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art by Stephen James Kiniry

California Gurls

S.A. Rudek was born in Minnesota and lives there today. During the intervening years, she could be found residing in a myriad of exotic locales such as Wisconsin, Texas, Massachusetts, California and South Korea. You can find her writing in Front Porch Review, Spout Magazine and Unarmed Poetry Journal. She firmly denies any accusations of immortality, but thus far all attempts to kill her have proved unsuccessful. Conclude what you will.

***Editor's Note: There is language here that may not be appropriate for young, or PG, readers***
The first time I hear "California Gurls" by Katy Perry, we are heading south on Magnolia Drive toward Montauk Bluffs because we think there might be guns down there.
"Girls," you clarify, flashing a peace sign, posing behind your Ray Bans. "spelled, G-U-R-L-S."
"You know how I feel about this shit."
"Yeah well, navigator plays DJ. Them's the rules. Besides, if it were up to you, we'd be hearing some mopey folksinger bullcrap." Even at the end of the world, you refuse to swear.
"Shouldn't you be saving the battery, anyway?"
"What for?" You ask, with a burst of staccato laughter, "I guess we could call up Jamie and Steve, like old times. Listen to some music, smoke some weed, and finish it up with a hearty game of hemorrhaging to death on our kitchen floor?"
God, I wish we had some weed.
"Besides," you add brightly, "aren't we headed to a pawn shop? Maybe we can find another iPod there."
Unless it's looted, I think. Which it almost certainly is. But I don't know where else to go. I sure the hell don't know where else to find weapons. That kind of NRA, Rambo stuff was never my scene. I hate guns, but ever loving Christ do I hope we find some.
"We're almost out of gas," I say when the amber light in the dashboard blinks on. We both know we're not going to find any more. The pumps all dried up months ago, right when shit was just starting to get real.
"Shhh! It's the best part," you say, bouncing your shoulders and twisting in your seat. "You can travel the wo-orld," you bellow enthusiastically, carefully omitting each curse word. The sun plays off the sparkling of your sweating brow. It's hot in here.
In spite of myself, I roll the window down. It's terrible for fuel economy. I know better. But by this time, I've got the gist of the chorus and I sing along, off-key and loud. You grin at me, full-faced and entire. You're cute. You're smart. No--you're wise.
We always loved to drive, just the open road and us, bickering over the stereo. Going nowhere in particular.
I hate guns. I miss our friends. And soon, I'll miss this too.
But you're the best last-girl-on-earth this world could ever hope for.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, October 13th, 2011
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