An Incomplete Registry of Deaths: Part One
Alan Stewart Carl



Man Dies on Highway 16

The doe is running through a cold, damp dark, hooves in rhythm with heart. The husband is cutting through wind and want, hands twisting against handlebars. He’s thinking of how his wife’s arms had felt that first time she rode along, gripping him painful around the gut, holding him so she wouldn’t die. He’d thought the physics of their lives were set, as if there’d be no loosenings of years, no smiles from other men. And he’s wishing to hell they’d just kept going that day, towards road and sun and into the singular noise of rushing air. So he pushes the speed. And the doe leaps a rail. And miles away—in the city, in a room, in a hotel with week-long rates—the wife wakes to the sound of panicked banging and believes the husband is there. She stands and hurries and tears open the door. And she’s thinking he’s here, he forgives. But there’s only the dark pressing damp and empty. And all she can hear, in all the world, is the rushing wildness of her heart.

***

Collegiate Athlete Found Dead. Suicide Suspected.

“Those things will kill you,” the ballplayer says. “Something else will get me first,” the boyfriend says. The ballplayer touches the boyfriend, low, the smoke containing them and dividing them all at once. “Why do you have to be that way?” the ballplayer says. The boyfriend coughs and looks at the curled hairs clinging to the toilet, the scribbles on the plastic frame of the stall. “What?” the boyfriend says. “Because this is something you want to last?” The ballplayer pulls the boyfriend close, letting the smaller boy’s hardness press against his thigh. “Transfer with me,” the ballplayer says. “Come to Syracuse.” The ballplayer lowers his head, wraps his mouth around the boyfriend’s length. But the boyfriend is thinking of hiding out in colder bathrooms, of sitting alone on bigger bleachers. He’s thinking of the ballplayer punching him on the arm and introducing him as a friend. “Come back to my room,” the boyfriend says. “Make this real.” But the ballplayer won’t. And the boyfriend nods. Then he reaches for his phone and takes a picture and sends it to everyone he knows.

***

Child, 6, Drowns at Woodlawn Lake

The water, like oil, poured thick between the scattered oaks. The boy kneels but sees no reflection of himself. A ghost, he thinks. Touches his side. Welts. More to come. Them’s the rules, boy. Them’s the expecterations. Or something. Or someway. There’s a humming now from the dark center of the lake and he’s thinking it’s someone singing, maybe his mother returned. Such things are possible. He’s heard the stories. So he steps a foot in. Sunwarm still. Milkwarm. Up to his waste now as he urinates, the flow a tickle. He smiles at himself. He’s sure he hears singing. All he has to do is go a little deeper. Then his mother will make the welts disappear.

***

Woman Shot in Southside Motel; No Suspects

The body deceives, spread on the bed as if a woman asleep. But the officer knows how it is, knows to turn his head a notch to the side as his light glances the skull. How was the shift? his wife will say in the hours after. Orange juice. Cartoons. His gun will click against the top of the fridge. Was it bad? she’ll call as she goes to the boy. Roy says he has a migraine again, she’ll say. And the officer, he’ll stand and he’ll stare at the juice and he’ll feel something coming up hot and wrong. And there he will go, towards the TV, shouting at Roy to be a man, grabbing his wrist and telling him he knows shit about hurt.



Alan Stewart Carl is a writer of fiction and other such. His work has appeared in Mid-American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, PANK and elsewhere. The state of American media really gets under his skin. But not American literary journals. Those he rather likes. He blogs about said journals and other various and random things here.