Michael Ashe was fucking drenched.
He’d been standing in the rain for at least ten cigarettes, staring at his ex-wive’s house, trying to work up the nerve to walk up and knock on the door. He was more than a little disappointed with himself. After three years and change inside the walls of the zoo they called Folsom Prison, he thought he’d come out a little tougher than that. Truth was, it wasn’t the bitch he was scared of. It was himself. He hadn’t exactly forgiven her for giving up on him. Not as fast as she did. He pulled out another cigarette, lit it, drew in a long breath of America’s finest tobacco. It’d been over three years since he’d been allowed to smoke. He figured was making up for lost time.
About half-way through the stogy, he decided he’d better get it over with before he lost his nerve. He threw down the smoke. It went out before it hit the ground. The rain was really pouring down. He stepped off the curb into the road, cursing the department of corrections for not offering him an umbrella along with the ride. He was pretty sure they knew there’d be something close to Noah’s flood that afternoon and they left him out to drown – the bastards.
The house wasn’t much to look at. Small, white, needed paint. It had one of those small chain-link fences around the front yard. The useless kind a kid could step over. Michael lifted the hook on the gate, swung it open, then walked along a severely cracked cement path to the baby-blue front door. It was also in dire need of a paint job. The house, at least, seemed in better shape most the other houses in the area. Some of them were barely standing. Boarded up, roofs caved in – remnants leftover from the eighties crack epidemic. If that era ever left this particular area at all. After making sure he was presentable (he smoothed back his hair a couple times), Michael knocked.
When she opened the door, she took his breath away, not because she was so beautiful, but because she smelled like a pig that just rolled in its own shit. Had she not taken a shower in the three and a half years since he got locked up? He suspected that might not be far from the case. He pinched his nose, not even trying to hide his revulsion.
“Jesus Christ, Trip,” he said. “Take a fucking bath, whydontcha?”
“The fuck you care what I do,” Triphanie Ashe said. Barely able to stand, she leaned against the door-jamb, clad in nothing but a thin bathrobe and a pair of filthy panties. One of her breasts was exposed, but she didn’t seem to notice. “You got a smoke?” Michael gave her one. She took it without saying thank you, put it in her mouth, then stared at him until he finally sighed and lit it for her. “Thought they gave you five years,” she said after taking a drag off the smoke. Michael shrugged.
“I was a good boy,” he said. “Got out early.”
“Oh yeah?” She said. “Well, it must’ve been early this morning, because those are the same fucking clothes you were wearing when you went in.”
“Fucking Sherlock, this one,” Michael said. “But not smart enough to stay off the drugs, right?” Now she shrugged.
“Whadayou care?” She said. Michael smiled.
“To tell you the truth, Trip, I don’t. I did once, but not anymore.” She noticed that her breast was exposed, pulled the loose fabric of the robe over her chest.
“Yeah, sure. Cry me a river,” she said. “Not like you really ever cared that much anyway. “Not about me. Definitely not about…”
“So,” Michael cut her off, “are you whoring yourself out too? Trip’s face turned beet red. “I mean,” Michael continued, “do you actually pay for the pounds of meth you’re obviously taking every day, or are you sucking like a hundred bags of dicks for it”? She pulled back her hand like she was going to slap him. “You really don’t want to do that,” Michael said. Perhaps something in his expression scared her more than his words, because her eyes remained locked on his face as she dropped her hand back to her side. “Good girl,” Michael said. “I’m not the man I was.”
“You mean the kind of man that’d rather car jack people than find his missing daughter?” She said. Michael sighed.
“And… we’re fucking done here,” he said.
“You were supposed to be looking for her, Michael.” Trip said, her voice beginning to rise. Michael turned, began walking back towards the street. Trip followed. “Why didn’t you find her? You fucking asshole.” When he reached the side-walk, he made a left, continued to walk up to the next block. With no car and no phone, walking until he found a bus-stop was his only choice at the moment. A strong gust of wind blew Trip’s robe all the way open, exposing Trip’s whole chest. She made no attempt to pull it back. Michael picked up his pace. She matched him, stride for-stride. “She was your daughter, you greedy motherfucker! You were supposed to take care of her!” Michael knew the reunion would end badly, but he hadn’t figured it would end before it even began. Truth was, he intended to offer the bitch a job. One that, if she wasn’t so fucked up, she would have wanted. Trip had a photographic memory. Trip was good with computers. She would have been instrumental in completing his next job. But it was obvious that Trip was too strung out, and still too blinded by her hate for him to get any real shit done. Trip was fucking useless. Plus, trip smelled like shit. He looked behind him, she was still there – practically on his ass. “That’s right, asshole!” She yelled. “I’m here! I’ll never let you forget what you did, you selfish piece of shit!” He knew she would follow him forever, and she probably had enough meth in her system to do just that. So, he did the only thing he could do. He slowed down, let her catch up. When she got close enough, he turned, really fast, and punched her right between her eyes, knocking her out cold. Then he broke into a fast run. Guess now I’m a selfish, greedy, daughter abandoning, car-jacking, ex-wife beating son of a bitch, he thought. Oh well – on with the shit-show.
To be continued…
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