I come in and find Evie, wearing only a thong, standing on the kitchen table, bowing. I lean my guitar against the wall and admire my girl. I never get tired of her skeleton. The tat stretches from her forehead to the tips of her toes. Front, back and sides. She’s a masterpiece although sometimes I wish the skull didn’t hide her beautiful face.
I must’ve told the story of where I’m from, why I came here, nearly every night for the first few months. Most people do, when there’s a new person that’s the first thing we usually ask them, “So how did you end up here?” As I became more known and recognised faces I would only talk to tourists about it, if I’d already had a few drinks and they’d asked.
Carly’s hair is falling out. She leaves gold strands everywhere, Gretel’s nightmare version of bread crumbs. We don’t talk about it.
A match flares. A moment later, an empty cigarette pack lands at Janey’s feet in the back seat. She stretches her arms and yawns. Her mother drums her fingers on the steering wheel and beeps the car horn. “Hurry up, Jack.” The Joe’s Blue Lounge sign creates an eerie glow inside the car, a rusted Ford sedan idling by the curb on Main Street about a block south of the square.
I pulled up to the 7/11 and realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d ordered an Icee. I mixed Coke and Strawberry into the biggest cup they had. I remembered when Cheyenne and I were in middle school how we used to mix this with the vodka her mom never bothered to lock up. The girl behind the counter looked like she’d recently graduated from high school, although she held herself with a toughness beyond her years. She’d either shrunk her uniform shirt on purpose or lied about her size, because I could see her belly button ring on her washboard stomach. I looked at the half-eaten nachos behind her and figured she only had a few more years to look like this. She didn’t ask where I was going or where I’d come from. When she handed me my change, I noticed the frenzy of old cuts on her left arm. These weren’t those superficial, privileged, symmetrical cuts girls in my high school had. These were frantic and left her arm looking like an old cutting board. These were the cuts that you get when your uncle’s bent you over a couch for a year and no one believes you. I thought about giving her a hundred dollar bill to impress her. I could tell her where I was headed. She’d be touched and give me her number, and then…what? I threw a pack of Cheyenne’s brand of smokes on the counter, paid with a twenty, and left.