My first story for the then-fledgling Literally Stories – hope you enjoy it…
I know you’re watching me.
My eyes don’t work like they did in my twenties but I can still see you pushing up against my kitchen window, gawping. I should’ve pulled the curtain before I sat down but no matter. The glass could do with a lick but you can see the bars through it just like the others. And you can see me clear enough.
I can’t make out your faces but I’d say there’s at least one fat useless tongue lolling around on a weak useless chin while you figure this out. Speaking of weak and useless I guess one of you’s been smart enough to call Cheyenne? I should’ve taken her key back months ago but no matter. She’ll be right along in her good sweet time to put you out of your misery. Hers is just about to start. Not that I give two truthful shits about you or Cheyenne. You can take that to the bank as my Jerry used to say. By the end it was all just a bunch of wet mumblings but I still knew his words. You don’t stay married for thirty seven years without learning a few things. You could’ve learned a few things yourself Jerry. Like if you want to stick that excuse for a prick somewhere dark and warm you make damn sure it’s not gonna grow teeth and make you lose half your face. Sure as eggs is eggs there’s always a price.
You can take that to the bank.
Still gawping huh? I expect you’re wondering what’s in the bag. My ears are about as much use as my eyes from this distance but I’d wager one of you is asking the other ‘What the fuck has that scrawny old bitch got in front of her?’ or something equally banal. What is it that draws your eyes to it? Is it the color? The fine stitching across the side? The railroad straight zipwork done by some eight year old in a Taiwanese sweat house? Given we’ve already established that I’m not afraid of betting I’d stick the house on it being that rising sickness that claws its way from the pit of your belly to the roof of your gorge every time it moves. That’s how it made me feel first time I saw it.
Don’t get all excited. It’s almost done twitching.
You can keep hammering away. The glass won’t budge. Jerry might have been a walking hard-on but you couldn’t fault the man when it came to home security. It was just him, me and the TV most days but it kept him happy. If you really want to get inside in a hurry I keep a spare key under a rock next to the swamp lilies but you’re probably all too young to think that something so basic and obvious exists outside of sepia stained re-runs. Jerry would’ve had a fit and died if he knew I was keeping it there, which, come to think of it would’ve been a better end than the one he got. You reap what you sow Jerry – you can take that to the bank – and no doubt the good lord will punish me for turning my back on you in your darkest hour. But that incessant mewling and that fucking smell. Jesus. Truth is if I had the time over I’d have stuck you in the panic room sooner.
Blood sure does go cold quickly when it runs out of your arms and what’s left doesn’t feel a whole lot warmer. Irony is I’ve been trying to keep cool on these long summer evenings for half a lifetime. Who knew it just took a knife and some patience! Guess the fact it’s a one shot deal means it won’t catch on in a hurry but these are miserable times and miserable people. Give Cheyenne the bag back once you’re done marking out your chalk and I’d stake the car keys and what’s left of the savings on her giving it a whirl.
Ah Cheyenne. I raised you like my own. You had them all fooled with your big tears and your stories about a boy from upstate but I saw you. I saw you. I watched you grind and moan your way through my husband every Sunday through June and I said nothing. He moved on to that booking clerk in July and got his due and now you get yours. Sure as eggs is eggs there’s always a price.
You can take that to the bank.
All this remembering is making me tired. Think maybe I’ll lie down for a spell.