1. Blood, Honey
The third time I went to bed with Lacey, she whispered to me about killing Damon Schizo and taking eighteen hundred dollars from the glove box in his shiny red Cadillac. Didn’t seem worth it to steal that much, not given Damon’s big pistol. But the next time I saw the red cadillac cruising down dusty Lillard Street, I thought about Lacey and her long slim legs—my God, I thought, I could take her to dinner in town.
More than once, too.
When Damon’s driver—Big Bizzy Simmons—pulled to the curb out front of the pool hall, I put my fist through the passenger side window. You want blood? I’ll give you some of my own blood. Like I thought he would, Damon went for his pistol, but I had it with both hands before he could grunt. It gave a monsoon boom when I shot Bizzy (oops, more blood).
I didn’t hear anything when I shot Damon.
My ears were all gone to hell.
I did find something in the Cadillac’s glove box, but it wasn’t money—it was picture of Damon Schizo and a tall blonde lady with a plump round belly. Damon’s wife, and she was pregnant.
I guessed Lacey was smarter (and meaner) than I thought.
2. Live, and Let Love
“Dixon,” Lacey said, “You’re the man who killed Damon Schizo, and everybody will know it—don’t that make you proud?”
I popped a piece of chewing gum into my mouth (cherry cough syrup flavor), and scrubbed my hands in the motel’s bathroom sink. Damon’s blood ran like oil across the white porcelain. You ever want a tough job, go and get yourself a maid position at a crappy motel down on Fourth Street. Don’t worry, I’m not staying there no more. “You know, Lacey…We should leave a tip for the maid, the way I made a mess in here will drive the lady crazy.” I came out of the bathroom and put my hands on my hips.
Lacey was on the bed, belly down, reading the phone book. “You know there’s a lawyer here in town who calls himself Snap Jennings?”
“I see Snap down at the pool hall on Thursdays. He’s a decent stick when he doesn’t have too much whiskey in him.”
“What a name,” she said.
It was time for me to get down to business with her. “Lacey,” I said, “there’s something I got to tell you. It’s about Damon and—”
“I bet that money is over in his house.” She flipped the phone book’s yellow pages, licked her index finger each time. “I bet he keeps it under his mattress, like some kind of half-wit crook.”
I came out with it fast, tried to get it out before Lacey talked over me. “Damon’s got—well, he had—a baby on the way.”
Lacey tossed the phone book onto the threadbare carpet, turned onto her back and sighed. “What’s that got to do with eighteen hundred dollars, Dixon? I know you didn’t finish school, but you know how much money eighteen hundred dollars is?”
I shrugged and rubbed my belly.
Lacey sat up and glared at me. “Enough for some plane tickets to Rio de Janeiro. That’s how much. I looked it up myself at those computers in the library. That’s in Brazil. It’s by the ocean.”
“What the hell do I want in Brazil?”
Lacey fell back on the bed, scrunched a pillow beneath her head. I swear, that woman lounged around more than a dog in the highest heat of summer. She was lazy, now that I look back on it.
Lacey said, “You can want whatever you want in Brazil.”
“What am I going to do there?”
“How am I supposed to know?”
I said, “You brought up the tickets and the money.”
Lacey closed her eyes. “Damn you, Dixon,” she said. “Sometimes I think you’re stupid. Are you stupid, Dixon?”
Some questions, I thought, a man don’t have to answer.
3. Baby, I’m on The Way
Damon and his wife lived down a dirt road outside town; they had themselves a mobile home with a covered porch and a whole army of these rusted motorcycles parked out front of it—skeletal, that’s the word to describe the bikes. Weeds grew ankle-deep around the place and it looked to me like Damon spent all his money on that shiny red Cadillac. Too bad he wouldn’t be riding shotgun in the thing anymore. I parked it where I saw weeds pushed down by the wheels. I figured it for Damon’s regular spot. When I got out of the car, the mobile home’s front door swung open; Damon’s wife stepped onto the porch. Just like in the picture, her belly was big and round, like an egg turned onto its side. She ran her hands over the mound beneath her sundress and looked at me funny. For some reason—I still don’t know why—I saluted her. She came down the porch steps and walked toward the Cadillac. That puzzled look stayed there on her face—her lips were pressed off to one side and her eyebrows came together. I thought more than once: That’s one nice looking lady.
When she reached the Cadillac’s passenger side, she squinted.
“My name’s Dixon, Mrs. Schizo. I just came to hand over your Cadillac.”
“What’s all that red and black in there?”
I liked how she kept her two hands on that plump belly. It was sweet. “How much longer until—”
“It’s a boy,” she said. “In a month, I’ll have my boy. What’s all that red and black in there?”
“A boy!” I yelled it louder than I meant to; imagine that, bringing a little boy into this dusty town. Hell, I did imagine it. More quiet, I said, “A little boy.”
“What’s all that—”
“That’s the life we got in us, Mrs. Schizo. That there is blood and guts.” I sniffed hard. All the dust sifting around the mobile home bothered me. The wind was picking up and—despite the dust—I liked how the lady’s sundress flapped around her legs.
She said, “Holy hell, and let Jesus see me now.”
I looked up at the sky; it was getting dark by then, a slow-moving desert dark that fell across the sky like an eyelid. “I think he can see whatever he wants, Mrs. Schizo. I think—”
“Call me Diane, please.”
“Diane,” I said, “If it’s Jesus you want—”
“Did you kill my husband? Did you kill…Damon?” Her eyes lifted from the Cadillac and ran over me like hot water.
I shifted my feet, tried to find a place for my hands. “Now, look, all I wanted was some money. And Lacey—my girl—told me that Damon had some eighteen hundred dollars in that glove box. Now, if you can understand, imagine how stupid I felt when all I found in there was, well, a picture of the two of you.”
“The three of us,” she said.
She said it again, her eyes searching mine. “The three of us.”
I watched as she rubbed her hands along that nice round belly. In that little time, the darkness came on full around us. She cleared her throat and walked around the red Cadillac; she came face to face with me.
“If you’ve got that money—”
“I love you,” she said.
She put her hands around my neck, plowed that stomach into mine. Her fingernails were like cactus spikes in my skin. I felt her heart beating hard against my chest and, after a minute of her being there in my arms, I felt the boy inside her kick against my lower ribs. “What in the hell is—”
“He likes you,” she said.
4. Tones of Home
Lacey’s voice came over the line, but I could barely hear it through the static: “…The hell are you? I’ve been…don’t come back and…my money.”
“I can’t hear too good over here, Lacey. Look,” I said, “I won’t be back, not anytime soon. I’ll just say it: You were right about all that money. Hell, you were right about Rio and—“
“Fuck you…Believe you did this to…loved me…-damned liar.”
“I can’t hear you down here, Lacey. It must be the connection.”
“…it all to hell. You—”
“I’m just calling to check in is all. Me and Diane—that’s Damon’s wife—got ourselves a little motel down here. And the boy, he’s got his own bed with—”
“…Gonna kill you with my bare…You no-good…hellbent prick of a—”
The line buzzed and died. Nothing but cold dial tone. They got a whole big city down here in Brazil; you’d be surprised. It costs a small fortune to call my people back home though. Long distance, you know. That’s why I stopped doing it. I figure, shit, if Lacey wants me bad enough, she can come on down and ask for me at the front desk. Me and Diane and the boy, we’re right here—they gave us room 219. It’s a family suite. For the three of us.