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Gemini Yazzie

.38 SPECIAL.

0 · 73 views · located in Edenholle, Arizona

a character in “HELLS HALF ACRE”, as played by SHOVELHEAD

Description

Image

So begins...

Gemini Yazzie's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gemini Yazzie
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Imagethere was always something different about edenholle. whistle stop of smiles and secrets. wealthy in gold grass, lifeless and charming; piss poor in politics and wifi. a whopping two hundred and seventeen population to top it off. but all of this, including the dead-eyed local pharmacy clerk, still has its own allure.

gemini is no stranger to what others would deem ghost towns, would never be. it was an acquired taste. grew up smack dab in the middle of one, on a night colder than a witch’s titty. some odd amount of years in the mountains with nothing but old records and garden soil made him fond of quiet mornings and late, drunk noise. hell of a gardener, too. the hushed nights now only make him miss his mother. every loretta lynn track causes him to call her, and there’s no particular shortage in a town like edenholle. but on halloween, it’s only midnight in montgomery and don’t fear the reaper.

gun-grip angled over an engine, he mutters something about blue oyster cult that gets lost in the receiving end of a cigarette. the twitch in his muscles stiffens a map of veins down his prominent arm. coolant pools in the shadow of an old piece’a shit other people couldn’t be paid to touch. “can i drive with a cracked engine block?” he parrots, puffing that cherry wild flower red, certain he’s alone. a steady loss of fluid serves as a muted acoustic. the sun sits too high, cooking him like a Happy Flats bratwurst. he’s rented a garage unit for the day and given a price cut on the repair, sold himself short once again.

Imagea storm of small inconsistent curls glisten at the base of his neck. he’s laden with sweat and god-knows-what-the-hell-what from being knuckle deep in a corroded crankcase, and thick with the perfume of the last person he shared his bed with. the combination makes him wanna’ yak when he gets too hot about the absolute fuckin’ mess at hand. he digs around for a red paisley handkerchief, lines his mitt before scrubbing the shine off his skin in shallow, irritable swipes. the fabric ends up draped ’n billowing over the intake hose as the wind passes right on by.

it’s fall, ain’t no doubt about it. in spite of the heat of the sun, a lofty roll of dry leaves at the edge of concrete rustles a reminder. they sometimes dance and stumble around carved gourds. between buildings the air is bristling with all spice and clove. it’d make even a sane man apple crazy, as his grandmother used to say. nobody never laughed at that except for gemini.

a couple of kids skitter down main street, his back to the giddy commotion and candy bags. the third round of alan jackson makes gem snap and tentatively surrender, take a break to admire the diy skill of mamas ‘round town. which really ended up being more of an out-of-county-fair competition amid mothers who’d grown bored with cross stitchin’ bad words for their childless friends and drinking all the wine. in another month, it’ll be casserole wars with mammaw. for now, all the excitement is balled up in craft cotton, glitter, superheroes, plastic pistols and glue guns. it’s a sobering sight for someone who regularly forgets the rest of the world while lost in his own.

he garners a few waves. here, everybody knows just about everybody. oil stains work themselves in small spirals ’til they’re dark meres on an aged gray tee shirt whose letters once cohesively spelt something about some bar and day drinkin’. he fans the material, shakes his cigarette carton for a blind count. looks for a familiar silhouette on the street to procrastinate with, even though he ain’t feeling particularly social.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Everleigh Sage Character Portrait: Gemini Yazzie Character Portrait: Sebastian Pieldelobo Character Portrait: Beau Piedlelobo
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#, as written by Ivisbo
ImageMaddie was in the bathroom. He could hear her hummin’, it was some song she’d tried to teach him before but he never could remember the name. Her soft voice was off pitch and high, sweet in that way only a kid could muster. It made his heart hurt listening to her, his mind immediately conjuring all that soft baby gurglin’ that had melted him when he’d lived with her. But here she was now, ten feet away usin’ the bathroom with the door locked while he fixed himself up a drink. Having another human in his trailer always felt weird, like he was navigating around a barricade to his usual life. He acknowledges guests with an abrupt awkwardness that make them stand clear, sit in the dining room booth, and leave him to his business. Maddie, Ev, and Beau were probably the only three that made themselves at home in his tiny trailer- hell, he’d made Maddie her own little room for when she visited, though most times she ended up sleepin’ with him.

Somehow he’d won out with Lucy this year and convinced her he was pulled together enough to handle Halloween. He had a feelin’ she wanted to night off from mom duty, but either way that simple ”sure, Bash” when he’d asked had made his heart go as fast as any beat down with the Lobos. Him and Maddie got along, she knew he was the awkward, unsure parent and got the fact that he was a part-timer enough to be soft with him. Thing was, Halloween was one of those rituals he didn’t think he ever got right as a kid. Firecrackers and car alarms and break ins weren’t part of the hallmark movie life he thought Maddie deserved, so he’d enlisted Ev’s help for the night.

Maddie sprung out, her chipmunk voice immediately calling out for him even though the bathroom was only a few feet away, “DAAAD! Listen. I know you don’t gotta costume but maybe we can have Miss Evvy just give you some whiskers or somethin’?”.

“Maybe Miss Evvy can make me somethin’ a little cooler than a cat costume, I think she’s got a bit more talent than that”, He nodded to her glass of orange juice he’d poured as she jumped into the booth across from him, grinning like a little monkey. Of course he hadn’t thought of his own costume, too set on making sure Maddies specific instructions had been relaid to Ev to worry about himself. Was that a thing parents did, dress up with their kid? He figured he just had to follow along for the night and make sure she didn’t get taken or eat all her candy at once.

