Greetings, fellow indie writers and readers! I am Beem Weeks, author of the historical fiction/coming-of-age novel JAZZ BABY and SLIVERS OF LIFE: A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES. My goal in life is to promote the indie movement to the world. I can be found on Twitter @VoiceOfIndie and @BeemWeeks. I enjoy indie films, loud music, and a well told story. Lansing, Michigan, USA.
Slivers Of Life
She’s says it’s only sex—as if that settles the matter and he has no say whatsoever. But he should have a say because she’s his and he’s hers and that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.
He says, “We don’t need the money that bad, Melissa.”
She replies, “We do so—unless you don’t mind sleeping in a car we can’t afford to keep gassed up.” She finds him leaning against the frame of the bathroom door, watching her, watching the whole routine of preparing for a date that doesn’t include him. “I love you, Tommy. You have to know that.”
“We’ve been through this a dozen times just this morning alone.” It’s that sharpness in her voice that gives away her mood, paints the girl argumentative, unbending. “You’re the one who quit your job, not me!”
Tommy tosses out the same retort he’s used since the moment she suggested this foolish idea. “Why can’t you just ask your folks for a loan?”
To ask for help means defeat. It tells her parents she can’t make it on her own.
It proves them correct in their opinion of him.
Melissa finds his gaze in the mirror. “I’m not going to listen to them call you worthless, Tommy.”
Her sisters went to college—all three of them. Melissa didn’t even finish high school. And that’s Tommy’s fault because if she hadn’t been in love with him, well, she’d have been focused on her grades. He graduated and she didn’t.
An idea slides between the two halves of his brain. “How about I ask Randall to get me in where he’s working?”
She reminds him, “We still need rent money by tomorrow or we’re out of here.”
A hundred dollars a week—that’s the going rate at the Westfield Motel.
Tommy made three times that each week at the stamping plant. But his foreman, Gill Sullivan, is such an asshole—nobody in that place can stand to work for the guy. Tommy’s the only one with balls big enough to just walk.
Melissa gives her shoulders a shrug, sending her pink bathrobe to the floor—the bathrobe Tommy bought her just last Christmas—exposing her bare body. It belongs to him, that milk-white skin, those small breasts shaped like two overturned teacups, that sparse tangle of hair where her legs meet—brunette, same as on her head.
Jealousy and anger compete with an emotion he’ll never confess aloud.
“Why would he ask you to do this?” Tommy wonders aloud, watching his girl dress for her father’s best friend.
“Fantasy,” she says, “—how should I know what’s inside his head?”
Tommy tries another angle. “Bet he won’t be your dad’s pal if word of this ever gets out.”
Melissa dismisses his veiled threat without retort.
Black lace panties and matching bra hide her goodies. Blue jeans and a Rolling Stones concert T-shirt finish out her ensemble.
“I’ll be home by nine,” she promises, leaving him little more than a peck on the lips.
* * *
Tommy paces over the filthy mustard-yellow carpet, every so often tossing his gaze between musty-smelling pea-green curtains that keep the outside world from creeping inside the room.
Midnight, and no sign of Melissa.
Midnight, and that old pervert has probably been inside her all night.
“Gotta go get her,” he tells himself, grabbing his car keys from the nightstand.
* * *
His Toyota finds refuge near the corner at the top of Canyon Drive. Well-to-do, the residents of this neighborhood. The sort of place Tommy’s own parents live—though they’d not lift a finger to help him out. His fault, though. He’s the one who chose Melissa over college.
He slips between two houses, stumbles onto the cement patio behind the home in question—the one where the dirty deed might still be in progress.
Does he really want to see such a thing?
Movement captures Tommy’s attention; shadows dance against sheer drapes. Him—the one calling himself Melissa’s godfather.
The scent of cinnamon incense passes through the open window. And music, too. Dave Brubeck’s jazz.
And there he is, the man himself, strutting around in nothing but gray boxers. It’s in that moment that his eyes fix on Tommy, the stupid boy standing on the patio peeking through an open window.
But the man doesn’t call him on this intrusion; he offers his back, showing off the—
Tommy’s own voice startles him. “What the hell…?”
Black—two of them!
And made of feathers!
“She’s not here,” the man says, extending those wings on his back. “And you shouldn’t be here either.”
Real! Genuine! Wings!
Words and letters mingle on Tommy’s tongue, tripping up the boy’s intended line of questioning. “What are—?”
The man (Angel? Demon?) hollers, “Go!”
How Tommy got out of that back yard without breaking his own neck is one of those mysteries that shall forever remain.
* * *
“Where have you been?” Melissa asks, catching Tommy in the motel parking lot.
A single word slips past his lips. “Store.”
She leans through the Toyota’s window, presses a kiss to his lips. “I followed your suggestion and asked my parents for the money,” she says, heading for their room. “I couldn’t go through with that other thing; it’d feel like I was cheating on you.”
“You would have been,” Tommy proclaims, climbing from his car.
A job, she’s saying, working in her father’s office. “But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook just because I have a job. I expect you to call Randall first thing in the morning.”
“Wings,” he announces. Says it aloud, searching her face for a clue.
Bewilderment, is what he finds.
She drops onto the bed. “Huh?”
“Never mind,” he mumbles, falling into the familiar warmth of his girl. “Never mind.”
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