Fuck Charlene anyway’s. It was all her own fault anyhow. Got what was coming to her. If only the stupid cow had left well enough alone. But no, not her, not Charlene. There was nothing wrong with the old TV, nothing wrong at all. But she just had to have one of those huge flat screen smart TV’s. No matter, we could barely pay the rent, let alone afford the TV and all the other shit she wanted. Nag, nag, nag. Want this, want that, want fucking everything.
Still, it should have been easy. That old guy in the drug store looked feeble enough. Looked like he could barely stand let alone move that fast. ‘It'll be easy, Josh’ she said. ‘Just walk in, guns drawn. He’ll throw the money at us. Probably shit himself, he’ll be so scared.’
So in we went. Guns drawn, shouting and cussin for the money. Jeez, that old coot sure could move. Quicker than a hooker drops her drawers. Charlene dead on the floor and me with a big hole in my shoulder. Cost him dear though, that old guy, cost him his life. Silly old fuck, only ninety bucks in the register. Why’d he go pulling a gun like that?
I barely made it out in time. I could hear sirens approaching as I climbed into the car. Lucky for me there was a Walmart a couple of blocks away and I drove over without drawing any attention. I circled around the parking lot before I found a good spot to park. Far enough away to avoid prying eyes spotting my blood soaked clothing and yet not so far as to stick out, like a sore thumb. All I needed was to blend in, become inconspicuous and grab some rest.
The welcome cover of night had settled in by the time I woke. Slowly, I made my way over to the chain store, avoiding the overhead lights in the parking lot. Once at the entrance all I could do was throw caution to the wind. Lady Luck smiled on me. No one noticed as I made my way over to Men’s Wear. Seconds later I was wearing a bulky, new jacket, tags removed. I was free to shop in peace, confident that nobody would notice me.
Twenty minutes later, I was back in the car, laden with dressing for my wound, snacks, cokes and a fifth of tequila to sterilise the wound and to help cheer my spirits. I toyed with the idea of jacking a replacement for the car, but decided against it. Chances were I’d only draw more attention.
Loss of blood and maybe shock had me feeling queasy. I needed to get moving, put some distance behind me, but exhaustion took over and I fell asleep again.
Sometime after midnight I woke, put the car in gear and drove out onto the street. The town was quiet, too quiet. A solitary car was easy for any police patrol to spot. On a boring night shift they’d likely pull me in just for the heck of it. But not tonight, no siree. In no time I was out of the down and onto a desert highway.
Except for the sound of a lone coyote drifting across the flat desert terrain, all was quiet. Sparse cacti stood to attention like sentries along the edge of the road. Exhaustion gripped hold of me, trying to force sleep on me. I kept the windows open, despite the cold desert air, forcing myself to stay alert. I had to find somewhere to sleep.
Nearly a hundred miles into the desert, with no signs of life, except for the incessant howling of that damned coyote. The fuel gauge was hovering on empty for the past half hour. The engine began to cough and stutter before finally giving up. I coasted over to the side of the road, cursing my luck. Feelings of despair washed over me. I lay back in the seat and slugged a shot of neat tequila straight from the bottle. The shot did nothing to help. I was ready to surrender to death or the law, whichever came first, when I noticed lights flicker in the distance. At first I thought it might be the silver light of the moon reflecting off something discarded in the sand. Slowly I realised that the light was coming from a remote building.
With renewed vigour and a fresh sense of hope, I struggled out of my seat and began to walk towards the light. Under the bright moon and a sky full of twinkling stars I staggered across the rough terrain. My coyote friend was joined in his chorus by a host of his brethren. Perhaps it was some mystical coyote ritual. Preparation for a late night hunt? Or maybe adoration of a moon Goddess? Who knows? Not me, but I was glad of the company in the vast emptiness.
The distant building grew closer. I could see that it was a roadside motel. Brightly lit and vibrant with life. I could feel the comfort of a warm shower and a solid meal. A sign shone out, declaring that this was ‘The Westways Court Motel.’ They could have called it ‘The Devil’s Pit’ for all I cared. My salvation was at hand.
My mind was confused, hard to say if it was the alcohol or blood loss, but the motel began to zoom in and out of my vision. No matter how far I walked, the lights seemed no closer. I walked and crawled, then walked again. I was finished. I sank to my knees, emptied my bottle in one final gulp. The motel seemed to mock me as I collapsed, too tired to care.
The next day, the coyotes were silent. Resting peacefully, content with full bellies, from last night's feast, Comfortable in the shade of the derelict ‘Westways Court Motel’.