I don’t need a map.
(photography by Ellie Lane)
Wyatt no longer enjoyed the taste of tobacco but he lit another cigarette just the same. The warm smoke helped fight the chill that had descended on the valley. He continued along the path, closing the collar of his flannel around his neck as a damp breeze shook the giant Virginia pines. Perhaps it was the bitterness of aging but it seemed to Wyatt that the autumn months were growing longer and colder; endless weeks of decay with a promise of rebirth that never seemed to come.
He stopped at the top of the hill, where he had found the Parker girl, her broken body propped up against the base of an Ailanthus tree, her hair speckled with its radiant orange seeds. It was one of the police officers who told him that the name meant “tree of heaven.”’ Wyatt didn’t believe in heaven but he supposed if such a place existed, Amie Parker would likely be there.
It was springtime when he came upon her and at first, he thought nothing of finding her sitting alone under the tree. She had always kept to herself and had a reputation in town for being prone to daydreams and laughing inappropriately at inside jokes no one else understood. But as he drew closer he saw that her dress was torn, revealing a pale white breast and her once bright blue eyes had turned lifeless and grey as they stared down on the Little Miami River. It felt like hours until the police arrived, during which Wyatt had to resist the urge to brush the ants off of her dirty bare feet. He couldn’t help but stare at her bloody mouth, which the killer had molded into a grim smile.
No one knew who murdered Amie Parker. The police had questioned Wyatt, along with most of the men in town, and concluded it was the work of a transient. He told them she came into the liquor store once a week to buy a quart of Jack Daniels for her mama. He didn’t tell them that he occasionally snuck her miniature bottles of whiskey or about the time he fingered her in the storage locker in exchange for some cigarettes. And he didn’t tell them that when he was alone at night, he frequently fantasized about the color of her panties and the soft skin on the inside of her thighs. After all, he wasn’t the one who killed her and there was no reason to place suspicion on himself.
Wyatt has walked this path every day since he found Amie Parker under the Ailanthus tree. He tells himself it is in hope of finding some overlooked clue: a piece of fabric or perhaps a muddy shoe print. But all he really wants is capture some remnants of her life—to breathe the same air that she once did, and to find joy and comfort in being alone.
© 2014 gibson grand
This story appears in my collection of short stories and poetry, Leave Your Money on the Dresser, which is available in both print and electronic versions on Amazon.
The next Dirty Boys reading will be bigger, louder, and dirtier!
As much as we love The Magician, last reading we packed the place and scared the neighbors. So please join us on May 4th at our new venue, The Parkside Lounge. We will have a lot more seating and privacy in their performance area, which means… well, which means trouble.
The Dirty Boys Reading
May 4th, 2014 - 7PM
The Parkside Lounge
317 East Houston St (at Attorney St), NYC
$5 Cover - 21 and over
Photos of the Dirty Boys by Walter Wlodarczyk
Hooper turned to Quint. His voice trembled as he spoke.
“Do you have any idea where we are going?”
Quint smiled derisively, before draining another Narragansett. He crushed the can in his scarred fist before tossing it on the deck.
“Come here, ya Mary!”
Quint pulled Hooper into his arms and gave his a long, deep kiss.
“All ya fancy maps and equipment…It’s the coward’s way. Sometimes it’s better to throw yerself on the rocks and feel the embrace of the sea.”
Jaws-themed, bromance fanfiction suits my mood today.
Plenty of tumblr folk attend the shows. The readers are by invitation only but we are happy to take submissions.