Nothing Good Ever Happens at Dusk
by Paul Beckman
I got mugged at dusk once in a bar on the outskirts of Kennebunkport, where the pool shooters and drinkers ignored the noise coming from the men’s room, even though I’d been thrown against the wood door a half dozen times. When I finally came out, no one looked at me and I wanted and needed a drink but had no money left, since the muggers had even taken all my change. I asked the beer tender to stand me a shot and a short one and he looked at me with his sleepy eyes and turned to wash glasses.
Another time I was driving south on I-95, heading for a job in Florida and a cop sirened me over in South Carolina for going thirty four in a thirty mile zone. He made me pay the forty dollar fine right on the spot. He told me that he catches most of his speeders at dusk. I never said a word—I paid him and drove off, vowing to park my car somewhere every day and wait dusk out.
It was dusk when I got home from work, and since I work the graveyard shift, I was more late than usual and my wife of three weeks, who I’d only known for four, was packing her belongings in her Hello Kitty suitcase. “Where you off to?” I asked and she said “Anywhere you’re not.” So I don’t know if we’re still married or not because I was once told there was a 30 day grace period and we didn’t make that.
A sadness comes over me at dusk and always has but I look at it as an allergy and try to stay indoors where it can’t get at me. On the road I head for a bar and at home I leave all the shades down. As a kid, I got my beatings at dusk when my father got home from his construction jobs and my mother would list my failings for the day.
I got engaged last year to a woman I met at an Oyster festival in Maine and everything was salad days with us. I had a steady job in a lumberyard and she was the day dispatcher for the police and fire departments. It didn’t seem necessary to mention my three week marriage and I didn’t ask her about her life before me. Every night one of us would cook and we’d sit and talk then smoke and have some beers and I’d listen while she went over wedding plans. Her dream was to get married outdoors overlooking the town lake at dusk when the colors in the water rippled with change and she felt so peaceful.
I explained to her about my allergy and she explained to me that I’d just have to suck it up this one time if I loved her and while I did love her, I knew I couldn’t suck it up so she said, “You’re spoiling my life-long dream.” I never know what to say to a crying woman so I tossed my gear in my duffel and drove off, just as the sun was beginning to set.
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Paul Beckman was one of the winners in the Queen’s Ferry 2016 Best of the Small Fictions. His 200+ stories are widely published in print and online in the following magazines amongst others: Connecticut Review, Raleigh Review, Litro, Playboy, Pank, Blue Fifth Review, Flash Frontier, Matter Press, Metazen, Boston Literary Magazine, Thrice Fiction and Literary Orphans. His latest collection, Peek weighed in at 65 stories and 120 pages. His website www.paulbeckmanstories.com