by Hunter Whitcomb
eyeful of treachery greeted Spanky as he watched the two of them from
his idling pickup. He swore he had no reason to live. Too
bad the alternative held no appeal. Walking out of the fancy brick
home with its tile roof and air-conditioned porch, Thelma practically
looked aflutter laying a kiss on that banty rooster’s cheek.
A flank of slash pine marked the turn onto the private road and it was
through their beetle-riddled trunks that he had spotted her blue Malibu.
That’s when he pulled his pickup into the weeds along the shoulder
and witnessed the whole vexing scene. He had taken a swing by
the bastard’s house to once again ask for more than a few hours a
week of part-time work. Maybe get moved into a full-time position.
He never expected to find Thelma there. Not one hour before, she
told him she had to go into work early for a meeting, something about
new procedures at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
was wearing her blue polka dot dress with a wide belt that accentuated
her tiny waist and a neckline that could make any man forget his sense
of decency. Earlier, he had wondered why on earth she would don
that bit of enticement to work. As for Earl, he was standing on his
front porch in blue boxers and a wife-beater. Quite the spectacle
with his ropy arms, scrawny bird legs, and a front end that made him
wanted to kill them both. Almost got out of the truck to rip them
a new one, except where would that leave him? This was no way
for a man to live, beholden to a woman for the roof over his head, and
compelled to keep his trap shut with Earl because the guy signed a paycheck
for him every now and then. How did he end up scrapping for every
bone someone might toss? Spanky threw the truck into gear, spun
it around, and headed home. Thelma’s home, he reminded himself
with a bitter rise of bile.
the drive back, he thought hard over what to do: lie down and take it
or say something to the both of them and lose what he had going.
When that crazy old hound of Bingham’s came running out of the onion
field after his truck, Spanky had half a mind to hit him. Better
yet, drive fast enough to stay ahead and slow enough to keep him interested.
Take the old boy on a long run and give him a canine cardiac.
The dog followed him for another half mile toward Thelma’s and gave
up. A damn shame.
his tires crunched across the gravel of the driveway, he cussed over
a gray pickup parked in his spot.
Thelma first brought him here, he stood awestruck at what a sweet setup
she had. Her house sat on the edge of the woods, close enough
to Lake George to have a fishing line soaking in less than a minute.
The house was old and small, with white clapboard sides, asphalt shingles,
and a blue screened-in porch. Nothing lavish, but in decent shape.
loved the place.
stayed in his truck, staring and trying to place the owner of the familiar
pickup. Someone from Jake’s Bar? Maybe the Village Inn,
where he drank coffee on mornings he had nowhere to go. Thelma’s
sixteen-year-old daughter was the only one who might have company there,
but she was heading to school when Spanky left. He had offered
her a ride, but she said she would take the bus. When he stepped
out of the cab, music was blaring from the house, one of those new groups
that girl played to death.