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Walk About, Chapter Four


Darlene Franklin-Campbell's new novel, Walk About, is being posted online chapter-by-chapter, for people to read for free. Previous Chapter: Walk About, Chapter Three, or start at the beginning: Walk About: Chapter One.

Chapter Four

By Darlene Franklin-Campbell

"How can you live like this?" Rosie asked as Ace unlocked the door in back of the store and allowed her into her apartment, which was basically one giant room divided into sections.

Ace took a puff off her cigarette and blew rings of smoke. "Easy. I eat right there at that breakfast bar. I cook over there on that stove. I sleep in that bed and I sit on that couch and watch that TV. Oh, and my bathroom and closet are through that door near the bed."

"But this is so, so, tiny and it's almost as bad as living in an RV."

"I tried it your way," Ace said. "It didn't work for me. I can't be straddled to a man who treats me like a weekend pontoon. Being single's not so bad. I go where I want. I do what I want. I wear what I want. I don't have to answer to anybody."

She walked over to the door in back of the room which opened into her closet and beyond that, her bathroom. The closet consisted of an 8'x10' area with rows of clothes hanging on each side and racks of shoes beneath them.


She packed a duffle bag with some of her favorite things. The two women were heading back into the store area when they saw the reflection of headlights coming through the windows.

"Come on," Rosie said, "it's Clyde and Pinky."

They started out the door, "Oh, wait!" Ace exclaimed, turning and heading toward the pool tables in the back of her establishment.

"What?" Rosie said. "They're waiting for us."

"This," Ace said. She took a dark purple pool stick from its home on the wall. "My lucky pool stick."

"You don't need that," Rosie said.

"Look, Sis, before I take one more step there is something you need to remember about me. There are certain things that I need in life. One, I need pretty clothes. Two, I need coffee and cigarettes. Three, I need my lucky pool stick and four, I need my purple Mustang. If I have those things I can take a bath in a creek and poop in the weeds on the side of the road if I have to, but those four things are my non-negotiables."

In the parking lot Pinky waited in her car and Clyde drove James Allen's car.

Rosie got into the car with Clyde.

Pinky rolled down her window. "You remember what to do, right Ace?" She handed her sister a pair of binoculars and a small glass vial of liquid.

Ace nodded then got into her own car and waited, eyes trained on the Grisham house.

Pinky crossed the highway and turned onto the gravel road near the Grisham home, cutting her lights and hoping that Bill Grisham was a deep sleeper. Clyde, with Rosie in tow, followed suite. Once past his house, they proceeded on the heart of the salvage yard, now using light from a nearly full moon and parking lights to guide them as they entered the eerie land of skeleton automobiles.

Finally, Clyde pulled James Allen Putt's car between a gutted out bus and a rusty van. Pinky stopped on the gravel road that ran through the heart of the junkyard.

The girls went to work. Pinky wiped down the entire interior of Putt's vehicle, especially the steering wheel with a wet towel she had brought from Rosie's house. Then Clyde jacked up the car and crawled under it with a small propane fueled torch that she'd found in the garage at Rosie's house. Rosie had been right. The man had a nice collection of all the latest tools. She went about removing the engine number from chassis.

When she finally came out from under the car and they let the jack down, they set about removing all traces of ownership to the vehicle. Pinky took a razor blade and removed the tag from inside the driver's door and Rosie scratched it off the dash. Pinky and Rosie then set about checking the frame, the engine and under the spare tire for the vehicle registration number, scratching it off each time they found it. After being satisfied that the number had been completely eradicated from the car, they took the hub caps off and put them in the trunk of Pinky's car. Then the girls took hammers and busted out the headlights, the windshield and front windows of the vehicle and proceeded to make several large dents in it, to make it look like it had been through a wreck. They knocked the front bumper off so that it hung to the ground. Then she had Rosie remove the license plate and put it in Pinky's trunk.

By the time the finished, even in the light from the moon, they could tell the car looked like it had been wrecked. Clyde took off one wheel and rolled it over the hill, letting it go out of control through the junk yard until it finally fell over and rested in some weeds. There were spare parts all over the junk yard. A few more would not be noticed. Then Pinky let the air out of another tire.

