The Sway


It’s hard to keep loving somebody when they won’t quit telling you lies. I don’t know which is worse, a bunch of different ones or the same one over and over. I’d been dealing with that second scenario for about a month but I was fixing to put a end to it.

It was all wrong me feeling sick as I was, driving through my favorite woods on one of the curliest damn roads in Kentucky, and right at the last of Indian summer too, with it about 75 degrees and every other leaf a bright flash of fire. I knew it was beautiful, I just couldn’t feel it.

They was no telling if she’d be pissed off or happy to see me. She said she wanted me to stay when I left but a month’s plenty of time to change your mind. I wasn’t too worried about it either way. All that mattered right then was the bomb I had to drop. I just wanted to get it over with. I didn’t see no other cars when I got to the house so I figured she was probably by herself. I pulled in to the yard and parked.

Didn’t know if it’d help or not but I revved the Jeep a few times before I cut it off. Damn EGR valve was driving me crazy. I’d already tried unhooking the vacuum line and plugging it but it was still acting up. I’d been having to let it set awhile before it’d crank up again but I didn’t really want to be there that long. If I hadn’t been so low on gas I could’ve tried leaving it running but them damn kids around there’s so wild they probably would’ve took off in it.

I knocked on the door a few times but she didn’t come. The TV was going. Walked around the house and tapped on all the windows. Then I heard the shower.

The garbage sure had piled up since I left. I’d put us up this little lattice fence to kindly hide the trailer tongue and it was about five full bags stacked up behind it. I thought about throwing ‘em in back of the Jeep for her but I didn't. Then that made me feel like a asshole for not doing it so I did it anyway.

I knew that shower might take a while so I sat on the steps and twisted a pinner to help me wait. I’d laid them steps out pretty good I thought. Whoever done it before we moved in done it the way most people does and stacked the block up crossedways, but steps like that's kindly awkward if you have long feet. So I scrounged us up some more block and then I turned ‘em all around so they come out at you. Makes a nice deep step. Set ‘em in a bed of packed down sand too. They was just as stout and level as formed and poured is.

When she finally come to the door she unlatched the lock and pushed it open. Her hair was dripping wet. Now that don’t bother me if a girl’s just crawled out of the lake or just come in out of the rain, but I ain’t ever been too crazy about fresh washed hair on a girl. “What d’you want?” she said.

She give me a look kindly like a pout. I could tell from her tone she didn’t mean it to be sexy but it was. “That that robe Mom give you?”

“Why’re you here?” she said.

“I got something to show you.”

“You finally get a tattoo?”

“Fuck no it ain’t a tattoo. Come on let me in.”

“I’m in a hurry.”

That didn’t surprise me none. She was always running late. It’s a lot of women like that. Truth is I like to look for it. I always get turned on whenever I see a girl chasing after a school bus or putting her makeup on at a stoplight. From what I’ve seen a girl that’s bad with time is usually a girl who knows how to party. Problem is she usually likes to party even if you ain’t around.

“I ain’t staying long,” I said. “This won’t take but a minute.”

She turned and shuffled off. I caught the door before it slammed and walked in behind her. “Let me put some clothes on,” she said. “And don’t drink that beer. It ain’t mine.”

“Whose is it?”

“Traci’s.”

I could barely hear what she said she had the TV up so high. It was four or five people screaming at each other in a huge house. I can’t stand to hear people fight so I switched it off. “I’m watching that!” she yelled from the bathroom.

“It’s making me nervous!” I yelled back.

I dug her cigarettes out of her purse and lit one and stuck the rest in my pocket.

I snooped around the kitchen looking for clues to what she’d been up to since I left. She’d always had a knack for wrecking a kitchen. She didn’t have to do much either. By the time she got done frying a couple eggs to death you’d have to call the Red Cross to come dig you out of the rubble. It looked like she was living on tater tots and cereal, high stacks of plates all stuck together with ketchup, and bowls and spoons set down wherever she could find room.

