Short As Fictober #29: “Injured”

High noon sunlight glares through the windshield of sky blue 1972 Chevy Chevelle. Behind the wheel, veteran stuntman, Terry Boggs, adjusts his hands for perfect placement on the steering wheel and shifter. A ramp stares him down on the far end of the runway, taunting him, trying to convince him that what he’s about to attempt will fail. His radio crackles to life.

“We’re rolling. Five seconds, Boggs. Stand by.”

He fires a stick of gum in his mouth, and chews down the seconds. On his fifth chomp, he hears the director, Graham Ramis, holler ACTION.

Boggs mashes the accelerator, and the Chevelle howls in response. Its tires paw at the tarmac for a breath or two, then catch, and then Boggs and his car are careening down the runway. The venerable stuntman swerves left toward the first fire rig, then cuts the wheel away as a spume of fire ignites just outside his window. He feels the left side of his face burn, but there’s no time to worry about that now. He tacks toward the right, then once again cuts the wheel, dodging another pillar of flame. Twice more. Boggs navigates the fire obstacles before coming to the ramp.

The big bastard’s wreathed in flame, welcoming Boggs and the Chevelle toward doom. Boggs checks his speed when he hits the bottom of the ramp, and the needles hovering just enough above the danger zone. At the top of the ramp the Chevelle takes flight, soaring over a chasm of auto wrecks. On the other side, the Chevelle’s rear tires clip the top of the receiving ramp, and send the muscle car rolling. 

It’s not the first time Boggs has rolled a car, and probably won’t be the last time either, but that doesn’t mean he’s gotten used to what it feels like to have the world go haywire. His shoulder crunches against the car’s frame, and he feels something give. Before he can holler, he catches the steering wheel in the center of his forehead.

Eventually momentum gives out, and the car comes to a stop. There’s a dripping sound, a whiff, and then the Chevelle’s bathed in fire. The intense heat undizzies the stuntman’s head, and he tries to unstrap his harness. When his effort fails–and nine times out of ten any effort to try unlatch a harness when trapped inside a burning car–Boggs pops his knife and saws through the straps. When he’s free, Boggs crawls through the window away from wreck. Already emergency crews are barreling toward him, but they needn’t worry. He can feel his shoulder mending itself, the dent in his forehead popping back out, and burns covering his legs dissipating. Boggs knows he’ll hurt the rest of the week, but at least he won’t be injured, and he’ll be back on set tomorrow.

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