A STORY by R.B. MINER

THE GOOD SAMARITAN


“It simply can’t be.”

“It is.”

“I’ve heard some of your stories. There’s no way.”

“It feels like it is.”

“The worst thing. Ever? In your whole life?”

“Why is that so hard to believe?”

Tyler was standing, stretching his arms and loosening his body from his night of drunken sleep. He stopped to tap his chin, made like he was thinking. I was still lying on the floor, clutching the spiral bound notebook to my chest. The whole thing felt fragile from use. Without leafing through it I could tell that there were no blank pages.

“I don’t know. Just seems unlikely considering what we do for work. Or for fun, for that matter. I mean, we spent most of last night blackout drunk at a truly disgusting strip club.”

“What’s so bad about that?” I asked.

“Nothing, I guess. Just most people would probably consider it bad.”

“I don’t. This is bad. This is the worst thing I’ve ever done.”

“Okay, I guess. Just saying, if that’s true it seems like you’ve been an angel for your whole life. I mean…” He paused and an embarrassed grin crept onto his face. “I pissed myself last night. That’s pretty bad, isn’t it?”

I covered my face with my hands, leaving the notebook where it lay on my chest. My heavy breaths jostled it, threatened to send it off my chest and onto the floor. My memories of the night before were spotty. An evening of heavy drinking had turned into a raucous morning at a roadside strip joint. By the time we’d left there hadn’t been any taxis. We tried the apps and called local companies but came up with nothing. At four in the morning, we sat on the curb outside the club as it turned off its lights behind us.

“I don’t think pissing your pants measures up to this,” I said.

“Whatever. Point is we were drunk.”

A toilet flushed in another room. Chris walked into the living room with his pants still unbuttoned, one eye closed against the morning sun.

“Fellas,” he said with a smile. “Quite an evening.”

“No kidding. Danny is having a goddamn panic attack.”

Chris opened his other eye and looked down at me, still lamenting my existence on the carpet.

“Sunday scaries or—" He bent over to look closer. When he clocked the notebook, he let out a sharp laugh. “No way! You did not steal that. Holy shit!”

I groaned and rolled onto my stomach, kicking my feet like a toddler. The notebook slid off my body. It fell open on the floor. Tyler laughed.

“I don’t remember taking it,” I said, my words muffled by the carpet.

“Yeah, that tracks,” said Chris, “Still…”

I forced myself onto my feet, stumbling as the blood rushed out of my head. I lumbered to the kitchen and took a beer from the refrigerator door. It was gone in a moment and I cracked another one right after.

“I’ll take one of those,” Chris said.

Tyler waved that he wanted one too. I brought them the beers and sat on the couch. The notebook taunted me from where it lay.

“How did nobody notice last night?” I asked. “That guy is going to lose his fucking mind. I feel like all he did was talk about how he was trying to be a rapper.”

“He really was super proud of that notebook,” Tyler said, “It’s sort of coming back to me.”

It was coming back to me, as well. He had pulled into the strip club parking lot just as we’d lost all hope of getting home before sunrise. We sat on the pavement, our knees bunched into our chests, and squinted as his headlights swept across us. One of us, I don’t remember who, stumbled to his window and asked if he could give us a ride. He took pity on us and said no problem. We piled into the truck, barely coherent, and he was kind. He talked to us and we had a grand old time on the fifteen minute drive back to Chris’s place. Someone commented on his dreadlocks and he laughed. He commented that we must have had a helluva night. He played us some of his music. It was good. When we offered, he refused to take anything as payment for helping us. The Good Samaritan waved goodbye out his window as he drove off.

“Good news is it’s like, after two. If he hasn’t noticed it’s gone by now, maybe he never will. Or maybe he didn’t care in the first place. Or, or! Maybe he forgot where I live somehow.” Chris’s eyes went wide. “Fuck, do you think he remembers where I live?”

Tyler shook his head. “He dropped us at the entrance to the complex. I remember puking near the dumpsters on the way to your building. No way he knows which unit you’re in.”

Gingerly, I picked up the notebook and looked closely at the contents for the first time. My heart beat loud against my ribs.

It was as I’d expected: every page was covered in the Good Samaritan’s handwriting. He had written poems, lyrics probably, across every sheet, front and back. My mind was still too cloudy and slow to know if they were any good. As if that mattered.

Something roiled in my stomach. Beads of sweat took shape on my forehead and I tasted pennies in my mouth.

“I think I need another beer; this hangover is killing me. I may not recover in time for PT tomorrow,” Chris said.

“You can coast through. What’s your platoon got on the training schedule tomorrow?”

“Ethics training.”

“That’s all videos and online shit, isn’t it? Cake.”

Nausea overtook me. I scrambled to my feet and made a break for the powder room toilet.

“I’m gonna be sick!”

 

R. B. Miner is a New York City native, Army veteran, and occupational dilettante. His stories have appeared in Rock and a Hard Place Magazine and Soliloquies Anthology. He lives in Kansas City with his wife, daughter, and dog.