I opened the fridge for a beer and got shocked as hell to see imported ones. It for damn sure was not Traci’s beer ‘cause she always bought the cheapest, and if she’d’ve known them was there she’d’ve been there too. That girl couldn’t rest till she’d drunk every drop of alcohol in the house. And if she ran out before she passed out, and was broke, like she always was, or if she somehow had some money but couldn’t track down a bootlegger, she’d start going door to door. She’d knock on every house in the park asking people if they had any extra beer. Ain’t nobody around here ever had extra beer.

Whosever’s beer it was, I didn’t have no qualms about drinking it. That’s the first sign of hospitality anyhow. She should’ve handed me one at the door. I heard her fire her hair dryer up so I spun a chair around and straddled it at the kitchen table.

That first beer didn’t last long so I got another. I was pretty tore up over things having to end like they was but I just didn’t see no way around it. I hadn’t been able to eat hardly nothing all day except for part of a little old hamburger I couldn’t even finish.

Back when we was first going out I thought we’d be in it for the long haul. I even put her most of the way through beauty school. Some kind of scholarship helped her with the rest, but that was after I laid out four grand of my own money. Had to sell my boat to get it. $300 of that boat money went to a pair of scissors she said she needed, the loudest colored things you ever saw. I wanted to help her with school though ‘cause that was what she’d always wanted to do. I would’ve paid for all of it if I’d had anything else to sell.

She was good at it. About three days after she got her certificate she got a job at the salon she really wanted to work at and it was no time till she had a bunch of her own regulars. She could fix your hair however you wanted it, but if it wouldn’t do like the picture you brung in she’d be honest with you. She did manis and pedis too, but she didn’t like doing the pedis ‘cause feet kindly grossed her out. She got to where she was doing a lot of the waxing too once it got so popular. They even kept a picture album of who all they’d done, not their faces, just their pubes. It was full of a bunch of close ups so they could show off their skills and let the girls know what all was possible.

One night she snuck it out and brung it home to show me. It was about four cooters to a page, all waxed and trimmed and styled. I told her to let me know if they ever needed a volunteer to come down and take the pictures but she told me not to hold my breath. I picked hers out soon as we come to it, not ‘cause of it but ‘cause of her mole next to it. She thought that was cool, but I thought it was cooler of her to show me all them other ones. Most girls wouldn’t do that. Most girls like to get mad at you if you smile at the checkout girl.

Halfway through my third beer Lori shut her hair dryer off and come back down the hall. She’d slipped out of the robe and in to her cutoffs and my favorite t-shirt. “I’m gonna need to get that shirt back,” I told her. “That thing’s probably worth some money now them all being dead except for the drummer.”

Buddy I didn’t have to ask her twice. She stripped it off right there and throwed it across the kitchen to me. It wasn’t like I’d forgot about her titties, but good Godamighty, what a miracle. Two perfect little miracles. It kindly knocked me off guard. When she walked off to go get another shirt I could see that her ass was still doing fine too. She had what my papaw used to call the sway. Ruined many a happy man, he said.

Lori didn’t make a sound in the bedroom. She was back in the kitchen in about ten seconds, this time in a tight little yellow shirt with a low neck and a bright orange butterfly spread acrossed it. Really made her tan jump out. “Where’d you get that shirt?”

“Hell I don’t know I’ve had it forever.”

“I ain’t ever seen it.”

“Yes you have.”

I didn’t believe her but I didn’t want to fight about it. “It looks good on you.”

“Did you just come out here to talk about shirts?”

“Lori, honey, when somebody gives you a compliment you’re supposed to say thank you.”

“You’re gonna have to replace that beer,” she said. “Today.” She leaned against the kitchen counter and knocked over a ravioli can.

“Something wrong with the faucet? You got dishes piled up past the window sill.”

“I been busy,” she said.

I told her I thought paper plates was on sale down at Thrifty Stop and she asked me for a cigarette. “Ain’t you got any?” I said, and handed her her pack of smokes.

“When’d you start smoking these?”

“I don’t know. Other day I had ‘em sitting on the front seat and it made me feel like you forgot ‘em, like I’d just took you to work or something.”

She shook one out and lit it and tossed the pack on the kitchen table. “When’d you ever take me to work?”

I looked out the dining area window and saw Bruce and Angie’s cat chasing their dog. “You been back to the doctor any?”

“No,” she said, blowing her smoke at me.

“You track its daddy down yet?”

