I went out for a run in the late night, after midnight, maybe after two a.m., when my neighborhood was darkest, the streetlights brightest. This is what I did sometimes.
At work, hours earlier, I saw a friend shred her fingers in the swiftly spinning blades of a garbage disposal. Her hand went in the disposal and an oblivious coworker turned the machine on. She yanked bleeding slivers from the drain.
My neighborhood was in a good part of the city but I still wondered whether it was safe to go for runs at night. Then I would wonder if my assumptions about the safe-or-not qualities of my neighborhood were sound, or based on some misunderstood aspect of demographics. I might have had all of the angles wrong.
My friend, when she pulled her fingers from the garbage disposal in the large sink in the kitchen of the restaurant where we worked, she was screaming, and every thought I had then while holding an order of chicken-fried ribs related to horror films, to the implied, and maybe you thought of that too. Instead of retching in the nearest trashcan I walked out of the kitchen and served table 6, and even there in the restaurant I could hear my friend’s voice. She was a tough kid. We shared a cigarette later that night, after she taped up her fingers, after the bleeding stopped and you could see that the cuts were minor, were only small slices.
I don’t know what this has to do with my running in the middle of the night, but sometimes I can’t keep still, and sometimes I can’t settle down, and sometimes I think about where I might be—as a person, I mean, as an event participant—if my hand were in the proverbial garbage disposal. Nothing’s wrong with me. I like the feeling of lukewarm semi-humid night air on my skin.
Outside by the dumpster while stubbing out her cigarette, my friend, always the trooper, said that the next time this, the disposal, were to happen, after I had moved on with my life to the real world of dreams realized, she would send me a postcard and sign it with stub blood, because you can only escape the implied once. After the first time you’re fair game.
I went running with my eyes closed.
Chase Burke has lived in Florida for most of his life. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and has taught English abroad. His short fiction has appeared in Gigantic Sequins, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Literateur, East Jasmine Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and others.