(This is the second installment in the series entitled 'The Spontaneous Gospel', short pieces I have challenged myself to write in an hour or less.)
It’s nighttime on a desolate highway stretching across a deserted place. There is a little gas station lit up and the flies buzz in the heat of the arc lights. We’re having a party of sorts, a few guys in greasy pants and tee shirts standing around flicking beer bottle caps into the desert looking at old car magazines. We’ve been here for hours, the radio on, crackling.
A large station wagon roars to a stop by the pumps, thick black smoke billowing out of the windows. The inside of the car is wildly bright with burning light. A figure, a man who is completely on fire, beckons to us with his arm. I approach the car, which isn’t running any more.
“Can you help me?” the burning man says. “It’s a little awkward for me to pump my own gas. Can you fill up the tank for me?” He is calm, his scalp sizzling. There are other burning people in the car, speaking quietly.
“I’ll tip you good,” he says.
My friends have disappeared into the desert. The radio is playing Deep Purple’s My Girl from Tokyo.
“Regular or high test?” I hear myself saying, the rag in my back pocket beginning to smolder.