“Don’t start that shit with me. I told you a hundred times I ain’t been with nobody else.”

“Well. Maybe you got drugged. Maybe you was blacked out drunk.”

“Maybe you didn’t pull out fast enough.”

“Sit down a minute. I want to show you something.”

She plopped down in a chair across the table from me. I unsnapped the flap on my shirt pocket and pulled out a folded up piece of paper and reached it across the table to her. She acted like she wasn’t even going to look at it. “Here,” I said. “Take it.”

She finally snatched it away and tore in to it. “So what,” she said, “you went to the doctor.”

“He’s the one tied my tubes.”

I expected some kind of reaction but she didn’t seem to have one. If she did it was all inside ‘cause nothing happened on her face. “He showed me one of ‘em while he had it out. I damn near fainted. Looked exactly like a spaghetti noodle.”

She looked at it again like she was confused. “Date’s on there somewhere,” I said, “if that’s what you’re looking for. It was about five years ago.”

She got done looking at it and flung it on the table like a shitty hand of cards. “They don’t always take though,” I said. “Had to go back up to Lexington and get ‘em to check it.” I got up for another beer. “I was hoping they’d be a cute nurse to help me with it but they make you do it yourself. Have to squirt it in a little cup.”

She stubbed her cigarette out and crossed her arms. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?” she said, like she had a right to be asking me questions.

She uncrossed her arms and got another cigarette. “Say? What if I’d wanted to have a kid someday?”

“Looks like you’re having one,” I said, “less twins runs in his family.”

“Why’re you being such a dick?”

“I ain’t the one’s been lying for however long it’s been.”

“No you been lying for three years.”

“I never lied to you.”

“What about all them times you put it in my hind end so I wouldn’t get pregnant?”

“You said you liked it now.”

“That’s beside the point!”

“OK,” I said. “I can see how that might seem like a lie. But I couldn’t help it. I been crazy about every inch of you since I first laid eyes on you. You oughta take it as a compliment.”

“You’re so full of shit. I guess you’re real happy now huh? Got to come out here and rub my nose in it.”

“Happy? My girlfriend’s pregnant and it ain’t mine. Why the fuck would I be happy?”

“So now I’m your girlfriend again?”

“Goddammit Lori I don’t know. But I didn’t come out here to fight. I just wanted to clear my name.”

That’s when I should’ve left. I hadn’t even opened my next beer yet. I should’ve just walked out the door with it but I didn’t. She had the sweetest little nipples trapped in that shirt.

One more beer. In case she needed to talk. I sat back down and slid the bottle across the table. “Will you open that for me, please?”

“I don’t do that no more,” she said, but I already knew that. She stopped when she finally cracked a tooth. It looked good on her though. One thing I have never liked on a girl is teeth that’s too perfect. Lori had the sexiest damn teeth I’d ever seen, crooked in the best way, and that chipped one she got from opening bottle caps really set the rest of ‘em off. I wanted to kiss her something awful right then. “I ever tell you about the first time I saw you?”

She shook her head no.

“It was down at the Dairy Barn. I was sitting in the Jeep eating a banana split and here you come walking up in a pair of flip flops. In the middle of a school day now.” She smiled at that. “You was with that Burton girl.”

“Missy.”

“Your lips was so shiny, your hair was two or three different colors. You was wearing a pair of shorts looked like they was made out of a wash cloth.”

“I remember those,” she said, smiling again. “Wish they still fit.”

“Lori.” I looked her square in the eyes. “Will you please tell me just exactly what the fuck it is you expect me to do now?”

She didn’t have nothing to say to that. I slid my beer a little closer to her. “Come on,” I said, “for old times sake.”

She didn’t really want to do it but she did it anyway. It reminded me of how most dudes think it’s hot when a girl swallows but really it’s the exact opposite that’s a lot hotter. When a girl’s a spitter it makes you feel like she don’t want your load in her mouth, so if you think about it it’s a pretty big deal when she lets you put it there anyway. I think Lori knew I appreciated her opening my beer. I know she saw me stick that bottle cap in my pocket.

