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Authors: Jacques Antoine

Tags: #dale roberts, #jeanette raleigh, #russell blake, #traci tyne hilton, #brandon hale, #c a newsome, #j r c salter, #john daulton, #saxon andrew, #stephen arseneault

End of the Road

BOOK: End of the Road
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The End of the
Road

An Anthology of
Stories

Edited by Jacques Antoine, James Rozoff and
Robert Thomas

The End of the
Road
,
© 2013
Jacques Antoine.

Edited by Jacques Antoine,
James Rozoff, and Robert Thomas.

Cover and Graphics by Suzie
O'Connell.

 

All stories and introductory
material used by permission of authors of each story. All rights
are otherwise reserved.

 

Publisher’s Note: This book
is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed are
fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is
purely coincidental.

 

All rights reserved. No
part of the book may be reproduced in any form or by any means
without the prior written consent of the Authors or Publisher,
excepting brief quotes to be used in reviews.

Smashwords Edition

 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1:
The Kiss at the End of the Road
, by Brandon Hale

Chapter 2:
A Touch of Cold
, by Robert
Thomas

Chapter 3:
Clay
, by
Russell Blake

Chapter 4:
Waiting In Line
, by James
Rozoff

Chapter 5:
Traveling Companions
, by
Anna J. McIntyre

Chapter 6:
Nowheresville
, by Donna B.
McNicol

Chapter 7:
One More Mile
, by
Dale Roberts

Chapter 8:
The Zombie Pestilence
, by
Randall Morris

Chapter 9:
The Last Hours of Brandon Kratz
, by
James Rozoff

Chapter 10:
The Savior
, by Alison
Blake

Chapter 11:
Death of the Senator
, by
Stephen Arseneault

Chapter 12:
The Long Road Home
,
by
Jeanette Raleigh

Chapter 13:
Joint Venture
, by L. S.
Burton

Chapter 14:
Sherdan’s Road
, by Jess
Mountifield

Chapter 15:
Living Ink
, by
Shirley Bourget

Chapter 16:
Anywhere
, by C.A.
Newsome

Chapter 17:
Natural Selection
, by J R C
Salter

Chapter 18:
Because I Love You
, by
Michael Meyer

Chapter 19:
Holmgang
, by
E.B. Boggs

Chapter 20:
Young Chef’s Regret
, by
David A. Cuban

Chapter 21:
The Sinkhole
, by Scott
Langrel

Chapter 22:
Sans Cinderella
, by Traci
Tyne Hilton

Chapter 23:
Hilda’s Song
, by John
Daulton

Chapter 24:
Sinners in Church
,
by
Kathleen Steed

Chapter 25:
Once We Were Children
,
by
Chris Ward

Chapter 26:
The High Road to the Mountain
Gods
, by Jacques
Antoine

Chapter 27:
The Frozen Truth
, by
Shirley Bourget

Chapter 28:
The End of the Road
, by
Saxon Andrew

Chapter 29:
Stalked
, by Sherrie
Giddens

Chapter 30:
Home Now
, by Suzie
O’Connell

Chapter 31:
The Velociraptor at the End of the
Road
, by Vel R.

Chapter 32:
Downfall #1
, by Thomas
Jenner and Angeline Perkins

 

Chapter 1

The Kiss at the End of the Road

By Brandon Hale

I sat at the bar, moving the shot glass in
small circles, watching the alcohol swish around the glass. “She
could kiss,” I said quietly. “Damn, that woman could kiss.”


I bet,” the bartender
said.


No tongues,” I went on as
I gazed absently at the glass. “It was just a soft, slow pressing
of the lips. After ten years of marriage, her kisses still made me
feel like I was a teenager. They just felt… hell, I dunno…
powerful
.”


Sounds like she was an
amazing woman,” the bartender said. He was an older man, probably
about fifty
or so, totally bald
with a neatly trimmed gray mustache and
goatee.


She was,” I said quietly.
“I don’t know why the hell I’m telling you this. It’s not like you
have any idea who I am.” I looked around the bar. A few people sat
in one corner. Other than that, the place was empty. “I didn’t even
know this place was here until I saw the sign tonight.”


You’re always welcome
here,” the bartender said. “Sometimes it’s better to talk about
this stuff to strangers, you know?”


I guess,” I said. After a
few seconds of silence, I started babbling again. “You know what’s
weird? She always swore she’d kissed me before.”


Not sure I follow,” the
bartender said.


Our first kiss was at the
end of our third date,” I explained. “I still can’t believe it was
twelve years ago. Anyway, at the end of that date, I leaned over
and kissed her. When I pulled back, she had this
odd
look on her
face.”


Odd?”


Yeah,” I said. “It’s hard
to describe. She looked surprised, I guess. Her eyes were all wild.
Of course I panicked and thought I’d overstepped my bounds. I told
her I was sorry and braced myself for a ‘let’s be friends’
speech.”


