Bad Zeitgeist

by Caleb Michael Sarvis

As soon as our clothes peeled off, the cart cops pulled up by the river. Carl lay flat on the dock, struggling to button his shirt. Devon and I jumped in naked and huddled near the barnacles, hoping the shadows would shield us from their eyes. We splashed the water and the barnacles slashed us. Carl rolled over and humped up the steps, proving miracles have heartbeats, because I’d never seen a large-backed person right themselves under the direction of a flashlight. He asked the officers for their credentials, and I hid myself in Devon’s bosom. Whatever she’d given me, it crushed my sense of situation.

Devon chanted something about regretting an abortion and wrapped her legs around my waist. I was almost hard when something swam beneath us. We floated towards the dock and the moment she and I felt we’d trod to freedom, light fell on our faces. My eyes felt supernova. One security officer demanded our student IDs. His partner asked us why the one guy on land looked like he was drowning.

“Are we in trouble?”

“By the time I wrote the report, you’d be eaten by a gator.”

The cart cops zoomed around a bush and out of sight and we ran to Tree Hall. The seventh door we tried was unlocked, but Carl decided he hadn’t had enough to drink for two shenanigans so Devon and I stepped inside and climbed as many steps as we could.

We found a room with a well-placed ladder and too much plastic. Devon peeked in every door, slammed them shut. No sound. Not even a click. A giant window blasted moonlight into this oval den and blood dripped from a barnacle wound in my forearm. The gash looked like a bite mark from a river infant, some aquatic SIDS ghost, bitter of my indifference. Devon had a similarly sticky kneecap, so we danced. Car lights outside passed too quickly, I probably should’ve missed somebody then, but no one came to mind.

Out the window we saw Carl in the park, on his back again, kicking his shoes off. A slovenly Toyota Camry blew a tire on the bridge, the driver rolled out, and the car tumbled into the river. It hit the water, a creaking dive, and the lights stayed on. A wave smashed onto the park lawn and dampened Carl’s shirt, but his snores roared relentlessly. Too shallow to swallow much, the river buoyed the car with its barnacle barge. The driver sprinted down the street until it looked like her leg snapped at the shin and she tumbled on the asphalt, into street shadows. Carl laughed himself awake.

The plastic on the floor collected the blood from the both of us. Devon did yoga in her panties, took another pill. I counted nails in the wall. Tiny alligators crawled from our wounds and down our legs. They patrolled the red pond rising at our feet. They nibbled at our toes, and I missed myself.

Caleb Michael Sarvis is a writer from Jacksonville, Florida. He is the Fiction Editor for Bridge Eight Literary Magazine. He received his MFA from the University of Tampa.
%d bloggers like this: