NOSTALGIA PURVIS - FRANK BILL
She’d died and lived to tell about it.
Part of herself sprayed from her temple like ivy. Hugged her jaw line. She tasted the smell of rubber and rusted wheel wells. Scents that branded her years before. She took a right cross to the solar plexus, tightened her abdominals, dug an uppercut into the heaving hairball of a man’s kidneys.
The slap of bone and sweat meshed the air.
She rarely used a firearm. Preferred fists, fingers, elbows and knees. Proving herself gave her another reason to exist. This one, like the others, owned a salvage yard.
She connected actions in newspapers from surrounding states. Women who’d disappeared.
Sometimes their vehicles had been found. Sometimes they hadn’t.
She followed these trails. Uncovering morbid men from small town taverns and roadside truck stops. An underground railroad of abducted women traveling, young and naive wanting to see the States, commuting between college and home. Identical to the one who sat watching, wrist and ankles cankered and bleeding from rope burns, her ceramic hide fudged with blemishes, her shirt moth holed, knees and elbows scarred and scabbed, brunette hair frayed and clumped with lips peeling.
Every female she found breathing delivered hope.
The shoat hog of a man panted. Her lungs rung of adrenaline. She thought about the miles she’d clocked down the roads in the surrounding states, chin-ups from hotel closets, push-ups and crunches from stained carpets. Shadow boxing in mirrors. Rounds fired at milk jugs of water, tin-cans in abandoned fields and boarded houses. Survival. That’s what she called it.
Her fist jarred the man’s neck, vertebra popped down his spine. Ligaments vibrated down her forearm, ended at her elbow. The man’s knees locked. Double hooks hit left, then right kidneys. His pisser dribbled, he whimpered like a child being smacked with a section of leather for disobeying his kin.
Cars lay dented and smashed in rusted hues of black and maroon. Dogs foamed with filed teeth, spiked collars attached to log chains that kept their mud-dried coats anchored to the earth.
Scars plotted the diary of her mistake. Blazing her arms and legs, she remembered a passing conversation at a gas station, daytime heat. Windy. Stopping to use the restroom on the way to see her parents from Missouri to Indiana. Buying bags of chips, a soda. The stopping down the road for a boy, her car idling as he got in. The toxic scent forked through her nasal passage and lips, screams from the backseat, a female rustled from sleep, now smears of regret.
She’d blacked in and out of consciousness, felt branches carving into her legs and arms, rocks denting her skull into a dull state of being. Remembered words wobbling through her mind, “This one got too much gamecock in her.” Then came the damp moss that replaced her air as she watched the shadows expire.
That’s when she died.
Now, pain was no longer felt, it was earned.
The man came forward, met her instep, slammed his face into hers. Buckled her teeth. She swallowed grit. Her sight rattled and the memory of the girl streamed through her mind; hair the color of a wasp, eyes blue as the Great Lakes and pigment the shade of a vanilla wafer.
She clutched the hairy man’s loose hanging balls within his sweat pants with one hand and his lard-locks with the other, tugged each and met his snout of black heads with her teeth, bit down and kicked his legs from beneath him.
His outline jarred the dusty lot. She spit and straddled the man, rolled him face down, twisted one arm behind his soiled back, then the other and snapped the cuffs around his wrists.
Standing, she tasted his filth and listened to him bleed with screams.
“Who the shit is you?”
Knowing she was close, she said, “Nostalgia.”
“What’cha you want?” he cried.
Glancing at the female on the ground, hugging her knees, Nostalgia looked down at the man, dirt covered him like he’d been dipped in brown sugar and she said, “Answers.”
Launch: DECEMBER STORIES by Ian Sansom
19 hours ago