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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Short Story: On the Fly, Run the Table (Part 1 of 3)

Waking up with the smell of stale warm beer hanging over him, Terrance rolled to one side of the motel bed and vomited into the ash-filled plastic garbage can. He could hear the roar of the semis trucking by at 75 MPH, like the old railroad line that ran by his Greenboro, Alabama home.

His family was "air poor" which was a might worse of that "dirt poor." As his Uncle Sal said to him at age six: "Dirt poor means you got something to hold on to. Air poor means you swap it out, like one of those time shares in Florida. We's do plenty of swappin' out 'round here."
That little dusty town was a model of the Reformation South: small, black majority, white controlled. It just figured Terrance wanted to escape it.

He was twenty-three. All ready divorced from the high school sweetheart made under the bleachers of the football game. She seemed to care greatly until Terrance decided to move north to Cincinnati.

"I am not leavin' my family. They have my best interests at heart. You don't." Wendy Nixon was a southern belle without any inner beauty. After giving the owner his 2-week notice at the distribution plant, with a job awaiting in Cincy, he found Wendy fucking his best man, Ronny Mason, on the kitchen counter. She could have avoided the surprise.

Terrance barely reacted - just went to the bedroom and packed his clothes - knowing it was all over except for the divorce papers. He left for Cincy after a week in the hotel, taking his last paycheck and belongings with him in the dusty '93 Toyota Camry.

Wendy never called, or worried. But then again her family owned the hardware store and was the law in those parts. Wendy had married him because he played football well and worked hard. Talent and work ethic were hard pressed to find in Greenboro. "You's the best catch a girl could have," Wendy had said only 3 years prior. Funny how time changes that.

Terrance third month in Cincy had seen him fall down a bit. He worked hard at the top-end distribution center, going through the supervisor training and making it to the overnight lead supervisor. But on weekends he got drunk and spent hours at the local strip club, half-mile from work and one mile from the seedy hotel.

Samantha (Vanity) liked him. She'd only take enough money not to cause her wannabe pimp owner not to get suspicious. Terrance seem unfazed by her seductive gyrations seeming to stare right through her, upon their first encounter. That bothered her, since she was never ignored by any customer she ever met. After watching him drink a half-dozen beers and lethargically hand over a dozen $1 bills to the various strippers, she came over.

"So what's you doing?" Samantha asked.

"Thinking about things." Terrance said.

"Bad things?" Samantha asked.

"Is there any other type?" he replied.

"I think so. So can I help?" she drew closer, figuring him for any easy $100 for 4 songs.

"I'm sure you could oblige. I shouldn't be here. It's just convenient." Terrance took a sip, paused for a moment, looked at his watch and stood up to leave.

"You in a hurry? Got a wife?" she cocked her head sideways as she stared up at him. He towered over her 5 foot frame, even in 4 inch heels.

"No and no. Just had my fill. But thanks for the conversation." He handed her $40 --and left out the door.
In the ensuing month, and weekly visit to the joint that nabbed plenty of hourly workers and supervisors, Terrance warmed to Samantha a bit. After the fifth visit, she had made it her priority to get Terrance alone in the "back stage" area. She initiated more than ever.
It resulted in more confusion for both. More mysteries to fight against. Whys and Hows and What Next came breezily through their minds.

Terrance wasn't surprised she had left him in the motel alone -- he been pretty terrible after sex, crying -- but he just didn't belief she had time to pick flowers up from somewhere nearby. On the night stand stood a mixture of roses, tiger lilies and lilacs and a note: "Wondrous indeed is the night we had. See you later Terry. Love Sammy."
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