Moon Time: Prior Fields

close-up-dolly-shot-of-a-vintage-record-player-playing-a-vinyl-record-rack-focus_4gvh-cljg__F0013.png

Prior Fields: eighteen miles north of Hamady

 Deleterious Estates

 A Change Is Gonna Come quivered under the needle of her dead dad’s timeworn record player. She ignored the annoyance and applied pink tinted gloss to her pouted lips. The trailer park boys all thought she was pretty, Royce with the rose gold hair, even though she barely filled her B cup brassier, and possessed the curves of a gardener’s beanpole.

“Sure,” the popular boys had often said, “you ain’t got much of a body, but your face is fuckin’ gorgeous.”

At the age of fourteen and seven months, she had finally matured, and the debased boys of Deleterious Estates could all kiss off. She checked her womanly look, and smiled.

Suck my cock, mouthed her reflection. Royce was feeling mighty proud of herself as she stood before the full length mirror and bled.

The record finally skipped hard enough to grab her full attention; she stepped away from her image in a huff, and replaced Sam Cooke with The Mamas and the Papas. No Salt on Her Tail wailed over the speakers, and she danced about, allowing the lyrics to seep into her bone marrow.

“I’m a woman now, motherfuckers,” Royce said aloud as she spritzed her wrists with eau de cheapo. She’d always admired the types of girls Garrett ran around with—they all smelled like menstruation, Rave hair spray, and drugstore parfum.

Garrett was a good big brother, violently protective of Royce’s virtue. He was also a hypocrite. Garrett had once been notorious for making it with most of the girls in the trailer park—girls with equally defensive brothers. Sometimes Royce felt sorry for him, missing out on dates with Melissa while he drove a HEMTT wrecker through Iraq; but mostly, she just worried about him being trapped by sand and sun and bullets and bombs.


He’d affixed a lock to the bedroom door the day he left. The Ricker had never touched his sister, true; but Garrett had frequently caught the boozer looking in on her with wild eyes while she pored over homework or danced to oldie records. Because she was pretty, Royce with the rose gold hair, and Rick was growing tired of his old lady.

“Promise to keep this door locked, always,” he’d told her. “Especially when you go to bed. And don’t leave this room at night unless the fuckin’ trailer catches on fire. Ya hear me?”

“I promise. Thank you, Garrett.”

“Don’t look at me like that, kid. I’ll be back before ya have the chance to miss me.”

Royce bit her bottom lip, and admitted, “But I miss you already.”

“Shut up, will ya? When I get home, I’m getting my own place. And you’re gonna come live with me.”

“What will Mom say?” Royce really didn’t give a good goddamn.

Neither did Garrett. “Who fuckin cares? I’m tired of sharing a room with my little sister, and I sure as hell ain’t leaving ya here!” His dark irises appeared to shudder, and he hissed, “Let Mom and the Ricker rot alone in this joint. Screw ‘em, ya know? Maybe we’ll just pack up and move back to Michigan.”

“Right on.” She wrapped her vine-like arms around Garrett’s neck, ignoring the car horn that hailed him.

“Gotta go, kid. I’ll write ya when I can.” He picked up his duffel bag and slung it over a sturdy shoulder. “Don’t take no shit.”


Royce lay down on her bed, and for a moment imagined she was living in a reeking barracks someplace hotter than a tin box in Texas.

She repositioned her lanky body so that she could press her bare feet against the window screen. Orange-pink light unfurled from the horizon and traveled through the window to kiss her freckled face. The August sun was setting, and Royce wished a childish wish for a cool night.

The sky opened its humid maw in reply, and exhaled a gust of spiteful laughter.

Goddamn Texas.


 

Royce with the Rose Gold Hair © 2019 Kindra M. Austin/All Rights Reserved.

Numb

 

c1f849cc4d376fbdff25d7285bba3910.jpg

I buried myself by the seaside, beneath a sky that’s patchwork grey and sobbing. Never in life had I been so severely revered for speaking my truths. Posthumous respect is a backhanded compliment, and it bleeds into my grave, cold and unimportant.

Ain’t nothing much that matters to a cadaver.

 

© Kindra M. Austin

 

Royce with the Rose Gold Hair (excerpt)

il_570xN.1600958037_ng96.jpg

1

Nighttime for Hamady

Hamady: Red Oak County Seat

Hill Gates

 

There’s something discomforting about a steady creaking of taut rope rubbing against the bark of a sturdy tree branch—say the rope of a tire swing in use. When the ceaseless sound springs through nighttime breezes at twelve in the morning, it’s downright unnerving.

It’s only Jess, snuck out again to meet her boyfriend.

Millie was quite fond of her young neighbor, Jessica May Simon; she’d often caught the girl with Kyle Lubbock under the big oak in the center of the grove. Jess’s father was awful mean, and Millie was a nosy-body who did whatever she could to keep Mr. Simon’s belt far away from his only daughter’s backside.

Such a stupid girl. Stupid in love, I guess.

Millie abandoned the bed she shared with her husband, and slipped her feet into a pair of moccasins.

Robert rolled over, and yawned. “Really, sweetheart, maybe that girl deserves for her daddy to find out. Just sayin!”

“Please, Robby. You know what would happen to Jess.”

Awww, hell, Mills.” He flung off the bed covers. “Want me to go with you?”

“You go on to sleep, Love. I’ll take Shamrock. She likes the late night air, I think.” Then she let out a whistle. “C’mon, old girl. We’re going for a walk.”

Millie Hamady-Williams and the Doberman-Shepherd marched out onto the lamp-lit street; they crossed the cul-de-sac, and then quick-stepped through Hill Grove, guided by a pocket-sized flashlight. The creaking grew louder and sharper as they neared the center, but Shamrock wasn’t bothered by the sound; she remained focused on the voices that escaped Millie’s ears. Poor Millie—she was slipping.

“I knew it, Shammy,” Millie breathed, relieved. “Wait.” She stopped a moment and watched Jessica Simon swing on the tire, alone. “She’s crying. Something’s happened.”

Shamrock spoke low, but Millie didn’t understand.

“C’mon, Shammy.” She took one step forward, but the dog wouldn’t obey. “Do I need to start leashing you? Come.”

Shamrock stood her ground, and peeled back her lips. She’d not once shown aggressive teeth to Millie in all the years they’d shared. Millie misinterpreted the warning, and as she opened her scolding mouth wider, something blunt landed hard upon her head. The last voice she heard before entering blackness, was a wrathful howl.


Millie could feel the layers of tape wrapped around the base of her neck and covering her mouth, as well as the zip-ties fastened around her wrists and ankles, all before she’d even opened her eyes. Her head lay heavy in Jessica’s lap.

Where’s Shammy? Maybe she’s gone for Robby!

“I’m sorry, Millie,” Jessica wept. “My daddy made me do it. He made me get you to come out here.”

Millie heaved, and rolled herself free from the quaking lap. She kept on rolling as the sweet girl pleaded.

“Please forgive me. Please, Millie.” Yes, Jessica kept on begging as her awful mean daddy stalked her friend, chiding, with a ready pillowcase.

“No law greater than the Lord’s. I’m only tryin to uphold that law, Millie Hamady. Never mind that I’m an earth-bound lawman, this is my duty as a God fearing man. We’ve been tryin and tryin to get rid of your lot, and by God, we will.”


There’s something sinister about the sound of taut rope rubbing against the bark of a sturdy tree branch—say the rope of a hangman. When the ceaseless sound springs through nighttime breezes at twelve-something in the morning, it’s a threat of things to come.

© 2019 Kindra M. Austin