Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Not For Sale

In their shabby two-bedroom apartment above a little Italian grocery, Sarah Winston’s husband, Eric, was passed out drunk where she had left him; on the bed she had grown to hate. Sarah had taken off in their aging Ford Focus with a black eye, three suitcases, her fourteen year-old daughter, Maddie, and little else. Upon reaching the outskirts of town, she had randomly chosen one of the two on-ramps. Pulling into the right lane, she had smoothly accelerated toward a place she had been fantasizing about for a long time. Somewhere Else.

An hour later, Sarah is now stopped at a wayside off the interstate so that she and Maddie can use the restroom. She’s relieved to see that there are no other cars in the lot. As they are washing up, she hears what sounds like a pick-up truck with a dying muffler pull up outside and then a man’s voice say, “Check the Men’s.” A rough looking man who resembles her husband a bit walks into the Women’s. A few seconds later, another tough looking character comes in. “Nobody in the Men’s,” he says to his sidekick. Sara frowns in puzzlement as she thinks to herself that this man also looks a little like Eric. She looks to the floor near her feet and stares at the patterns in the cement left by the cement finisher’s trowel.

At the sound of the first man’s voice she’s brought back to the urgency of the present.

“Well, Artie, looks like we got us a twofer here,” the first man says with a grin. The other man just leers and chuckles.

“What’s he mean, Mom; what’s a twofer?” asks Maddie.

“He means were on sale, Maddie. Like ‘Buy One, Get One Free’,” says Sarah while pulling her husband’s .32 from her purse with an easy deliberateness as though she had seen herself do this a hundred times before.

The sound of four pistol shots fired in rapid succession in a cinder block restroom with cement floors is deafening. In this situation, those shots were also the beginning of the healing process for two women beginning a new life.

“So what are we going to do now, Mom?” asks Maddie as they pull back out onto the interstate.

“Anything we want, Maddie. We’re gonna do anything we want.”

Maddie raises her eyebrows at that and a small smile appears on her lips. She adjusts the seat back a couple of notches and closes her eyes. Any doubts she might have had about her mother’s ability to take care of the two them had just been resolved in that wayside restroom.