Flexing Her Bitch MuscleSeptember 30, 2015
The semester has barely started and Darlene is already flexing her bitch muscle. She’s back in her little brick room inside a larger brick building standing in front of people even her colleagues say are ‘as dumb as a brick.’
Darlene doesn’t see it that way.
She sees the potential.
She sees the magic.
She sees the struggle.
She rolls up her sleeves. Digs her trench. Puts them in line. One by one. Builds a future with those so called bricks.
The foundation is laid. Education is the mortar. Darlene flexes her bitch muscle so none of those bricks crumble.
Second day of school. Darlene wants to get to her car. Smoke. Drink the coffee she drained from the glass pot in the teachers’ lounge. Three class sets of senior quick writes on a ‘moment in life that had a profound effect on you.’ She assigns it early to get a feel for what she’ll be dealing with for the term. A glance at the top sheet beneath a pink paperclip of the first stack catches her eye.
Clean penmanship. Bonus. Shows the writer’s intelligent. No overly loopy lettering. No hearts or balloons over small case letter Is. Paragraphs indented. Quote marks for dialogue. Who is this kid and why is she in Dar’s class? Darlene always gets the third tiers. The ones with special needs. The ones lugging emotional loadstones.
Standing behind her desk, Jerry Garcia smiling down upon her from the painting on cinder blocks done by a kid who later ran off never to be heard from again, Dar reads.
‘Two bullets. One for him. One for me. It’s the way it has to be. That’s the American way, right? Self-inflicted justice.’
Dar looks at the name. Stephanie Crawford. Doesn’t recognize it. Doesn’t know the face. Too soon. Odds are it belongs to the pretty girl in the next to last seat nearest the door. Easy in easy out seat. She looked a little more secure of herself. Light makeup, straight blond hair, rose tat on her left shoulder.
Too soon for Dar to be sure.
‘I get the gun from a friend of mine. Tell her I want to learn to shoot. She offers to take me to a range to shoot at targets. I make up a lie about my mom’s boyfriend taking me that afternoon.
‘Doesn’t he have one?’ she asks.
“‘It’s broken,’” I say and she buys the lie.
‘Cool,’ she says. ‘I have to work anyway.’
It’s that easy.
She carries a nine millimeter. Diamond ribbed polymer grip. Purple frame. Sleek, blue barrel. Magazine holds ten but I only need two. One for him and one for me.’
Dar reads fast. It’s the kind of writing that flows, doesn’t make the reader trudge. The body of the paper shares the story of a young woman scorned. A broken trust. A boyfriend who two timed her.
With the friend who lent her the gun.
Dar sits down in her chair. Puts her head in her hands. Reads on knowing every word commits her to the crime. She will be complicit if she doesn’t pick up her phone, call the cops right then- right now.
‘I wait for Jeremy outside his job. The gas station closes at ten. It’s in a bad area. Another homicide for the local cops but one they’ll be able to wrap up for a change. I’ll go in just as he locks up. I’ll put one in his head and one in mine and that’ll be the end of this whole effed-up life. Two bullets. One for him. One for me.’
Dar looks at the empty desk she thinks Stephanie Crawford sat in to write this essay. She was here. She didn’t go through with it. With all of it, at least.
‘She’s there. My ‘friend’ is there. She’s sitting behind the counter, flipping her hair, laughing, seducing him. I hate them both. Two bullets. One for him. One for her.’
Dar leans back, hand over her mouth.
‘The bell above the door tink-tink-tinkles. Abbie looks up, smiles, says, ‘Oh, hey.’ and I shoot her. Jeremy jumps back, looks at me, says, ‘What the fuck, Steph?’ and I shoot him. I drop the gun, leave. Two bullets. One for him. One for her. None for me.’
Finger on the nine, Dar puts down the phone. Takes her lighter. Burns the essay. Has to be fiction or else—
Or else the girl flexed her bitch muscle.