She’d winced as she picked the carcass up by two fingers. Gross!
She hadn’t meant to be the means of ending life when she crawled out of bed this morning. Why’d that stupid bird just stand there, never flinching when she came around the corner? It had to see her coming, could have flown away, but didn’t. Why not?
Instead, it defiantly stared her down as the moving-too-fast-to-stop vehicle she was driving took it’s life.
Sure, it was just a chicken. A foul wandering along a deserted stretch of highway, but maybe a momma, too.
Maybe a hen with chicks.
Maybe a bird with business.
Maybe someone’s provider.
She knew how it felt to bear that weight on fragile shoulders and she mourned for the bird. Crossed herself. Turned away for the briefest of moments in respect for the dead. Regardless, into the stew pot it went, because when you’re a single mom living on welfare and child support you don’t waste resources. Any resources. You use what God sends you, and she did!
Tall and broad at the shoulders, he was a brute of a man, but limber. Unexpectedly so. He’d walked light-footed through the casino in a pair of nubuck Timberlands when she’d first spotted him, size 13. A shag of hair the color of black walnuts covered almost every inch of flesh above his neck; his chest, too. He’d led her into the parking lot after a few shots of bourbon because he thought being with her would be easy, but nothing about Ruby left a man at ease.
Exiting the car after, he’d called out to her from a measurably lowered testosterone haze, “Hey, where ya goin’? We done here? Really!?”
“A girl’s gotta pee, doesn’t she?” was her only reply.
Ruby didn’t have to pee. Ruby didn’t have to do anything. As she confidently made her way across the parking lot and past the main entrance to the gaming tables, she violently flicked her head sideways. This continued a habit she’d adopted years before when she realized for the first time how much her mother hated a shrouded stare in her punching bags.
Ruby pulled the paper money and credit cards from the wallet she’d lifted off him. The rest of his identity she let slip through experienced fingers to the wet pavement below. She fingered the cross she always wore around her neck.
The fog was beginning to roll in quickly now.
$594 in cash and the plastic—it’d been a good night!