I had a beer to drink so I figured I’d be there another five or ten minutes. I got her started on a couple new subjects and then it was like we was right back in our regular zone of her talking and me listening. I asked her how work was going and if she’d seen her little niece Kelsey lately. She said work was sucking ‘cause Shonda was on the warpath for her but that Kelsey was great. I told her a joke to tell to Kelsey next time she saw her. It was a good clean joke for a kid. I give her that toy out of my happy meal to give to her too, some kind of a little dragon. When you mashed on his tail plastic fire shot out of his mouth.

Then out of the blue I said, “It ain’t Donnie’s is it? ‘Cause I can kick his ass.”

She lost it over that, then we both did. “Hell I could kick Donnie’s ass,” she said.

Poor old Donnie. We laughed about him for a minute and I think it done us some good. Then it got real quiet. I had no idea how Lori’s mess would shake out but I told her I’d help her if she needed me to. It wouldn’t’ve been the first time I’d paid for some other dude’s abortion ‘cause she was pregnant when we first started going out too. “So how far along are you now?”

I think that might’ve been when she figured out it was over ‘cause I could tell she was fixing to cry. I give her a minute to finish her cigarette then I took her by the hand and walked her back to the bedroom.

I’ll always remember the light that day. Sometimes of a evening that bedroom would fill up with a cloudy blue light, and that day especially it made everything more beautiful than I’d ever seen it.

Bad as I wanted to rip it off I left that shirt on her ‘cause it looked so good. I unbuttoned her cutoffs though, and helped her wiggle ‘em off, then I spread her legs and kneeled in between ‘em. I bowed down and kissed my favorite mole. I took big long breaths down there, smelling her as deep as I could. I wished she hadn’t just got out of the shower but she was still making me high.

I looked up so I could see her face but she had it turned to the wall. “Lori. Baby.”

When she turned her sweet face back to me she had tears running out of both eyes. “Good girl,” I said.

I was hard as a ax handle by then but they was no way in hell I was going to get in a hurry, ‘cause the slower I went the more she broke. And the more she cried the slower I went. And the slower I went the more she cried. I would’ve never guessed it, but they ain’t nothing any sweeter than punishing a pretty girl in tears.

It was right about then God decided to fuck me up. Without even knocking we heard the front door open and somebody walked on in. I hoped it was just Traci.

Lori started squirming underneath me but I didn’t let her up. I bore down on her just as hard and fast as I could, till that motherfucker come in the room and pulled me off by the neck. Now I’d took a beating before, but not one like that.

Not having any clothes on made it hard to decide if I wanted to cover my head or my nuts. I think I ended up going mostly with my nuts, and that left my head wide open.

People like to talk about seeing stars but what he done to me was more like static. I didn't just curl up though, not till there at the end.

I swung and kicked at him best I could but I was pretty much done once he got me rolled over between the bed and the wall. He packed me down in there just as tight as chinking. I couldn’t move nowhere to get away from him so I started thinking he might stomp me to death. If he’d been smarter I guess he would’ve.

He finally got done shellacking my ass and walked out of the room. But just ‘cause he left didn’t mean he wasn’t coming back. It could’ve just been that he went looking for something harder than a boot heel to hit me with.

Lori bounced back fast. She started telling him how sorry she was and thanking him for coming when he did and saying that she had to do it ‘cause she was scared of me. It was all bullshit. Nobody has ever been scared of me.

I had to push the bed away from me to get up, but it was hard to do with several ribs probably broke. I was struggling with my pants when I heard him tell Lori to go put some fucking clothes on. She run in the room and grabbed some sweatpants off the floor and hurried back out. She never even looked at me. I got my last boot on and made my way down the hall. They was still pictures of us on the wall.

I don’t remember nothing he said to me on my way out, just that he was running his mouth the whole time. I’m sure he must’ve felt pretty big, like he’d really done something, marked his terrain.

Getting your ass kicked sucks. The physical pain’s about the least of it. What’s always worst for me is what it does to you deep down. When somebody hands you proof that you’re weak it’s a hard feeling to fix. I had to puke for a minute before I got in the Jeep, and let me tell you, puking with broke ribs is a Grade-A-Motherfucker of a bitch.

The Jeep turned over fine but the damn thing wouldn’t start. After about ten minutes it finally did, and when it did I saw that bastard poke his head through the curtains at me and laugh. If I’d had a gun I probably would’ve gone back in the house.

