Two in the morning. Bars in town closing. Joe’s Tavern, The Pantry, Sully’s made their last calls. Drunks head home. Driving pickups and four- doors through town. Radios turned up. Loud music serenades young couples as they cruise down Main Street on out to the suburbs, trailer parks, apartments in the city. Cops watch for the smallest detail. Some mistake to pull them over. Speeding, driving to slow, busted tail light. Most get home OK. Most. There’s always one or two that get caught. Alcohol levels high. Mixture of booze and breath mints. Nothing hides it. Nothing.
Boy got home around three. Pulled through a Taco Bell for comfort. Let the grease run in his veins. Packets of hot sauce on the dashboard. His muffler shook on a pickup that had seen better days. He drove through town, paranoid. Radio turned low. Could barely make out the song. Paid close attention to the road. Looked for flashing lights. Parked his truck in front of her trailer. Looking for love.
She sat in the front room asleep. Remote dangled from her finger tips. Some nature show was on. Animals killing each other. Eating the flesh of their prey. Wild herds in Africa. Running. Chasing each other down. White men with cameras looking-on.
He slowly and cautiously took the channel changer from her hand. She mumbled. Something about going home. Wanting him to go home. Wanting Boy to leave. Drool fell from the corner of her mouth. She wrestled with a blanket.
The couch had folded clothes on it that he knocked over. He sat a soda on the coffee table. Placed the sack of tacos beside it. Girl woke up. Could make out his face glowing in the blue light. He said to her, want one. They’re hard shell. The kind you like. She shook her head. Can’t hear you, he said. She shook her head again and whispered no. He continued to feed himself. Slurped loudly on his Mountain Dew.
I want you to leave, she said. Boy just looked at the TV. Turned the sound down to nothing. Just a picture. An antelope being slaughtered. Go on now, she raised her voice. Get. He took another bite of taco. I gotta work tomorrow, she said. I don’t have time. And no. You can’t stay here. The young man took another drink. You’re gonna have to leave.
Where am I supposed to go? he asked. I’m not sleeping in that truck again tonight. Come on now. Have a heart, he said. If the shoe was on the other foot I’d let you stay.
Well it’s not. Boy finished off his food. Wiped his mouth with a brown napkin that had red sauce on it. Looked at her with a pleading face. I’m telling you to go, she got up and went to the closet. You smell like a six-pack, she said loudly, looking behind hanging clothes.
Now wait a minute, he told her. Just wait a minute. This is my house too, he said. Well, it was mine. Used to be ours. I didn’t ask for much. I just need some sleep, she continued looking past the dresses and the sweaters, the hanging blouses. Come on now. Don’t be like this, he moved in closer to her. Began to hold her. She backed away, feverishly looking in the dark. Feeling her way around.
Finally she found what she was looking for. A shot gun her daddy had given her. She grabbed it and pointed it at the boy. I said get. Not telling you again, she cocked it.
OK now. I’m leaving. And you won’t see me again if that’s the way you’re going to be.
That’s the way I’m gonna be.
Alrighty righty. I’ll be on my way. Just put the gun down.
Not till you walk out that door.
He stood for a second and then grabbed the end of the gun. It went off. She fell to the floor . Boy knocked the gun out of her hands. Threw himself down on her. Began kissing her wildly. She kissed him back. They both rolled over on the floor. The weapon laid there next to them.
Coffee was made in the morning. The sun came through the curtains. Boy laid on the floor. Arms outstretched. Legs crossed over. She sat at the table looking at him. Whispered, what am I gonna do with ya? What am I gonna do?