No Blind Love


Tilda, I know how you hate to read. God, even when we was kids I couldn’t get you into them romance books I loved, but you always liked to hear the stories, so I figured this old tape recorder would be perfect to leave you my message.

You’re gonna be pissed when you find out I run off with Rex. I promise it’s not like before. I know he ain’t on the up and up, but it’s not drugs. I was telling the truth when I promised not to go back to that scene.

By the time you hear this there’ll be rumors. Mostly spread by the law. But I ain’t no dummy. I didn’t run one of the most successful crank operations down in them Arkansas hills and come away without a good instinct for people. I never fooled myself about Rex. I know he’s not some hero come to sweep me off my feet. But damn, Tilda, first time I saw him I went weak. Like an electric shock, a zap right through the air between us. He felt it, too. I saw the snap in them wicked green eyes when I walked up to the booth to take his order. He was with Crystal, the truck driver lady.

“How’s the special?” he asked.

“Everybody likes their mama’s recipes.”

He played polite like any good-old-boy, but damn. I knew I was gonna have him if it was my last act on this green Earth. After Crystal paid the check he told her to go on out to the car.

“Get the A/C cranked. Just gotta hit the can.”

He was talking so loud I overheard from the kitchen, headed down the back hall. The bells jingled over the front door when she left. Sure enough, in walks mister swagger himself.

“Meatloaf sure was good, Miss,” he says.

About busted a gut at that one. Miss! Told him Ma’am might sound more proper considering our ages.

You know what he did? Walked me right up against the wall, got me flat up on the wood paneling. Then he looked down at the name tag pinned right over my left tit and said, “Tammy, that your name? You ain’t no Ma’am. Woman like you will never be no Ma’am.”

And he leaned into me, breathing on my face, looking like he’d never seen a woman. What could I do? Shit don’t happen every day, and tell you the truth, I been lonely. Now, Tilda, don’t take that as nothing against you and Jimmy. I’m thankful as hell you gave me this job and let me stay with you. I’d still be dealing meth with Dan Bodeen if you hadn’t convinced me to leave Arkansas. But damn, it’s hard being new in a town small as this.

If some young, dirty-minded country boy like Rex ever pressed into you like he did me in that hallway, you’d have slapped him away. But I ain’t no sweet thing. So when he kissed me like no man done before, never closing his eyes, just burning a stare into me so intense I thought I’d die, you bet I kissed him back. And I wrote my number on his palm like he wanted.

Tilda, I know you don’t feel all crazed about Jimmy. No woman feels wild for the man she marries. I suppose that’s all right. But back in high school maybe, you had a man in your mind you couldn’t get out. That’s how this is. Love, lust, whatever. Morning and night, it’s Rex. Can’t say we’re good for each other, but I don’t care. I’d go out in flames for him.

Understand I don’t want to be saved. Can’t stand you thinking I gone crazy. My life has always been leading up to right now. We got magic, Rex and me, and who says no to real life magic? They’re all calling him a killer, but I seen his sadness. I’ll run with him for the rest of my life. Tell Jimmy don’t worry. I’ll get his gun back to him. Just borrowed it for insurance, is all. I might be in love, but that don’t make me blind.

~ fin ~

Chelsea Covington Maass spent most of her life in small-town Kansas, where cruising dirt roads in secondhand cars was good entertainment. She has an MFA from Rosemont College and teaches writing in the Philadelphia area