little bitch,” He spat in a hoarse whisper. “You ‘post to be earnin’ cash, not
runnin’ the fuckin’ dog pound. Mr. Wilson, one of my best customers, is back in
the bedroom waitin’. He’d got his dick in one hand and a hunnert bucks in the
other. And turn off that damned Christmas music.”
turned away as he clicked the radio off, shielding the half-starved, little
black mongrel. “Please don’t hit me again, Buck. He was under the back stoop,
wet and hungry. I’ll just feed him scraps when I fix your supper.”
already drunk and stoned, slurred through his scraggly beard, “Bitch, you ain’t
earned a dime today. Now lose the damned pooch and them clothes and get your
ass back there. Earn me a couple more quarts of tequila at least for Christ’s
Duke, tomorrow’s Christmas Eve. Most of them men that come around are home with
their families. We ain’t gonna have many visitors.”
bitch.” Buck stepped partly down the hall and raised his voice. “Gotta
a sweetheart comin’ up Mr. Wilson. She
gives great head.”
please, let me have a condom. Wilson is a smelly old man. I still got them
marks on my back where he whipped me with his belt last time.” Sherry brushed
passed him, nude. He hadn’t seen her hide the dog in the trash accumulated
beneath a fold out dining table in the filthy trailer. She’d tossed her clothes
atop him next to the door. Shivering and grateful for dry warmth, he huddled,
ass in there, dumbass. Before he changes his mind. And get the hunnert ‘fore he
puts up his hard-on and his cash.” His drunken laugh was like tearing metal.
met Buck on the bus down from Lubbock. Race car driver, he’d said, coming to
Dallas to sign a contract with a major sponsor. The only race he’d had was
running from the cops. He’d moved her into a sleazy trailer court and made her
sell herself to any john who showed up. She’d run away from home in Lubbock.
While her mom worked evenings at the truck stop, her stepdad Wilber, a bigger
shit than Duke, couldn’t keep his hands off her. When he raped her again on her
seventeenth birthday, she’d fled in desperation.
honey-talking on the bus, had seemed to be a new beginning. It was, all right,
except he was a brutal, low-rate pimp. She’d called her mom collect and learned
Wilbur had been shot and killed in a Lubbock barroom brawl. If she could get
the sixty-one-dollar bus fare, she’d run. But she’d tried to run a week earlier
with no money. Duke had caught her at the bus station and beat the shit out of
her. Now, in despair, she endured Ol’ smelly Wilson’s crude sexual abuse,
feeling painfully alone and helpless.
swaggered down the hallway tugging at his fly. He handed Duke the hundred
dollars. “Fine little piece of ass, Duke. Nice tits. Loves pain. I got her
broke in for whoever’s next.” As the door slammed behind him, Duke called out,
“Sherry, get your ecked ass in here.” He tossed the five twenty-dollar bills on
a coffee table.
from the treatment she’d just received from Wilson, she stumbled down the hall.
“My turn, baby.” Duke threw her to the floor, took a long pull on his tequila
bottle, dropped his greasy jeans, and threw himself on her. The soft growl of
the forlorn little dog went unnoticed.
young officer Jackson said. “You missed that little honey runnin’ round buck
nekked tryin’ to pull on duds and hold her dog at the same time.”
sergeant studied the burned hulk. “Man, that’s a hell of a fire. One of them damned
cheap little trailers get started, they’re a roman candle. Looks like the mope
tried to crawl out the door. He’s mostly burned from the waist down. Whud the
medical examiner say?”
and blood loss. Sherry, the little cutie there says the pimp, Duke what’s his
name was slammin’ tequila and smoking a joint when she dozed on the sofa. Looks
like the dumb bastard passed out and set hisself afire. That tequila ain’t
gasoline, but it will burn. He’s sure as hell no loss.”
burns plus blood loss…?
the dirtbag tried to crawl out the door, see his jeans
come partly off… managed to catch his package on the metal door sill. He
mighta made it…tore his balls clean off,
then he couldn’t get clear. Burned right there in the door.”
his ol’ lady?”
said she was jes’ crashin’ for the night. Lucky ol’ Duke killed his damn fool
self. He’d a turned her out sure as hell if she stayed. She’s only been in
Dallas three weeks. Says she needs to get home to mama in Lubbock. She’s got a
hundred bucks to buy a ticket and a cage for her mutt if I give her a lift to
the bus station. Think that would be okay, sarge?”
don’t get caught havin’ a quickie on the way.”
officer motioned Sherry over. “I got the okay to take you to the station. We
can stop at the pet shop and get a carrier for your dog. Whut’s the little
runt’s name, honey…and does he bite?” He scratched the little dog’s ears.
He’s my Christmas Guardian angel. And he’d never bite anybody.”
grinned. “He don’t look so ferocious to me. Jackson, get started for the bus
terminal. Sherry can be home for Christmas Eve if you hurry the hell up.” Angel
burrowed his head into Sherry’s hoodie. There was no way the cops could see the
blood on his muzzle.
“Merry Christmas, Sherry,”
the Sarge called out as they walked away.
Gary Clifton, forty years a cop has been shot at, shot,
stabbed, lied to and about. and often misunderstood. He currently lives
on a dusty north Texas ranch where he doesn't give a damn if school keeps or
not. Clifton has published approximately 120 short fiction pieces, included
upwards of fifty in Bewildering Stories Mag, He currently has
three novels available through Amazon and other outlets: Nights on
Fire, Murdering Homer, and Dragon Marks Eight. He
blogs at www.bareknucklethoughts.org