SALVATION COME ’N GO - TONY AMTRAK
Toomey saw Daryl Hawes go into the bathroom and not come out. He knew he was holding. Knew Daryl had put the flimsy door between them so he could speedball the last of the rock with the packet of H he’d been hiding in his shoe. Toomey didn’t mind. They were only a couple days into this jag and it wasn’t over, oh no.
But hours went by and Daryl was still in there. Toomey figured he’d have to use the bathroom eventually. So he opened the door and Daryl lay slumped between the toilet and tub shower, spike sticking out of his tied-off left arm like an exclamation point. Looking peaceful. His chest not moving.
Toomey considered the angles. The hotel room was paid up through Friday. Also, Daryl had on some pretty nice clothes. Patent leather shoes. There was a second-hand clothing store one block over.
He stripped the body and dumped it in the tub. Checked for any more hidden stashes. Checked the contents of the syringe (empty). He wondered if you could sell plasma from a dead man. But how would you get it? He gave up, took the clothes and shoes to the store and got enough to score two plastic vials of crack rock, which he smoked back in the hotel room. Smoked ’em gone.
The comedown hit. He thought about Daryl’s body in the tub, whether it’d start to smell or not. He turned the AC as low as it’d go. Got pretty cold. He tore the topsheet off the bed and wrapped it around himself, shivering as he watched TV.
He’d done lots of bad things before. Worse than this. Still, shit had a way of adding up.
He got to thinking maybe he’d be better off, he was the guy laying in that tub.
Nothing for it but to walk. So he did. Walked the streets of Van Buren up and down, countless hours. Time of day didn’t matter. If the apocalypse came, would the people living here even know?
“Excuse me, mister.”
An old lady. Hispanic. One of her arms all curled up and useless like a chicken-wing. CP or stroke. He’d seen it before.
“Sir, I’d like to talk to you about Jesus Christ.”
Lord, that smile. Gapped and gray-toothed and pieces of tarnished gold but still a light came from her, and Toomey remembered his mother, a certain brick church in South Philadelphia where the people swayed and clapped and praised.
He reached out his hand.
A hollow thud. The lady tottered like she was drunk. Movement behind her, the thud again. She dropped.
Daryl Hawes stood there. Hotel towel wrapped around his waist, shower curtain draped over his shoulders. Holding a chunk of cinderblock big enough to prop a door.
“What the hell you waitin’ for?” Daryl bent and started rolling the lady. Found some money in her purse.
“That’s fucked up,” Toomey said.
“Yeah, it is fucked up, takin’ my clothes and leaving me in the shower like that, but you know what? I have risen. I have been resurrected. And I forgive you, my son.”
He said it smooth and with proper cadence. He’d been a preacher in a former life.
“Let’s go buy your clothes back,” Toomey said.
“Fuck that. Let’s get some more smoke.”
“Amen,” said Toomey.
BIO: Tony Amtrak lives and works in Tucson, Arizona. You might have seen him around before.