Tin God(2)

By: Stacy Green

Shaw rubbed the back of his fingers against his scruffy chin, thick eyebrows raised. “Right. Then it’ll bounce. Cash or money order only.”

She didn’t have it–not to spend on rent. Dazed, she sat glued to the crappy plastic chair.

Shaw leaned back and put his hands behind his head. His stony expression changed: beady eyes narrowed; thin lips parted to display yellowed, uneven teeth; eyebrows hiked up his shiny forehead. “You got options.”

Cockroaches might as well have slithered over her body. Jaymee crossed her arms over her chest and pulled up the collar of her tank top, her hand lingering over the skin still exposed. “Excuse me?”

“I accept other forms of payment.”

Her stomach heaved. “I’m not interested.”

“Just sayin’, your neighbor Crystal saves a lot of money by providing certain services.”

Jaymee clamped her mouth shut. A decade of heartache and betrayal had taught her patience and more importantly, how to hide her hatred.

“Again, no thank you.” She snatched the pink slip off his desk. “I’ll have the money for you.”

Shaw’s pursed his lips together until they turned white. His eyes had gone cold again. “Have it your way. You got three days.”

Jaymee exited and shoved the door to Shaw’s trailer shut with her elbow. Midday heat snatched her breath. Red-hot sun bore down on the mobile home park, wilting the already scraggly pepperbush growing along the half-dried out creek bed that served as the park’s eastern border. Three fat tiger spiders nested among the bushes’ white leaves, lying in wait for mosquitoes. She shuddered and skittered to the other side of the drive.

She stomped down the dusty path, her chest aching with fury. She’d have to dip into her minuscule savings account, and that money was meant for something far more precious than rent. She glared at the miserable place she called home as her shoes began to fill with gritty dirt.

Ravenna Court was about as beautiful as a rattlesnake bite. Forty or more dilapidated mobile homes lined the park, all in various states of disrepair and neglect. Instead of cultivating colorful flowers, Ravenna residents battled kudzu and stubborn cogongrass. Children played in the weed-ravaged empty lots, and neighborhood dogs roamed free along with raccoons and other night bandits. Life on the west side of Roselea, Mississippi’s historic cemetery, was a hell of a lot different from the genteel atmosphere enjoyed uptown. Jaymee didn’t have any beautiful antebellum homes to admire on her walk home. All she saw were overgrown yards and decaying headstones from the nearby cemetery.

She lived here for seven long years–since just after her eighteenth birthday. Now that she had to dig into her savings just to get by, she figured she’d be stuck here for the rest of her life.

What other option did she have? She kicked a clod of dirt and watched it roll down the bank towards the creek. Everything she owned, however pathetic it might be, was in that trailer. She had no place to go, and she couldn’t do anything without a place to live.

Unless she called Darren.” She’d rather eat dirt. Her brother would help, and then her father would descend to berate her for shaming the family yet again, but not before he chewed her mother out for Jaymee’s very existence. Her mother had enough misery to deal with.

Her sweat-soaked scalp tingled from the heat. A single bead of perspiration trickled down her neck and into the crevice of her bra. She followed the gravel road out of the small trailer park, grateful for the canopy of red maples and dogwoods lining the path. They were the only pretty things in this place. Graying headstones peeked through the thicket of woods. Guilt swept over her. She hadn’t visited in a while.

“Wish you were here.” Her voice sounded meek in the humid air. This was one of those days when Lana’s absence was nearly unbearable. Her oldest friend rested forever in Roselea’s historic cemetery, taken away four years ago by some cruel stranger in downtown Jackson. Lana had been a couple of years older than she, and they’d grown up together–along with Lana’s brother Cage–in Roselea. When things got bad at home, Jaymee fled to the safety of Lana’s. They’d lock themselves up in her pink and green bedroom, and Jaymee would pour out her misery. Lana listened but never judged. Not even when Jaymee made the biggest mistake of her life.