Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Maxed Out"

a short story by T. Remington
image by aleXander hirka - click to enlarge


     There it went. Bev watched the bus pull away from the corner and shrugged. It’s not as if she wanted to go after all. She slowed down, relieved in the old sidestepped-the-beggar-while-catching-sight-of-the-landlord-at-the-door way. Oh, she knew she’d have to go. And now she would be late. She’d tried every conceivable angle and, no matter how she played it, scripted it, invented it or let it run through her imagination - like a movie she was making up as it went along, directing, starring in and distributing to deep pockets throughout the Panhandle - this was the end of the run.
      She was moving back to live with her mother.

      You know how I never wanted kids. Here, wait a minute, I want to check this out. See that? Damned government’s gonna take us all down. I tell you what; neither of those lying bastards is getting my vote.
      What? Oh right. Yeah, she’ll be here today, later. I cleared out the back room some, she can fix it how she likes it when she gets here. You know how it is, I got pregnant and that was it. Couldn’t go anywhere. Couldn’t work, hell, nothing around here pays enough to cover the damned childcare. So I had to go on the welfare, get the food stamps, line up in their shitty offices and get treated like a lazy immigrant. You’re lucky with Stan; he’s a pain in the ass, but he’s solid and you can count on him.
      At least she lit outta here before she’d turned seventeen, sure she was gonna make it big downstate. By then, though, what kind of job was I gonna be able to get? Yep. And I’m still there; shoving bacon and eggs down the yap-holes of every truck driver comes down the turnpike.
      Can you get that? My hip’s hinky today. And hand me the bottle, would you? Ah, that’s better. Yep. Of course she’s gonna be late. Hell, she was born late and the only thing she ever did early was get out of here. But now she’s coming back, isn’t she?

      The film crew moved in and took over for the two weeks it took to get their external shots. The whole town went bonkers. Every online-obsessed, rag-reader was sure this would be it for her and flocks of them hovered around the perimeter of the sets, trying to catch an eye, any eye, even the eye of the props guy would do. Bev made it her business to get the union hands into the diner for breakfast and lavished them with extra butter, refills of coffee, whole jugs of fresh squeezed orange juice, defiant in the face of her mother’s annoyance. Bev’s a grown woman now, hell she’s nearly thirty years old and her mother can glare all she wants.
      Bev did her homework. She knew who she needed to corner and planned the encounter with the focus of an invading general whose army was down to its last good push. She knew where he walked, where he ate, where he went to shit. She staked out the route and made her move on the second to last day.

      Yeah, who knows what’s gotten into her this time. I think she had some big ideas around that movie crew that was in last week. She’ll get over it. Sure, I’ll have another. Get one for yourself, too. Want to tap on her door while you’re in there? She’ll come out when she’s hungry enough, I suppose. I thought of that, yep, but I’m not seeing anything missing from the fridge or cupboards. No, I haven’t gone in. What am I gonna say to her? Better luck next time?