I Never Killed Anyone

Saw Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday prompt first thing this morning, and the words she offered, train – burlap – fiction – pearls – vertigo, for use as inspiration for or in a story or poem, came immediately to life in my sometimes overly-active imagination. I wrote:

I Never Killed Anyone

My head resting on a burlap sack of feed, cheeks crisp from the cold seeping through unseen cracks in the gently rocking boxcar, I slept fitfully, spinning in and out of dreams like a man on a ledge. Thankfully, my coat—dirty and worn—kept my body warm, while faded jeans did no more than keep my legs from freezing. Expensive walking shoes—full of holes and slick as owl snot on the bottom—did nothing but magnify the cold. My feet felt like blocks of ice.

My vertigo dreams were soundless, except, of course, for the clacking of wheels and creaking boxcars, and in the waking moments of the spin I wondered if the movies in my mind were fiction or true crime. Probably some of both.

I’d written novels… a lifetime ago. One was full of drugs, sex, killing and rock and roll, and the other was about two homeless men who went on a crime spree one winter in Austin, Texas. They thought a warm jail cell would be better than the frigid concrete bed they slept on. It was cold as hell in Austin that winter. I know… I was there.

A black and white scene flashed across the screen of my dream. The woman’s eyes were bulging, and her mouth was open in a silent scream, as rough, calloused hands choked her life away. The string of pearls around her neck broke as she died, and as they floated to the floor of the parking garage, the scream came, shrill and long.

The squeal of the train’s brakes spun me back to semi-awake, and as I lay there shivering, I remembered my wife—God rest her soul–saying, after reading that scene, “Honey, they say writers write about what they know about. This scares me.” My answer came with a no-extra-charge smile. “I never killed anyone.”


Copyright © 2014 C Mashburn

If you’d like to check out my novels (I really did write two of them about 14 years ago) you can see and/or purchase them on Amazon. The Devil’s Dust and Shelter. Autographed copies are also available at Texas Trading Post (a wonderful on-line store that sells EVERYTHING Texas!).

The Devil’s Dust devils dust jacket

The soul of man seethes wicked

Cold sweat reeks of evil lust

Blood runs hot and thin

When spiked with the devil’s dust

Copyright © 2013 C Mashburn

ALSO! Be sure and check out Kellie’s great books of poetry. She is, without doubt, one of the most talented poets of our time! Magic in the Backyard





  1. Riveting! Good stuff … 🙂

  2. Geez Louise! You know how to write a thriller of a piece!

  3. ronman1 said

    Loved it. I caught myself swaying with the boxcars.

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