What I apparently looked like to Lindsay.My hand flew to the door's chain lock the minute I saw who was on the porch. I was too slow. Lindsay Dawn Riley flung the door open and nearly knocked me to the soiled carpet in the process. She stood there for a moment, silhouetted in the doorway with the unearthly orange of the sodium streetlamp at her back. How did she find out where I was staying? Why was she here? Was she a demon birthed from the pestilent womb of hell to torment me or some sort of crazed angel drunk on its divine power and blowing off steam in my direction?
"Nigger!" She exclaimed and pushed past me into the darkened interior of my ailing friend's house. "Where's the cold stuff?"
I regarded her as an archeologist might regard the riddling Sphinx. She stared at me over her shoulder, her fat lower lip drooping and her eyes big and wild, waiting impatiently for a response.
"Crricksttsshhhh," she pantomimed opening a beer and then tilted her head back to hold an invisible bottle to her mouth. "Glug, glug, glug. Where?"
"I'll uh…I'll get you one." I gestured to the shredded remnants of a couch. "Why don't you sit down."
"Sittin' is for faggots!" She declared, but I was already halfway to the kitchen and not interested in searching out some sort of ladder or sturdy pole that she could lean on.
In the kitchen my friend sat hunched over a heavily scarred green Formica table. One of the table's legs had been snapped off during a fit of rage and had since been replaced with three-fourths of a set of outdated encyclopedias. They were Britannica and like most things in my friend's house they reeked somewhat mysteriously of cat piss.
"What's up, bro?" I asked politely, trying not to disturb my friend as I glided over to the refrigerator.
"Guests." He said through his teeth. "What did I say about guests? No GUESTS!"
He flung a butter knife at my head and it clanged noisily off the wallpaper and onto the abused linoleum floor. Todd was a small guy, short and recently almost gaunt since that coyote bite on his arm had gone sour. His brown eyes were sunken and rimmed red with alcohol and the seeping bandage on his arm wriggled disconcertingly, a reminder of the maggots cleaning out his gangrenous flesh. He kicked out with his legs in anger and sent some of the empty plastic vodka bottles that littered the floor scattering.
"I didn't invite her. And God himself couldn't uninvite her." I added.
I opened the refrigerator and extracted two barely cooled bottles of Budweiser. I never proclaimed fealty to the King of Beers, but for reasons known only to Todd he had insisted I bring no other beer into the house.
"Meet and greet then." Todd hissed with a sarcastic grin and flicked at a maggot that was squirming on his wrist.
I followed him back into the living room where Lindsay had busied herself searching loudly through a paper grocery sack she had brought with her. She lashed out like a predator and snatched one of the bottles of Budweiser from my hand before either of us had a chance to say anything.
"Lindsay, this is my friend Todd. This is his house." I nodded to Todd.
"I've seen fatter skeletons. What the hell is wrong with you, cum basket?"
"Oh, how charming." Todd glared at me. "You didn't tell me the princess of the trailer park was in town. I would have worn my golden frock."
Lindsay grunted and propelled herself to her feet. She swayed dangerously close to me and I could smell the combined stench of sweat, whiskey, and day old beer clotted on her body.
Roughly what Lindsay's pistol looked like."Lookee what I brought some ungrateful niggers." She piped merrily, Todd's comments rolling off of her like mist might roll off a sewage pond on a chill October morning.
I craned my neck to peek into the bag. Lindsay didn't really help much as she shifted her weight from foot to foot. Inside I caught a glimpse of fleshy latex, rusty metal, and several obviously empty snack packs of Oreo cookies. When I looked up at Lindsay and met her mad gaze I could see the remnants of her cookie aperitif clinging to the jagged fissures of her teeth.
"Eat too many and you shit black." Lindsay; the world's most charming mind reader. "That ain't what I brought you though."
"I wait with baited breath." Todd commented with mock enthusiasm and then descended into an asthmatic coughing fit.
Lindsay paid Todd's health no mind and happily reached a chubby paw into the paper bag and extracted a small rusty revolver. I moved quickly before Todd could recover from his attack and grabbed at the gun. Lindsay reeled in shock and pushed me away.
"There's gonna be plenty of time for that later, stud." She gave my testicles a playful vice-like squeeze and I dropped onto the couch.
Todd caught sight of the gun and I knew all of my work as a Good Samaritan was about to unravel in one of his not-uncommon destructive rampages. Instead, he seemed fascinated by this septic temptress and her museum-piece of a firearm.
"Is that a forty-five?" He gushed, suddenly intrigued.
"That ain't all it is." She threw the gun on the couch and I grabbed it before anyone else could. "It's our ticket to the big time. Look what else."
She produced two latex masks of Bill Clinton from the paper bag. Oreo crumbs clung to Bill's comically enlarged nose and fell like dandruff as she waved the two masks around.
"Me and loverboy here is going to do just like 'Point Break'." She held a mask in front of her face.
"Point Break" was her favorite movie. She had expounded on its many virtues, visible only to her and a scarce few others, many times during our drinking sessions at Pete's Junction. Her second favorite movie was "Top Gun" featuring Tom Cruise and Bill Kilmer.
I felt just like Connoo."'Point Break' is the best movie made." She slurred to Todd. "Patrick Swayze, Connoo, surfin', guns, football. You name it. It's got it. Beat that. Beat that Hollywood."
"What exactly do you pl-" I began, but Lindsay pressed her forehead to mine, her breath washing over me like a fell wind.
"I'll tell you exactly what WE plan to do." She threw one of the Bill Clinton masks at me. It knocked over a standing lamp five feet away. "WE are going to rob The Super 24."
The Super 24 was of course named something entirely different, but there's no way I'm giving the real name away.
