Asphalt Angel


Jessie lay down in the center of the asphalt, body across the double yellow. “Fuck it,” she said. “I’m done running.” Jessie and I are hard at it. We blew up the Chickenman in Philly last night. Or rather, we robbed Dandy Marts in three townships and got away clean. Jessie’s been dropping Adderall almost religiously since before the first robbery, and I haven’t been far behind her. I feel as if I can see her heart fluttering under the white T-shirt she’s wearing, but that’s just the drug making sure I’m paying attention.

“We haven’t run anywhere yet, though. We’re still in the county. We need to get the fuck out,” I said. We got a total of eight hundred seventy-five at the three stores, lucky enough to catch two tills at once–shift change– in the second place, and finished off by nabbing a hundred at the last one, plus supplies. Mountain Dew and cigarettes. “Jessie,” I said. “Come on.”

We’re hiding out in the open. After we got the cash, we ran the truck into the bushes somewhere in Mt. Pocono and took our mountain bikes out of the back. With helmets strapped on and the cash in a fanny pack, we looked like any other fitness freak couple, riding down route 611, easy as you please. Near Tannersville on Cherry Lane, we had to heist up out of our seats to make the steep climb, and then we were on the downside, and Jessie wouldn’t get out of the fucking road. She moved her arms and legs back and forth, giggling. “Look, I’m making an asphalt angel.”

“Get out of the road. You’re going to get squashed.”

“I can’t believe we got nearly a thousand bucks.” A squirrel ran across the power line. Jessie shot it with her outstretched finger. “Pow,” she said. I walked out into the road and picked her up bodily. She put her arms around my head and I got a strange chemical smell off the crease of her neck. Darkness fell like a dropped coat around us, and cars whooshed by and never saw us sitting just inside the trees lining the road.”I don’t know what these are,” she said, pulling a handful of blue and green capsules out of her fanny pack along with a desiccated tissue. “i think they’re antidepressants, though, so they’ll probably help you with those clenched teeth.” I crunched the capsules and swallowed the powder, and so did Jessie. i washed mine down with soda, and she chased hers with my spit.

Soon enough we were calming, and Jessie decided she wanted to fuck. I didn’t want to, but here we were with drugs mixing in our system and nothing to do until it got a little darker and fewer people might suspect us for thieves. Jessie tossed down her t-shirt as a cushion and we got right to it. She rode me like she never had before, so much that when we broke apart I could see her knobby knees bleeding from contusions, the dark lines running down her calves and onto the shirt.

“Jesus, Jess,” I said.

“Oh wow,” she said. “That was unexpected.” I got off the ground and brushed myself off. I took off my t-shirt and tried to wipe her legs with it, but the wounds had gotten brush and dirt and gravel in them, and she couldn’t very well go without a shirt, so I gave her mine, and we took off. For a woman with bloody knees who had just been fucked six ways from Sunday, she initiated a pace I could barely keep up with.

I noticed the car creeping up to us, lights off, while Jessie ran herself ragged far ahead of me. As the flashers went on I could see the blinking red light on Jessie’s bike getting smaller and dingier in the distance. When the cop told me to stop I was already done. I put my hands on my head, dropped to my knees, sorry for all my painful sins, and no angel to see me in my time of need.

~ fin ~


Rusty Barnes grew up in rural northern Appalachia. He received his B.A. from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and his M.F.A. from Emerson College. His fiction, poetry and non-fiction have appeared widely, with stories forthcoming in Mystery Tribune and Toe Six.