Runnin’ (Part 2) – Trapped

27Jan13

Trapped

“Shhh, Lennon.  I gotta focus here.  Need…to…get in.” He kicks harder.  He stands up and stretches, a sly smile creeping across his face. “You’re so beautiful, ya know.  My parents are gonna be surprised, alright.  ‘Hey mom and pops – meet my wife!’

“Wife?”

“Yeah.  I told ‘em we got married.  My teen-age bride. How sweet.” He blows a kiss in my direction and spins on one leg like an awkward dancer.

“We’re sixteen, dummy.”

“So, tell them we got married in Missouri or Kentucky.  Shit, you can marry cousins down there.” He bends down and bangs the edges of the screen with his fists. “Ah, shit, here we go,” he says as the screen falls onto the basement floor.  He tells me to run around front as he lowers his body through the empty window.

The door is bright red, so red it almost hurts to look at it.  It’s out-of-place nestled between powder white siding and black shutters: Snow White’s poison apple against the pale, ghostly face of death.  Tall and proud pillars flank the door, like it’s from the set of Gone with the Wind. I look around for the slaves, but Pat opens the door instead.

“Welcome my dear.” He tries to scoop me up like a nervous newlywed carrying his beloved over the threshold.  But he stumbles and falls, his skinny arms and legs too weak to carry me.  He looks like a junkie, painfully thin, just pale skin stretched over his long bones.  But he’s just a pot head, an occasional sipper of whiskey or cheap vodka when bums hand him the paper bag.  And though we have been running, traveling for two months across the Midwest and begging pizza joints and bakeries for left-over food or asking for change to buy some bologna and Wonder bread, I am still a little chubby.  The baby fat I’ve carried has gotten me through the hungry times, still clinging to my breasts and hips, my round stomach. Pat says I’m cute like a cherub painting.

But body fat isn’t a substitute for food.   There were many nights my stomach kept me up  groaning and moaning to be filled with more than tap water and packets of crackers swiped from any salad bar I could sneak into.  I never knew how Pat could take it, why he didn’t turn to dust and blow away.  I was certain his body was swallowing his bones, eating away at the insides until they were cold and hollow, until one day, snap! His legs would shatter, and he’d be left on the roadside, a pile of skin and flannel, empty combat boots and a backpack.

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