Route 7 Review - Page 118

entry. He spoke: “Hello, I’m dying.” The worker chuckled. “Pretty hungry, huh? Well, what can we get you?” Twilford considered. The thought of a hot pizza, the grease-pooled cheese and tangy sauce, made his stomach growl. His pain had settled into a dreamy numbness. He hadn’t eaten anything today on account of the hangover, and now he was starving. “Cajun Deluxe Meat Lovers. Extra large.” “Delivery or pickup?” “First one.” “Delivery?” “Mm hm.” “Anything to drink?” Something important he had to tell this young man, but he was having trouble remembering. Twilford gathered air best he could and said, “No sausage.” “No sausage on the Cajun Deluxe Meat Lovers. Got it.” The young man’s voice was calm and comforting. Twilford pictured him as handsome and pleasant, with a nice smile. He would have a long, happy life. He would get married and raise good children. “Anything to drink?” “Two-liter . . . Mountain Dew. Why not.” “All right, your total is $22.57. And what’s the address?” The edges of Twilford’s vision blurred. Sunlight filtered through the trees and warmed his skin. “Pull over at the third mailbox on Haverty Road. Don’t make any noise . . .” He coughed and felt blood in his mouth. “ . . . The Nicholls have a German shepherd with a nasty temper . . .” “Sir, our driver can’t trespass on – ” “Walk until you get to the barbed wire fence. Go thirty paces south. There’s a break in the fence. Crawl over it. Half a mile to the big oak tree – it’s got a big knot near the base...” “Sir, I don’t think – ” “What’s your name?” “My name is Carl, but – ” “Carl, this is important. Find me, OK? I need this. Go past the tree and due west. Hit the mossy stump, you’ve gone too far.” “I need an actual street number or we can’t deliver.” Daylight was fading. Was it dusk already? Twilford felt sleepy. His mouth was filling with something, maybe saliva. He tried to swallow but couldn’t. A dark ring had encircled the sun, closing in with each passing second. His hunger flared like an ember in a gust, reminding him that he was, at least for this moment, still alive, still Twilford Baines, buck hunter. “Now you wrote that I don’t want sausage, right?” Darrin Doyle is the author of a story collection (The Dark Will End the Dark) and two novels (The Girl Who Ate Kalamazoo; Revenge of the Teacher’s Pet: A Love Story). His fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines, most recently Passages North, Word Riot, Superstition Review, and BULL.