I shot a man with slow blood. “I have slow blood,” he said, as I shot him.
“As opposed to fast blood?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “Something like that.”
I asked him to die faster. I had things to do.
For a while, I paced around the GasMart. I was getting anxious. Apparently, he knew who I was. He said he thought he’d read about me online, that we had mutual friends, or something, also online. I couldn’t remember ever having seen him around.
I lowered the gun. “How long is this going to take?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Could be a while.”
I took him out with some of the cash from the register. We went to a pancake place nearby, which was the only thing open that late in the night. Thankfully, he had slow blood. Blood so slow nobody even took to notice.
“Do you do this often,” he asked, goring a fat tear of pancake with his fork. He winced, pained, with each bite. His large face made me think of photos of the moon.
“Shoot people. Rob people.”
“Not often,” I said, with a pinch of regret. He seemed like an OK guy. A little off, maybe, but well-meaning. He went on to explain how he didn’t have kids. He’d always wanted kids, I guess. Once he’d even looked to adopt—there was this website where you could click on the face of the kid you wanted and in a few months they would just like arrive at your door. He never did. Something about it, the timing maybe, didn’t feel right.
After that, we drove around for a while with the windows down. He said the fresh air might help his slow blood quicken, though I don’t know if it really did a whole lot.
We listened to the radio. There was a DJ he said he liked to listen to sometimes after his shift, something about how her voice was the only thing that could put him to sleep. I told him I also had trouble falling asleep. So many thoughts always pushing around inside my head. Or, not pushing, but just sort of always there, always floating there, like those tiny air bubbles on the inside of a level.
By then, his color was leaving. I could smell his slow blood in the car.
“I’m scared,” he said.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
I dropped him off back at the GasMart. He sat on the curb and held his slow blood in his hands. There was no one around. He thanked me for the food. I told him that it was no problem, that it was the least that I could do, and that he might want to think about calling an emergency number soon. “Sure,” he said, “I’ll think about doing that.”
I drove off. In my rearview, I watched him get smaller, and smaller.
At some point, I looked away.
David Byron Queen grew up in Northeast Ohio. Since graduating with a BA from The New School, he has worked in restaurants, advertising, and on a reality cooking show. He has been named as a finalist for the Ryan R. Gibbs Flash Fiction Award, and the Larry Brown Short Story Award. His work has appeared in VICE, Hobart, The Rumpus, McSweeney’s, Pithead Chapel, NANO Fiction, Monkeybicycle, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Find him on Twitter @byron_queen