The Bridge at Restitution

By on Nov 16, 2020 in Fiction

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Covered bridge with dark smudges   

Pugs was slowly catching on. He snuck up and settled in behind us. 

“I want him to look me in the eye. That’s all I want.”

Jip spat on the dirt. I put my hand on his shoulder.

“He just called you a name.”

No reaction. Jip turned and looked straight at Pug, looked him right in the eye.

“You shouldn’t have come. You’re in way over your head.”  

“Come on, Jip!” I shouted, hoping to break the chain tightening around us. 

Jip backed up. He looked at me and Pugs. I will never forget how his eyes looked. If you see it only one time in your life, you will never forget it.

“What do you know about anything, kid? How can you?” 

I saw Jip’s hand rubbing the gun handle like it was an obedient dog. Then we all turned and stared downward at the Black River, winding far below the bottom of the bridge.

Somewhere in the hills, we noticed a far-off light and could faintly hear tires out somewhere on a gravel road. It occurred to me that we’d become too comfortable too quick. Our love for the boy had been too automatic. 

Jip moved up again and leaned against me one more time.  

“Do you like me now, kid?”

He then turned to Pugs.

“Remember, you’re just like me, Puggy-boy. We don’t have a chance. Don’t ever forget it. You should have stayed home. You didn’t need to know this.”  

Pugs was literally shaking in his mother’s coat.

“Oh my, you’re going to smudge your make-up,” Jip told Pugs sarcastically.

For a second, it worked.  We all smiled… but the prey, we knew the prey was just around the corner. It was the prey that was breaking my heart and hardening Jip’s. That’s the difference. 

“Come on, Jipster!” I said lightheartedly.

Jip inhaled and sighed. He spoke slowly.

“I know what they say is true. I do. It’s just that I’m too dumb to do anything about it. I’m glad I won’t have to try anymore. My old man is right. They all are.”

“No, Jip!” I shot back, “You got good in you, man.”

“No, you do,” Jip muttered to himself.

Pugs suddenly stood. Me and Jip turned. We watched as Pugs brushed dirt off his pants, then turned his back on us and began making his way down the hill toward the bridge. He slid on his butt the last few feet.

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Joe Ducato is retired from the Human Service and IT fields and currently work part-time in a school system. He has been writing for many years, and his publishing credits include; North Dakota Quarterly, Floyd County Moonshine, Lost Lake Folk Opera, and Strata Magazine, among others.