UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION - 01/2012
NOT ALWAYS CLEAN
Tucked along a backroad many miles from the nearest highway, there’s an abandoned farmhouse where the young couple takes refuge from the drizzling rain. Inside, with the cloud
“The fear on that boy’s face, I’ll never forget it,” the woman says. ”Looked just liked cousin Ronnie when he was a boy. Just like little Ronnie.”
“Okay, okay. I heard you the first thousand times.”
“The security guard collapsed right by the boy. His blood puddled at the boy’s feet!”
Out back, well behind the farmhouse is a ramshackle barn, and behind it, a stand of apricot and pear trees. That’s where the couple has parked away their pickup, ripe fallen fruit beneath the truck and beside every tire. In the cab of the pickup, behind the seat, is a black canvas duffle bag. It’s loaded with gloves, rope, knit caps, duct tape, pepper spray bottles, 9 mm handguns, and bank deposit bags filled with Benjamins still to be counted.
“One Christmas I got a bike, but not the one I asked for,” the woman continues, her voice barely above a whisper, as if talking to herself. “My father yelled at me in front of everyone, so I ran to my room. Ronnie felt bad and followed. He held me a second, then he kissed me. On the lips, my very first kiss…”
The man grimaces but says nothing. He hopes the woman will stop her ridiculous reflections if ignored. It’s all he can do to keep from screaming in pain. The damage done to his leg is severe. He’ll need something strong soon. Although he kicked it, there’s little he wouldn’t do now for a bag of heroin.
“That poor guard!” the woman says. “That poor boy!”
“Shut up, already. I told you it’s not always clean,” the man says.
“But we’re a lucky couple. We’re like Bonnie and Clyde, remember?”
The man leans against drywall, props a shoulder where the paneling’s been stripped. “Yeah, baby, but it ain’t easy being Bonnie and Clyde. I mean, look what happened to them.”
Beyond the open door and broken windows the rain starts to pour. A chilly gust lifts kitchen curtains and sweeps through the house. “Well…what did happen, anyway?”
“You don’t know?” the man says.
The woman just stares, bewilderment in her big brown eyes. At that moment the man is reminded of how much she needs him, and why he loves her.
Water leaks from the ceiling. The rain falls hard. But not hard enough to muffle the sound of the woman’s crying—or of the sirens, ringing in the distance.
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