I left the Jeep idling and got out and pulled them bags of trash out of the back. One was full of cans so I kept it, but the rest of ‘em I scattered in the front yard just like I was laying straw.

He looked out the window again just as I was at the tail end of dumping that last bag, but I was back in the Jeep before he even got out the door. I tried to run over him a few times but he kept jumping out of the way. I did a shitload of donuts in the yard while I was at it. At one point he grabbed ahold of my roll bars like he thought he was a bad ass planning to climb on in. I slung him loose no problem though and then tore ass out of there, doing a fair amount of laughing and hollering and pounding on my seat. Once I was pretty sure he wasn’t coming after me I slowed my driving down, and from what I could see through my swolled up eyes it was a hell of a lot prettier leaving than it had been coming.

After my adrenaline calmed down some I started feeling terrible again. I needed to feel better but I had no idea where to go to find that. The only place I could even think of was Traci’s. I went by Scrap & Salvage on the way and cashed them cans in. It wasn’t much, stopped and got a ice cream sandwich and put the rest on gas.

Time I got to Traci’s it was pretty well dark. Her check must’ve come ‘cause she was putting the hurt on some Busch Light tallboys when I got there. She freaked out when she saw my face, then went and brung me two beers and a 40 mil oxy. “That’s my last one,” she said.

I chewed it up and washed it down. “Was you fixing to go to bed?”

“No why?”

It could be hard to know with her ‘cause she lived in her pjs. She wore ‘em out too, even the time we took her to traffic court. They didn’t seem to care, but her job didn’t like it. She tried to say they wasn’t pajamas ‘cause the pants had pockets. They fired her anyway after the third or fourth time.

She cleaned me up with a rag and some soapy water and I told her about earlier that day. She said she felt bad for not letting me know about that dude but she didn’t feel like she could ‘cause her and Lori was so close. She seemed kindly pissed at her though ‘cause she felt like she’d been put in the middle. That meant a lot to me.

“Two years now,” I said, holding up two fingers. “Two years I been having to fish off bridges and banks. All for her.”

“I know,” she said. “It ain’t right.”

I’d never really thought Traci was my type. She was a little on the heavy side, but that ain’t a big deal if they carry it right, and she did. She had a cute face too, and a pretty smile, so I don’t know. I guess I just never noticed ‘cause she was always next to Lori. Everybody was a dog next to Lori.

She said that dude was married and had a couple kids and that he run a body shop over in Russell County and was big in to demolition derbys. Her front room looked like she’d had a demolition derby in it ‘cause the carpet was covered with about two armloads worth of leaves and grass she’d tracked in. I told her I didn’t want to hear no more about him.

Traci took good care of me that night. She had me lay back on the couch and she rubbed my head. I told her I felt like I’d been run over with a stump grinder and she said, “Aw, you poor thing,” pooching her bottom lip out just as cute as could be. “You want me to kiss your boo boos?”

“Does bird shit fall out of the sky?”

I wasn’t lying to her when I told her where all I hurt ‘cause I was hurt all over. And I wasn’t lying to her when I told her my mouth hurt. After a few soft kisses she started giving me real kisses. She ripped my shirt snaps open like Superman does his and kissed on my ribs a while. Then finally I guess she couldn’t take it no more, and she tore in to my pants like a Christmas present and started giving me the friendliest blowjob of all time. I stopped her though. I told her to take her clothes off and she did. “You have no idea how many times I’ve thought about this,” she said.

I wanted to tell her I had too, but really I hadn’t. “Me too,” I said. She got on top of me there on the couch.

She was so soft and warm. She snuggled her face in to my neck and give me a couple ticklish hickies. I started thinking if she could just get it together a little she’d make a good woman for somebody. I even started thinking maybe we should get together. I might could help her too, if she wanted to go to school or something. I was aiming to talk to her about it later and ask her what she wanted to do with her life.

I reckon it was the combo of a ass kicking and her loving me to death and that oxy taking hold, ‘cause by the time she got done with me I felt like a bag of marshmellows somebody’d throwed to a raccoon. “OK,” she said. “Close your eyes. I got a surprise.”

