Getting Gas in Barstow, California
by Justin W. Price

There’s a full service gas station
just east of Barstow, California. I’m taking
my brand new Dodge Charger for a trip
to Las Vegas. It still bears temporary tags.
It’s blood, blood red
with a white racing stripe running all along it.

I pull in and see the gas station attendant.
He’s a baked loaf of bread, cooked
well past the point of pleasant crunchiness.
He’s wearing blue coveralls and a salty beard.
He approaches my car.

His cratered lips speak
in a sandpaper voice. Fill ‘er up?

Twenty. I pull out a crisp
bill. His curled black fingers take it,
crumble it, into his shirt pocket. He smiles
Nice car, he says.
His oily brown skin dirties my hood
when he leans against it. He squints
and puts a cracked,
oil stained boot
on the curb and inserts the nozzle
into my gas tank.

His musty hair stumbles
in the dry Mojave wind. There’s a thin
tan line on his left ring finger. His eyes
are dried out red caverns. He spits brown
and sticky chew, sucking some of it
back in. It smells like gasoline
and menthol cigarettes.

Where ya headed?

He nods sadly and, as I drive away,
he waves.

* * * * *

Justin W. Price is a freelance writer, editor, ghost writer and student based out of Portland, Oregon. He lives with his wife, Andrea, their two dogs and a menagerie of books and classic films. He was the poetry and correspondence editor for the Bellwether Review‘s Spring 2012 issue and is now the managing editor for eFiction Horror Magazine.

He recently released a poetry collection, Digging to China, for Amazon Kindle and writes on 
Hubpages and maintains a blog.

His work has been featured in efiction Magazine, The Hellroaring Review, Rusty Nail and the Bellwether Review.