“Hurry up. I don’t have all night.”
Jacob pushed Aaron up the weak iron stairs. They creaked with each step. Above them was the old train bridge. Built around the turn of the century, it was decommissioned and turned into a walking bridge over the Ohio River. The tracks leading off the ends were gone and replaced on each side by a spiral ramp leading up to the top. But budget cuts had closed the ramps down after a couple was stabbed there and the city wouldn’t pay for police monitoring. Jacob and Aaron were climbing up the old service stairs under the bridge close to the river. There was a small gate and lock but they were easy to break.
Jacob kept pushing Aaron up the stairs until they reached the top. At the top of the stairs Aaron turned around and looked at Jacob below him. Jacob pointed a small pistol back up at him.
“Don’t even fucking think about it. Go.”
It was dark atop the bridge. About as dark as it would get on the wrong side of midnight. They stepped over the rotting sleepers along the track towards the center of the bridge. Aaron slipped as some of the rotted wood started to give way under his heavy feet. Jacob pushed him along with the muzzle of the pistol. There was a quiet wind that blew clouds over them and Jacob could feel the weight of the knife pushing against his leg in his pocket. The Ohio River swam black underneath.
“Come on, man. What is this all about?” Aaron said without looking back.
“Shut up. You know what this is about.”
After a minute of walking Aaron turned his head over his shoulder, “I didn’t do it, man.”
“I thought you didn’t know what this was all about? Shut the fuck up and keep fucking walking.”
They reached the center of the bridge and Aaron stopped and turned to look upriver north towards Pittsburgh. Jacob kept the pistol pointed steadily at Aaron standing alone between to sleepers. The bridge swayed some in the breeze and the ancient iron moaned in its slumber. Aaron kicked a small pebble off and into the river below.
“I didn’t do—”
“If you say you didn’t do it one more fucking time, you rotten piece of shit.”
“Well then what do you want me to say, Jacob?”
“What do I want you to say? How about, ‘Yeah, I did it, Jacob.’ or ‘I’m sorry’? How about getting on your pathetic fucking knees and begging me not to slit your throat and toss your body in the river?”
“Oh, fuck you, you fucking asshole. I don’t deserve this.”
“You don’t deserve this? You fucking shit, Jackson is dead! He died, right here, three years ago. Because of you.”
“Didn’t know that did you? I know because I was there. And where the fuck were you?”
“You were home. Drunk and high. Wasted off your ass and fucking doped out on that fucking junk.”
“Your pathetic junkie ass couldn’t get itself up and go out and bring the boat to the bridge could it? You were too fucking doped up weren’t you, dumb-fuck?”
“Shut up, I said.”
“You don’t like that? You don’t like getting called out on your shit? It wasn’t the heroin that made you a pathetic loser, you’ve always been that way haven’t you?”
“Shut the fuck up! You won’t even bother to say my name!”
“Because you talked to the fucking cops, Aaron! Because you fucking betrayed us! You betrayed me! You fucking stabbed me in the back when I needed you the most and now, now Jackson is dead and Seth died in jail last week. So now it’s just you and me.”
“What are you going to do?” Aaron turned away from Jacob and looked out over the river.
“I’m going to make you feel it.”
“The rusty blade. The knife in between your shoulders from someone who you thought was your friend. You were my friend, Aaron. And you stabbed me in the back, for what? A twenty-dollar hit? Was it worth it?”
“Look man, you may not believe me, but I didn’t do it. I didn’t rat you out. But I’ll help you figure out who did.”
Jacob laughed, “Never once could I believe a word you’ve said. All you do is lie. And here you are, lying again to try and get out of this. Just admit it. Just fucking admit it.”
Aaron was quiet now. He looked down towards the river and out to the north again. The wind blew the skies clear and the stars had begun to shine out. The rust of the bridge crackled and sparked all around them. Jacob put the pistol away and put his hand on the knife in his pocket. Another gust of wind made the bridge creak as it shifted on its piers. Aaron kicked some rotten wood from a sleeper beneath his feet. Jacob slipped on a pair of black gloves from his left pocket. Aaron looked down then out towards the water.
“Does all water flow to the sea?”
Jacob opened the knife, “That’s what they say.”
Aaron turned his head some when he heard the blade, and then turned back, “Well, that’s something, I guess.”
Jacob swung his left arm around Aaron’s neck and pulled him back into the waiting blade. Aaron shot out one last breath as the blade pierced his lungs. Jacob twisted the knife and stepped back and pushed the body forward and breaking through the rusted iron railing it fell into the black water down below the bridge.
Disclaimer: The Bridge is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and events are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the author.