"Whoo," Todd whistled. "A regular crimewave. I'm impressed."
"That ain't the half of it. Cigarette truck comes in one hour. We can make thousands if we rob it too."
I would like to pretend that I protested, but no such thing happened. We gathered the battered furniture and took seats in a triangle with Lindsay Dawn Riley as the focal point. Lindsay began to explain her plan to us.
"Okay, so the cigarette truck comes in to the side alley." She placed a cigarette next to the water-damaged copy of "Gent" that represented the Super 24. "Nigger here is going to go over to the cigarette guy and talk to him about whatever to keep him occupied inside the store. While he's doing that I'm going to start taking cartons of Newports and putting them in my trunk. Then I'm going to come in, which is your signal to put on your mask. I'll be wearing mine."
"Wait a second." I interjected. "What's the point of wearing a mask if I put it on in the store?"
"What's the point of you opening your mouth when nothin' but retarded questions come flying out? The answer to 'em both is you just do what you gotta do. Now I come in and I shoot the fuckin' gun in the air so everyone knows it's serious and no fool craziness happens. I know they got a scattergun in there and I don't want the clerk gettin' Rambo ideas in his head."
Lindsay nodded to Todd.
"You wait in the car and keep the engine running." She grabbed at Todd's crotch and he scooted quickly away.
"This uh, this is fascinating and all, but there's no way in hell you are sucking me into your vortex of failure."
"Fine! We'll be laughing in the Caribbean countin' our money and drinking margaritas while you're here suckin' your granddaddies dick." Lindsay extended her middle finger and held her hand up to Todd's face in case he might have misread the gesture. "Leave the work to us men."
An hour later and I watched the glowing sign of the Super 24 approach through the smoke-clouded window of Lindsay's decrepit Chevy. The storefront was bright and cheery, but looked like nothing so much to me at that moment as the fiery gates of hell if hell offered "two super dogs for 99". Lindsay was preoccupied with putting her Bill Clinton mask on and nearly slammed into the rear end of a late model Honda backing out of its space. The driver glared at her with anger and squealed out of the parking lot.
"You ready?" Lindsay asked rhetorically and catapulted herself out of the car.
Against her advice I put the Bill Clinton mask on before exiting the car. She headed straight for the alley where the cigarette truck's tail end was visible. I made my way nervously towards the Super 24. The door opened with a shrill electronic jangle and both the cigarette deliveryman and the Mexican clerk behind the counter turned to look at me.
Others seem to have less trouble robbing convenience stores."Hey buddy," I said approaching the cigarette deliverymen. "How are cigarette sales in this region?"
It was all I could think to ask. The deliveryman gaped at me like I had just shot bottle rockets out of my eye sockets and the clerk coughed nervously.
"How are cigarette sales in this region?" I repeated the question and grinned crazily behind the mask.
"G-good." The deliveryman backed away from me.
"No masks in here, hombre." The clerk said. "Take it outside or I'm callin' the cops."
"Do you sell a lot of cigarettes?" I felt a thick band of sweat course down my forehead.
The inside of the mask smelled like Oreos and Lindsay's ass. I suppressed a gag.
"Out! Now!" The clerk walked around the counter, anger painted across his face.
The door jangled behind me and I could smell Lindsay before I saw her. She was panting loudly inside her mask.
"EVERYBODY BE COOL THIS IS A STICK UP!"
A stick up? I turned just in time to see Lindsay raise the pistol above her head and pull the trigger. The gun clicked and the clerk surged towards us. She pulled the trigger again and there was a startling bright flash and a deafening report. The gun fired, but the bullet never left the cylinder. The rotting pistol had exploded in Lindsay's hand and actually set the mittens she was inexplicably wearing on fire. She threw the burning remains of the gun at the clerk who was already on his way at an unbelievably high speed towards the back door. The deliveryman and I were both paralyzed with horror.
Lindsay patted the burning mitten on her mustard stained sweatshirt and, instead of extinguishing the flames, simply spread them to her cheap shirt. She squealed in horror and flopped to the ground, pungent polyester smoke curling off of her like a fire in the Wal*Mart clothing department. Acting on instinct I reached for a forty out of the cooler and upended on her shrieking corpulence. She only screamed louder but the flames were extinguished.
"Goddamn fucking cunt sucking faggot gun!" She raged, struggling to her feet.
"We need to go." I looked warily at the deliveryman who just continued to look on in disbelief.
"I get what I came for and-" Lindsay staggered towards the register and tried to heft it up off the counter. "Help me with this!"
We tried to lift it together but it was oh-so-cleverly integrated into the counter. We both groaned with effort once again and failed once again. The deliveryman gasped as he suddenly came to his senses and fled out the front door. It chirped happily.
"You got the cigarettes, that's enough, let's get the hell out of here." I tried to reason with her.
"Truck was locked." She moaned. "I ain't leavin' empty handed."
I searched briefly and then returned to her with a hopeful offering; a display box full of Oreo snack packs.
"Look, dozens of 'em!" I shook the box like it was full of gold coins. "Good enough?"
Lindsay made one last grunting attempt to lift the register and then sighed, possibly the only time I had ever seen her show any emotion other than lecherous enthusiasm or anger.
"Fine." She grabbed the display box from my hands and stormed past me out of the store.
I glanced back at the counter and, feeling a terrible nagging of conscience, tossed all of the money in my wallet next to the register. When I turned back and looked at the parking lot I watched in complete horror as Lindsay sped away in her Cavalier. I stumbled out into the parking lot, discarded my Bill Clinton mask in a nearby dumpster, and began walking back to Todd's house. It was not the first and would not be the last time that Lindsay Dawn Riley had nearly gotten me arrested.
I had to register my complaints while they were still fresh. And while the bark was still fresh and pliable.
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