The Dumps

Zack Murphy

You get stuck driving behind a colossal, sluggish, and stinky garbage truck. You begin to think about all the minor decisions, the split seconds in time, and the winds of fate that had to come together in order to lead you to this very moment and place. You poured that extra bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast. You had to poop again right afterwards. You headed out the door to your car and realized you forgot your wallet. You rushed back inside and grabbed it. On the way back out you started to notice that your left shoe felt significantly looser than your right shoe. You bent down to re-tie it and you started walking again. Then your other shoe felt like it needed to be tightened too, and it was bugging you. You bent back down to retie your right shoe to balance things out. You got into your car and that one song that you hate had just started playing on the radio. You scrolled through all of the stations and concluded that silence was better than whatever was on the airwaves. You took off and you got stopped at that one red light that always seems to take forever. When the light finally turned green, you started going and the garbage truck turned out in front of you. You’ve been behind it for at least 15 minutes now. It smells like rotten eggs and dirty diapers. Probably because it is rotten eggs and dirty diapers. You roll up the windows. It doesn’t help. The garbage truck is going 30 miles-per-hour in a 45 miles-per-hour zone. You’re running late to the movie screening, even when you consider the 20 minutes of unnecessary previews that they show. You can’t miss this review assignment, or else your editor will fire you. You want to switch lanes. But the traffic is coming on strong. It’s risky. Don’t try it. It’s not worth it. Don’t mess up someone else’s very moment and place. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Oh God, you just did it.

Zack Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in cinema. His stories appear in Reed Magazine, Ginosko Literary Journal, The Coachella Review, Mystery Tribune, Ruminate, B O D Y, Wilderness House Literary Review, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, and more. His debut chapbook Tiny Universes (Selcouth Station Press, 2021) is available in paperback and e-book. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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