Good by B.R. Hostetter

July 26, 2012 Comments Off on Good by B.R. Hostetter

Guts shot, the man lay at the 7/11’s front door. I pulled my baby aside. She tugged back and went to the man. Got to her knees. “Quit it,” I told her. She had her finger in the man’s belly. She brought her finger to her mouth and sucked it. “Quit it,” I said again, and took her hand in mine. My baby fought back. “I thought it was jam,” she told me, whimpering. I shook my head. “It is,” I said, “If jam’s what pumps from your fingers down to your toes.” My baby turned red. I apologized. Bent and held her in my bosom. “Look,” she said, and pointed. “The man’s foot. It’s moving.” She waved her finger at the body, then crammed it – again, without thinking – in her mouth. “Ouch,” she said. My baby had bit her finger. “Get that out your mouth,” I said, and pulled on her collar, shoving her under my arm.

The man sat up. Worked his jaw. Cracked his neck. He stood and dusted himself off.

“Your guts,” my baby said, and hid her finger behind her.

“Hell,” the man said, and took his guts in his hand. He stuffed them back into his belly then wiped his bloodstained palms on his dirtied jeans. “What does a guy have to do to pass in this damn place.”

My baby cowered behind me. She stuck her head out and asked who had shot him.

“Like it matters,” he said. “Whoever, they’ll get theirs. Stuck like the rest of us in this hell-hole.”

The man got up and shambled off without saying another word. His guts had toppled out. They trailed behind as he turned the corner.

“I’m starving,” my baby said, forgetting the man whose guts had been shot.

“I know, baby.”

The cashier eyeballed us. Eye in the back of his head; rather his good eye had been thrown over his shoulder so to dangle and peep at whoever went down the aisle.

“I’m starving,” my baby said again.

“I know. I know, sweetie.”

I shoved a loaf of bread under my arm, grabbed my baby, turned tail and booked it – knowing if my guts got shot, if my head got lopped off I’d be stuck here like the rest. What’s good anyway? Feeding a baby if she’s starving?

“We’ll inherit the earth,” I tell my baby, and rush around the corner, sure not to slip on the trail of red mess the man left behind, mudding up the place.

© 2012 B.R. Hostetter

Ben received his Ba in English from Virginia Commonwealth University. He lives in Charlottesville, VA, where he writes everyday with his cat, Copernicus.

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