I laid there in the dark for a minute and listened to her root around in her purse. “OK. Open ‘em.”

She was sitting on the edge of the couch, still stripped naked, shaking a little baggie. “You ready to get cranked?”

I think I almost asked her to marry me. “We’re gonna need more beer,” I said, and then we plowed right in, straight to the moon.

Now what should’ve been a all night party took a bad wrong turn when she started up talking about Lori again. She kept wanting to tell me all sneaky shit she’d done but I didn’t want to hear it. I wanted to just let it all go but she wouldn’t stop talking. I tried to ignore her by picking leaves up off her floor and throwing ‘em out the front door. “Leave that alone, sweetie,” she said. “I don’t know what she ever saw in him.”

My back was starting to hurt from stooping over so much. Or maybe it was my kidneys. “You got a rake somewhere?”

“He don’t do a thing for me.”

“Or a broom might work.”

“Oh he’s real nice when you first meet him.”

“Traci! Will you please shut up about it?”

I walked over to the kitchen for a beer and went ahead and got her one too. When I took it over to her she had her face in her hands. I figured she was just high. “Here you go,” I said.

She raised her head up and I saw she was crying. The first thing I thought was to flip her over and slide her pjs back down but I knew I was too wrung out. “I took advantage of you,” she said.

“What? No you didn’t. I wanted to.”

She shook her head and cried some more and opened her beer. “You don’t understand. Lori loves you.”

“Well she’s got a fucked up way of doing it.”

“Did she tell you who it is?”

“She didn’t tell me nothing. Far as I’m concerned it don’t much matter now.”

She took a big swig. “It’s Shonda’s husband.”

She said he stopped by the salon one day for something and after he saw Lori he started making up new reasons to stop by when Shonda was gone. He started aggravating Lori to go out with him sometime, but like he was only joking. Traci figured Shonda’d got mad about it and that was why she’d been being such a bitch to Lori. “She just meant to do it the one time,” she said, “just to get back at Shonda. But he won’t leave her alone now.”

The more she talked about it the more pissed off I got about it. And maybe I got a little loud too ‘cause all of a sudden we heard, “Mommy.”

“No,” Traci said, “Go on back to sleep hon, OK?”

“Hey Stinky Butt!” I hollered. “Come here and hug my neck.” And here she come running down the hall in a little gown that had princesses all over it. “You wanna go for a drive?”

“Yeah!” she squealed.

“No no no no no,” Traci said. “Back to bed. Now.”

“I wanna go for a drive!”

“Yeah, come on,” I said. “Let’s go for a drive.”

Traci probably knew it was a bad idea but she couldn’t say no when I give her the hard sell. “She’s got a fridge full of Coronas.” We took her car.

I sure didn’t expect him to still be there. I figured he’d’ve went on back home to his wife and kids by then. “I don’t know about this,” Traci said.

“It’ll be fine,” I said. “I got all my clothes on now. Things’ll turn out different. Besides, I’m just here to talk. You go on in first. Don’t say I’m with you.”

I waited a couple minutes then went and peeked in the window. They was in the living room with something stupid on the TV, talking all over each other so I couldn’t make out what nobody was saying. Lori was sitting in his lap smoking and drinking and cracking up over something.

She had my damn shirt back on too.

I went and popped Traci’s trunk and found what I was looking for. I shut it quiet as I could ‘cause Kelsey had fell asleep in the backseat. She woke up anyway. I leaned my head down to the window and told her me and her mommy’d be right back, that we had to talk about some grown up stuff for a minute.

“I wanna see Aunt Lori.”

“Hey!” I said, trying to startle her mind off of Lori. “Do you like dragons?”

She pushed her hair out of her eyes. “Yeah.”

“OK, well, when I come back I’ll bring you a little dragon. But you have to stay in the car. Will you do that for me?”

She looked like she was trying to decide whether or not to take the deal. “I already have two dragons,” she said.

“OK, well, I’ll get you something else then.”

By the time she got done working me she had me roped in to promising to get her a swimming pool. A real one. A big one.


Whatever was so damn funny stopped being funny when I walked in with a tire iron. “Remember me?”

Him and Lori both just sat there looking at me. I don’t know what either one of ‘em expected, doing me the way they had, but a man’ll only take so much. Two plus two is always going to come out four.

