Monday, January 18, 2010

the royal pecos

“Don't be surprised if your life comes to a bad ending,” his dad told him, over their first dinner together after Dora Mae, wife and mother, abandoned them. “There's no escaping it. Look at your grandfather and me. Your great grandfather didn't have it any better. It's just the way it goes.”

Clay Mabry is in the Royal Motel outside of Pecos, Texas, sitting on a solid wood, burnt sienna stained, chair with the pads of the seat and back covered in brown Naugahyde, that is starting to crack in a couple of places. He's beside the window, peeking out through the blinds. It's a little past noon noon, the sun is white hot, and the world on the other side of the window has this unnatural stillness that Clay's granddaddy always told him was rooted in fear.

The pavement sparkles like the sea. All eight of the cars that were in the parking lot last night are gone. Luther drove away in theirs and he's not coming back. Across the road, a mile out, are two large hills covered in wild grass, that's brown and dead now, but comebacks beautiful and lush every spring. On the other side, at the foot of the hills, is a ravine that is the town's garbage dump. This isn't Clay's first time in this town. He dated a woman named Judy from here, she used to wait tables at a diner down the road from the motel. He wanted to marry her.

He pulls his fingers out from between the blinds and lets them snap closed. He looks over at the snub nosed .38 Luther left on the table. He studies the cylinder, thinks about the four rounds left in it.

Every time Clay thinks about running, he reaches down and rubs what remains of his left a leg. Hip to mid thigh He lost it just outside of this very town. He and Judy were driving back to her place after seeing a movie and were hit head on by a driver who'd fallen asleep at the wheel. Judy was killed instantly. Clay had been in a coma for a week, woke up to find his leg gone and his girl dead. The other driver had also been killed, five years ago, this last past October.

Clay ran into Luther in a bar two towns from here. They hadn't seen each other in 9 years.Luther looked like he'd been up for days. He was in need of cash and asked Clay for a loan. Luther was given $300. Clay would have given him more but the rest had gone to paying for a top of the line prosthetic he'd been saving up for. They were supposed to be going out for breakfast after drinking, playing darts, and trying desperately to get laid. The desperation was on Luther's part he'd been trying to fuck any woman who was willing after his wife left him last month. Clay had become more careful about who he went to bed with, since the night about two years ago he took a girl named Beth back to his place, who in the midst of giving him head stopped and began to lick the scar tissue on the base of his left leg, before mounting it and rubbing herself against it until she had an orgasm. Clay watched her, puzzled, and for the first time since the accident, he realized that he was different person.

Luther stopped at a 7-11 for cigarettes and decided to rob the place. Five robberies later, Luther was gone with the car, the cash, and the wheel chair, which had been in the back of the car.

Clay was convinced the cops were on their way. In his mind he was guilty. He'd only sat drunkenly in the passenger side of the car while Luther went on his spree, but he didn't try and stop him, and that's what made him guilty. Part of him wanted the cops to come, at times it was if he tried to will them to this crappy motel so he could get out of there and this would all be over. Worrying about it was worse then whatever was going to happen to him. When he feels the burn in his stomach, he thinks back to nineteen, when he was convinced he had an ulcer, but never went to a doctor, because he grew up believing real men carry their burdens quietly.

Clay was tired, he hadn't been to sleep yet, he was also tired of his life. Being the poor cripple in a small town got old quick. At first everyone bent over backwards, poor Clay and whatnot. A couple of pity fucks and then Beth. No matter how this played out, as long as the cops showed up, he'd be better off. Either he's going to go down as an accomplice or a kidnapping victim. Clay began to worry that he might have to do time, so hoped he could convince the cops he had been kidnapped.

Three cars passed in fifteen minutes. One gray and two blue. Clay worried the cops weren't coming. Then he worried they wouldn't believe he'd been kidnapped.

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