Monsters and Dust

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She runs water over the top plate’s crusted egg-yolk smears, but isn’t about to deal with all that crash and clatter of unburying dishes out from under each other. Clear plastic presses coffee-grounds speckled ground-beef blood to blue Styrofoam at the top of the trash. She knows picking up the bag means balancing that. She has no balance to spare. There’s been this dead mouse smell in the kitchen the last few mornings, but after sitting with it a few minutes one doesn’t notice it anymore. Ronnie has no interest in searching it out or scooping it up.

My thinning goddamn hair, do I really think I’m fooling anyone pulling it out and teasing it like this?

Rust and gray, silver and copper, her pale reflection in the window drawn out across the back lawn, striped by angled blinds. Dead mouse smell, coffee grounds in blood, that laughter.

Later, out there on the interstate she stops for a drink at the Indian Casino. All those bells, the electronic bells of slot machines like electronic church bells, cast spells quickly, ‘wait for that payout, just one pull away, you’ve fed me this long, may as well wait for my pay out.’

The casino is the furthest out of town one can get and still be in town in any way. So she stops. She thinks, Ronnie, you better just think about this a minute girl. She was driving and it hit her so she stops and goes in.

But she makes it quick. She passes real quick through all those electronic bells and flashing lights and she sits down at the bar and she gets a double jack and coke and in as long as it takes the young man, he’s eager and smiling, and in just as long as it takes him to turn around and pour that drink she knows she has to keep moving because if she stopped because it hit her, if she stays stopped it’ll fall right on over her and pin her down and she’ll never keep moving so she takes that drink down in one long pull, lays a fiver out by the time he’s come back with that drink and she takes it down in one gulp and is up and a few steps away already by the time she shudders and he calls after her if she wants her change and she waves him off over her shoulder back into the flashing lights and electronic bells.

She knows then, this is hitting me. But this ain’t really hit me yet. I can still turn around.