Fall of the Risen – Week 6 – Clark
“Clear away as much as you can,” I said while all three of my newcomers leaned into the truck’s engine bay and scraped zombie guts with gloved hands.
“This is nasty,” Romanda said. “All new people gotta do this?”
“Everyone, new or old, does their share of work. Maybe not this job exactly, no, but whatever needs doing. And right now, this needs doing.”
I sat down behind Dawn’s desk and put my feet up. I was tempted to crack one of her beers, but that was something that a man who valued life wouldn’t do.
“Uh-uh!” boomed Dawn’s recognizable voice.
I stood instantly, hoping she hadn’t seen my feet on her desk.
“You three are new, right?” Dawn asked.
They turned slowly and nodded. They looked too afraid to do anything else.
“Lesson one, don’t let people like Clark fool you into doing his dirty work. Everyone has to do their share around here, but a job like this is someone’s punishment. Get on out of here now, and get familiar with the town. Go on.”
They left the garage in hesitant steps looking from Dawn to me and back to Dawn again. I had to watch them go. I couldn’t argue, and I couldn’t talk my way out; not with Dawn still standing there.
After they wandered off, I sulked and dragged my feet over to the truck.
“You know I’m supposed to be keeping an eye on those three, don’t you?”
“Bah. Little time on their own won’t hurt them. They made it this far.”
“You know, if anyone else treated me like you do, I’d probably punch them in the face.”
“Try it, fat boy.”
I chuckled. She knew even if I was willing to hit a woman, I wouldn’t try. I didn’t know if she could kick my ass, but gut feeling told me not to try.
To my surprise, she laughed too.
“You want a beer?”
A laugh and a beer? How pitiful did I look?
She sat and talked with me while I worked. We exchanged gossip, aired grievances with people around the camp, and of course, spoke reverently about those we had lost.
Nothing new for us. We each knew each others’ stories, but never seemed to tire hearing them. Or telling them. Seemed the closest thing to therapy in a world gone to hell.
Time slipped away. I cleaned guts from the surface, she’d remove a part and hand it to me to clean the guts from the inside. The more cleaning we accomplished, the more beer disappeared.
My head swam. It had been a while since I had sat around drinking. My tolerance was pathetic.
Dawn had begun putting the engine back together with the pieces that were clean. She pulled parts under the hood with her like a person putting together the last pieces of a puzzle.
I watched her grab a funnel and pour motor oil into the engine. The bottle she poured from was big, the stream I could see dropping into the engine was tiny.
I stared at nothing for some time. Long enough that I wasn’t shaken from my daze until Dawn finished her rebuild and started the engine.
She whooped. “Some days I even surprise myself. Wasn’t sure she’d ever run again.”
She ran over to me and threw her arms around my neck. She stepped back and smiled.
“You’re lucky,” she said, jabbing a finger into my belly.
“Never doubted you.”
We stood facing each other. I was locked in her eyes having no clue if she was doing the same or not really caring. That was mostly the beer. Any other day and I would have run from something that sentimental.
After some time I took a small step forward. She did the same. I had no idea what to do next.
“It’s late. I should go. Right?”
“Yeah. We should both go.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” I asked. I should have said it differently. I didn’t know how without blurting, ‘you want me to stay?’ Maybe I should have said that.
“See you tomorrow.”
She rubbed a bit a grease away from my face with a thumb and then walked out of the large bay door.
My eyes were drawn back to the funnel. It was speaking to me. I grabbed it and ran across the settlement to Jack’s house. He had a house with a big garage and had been collecting every tool he could find.
Jack was working at a piece of wood with a block plane. It looked like a simple box, though he usually had a higher purpose for simple things.
“Where are the new people?”
“New people? Oh, right. They’re fine.” I waved a hand dismissively and used the other to raise the funnel. “Look.”
“What do you see?”
“I see a drunk guy holding a funnel.”
“Excellent. Can you build one? A bigger one?”
I smiled and motioned in the general direction of the only entrance and exit to the camp.
“Big enough to go across an overpass.”