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Cemetery Cars

At night, some skell was punching in the windows of the cars parked along the gates of the cemetery and I could hear it from my apartment, more wary of the silence afterwards. I don’t know what he was looking for or what he thought he’d find. But he protected his hand with old beach towels and left them behind, bristling with glass. The kind of cars left there were rusted vaults already. Spraypainted Econolines, an old Fleetwood that was once green, the black fabric of its roof chewed away, a gray Honda with flat tires and rimless wheels with lozenge eyes. Once, on a drunken night I gave up trying to find responsible parking and left my Maxima there. I woke up hours later, troubled by something and heard the thump and shatter of a windshield. Running outside in unlaced sneakers, I saw the open trunk. A hundred yards away a large man with short black hair was slowly riding my daughter’s purple bicycle, his knees splayed outwards, his thick right hand dripping a line of bright blood that didn’t seem to bother him at all. I stood on a square of sidewalk and he circled me once. I know he circled me because I saw the oblong pattern of his blood later, still sticky, the drops growing sparse as he sped off, the training wheels rattled by every concrete crack. I cursed my own cowardice for hours afterwards and drove the car till dawn looking for him. The passenger seat was lined with baby blue beads of broken glass, my face was going numb from the cold air sweeping in at every green light. My nose was running like I had a cold and it was the beginning of summer. Later, when I calmed down, I imagined he brought the bicycle home to his daughter or son, and that something in him snapped into the right place, but a few days afterwards, he was at it again, breaking car windows again. Windows of cars he’d already broken. He didn’t touch the nicer cars on the other side of the street. So, I don’t know. Maybe he was crazy. Maybe he was just specific. By the end of August, the Fleetwood didn’t even have a side pane left. In the back seat, rain fell on a heap of old newspapers that some driver had once collected. When I leaned my head in the open window, careful to avoid scraping my neck skin against the one remaining shard of glass, it smelled like a dirty birdcage.

Matt Marinovich