'Larry Has Risen' by Chris Milam
Larry loved the carnival. The aromas of popcorn, elephant ears, Italian sausage, and cigarette smoke drifted past him like a maternal breeze. The rush of the people from little kids to senior citizens. The boys trying hard to win prizes for their girls. He loved all of it.
A crowd had gathered at his station this warm Saturday evening. The line was thirty deep. Larry stood there in his black Guns N’ Roses t-shirt. He wasn't nervous or scared, he’d done this a thousand times or more. It was like drinking coffee or going for a scenic walk. He was almost bored, or maybe a little indifferent, but he was paid well.
The first customer, a woman in a sundress, aimed her crossbow, steadied her arm, and fired an arrow into his chest. He let out a tiny, wet noise as he fell to the ground. The crowd cheered for a full two minutes. Larry was dead until he wasn't. He simply stood up, pulled the arrow out and smiled. The circle of people around him went berserk. Larry had risen.
Next came a bearded man with an ax. He tossed a perfect shot at Larry’s belly, the blade gutting him with a sickly thwack. He fell to his knees, then the ground. The crowd once again hooped and hollered until Larry rose from the dead like Christ, pulled the ax from his stomach, and lit a Pall Mall. Another 25 bucks.
The first time he discovered his gift was back when he was twelve. He slipped while diving into the family pool, hitting his head and drowning, his body floated on top of the water for five minutes. Then he woke up, climbed out of the pool and asked his mom for a turkey sandwich. Larry didn't know what to do with his special talent. He thought he’d make a perfect soldier, but he preferred being killed than killing. At eighteen he joined the carnival, and he's been dying ever since.
Next up were a father and his son The kid held an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. His dad patted him on the back, said to pretend Larry was a bully in school and unload on him. And the kid did. He fired until the magazine was empty. Then his dad popped in another one, and he emptied that one, too. Larry was deader than dead, riddled with dozens of bullets. But, as always, he arose like nothing had happened. Larry stared at the boy. This was the part of the job he didn't care for, fathers teaching their children to kill, even if it wasn't officially killing. It made him sad that as the years went by, his customers got younger and younger.
Larry shook the thought away and headed off to the doctor to remove the bullets. The crowd whistled at him as he walked off. He would return shortly, ready to die again. And the crowd would be waiting, ready to kill again.