Once again, I'm thankful for the opportunity Green Windows has afforded me to share a vital part of myself. A request was made for an upcoming post, and I jumped at the chance. The following is a story that I feel captures the elements of writing and inspiration that I enjoy. As always, a hearty thank you to those who choose to humor me in my strange, literary journey.
Pockets Picked Clean
by Philip Staley
4 pink, oblong capsules; a handful of .40 caliber bullets; a half-box of Sugar Smacks cereal and $32.
Jacques wondered how his life had taken this wrong turn and ended up here in this bad joke of a roadside motel. His brother, Anderson, lay sprawled on the sparse carpet like some hideous, squashed bug. Their new companion, Lacey, slept so angelically, curled up like a child in the cheap, poster bed.
Jacques looked over again at the rickety table and the articles resting on its surface. Why were the most dangerous objects in life always shaped like cylinders?
He had minutes before Lacey woke up, to consume her “morning cocktail” of several 500mg Depakote tablets and the most burnt convenience store coffee in the Tri-state area. After their desperate breakfast, the trio would have to move again. Anderson doing the breakneck driving, and their drug-fueled siren earning her keep by getting them into those unspeakable places sure to come up on the journey.
Jacques couldn’t help but muse over Lacey. Despite the deficiencies in her brain biochemistry, she was a knockout that “looked like California.” She was the perfect face of the operation, which included negotiations with hard men that had even harder problems.
This particular job was revenge, which coincidentally always tasted so viscous and metallic; similar to the tang of an empty shell casing or a stale mood stabilizer on the end of one’s tongue.
Lacey shot up from the bed as if she’d been touched by a faith healer. Her eyes were wild with the last traces of somnambulism and the myriad hells inflicted by her subconscious. Jacques hurried to the table to assemble her morning offering, fumbling and knocking several bullets to the floor. Anderson stirred on the thin carpet, his half-asleep face a twisted mask of post-indulgent contortions.
The dingy room itself was sweltering; a literal hotbox. Lacey appropriately was covered in a sheen of slick sweat, and not much else. Even the walls were scorching as Jacques moved to peer through the raggedy blinds, taking in the bleak, white-hot landscape of the desert ahead.
The real trick would be making the proverbial “dollar out of fifteen cents," as the trio sped through the blasted highways inching ever closer to their fractured goal.
Slumbering Anderson wasn’t without his problems either, not venturing too far from his dirty syringe and the trail of the dragon he was currently chasing. There was no one else, thought the reluctant ringleader. This is how it had to go down.
With nearly two score dollars and an ill-conceived plan, Jacques continued to appraise the scenery and the shopworn,’72 Fleetwood convertible that somehow got them this far.
He’d inherited it from his Uncle Ray; a flim-flam man who pretended to have so much soul, but was as alabaster as the rest. He too had a penchant for dangerous cylindrical therapy.
But this was it, the cost of freedom; Off the grid and out of consideration. 2 bit hustles being the order of the day when the ink on your ID was still wet.
Jolted from waxing philosophical, the happenstance shepherd recoiled slightly as Lacey slurped her foul, room temperature coffee. She eyed him and the cereal hungrily, making Jacques wonder how far her appetites truly extended…