***

Back at the store Ace got a lump in her throat when she saw the light come on in one room of the Grisham home. Through the thin kitchen curtains she could see movement in the house. The binoculars enhanced it and she could see Bill Grisham's balding head moving around the kitchen. It looked like he was putting water in a tea pot.

"Go back to bed," she whispered. "No, don't make tea. It's 3 a.m. Go back to bed."

But he wasn't going back to bed, he was getting a jar from a cabinet--instant coffee. Ace picked up the tiny vial Pinky had given her and sighed. Then she pulled her car across the highway, cut the engine and got out. She had only been in the Grisham home one time and the sisters had been living there then. Bill Grisham was a cantankerous old fart, even when he was sober. She sighed and pulled her shoulders back then walked up the steps to his home. On the porch, she paused, the butterflies in her stomach felt more like bats. She rapped on the door. She heard him coming. The show was about to begin.

***

Still in the junkyard, the other three sisters removed all papers from the glove box and made sure there was nothing to identify the owners anywhere in or on the vehicle. They even removed the battery.

They left the junk yard and came down the gravel road by the Grisham home just before dawn. Ace stood beside her Mustang in Bill Grisham's drive way, a clear signal that things had not gone unnoticed. Pinky rolled down the window.

"Rosie," Ace began, her voice angry. "I just had the most horrible experience and it's your fault. I hope you're happy."

But Rosie wasn't happy. She was crying. "We just dismembered James Allen's car and you're whining about drugging a drunk junkyard owner?"

"Well, I want you to know that Grisham will never trust me again," Ace said. "He was aggravated that someone knocked on his door at 3 in the morning, so I had to act like...like...Rosie and pretend that I was scared and couldn't sleep and wanted to have coffee with him, that horrible nasty-tasting, half-cold generic crap. So, the old coot thought I was interested in him and got all pawsy, so it was drug him or puke!"

Clyde held out her hand, "Here, Ace."

"What is that?" Ace asked, as Clyde deposited small, dark, balls into her palm. "Looks like rabbit turds."

"It's ch...chocolate covered raisins," Clyde said. "Candy always helps."

"It is a possible loose end," Pinky said. "Grisham's gonna be suspicious..."

"We're all going to prison," Rosie wailed.

"That's definitely true if we don't find another place to talk," Pinkie said. "How about Nanna's rose garden?"

"Okay," Ace said.

Clyde nodded.

Rosie sobbed.

As she pulled onto the highway, Pinky wished that her two younger sisters were in the car with Ace. She cracked the window and turned on the radio. Good music was what she needed right now to drown out Rosie's whining and Clyde's candy chomping. She had traded the chocolate covered raisins for something she could crunch.

Nanna's rose garden was the one immovable place the girls had known in their childhood. The roses had been wild but Nanna never minded. She cared for them and bragged about them as if they were the most expensive roses in the world. Pinky had never forgotten her long talks with Nanna Ezelphia Zara Davis, a Romanian immigrant. They had been close.

Pinky smiled, remembering how Nanna described their family as rambling roses, going in many directions but always connected at the roots. Just then a new song came on the radio, "When a flower grows wild, it can always survive. Wildflowers don't care where they grow."

Pinky glanced over at Clyde, long legs, bushy black curls, then she peeked at Rosie in the backseat, delicate features, luxurious dark waves of hair. Yes, they were definitely rambling roses, wild flowers, maybe even weeds.


Darlene Franklin-Campbell, an Adair County native, holds an M.A. from Lindsey Wilson College but has also done post-graduate work in storytelling and literacy at Western Kentucky University and is an alumnus of Campbellsville University. She is a member of the Elizabeth Maddox Roberts Society, the Adair County Arts Council, The Adair County Genealogical Society, The Green County Genealogical Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Mysterium Society (an IQ society for linguists). She has attended the Appalachian Writers Workshop, WisCOn, and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. She currently teaches Art at the Adair County Primary Center. You may visit her webpage at https://www.dardet.com or her writer's blog at https://whisperingwind.blog to check out more of her work.


This story was posted on 2021-12-14 16:15:33
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