Aiming for a creative life

I Am Santo

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About a mile out, his body burned against him with dagger-like pain in his gut. Simon slowed his pace, cutting through the lead-strewn green of Grover Park, groaning and squinting against a cloud-ducking sun and sweat stinging his eyes. He was dehydrated and his adrenaline seemed on a drip after the constant rush it had fed him throughout the day. He didn’t stop running, adjusting the money in his waistband again because it kept slipping, the brown paper wrap chafing the skin raw near his navel. He imagined the paper torn away by his sweat, individual bills shedding behind him like breadcrumbs men would seize upon as vultures do carrion. He’d be a pied piper for greed, and spinning off him like tops would be dozens of new cycles, balanced until their center of moral gravity caved and they collapsed. Simon wondered if his own core’s spin had arrested, but he stayed in motion, battling against the unevenness urging him to stop running and tip over. No. He wouldn’t. And the pain loosened a bit in his gut as he pushed toward home, now passing places he drove by every day from jobs he despised. The new gas station he never went to because it was nearly ten cents more than the older one a mile further out of his way. The yard with a rusted fence swallowed by a huge relic stump of a tree. The mobile home park with its hollowed denizens lurking like dust motes on dirty plastic lawn furniture in their postage stamp yards. These places had gone from sad reminders of his fallen place in life to milestones in this race to his children and he begged each one, pleaded to their familiarity, to forgive him for his past contempt and grant him his kids’ safety. He kept seeing Kailey after he’d said goodbye earlier, her glance back over her shoulder, past her too big, pink bookbag they’d found at Goodwill for her first year at school. He’d thought she was nervous due to his manner, the blood on his neck and the change in her routine, but now he saw her as fearful, almost as if she and her brother were walking toward something their father couldn’t protect them from. “No,” Simon prayed to the spat upon sign for his apartment complex as he ran by. “Please. No.” (To be continued…)

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