Since you wound up
married,” the bartender said, “I’m assuming that speech never
came.”


Right,” I said. “She just
looked at me for a few seconds, then said, ‘I’ve kissed you
before.’”


But you said it was your
first kiss.”

I nodded. “It was. We’d
never kissed before that night. Ever. But she
swore
we had. She was absolutely
positive she’d kissed me before. Over the years, it kind of became
a joke with us. We always said it was proof of reincarnation and
proof that we were together in a past life. We claimed it was proof
that we really were soul mates, in this life and the
next.”


It’s a nice thought,” the
bartender said.

I sighed. “Yeah. It is.”

I finished my drink in silence and he poured
me another.


When did she pass away?”
he finally asked.

The question was a dagger in my heart. Up to
then, nobody had asked me that question. I’d spent the past month
with family and they obviously knew when she died. I wanted to
punch him in the face for asking. I wanted to climb over that bar
and beat the living shit out of him.

I took a steadying breath and said, “A month
ago, but really, she was already gone. She was unconscious for the
last two months of her life.”


Damn,” he said, shaking
his head.


Yeah,” I said. “You’d
think knowing it’s coming prepares you, but it doesn’t. Not
really.”


Cancer?”


You know what I regret
most?” I said.

Respecting that I ignored his question, he
said, “I couldn’t even venture a guess on that one.”


I regret that I didn’t
kiss her before she lost consciousness the final time. I know it’s
selfish as hell to say this, but I feel like I was cheated out of
that final kiss. I really thought she’d wake up again, but she
didn’t. I know it was best for her. When she was awake, she was in
pain, so it’s good that she passed on in her sleep… but if I’m
being totally honest here, I wanted her to wake up. At least for a
few seconds. I was ready. She was going to wake up to a kiss from
her husband.” I downed the rest of my drink. “But her eyes never
opened again.”


It’s not selfish to want
that,” the bartender said. After a pause, he added, “Okay, maybe
it’s a little selfish, but it’s also human.”


Every night since she
died,” I said, “I’ve thought about kissing her.” I could hear my
own voice breaking, but I didn’t really care. I’d never been to
this bar before. I didn’t care what this man thought of me. “It’s
the weirdest thing. I mean, we didn’t kiss all that much. We’d been
married for ten years. Most of our time was spent just enjoying
each other on a level much deeper than a kiss. We did everything
together. Everything.” I wiped the tears from my cheeks. “Yet all I
can think about is how much I wanna kiss her. I know it sounds
crazy, but I feel like I could move on from this if I could just
kiss her one last time.”


It doesn’t sound crazy at
all, Jack,” the bartender said.


How do you know my name?”
I asked.

He smiled. “You told me. A couple times,
actually.”


Damn,” I said. “I’m
drunker than I thought.”


Speaking of,” he said as
he took my empty glass, “I think you’ve had enough. Besides, it’s
an hour past closing time.”

I looked around at the bar. The people in
the corner were gone. The place was empty. “Sorry,” I said. “You
should have run me off an hour ago.”


Nah,” he said. “I’m here
to help. Matter of fact, let me lock up and give you a ride home.
You’re too drunk to be driving.”


I walked here,” I said.
“Our apartment’s just about a mile away. That’s why I was so
surprised I’d never noticed this place before.”


Meh,” he said with a
shrug, “we’re new to town and tucked away pretty good here. You’d
be amazed at the amount of people who don’t notice us.” He pulled a
jacket from beneath the bar. “Jack, I insist you let me give you a
ride. A mile is a long way for a drunk man to walk.”


Becca would have a fit if
she found out I let a stranger give me a ride home,” I
said.

Becca’s dead.

The thought came like a punch in the face
and I wanted to die for thinking it.

Becca’s dead.


Becca would want you to
get home safely,” the bartender said. “I didn’t know her, but I’m
pretty damn sure I’m right on this.”


Yeah,” was all I could
manage to say.


If you don’t let me drive
you home,” he said, “I’ll just follow you with my car.”

I chuckled despite the crippling pain in my
heart. “You really go the extra mile for customer service.”


Repeat business and all
that,” he said.

His small pickup truck was parked in the
alley behind the bar. I staggered to the passenger side and climbed
inside. He immediately cranked it up and started driving.


Don’t you want to know
where I live?” I asked.


You told me in the bar,”
he said. “You really can’t handle your liquor, Jack.”


Cut me some slack,” I
said. “I don’t normally drink.”

At the first intersection, he went left.


My place is the other
way,” I said. If I’d been sober, his wrong turn would have probably
made me nervous, but I was really too drunk to care one way or the
other. Besides, in those days I didn’t much care about my own
well-being.

BOOK: End of the Road
13.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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