Evan by Walter Conley
The best pizza place in my hometown used to have a Tropical Juice
dispenser by the front door. You paid. They handed you a waxed-paper
cup. You served yourself. There were two flavors. Punch and Pina
Colada. What they sold as Pina Colada was remarkably disgusting—much
worse than the Punch—but was exotic, an alcoholic drink without the
alcohol, and so, naturally, that was what I chose.
I had a friend in high school named Evan. Evan had a red-and-white
mottled face, stammered, did drugs and rode a Kawasaki. I dated one
of his ex-girlfriends for a couple weeks. She wasn’t interested in
me, particularly, but was rich and gorgeous and dated bad boys to piss
off her father, who owned a local trucking outfit.
When we were Juniors, Evan started seeing a waitress from the pizza
place. He fell in love. They fought a lot. She dumped him in a
One night, he sat down in the parking lot, poured gas over his head
and set himself on fire. He hung on in the hospital for days. My
father, who was a cop, said Evan would beg to be shot when they were
Evan’s girlfriend didn’t find him burning. He was discovered by
another waitress who had stepped out for a break.
When they reopened, two days later, people showed up like nothing had
happened. Everything was the same, only quieter—except for one little
detail. The Tropical Juice dispenser was gone. I’m pretty sure
someone threw the tanks at Evan in an attempt to put him out, because
the stains on the asphalt were bright and unnatural and there was just
too much there. I’d really like to know, even after all these years,
but still don’t have the heart to ask and no one’s ever brought it up.
Walter Conley lives in VA. His poetry and fiction appear in the
small press, anthologies and online at sites like Danse Macabre, Gloom
Cupboard and In Between Altered States. Walter draws banner art for A
Twist of Noir and a monthly comic for Pulp Metal Magazine. He edits
the ezine Disenthralled. His blog, Back Again and Gone, is at