Contact By Alan Wor

September 22, 2014 Comments Off on Contact By Alan Wor

The boy expected something metallic sounding. Instead, the cars made a folding kind of sigh as they collided, the other car’s door collapsing inward as he rammed it. Maybe it had been muffled by the windows, or maybe it had been drowned out by the sound of his own blood pumping through his ears, like water through crumbling dams. Either way, he expected a screech, a grinding metal scream, and a hard tinkling of broken glass against asphalt. But none of this. It was more like the collapse of a noise, an explosion wrapped in foam. Through the windshield, he sees the woman who was driving the other car. She is as pale as star light and as still as a mannequin, clutching the wheel as if hanging by it.

Then he hears the sirens again.


“Why did you run?” the detective asks.

The boy says nothing for a while, scratching softly at the metal table with his nail. The room is perfectly square, and he finds this disturbing. Two fluorescent strips hang from the ceiling over a square metal table and chairs with rounded edges. The one way mirror behind him and the very dull green walls give the place an almost comically intimidating air. Obvious.

“Did these rooms really look like this before movies?”

The detective sighs. “Kid, I’m trying to help you. Tell me it was an accident, and that you were frightened and you panicked.”

To the boy, panic was not a reason for something. It was a natural state of being. He observed this in all people, not just in himself.

“I did it on purpose. I wasn’t afraid, but afterwards I was.”

The detective presses his hand to his face, and then pinches the bridge of his nose. “You hit that lady on purpose?”



Now it was the boy’s turn to sigh. “Maybe my dad liked to see how many ribs he could snap before I gave up on screaming. Maybe my mom put out cigarettes on the back of my neck. Maybe they didn’t. Maybe they were just into drugs, and I got into them too, to cope. Maybe not. Maybe I don’t have parents, the way some people don’t have wisdom teeth. Maybe I was bullied in school, because I was poor, and that seemed important to me. Maybe no one was there for me, and the world seemed hard, as hard as a fist, and as wide open and empty as the inside of my head. And maybe it just seemed like everyone was too far apart and that no one ever had to touch. Or when they did, it was in the wrong ways, and in dark rooms. Do you know what I mean?”

“How much of that is true?”

“Does it matter? When two people do touch, it makes a sound like something collapsing.”


© 2014 Ryan Row


Ryan Row writes under the name Alan Wor. His fiction and poetry have been previously published in The Kokanee, Tahoe Blues, Writings on the Wall, and Not About Religion. He was also the runner-up for The Kokanee Student Prize. He lives in South Lake Tahoe, California.

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