Ricardo, he ran. He ran his way up the hill, fighting rocky ground and the sharp incline, slow like a bad dream, heavy with the awareness that he was finally caught. These moments were the moments: his last moments of freedom, his ten days of dynamite come to ash and rubble. His heels already raw, his feet bend and camber to clutch the round rocks that ran up the slope ahead. He just needed a foothold... he had to gain traction.

He could hear the officer from over his shoulder: “Halt!"


The hill was almost too steep to take without climbing, just a quarter mile off the Pacific Coast Highway, just a quarter mile away from Ricardo’s DeSoto with the flat tire, his jack and tire iron resting on the side of the road amidst a handful of fresh cigarette butts. The music on the car radio was playing that new tune he liked… he could still hear it in his head. It all seemed so far away… so long ago…


This was the young policeman again, the one who had pulled over to Ricardo’s stopped car and recognized his face from the papers. This kid was fresh out the academy, fresh out of breath, running rough, speaking in a language long expired, dialect from the stone age. Or the picture shows.

Ricardo heard the cop again, “Get back here!” but he decided not to oblige. He heard a shot fired, knew the police man was shooting, but there was no time to check himself for fresh holes. The muscles in his ankles were buckling from the ragged gravel, the balls of his feet bruising and losing rake against the stones. And now the rock floor made rumble, the stones now were spinning, shifting, awakened out of their sleep and up on the wrong side of the bed.

Then the rocks they started falling, tumbling in bundles, dirt kicked up in to the air as the rolling stones gathered momentum, a symphony of gravity, knocking heads, accumulating speed. The dead leaves flew up and sailed down slow and lazy. Ricardo felt a round boulder turn beneath his ankle & he found himself airborne. He was ready for the landing, the impact and destruction. Before he fell he saw the large rock behind him break loose and take a bad bounce, launch into the skyway & land with a soft crunch against the head of the cop horizontal, splitting his skull easy, the human helmet fail its crash test.

Steam from the brain escaping in the early winter chill.

When Ricardo came down he landed on his humerus bone, cracking it ultra-fine in four places. The arm was now hanging at an angle obtuse: unnatural and helpless to hold. The rocks had made a bad mattress: he could feel the two shattered ribs and a cracked collarbone, and all the while the boulders continued their slide, hitting him with sucker-punches, tenderizing his body. He tasted blood and wondered where it was from, the pain with milk and sugar, like an endless cup of coffee, keeping him awake as the rocks continued to roll. He needed help.

There was no air in his lungs to howl and so, just wait… just a minute. He thought only briefly of the salseman in his trunk, wondered if the poor man whose car he had hijacked had bled out or was there was more life inside. Then Ricardo looked inward, wondered how much life there was inside himself. It was a wonderful ten days... he felt himself smiling in spite of the wounds. He would be alright... he just needed a minute to catch his breath, to learn to ignore the pain. He just needed one minute.

He just needed one minute more.

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