“You best get the fuck out of here,” he said.

You’d’ve thought he’d’ve changed his tune me standing there with a weapon, but a motherfucker like that don’t even know how to keep score, much less how to win. “I ain’t going nowhere.”

He pushed Lori off and jumped up like he thought he’d beat on me some more, but I landed a good solid whack to the top of his head and that slowed him down right fast. He was a tough bastard though ‘cause it took me several more to get him on the floor.

It ain’t exactly easy dragging a big man down a hall with a girl smacking on you and pulling at your clothes. I finally got him back to the bathroom though and pulled him in and laid him on the linoleum. I pushed Lori out and locked the door. She started yelling she was going to call the cops and I told her to go ahead. “I’ll be long gone time they get here.”

I didn’t know if she’d call ‘em or not but I knew it’d be better if she didn’t. I had that motherfucker laid out pretty good though so I left him there for a minute to go out to get their phones, Traci’s too, but she was gone.

I picked that tire iron up off the floor and went back to the bathroom. Lori kept pounding on the door telling me to stop what I was doing. I wasn't even doing anything yet.

I looked in the mirror and had trouble recognizing myself. Both my eyes was full of bright red blood. They looked like a couple of them bartender cherries with dark black holes gouged in ‘em. I smacked myself acrossed the jaw a couple times to try to calm myself down and make everything stop shaking. I bent down to splash some cold water on my face and saw Lori’s hair scissors laying there by the sink. That’s when I figured out what to do with him.

I got to work on him with the pry bar end of that tire iron, but I didn’t do it violent. I used Lori’s scissors to snip ‘em loose. I thought it was neat to use her scissors for that, but there’s probably another word for it.

It was strange how I felt weirder about taking his money and his truck than I did about fucking him up. I’m not much of a thief though so that probably explains it. He must’ve done all right ‘cause he had about $800 on him. Had a picture of him and a big dead buck he’d killed. I never did see how somebody could shoot a deer, I mean unless they’re poor. The way they bounce over them ferns it’s like they got springs in their legs. Saw a picture of his boys too, and damned if they wasn’t twins. They looked like sweet kids. Too bad their dad was so sorry. They’d grow up and be just like him though. It was all a damn shame.

I left the bathroom door locked when I pulled it to on my way out. I didn’t want to hear Lori scream when she saw what I done to him. But in the situation I was in a ass kicking for a ass kicking was not going to make us even. The problem we had could only be settled in the natural world. Times like that it don’t much matter what the law says. You know when you’re even.


That road didn’t have but one way in. None of the roads that turned off it went anywhere. But I figured if I could just get to 90 I could get out to 27 quick and then head down to Tennessee. Somebody got ahold of a phone though ‘cause when I got to 27 they was five or six cops jumped out after me.

It was almost like it made sense, pulling over at the Dairy Barn. I made sure to park in the same spot I was sitting first time I saw Lori. Then the cops come in around me and blocked me in. One of ‘em got on his loud speaker and told me to get out with my hands up. I just sat there for a minute and watched moths swoop around my headlights.

I don’t know why I hadn’t already throwed ‘em out the window. I don’t know what the hell I thought I was going do with ‘em, but I scooped ‘em off the seat and got out. That cop told me to drop whatever was in my hand. “Why don’t you let me hand ‘em to you?”

Something else that was weird was how calm I felt. Even with all them guns pointed at me I wasn’t shaking no more. “Drop it.”

“You’ll probably wanna take these with you,” I said. “You got a bag or something to put ‘em in?”

“I’m not going to tell you again.”

“OK man.”

I moved real slow. I put my arm down by my side and let go. They was so light I didn’t even hear ‘em hit the ground.

I remember they landed next to a busted pack of ketchup looked like a car had run over it, so I took the heel of my boot and stepped on both of ‘em one at a time.

They put me in back of the car and let me set there awhile. They still had all their siren lights going. Lit up the whole night. Flashing off that big fiberglass ice cream cone out by the road.

I wondered if that dude had come to yet or if Lori had seen him yet. I figured I wouldn’t be seeing much of Lori for a while but he for damn sure wouldn’t be seeing her no more.  

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