Michael Putnam ~ Sharing Space

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Since the blind­fold out­side of Maude’s Crab Castle, every­thing had been dark­ness and pain. In the park­ing lot, a brusque hand forced him into a trunk fol­lowed short­ly by the sound of a car door closing.

The pain came from the zip tie around his wrists, along with the driver’s lack of con­cern with pre­serv­ing the sus­pen­sion of the car. Was sus­pen­sion right? In terms of dri­ving over uneven ter­rain? Was the word chas­sis involved? And then there were shocks, the lit­tle plas­tic accor­dion things. What did the work­ings of a car mat­ter to him, though? Every men­tal tan­gent end­ed just as sud­den­ly as it start­ed, and there he was back in the trunk, being banged against the lid.

Every bump sent some­thing else to remind him of his plight. Sometimes he got lucky when the car sent him air­borne and he land­ed on top of some­thing hard or dull instead of being smacked with it. Mostly it was the shov­els (to him, two shov­els clear­ly denot­ed two men involved in his kid­nap­ping), play­ing a game of which one made con­tact with his head or his knee. The own­er of the car had shoes in the trunk too, run­ning shoes he deter­mined after rolling over to push the shov­els away. Those felt clean, smelled clean too, like the shov­els.  The laces were stiff in his mouth, the plas­tic tips free from fray. But he wasn’t con­cerned with run­ning shoes.

He wasn’t con­cerned with the pun­gent mix­ture of solids and liq­uids expelled from his body he was rolling around in either. What con­cerned him was his fate once the car came to a stop. He went back and forth on whether death by the hands of these men or find­ing a way to do it him­self in the con­fines of this trunk was the prefer­able option. Say he decid­ed to let the car reach its des­ti­na­tion: should he hope for an exe­cu­tion-style bul­let to the brain, or was dig­ging his own grave a sit­u­a­tion in which he could plead for his life? No, he couldn’t shake the notion that dying there in the trunk would be less trau­mat­ic than what­ev­er wait­ed at the end of that car ride.

Now, if he man­aged to suf­fo­cate before reach­ing their des­ti­na­tion, the plan once the car was parked mat­tered lit­tle. There was the issue of actu­al­ly suf­fo­cat­ing him­self though. His assump­tion was the hold­ing of breath led to a loss con­scious­ness, then death, but the body prob­a­bly start­ed breath­ing again, right? Hell, the body prob­a­bly knocked itself out before much dam­age was done just to start breath­ing again, instinct rebelling against the clear­ly irra­tional idea of cut­ting off one’s own oxy­gen sup­ply. Hadn’t he tried that with his friends when he was younger? Wasn’t the result sim­ply wak­ing up a lit­tle while lat­er with a headache?

A roll of toi­let paper found its way to his face. Until it dis­ap­peared again, he con­sid­ered how to wrap it around his mouth and nose using only his fore­head and his lips, maneu­ver­ing his neck in cir­cles. Probably for the best it dis­ap­peared back into the trunk, the plan proved con­vo­lut­ed. Then a drill rolled his way again. Wouldn’t forc­ing a drill into one’s tem­ple result in being killed instant­ly? Most drill bits were only a few inch­es long. Were they even that long? The drill was bat­tery-pow­ered, he knew that from the first time it bounced his way. Assuming he had the where­with­al to go through with sui­cide, dri­ving his head direct­ly into the drill bit was pre­sum­ably less com­pli­cat­ed than try­ing to turn the drill on and do it that way.

So how to get the drill in place. Then, how to find the men­tal for­ti­tude and kine­sis required to dri­ve it into his skull. It need­ed to work on the first try or not at all. But he wasn’t con­vinced his first attempt would pro­duce favor­able results. In fact, the bit would prob­a­bly go in a lit­tle then there’d be no way to dri­ve it in any fur­ther. A direct hit to the tem­ple sound­ed painful, whether it broke the skin or not. How would his abduc­tors react if they found him rolling around in a trunk full of vom­it and urine and prob­a­bly a lot of blood? All of that mix­ing with their per­son­al belong­ings? Wait, fuck them.

He either had to kill him­self or do noth­ing at all. There was no mid­dle ground when zip-tied and blind­fold­ed in a trunk. It was the drill or noth­ing, and he need­ed to find a way to get it fixed in one place. Then he would be able to – and, there it went, back into the ether with the ten­nis shoes and the toi­let paper. Waiting it out and dis­cov­er­ing his fate on the oth­er end of the ride sud­den­ly didn’t sound so bad. They must be get­ting close. And what­ev­er rea­son for the abduc­tion, the men in the front of the car might be rea­soned with to some degree. Assuming they spoke English. Would they be more or less intim­i­dat­ing if he under­stood what they were say­ing to him after reach­ing their destination?

Maybe he had some­thing they want­ed. Doubtful, but not impos­si­ble. Maybe he was the wrong guy and they’d let him go with sin­cere apolo­gies. Or he was the right guy, but they let him go upon dis­cov­er­ing a pathet­ic shell of a man cov­ered in a vari­ety of his own flu­ids. He assumed they were dri­ving into the woods, the town was sur­round­ed by for­est. If they buried him, or he dug his own grave, it wouldn’t be near the road. So they need­ed to walk. Maybe that was what the ten­nis shoes were for, because they would be walk­ing for a long while. That would be when he would plead with his fel­low man to choose anoth­er night to take a life. Or if it absolute­ly had to be that night, why his life? Not to con­demn some­one else to his fate, or any­thing. But hon­est­ly, there were oth­er peo­ple, not just mem­bers of his own fam­i­ly, who con­sid­ered him valu­able. Couldn’t he be valu­able to the man or men in the front seat?

What if some world exist­ed where peo­ple kid­napped each oth­er as a game, and he had some­how entered that world? The car would park and they’d let him out and there would be one of those portable, pres­sur­ized show­ers wait­ing. He could clean him­self up, there would be a change of clothes, some­thing nice, and then he would fol­low a path of paper lanterns deep into the woods. There, inside a large can­vas tent would be all his friends, every­one he’d ever known, his par­ents and his sis­ters, lit­tle league team­mates, even anony­mous women he had passed on the sub­way and found espe­cial­ly beau­ti­ful. And they would all be there just for him, say­ing things like, “Good job, we’ve been watch­ing the whole time. You did exact­ly what any of us would have done in your sit­u­a­tion.” And, “All of these beau­ti­ful women from the train find you excep­tion­al­ly brave and attrac­tive.” Even the men who abduct­ed him would approach the head table some­time lat­er that evening and say he was by far their favorite kid­nap­ping. No contest.


Michael Putnam is a fic­tion writer cur­rent­ly pur­su­ing an MFA from Georgia State University. He has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Cleveland State University and a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing and Comparative Religion from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Before his accep­tance to GSU, Michael had spent his entire life in the Midwest, and still feels the pull of Interstate 70. His sto­ries can be found in The Bookends Review, Flyover Country Review, and Fiction 365.