenity from across the parking lot. My chatty car-hop took a rolling half-step in her direction.

“Shawna . . .”

As last words go it’s not something I’d want as my epitaph. But then, I don’t know anyone named Shawna.

Lightning. An immediate bark of thunder, Cerberus deep. I had just enough time to think the storm was going to break. Then a flash, white hot. I curled myself into the seat, blinking away spots, playing hug-my-purse-and-cry-like-a-baby. Maybe I passed out.

Seconds, minutes, maybe an hour later I finally unclenched. My mouth was full of ozone and copper-flavoured spit. Sonic guy was laid out in the gravel.

I’d never seen anyone dead before, especially not via God’s industrial bug zapper. Not what I expected.

He didn’t look like he was sleeping. Wisps of smoke trailed from his hair. A crowd had gathered, nosy and full of suggestions. A girl dressed in green polo and black-slacked food-service finery bent down. Pulled at his shirt. I guess she wanted to see how bad it was. From where I sat, it was pretty clear he was beyond help.

If Shawna was his ex, he’s right. She did break his heart. He should have stayed under cover instead of rolling towards her. At least then it would still be thumping instead of fast-food crisp.

I drove home in a gelatin stew, every movement bogged down and sticky. As I turned onto my block, there was my neighbour. In my driveway. Going through my trash bin. Again.

She rummaged. Snatched plastic, glass, and aluminum cans from the kitchen scraps and dog turds. Plunked them into her brown recycling bin.

I passed her, barely slowing. Got an evil look and a dog-poop-encrusted glove flung at my window as a reward. In the rearview I saw her flip me off.

Thunder rumbled. I pulled into the garage and wished for lightning. Maybe I’d get lucky . . . twice.

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