Bonnie and Clyde were landlocked, shell-shocked by their long walk. Beggars among beggars, they were stragglers who fell behind. The miles were arid and sacred and rising, and time hid the dead and the intentions of the living.
He, with his Elvis-era sideburns and tortured knee, and she, with her dirty floral dress and dusty high tops, crouched beside the short scrub, tending to their sweat.
Clyde remembered his grandfather well. Mateo was a writer of some repute in their village, and he sometimes seemed to be a wide-awake dreamer. He had kindness in his eyes and a muscular timber in his voice.
“Remember,” he told Clyde, “that old men like me write about boys like you, who will one day write about old men like me.”
Clyde thought that was the truest thing he ever heard. And it was not just writers who told stories, he discovered: it was painters and philosophers and mechanics and bricklayers. They spoke the oral history of their own kind. Sometimes the stories became political, and they would blister in the heat, and then fester in the repeating. Sometimes, men like Clyde’s grandfather were ruined because of the things they believed and the stories that they wrote.
Bonnie, Clyde’s wife, was his life. Clyde studied to become an architect and he met her while she worked in the campus cafeteria. She was shy, and he was lost in her dark hair and the depth of her eyes, and in the intensity of their conversations. Did she know, he asked her, that she could own the world with her eyes and with her kindness? She demurred, and told him she did not want to own the world, she wanted to be free. She could be unimportant, she said, but her children would own themselves and belong to their own truths. She would be who she was, and it would be fine. The world did need to know her.
They were married with no objections and with many blessings. But the world turned, and they were lost, and the cost of their souls became cheap.
One step and then another. Blood begot blood, and sweat begot sweat, and the miles grew and diminished them.
“Over the next rise,” said Bonnie. She was pitifully prepared to bare their child, somewhere within the next few miles, but she held back from despair. “The border, I think; we should be close.”
He held her as they limped ahead, eager for rest, eager for a meager bed. “We will be careful,” he said.
“We will make it,” said Bonnie.
“I love you,” said Clyde.
But they had already been detected, five miles out.
Steven Baird is a transplanted Canadian currently living in Virginia. He is an award-winning graphic artist, but who would rather stay home and raise chickens with his wife Angela, and write things that sooth his jangled soul. He has been writing since age 10, and it has taught him patience and wonder. He is the author of two published novels, "Ordinary Handsome" and "A Very Tall Summer", and is currently working on an untitled third. He features short pieces and nature photography in his blog Ordinary Handsome.