by Gary Powell
We lost Wendy when a semi-truck swerved to miss an Amish buggy, clipped her Ford Escort, and flipped it end over end across Wannamaker’s field. Corn already picked, stalks like spear tips poking lonely through the wind-whipped snow, the Amish got off easy—cuts and bruises. Wendy, a nurse’s aid, got her wish. Always said she’d put a gun to her head before dying with tubes up her nose.
Butch kept her picture in his wallet, loved her all these years—a green-eyed, red-haired girl on the beam, balanced on one shapely leg, the other extended behind. Jake Snyder called Butch personal to deliver news of the fatal crash, Jake figuring he deserved as much, despite the intervening marriages, divorces, and what not that kept Butch and Wendy apart.
We lost Butch a few years later. After dry-walling all day, he stopped off at Zimmy’s for a few with the boys. Going home, he took the short cut, driving his pick-up across the lake instead of the road around. But late February, blessed with a balmy winter’s thaw, the ice splintered and split. Last words Butch spoke to Lucas the bartender were, Never take the road when you can take the lake.
I kept my own grainy Polaroid of Wendy from a time when he’d thrown her out and she had nowhere to go. Pretty girl, better than average figure, she’d once done a spread for Penthouse and a centerfold for Oui. Feature that, farm girl from a small town in Indiana. Traveled the exotic dance club circuit for a while—strobe lights and mirrors, lap dances and crisp twenty-dollar bills snatched from the lips of family men. Girls didn’t shave back then.
Never showed that Polaroid around. Never mentioned it to Butch.
Gary V. Powell’s stories and flash have appeared most recently at Bartleby Snopes, Literary Orphans, Thrice Fiction, Connotation Press, and Carvezine. Several of his stories have finaled or placed in national contests including The Press 53 Prize (2012), Glimmer Train (2013) and The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize (2014). His first novel, Lucky Bastard, is available through Main Street Rag Press. Speedos, Tattoos, and Felons, a novella in three stories, is a prequel to Lucky Bastard.
June 25, 2014
Photo by: Gessy Alvarez