“Yeah, she can do anything but you gotta agree to wear it” Maddie was sitting up on her heels now at the table, her little knobby knees poking over the edge as she leaned forward and gestured at him with the orange juice, “You gotta have fun Dad, that’s what it's all about. Mom said no moping”

Bash forced down that twinge of anger that surfaced at the comment, knowing full well that Lucy’d had a talk with Maddie about ‘who your father is’ before she came over for the weekend. Kids were parrots, mimicking their parents back to each other till they figured out their own thoughts. Maddie didn’t think her dad moped, Lucy did. To Maddie he was still the cool dad with a motorbike, fun friends, and access to horses whenever she wanted to ride.

“No moping, promise. I'm excited to wear whatever crazy thing you guys come up with” Maddie beamed back at him and giggled wildly, her little brain probably coming up with the craziest concocted costumes she could convince her accomplice to create for her.

Ever didn’t bother to knock, her presence filling the trailer the instant she entered. The only thing bigger than her bag was her hair, piled atop her head and pinned with glittering clips. Her face lit up as Maddie saw her, running over to hug Ever’s leg excitedly.

“Well hey there little lady,” Ever smoothed a hand over Maddie’s hair as she spoke, hauling her bag over her shoulder onto the table. She looked over at Bash, giving him a nod of acknowledgement and a knowing wink. A glint of amusement flashed in her eyes, it was rare to catch Bash in such a state. Few knew how to recognize it, even when he was unraveling he could maintain enough composure to the untrained eye. She could sense by the clench of his jaw, the slant of his shoulders - he was in full dad panic.

“Can I see? Can I see it?” Maddie asked, leaping to see what was in the bag.

“Can you see it?! I’ll do you one better, you can wear it!” Ever reached into a bag, pulling out the costume and holding it out for Maddie.

“Wonder Woman!” She squealed with excitement. Ever, Beau, and Bash had taken her to see it in the theaters when it first came out. She and Maddie had gushed about it for hours later, Maddie running around pretending she was Wonder Woman. “I’ve got some other accessories and props I had my boys on my production team make for me, but first go put this on so I can make sure it fits right before we go out.”

Maddie nodded, her face all of a sudden serious with determination. She took the costume, running off into her room to try it on. Ever watched her disappear behind the door, pausing for a moment to soak in the delight of the moment. Maddie had that effect on her. Made the idea of settling down not so scary, maybe even tempting. She pivoted to face Bash, raising her eyebrows.

“She seems super excited,” Ever said, careful not to sound too reassuring - didn’t want him to know his panic was so obvious. She began unpacking the bag's contents, accessories for Maddie’s costume. “You should take her over on Jackson street, I just walked over by there and the people there went all out.”

“Excited is an understatement” Bash stood and walked over to his kitchen bar, instantly making Ev a drink even though she hadn’t asked. His was still half full, his jitters making the alcohol seem like some sort of poison, “You know I had to dress up for this? I thought Halloween was about the kids getting candy and showing off their costume. I’ve never heard of parents doing it too” Bash kept his voice to a low whisper, aware of the paper thin walls and Maddie rustling into her costume a few away. He squeezed a lime into the drink roughly and turned around to Everleigh, casting the drink across to her without hesitation, “I need you to magic some costume on my face so she thinks I'm into it too. She suggested a cat, I thought maybe you could do something better than that”


Ever took the drink, her lips pulled into a wicked grin. “Oh honey...did you think she didn’t already know what your costume was? That kid must be one hell of an actor.”

She took a deep drink, turning around to delve into her bag fishing out a mask. The pointed ears and shape was apparent, “Batman - got the whole works. You know….if you want it.”

Bash’s stare slanted down to the mask, then back up at her, “Guessin’ you made the whole thing and not just the mask” He reached forward and grabbed at it without waiting for an answer, “My kid get you into a costume too? Let me guess, she also got her uncle in on this as Robin”

“Ha!” Ever emphasized her laughter with disbelief, handing Bash over the bag that was filled with the remainder of the costume to change into. “I would love to see the day someone manages to get that mangy mutt in a costume.”

“But, don’t worry, I brought my costume along too.” She added with a wink, finishing her drink and going to pour another.


_______________________________



Maddie skipped right ahead of them in her full cape, whip, and golden cuffs ensemble, her hair pushed back by the golden tiara so her tight curls bounced as she led the way. She was informing them about the kid in her class that lived on this street- every street in town she seemed to know exactly what kid lived where. Most of Bash’s face was obscured in hardened plastic, his eyes darkened by black eye shadow so that his face was morphed into a sculpted black scowl. The cowl headdress rested on his shoulder above a floor length black cape, locking his neck into position so it required the full movement of his chest to turn his head. Which was fine, really, because that meant he could just focus on Maddie and not the costume Ev somehow thought worked for a 5pm candy crawl.

It was black and leathery, skin tight in a way that smoothed everything but also hid nothing. Maddie had screamed and giggled something about Catwoman, but all that was catlike about this costume was the leather pointed cat mask. Bash had taken one look at her when she’d come out of the bathroom, coughed, and ushered them out the door.

Ever had forced them to take a couple of pictures before they left, scrolling through them as they followed behind the miniature Wonder Woman. She had already sent them to Beau along with a grinning imp emoji, all too aware of what she was doing. Beau had refused to ever dress up with her, what better way to get her way than to trick his brother into doing a couples costume with her. Genius really, the one person that Beau wouldn't immediately curb stomp.

“What do you think, I like this one the best.” Ever said, stepping in closer to show Bash the picture. She could feel his hand briefly brush across her hip and immediately recoil, Ever smirking with self-satisfaction.

Bash tilted his mask downward as both a courtesy glance and a nod, pretty sure that he didn’t want to see a photo of Ev’s body curled up next to him like it was now. He was also pretty sure she was doing it on purpose, her casual flirtiness enough a part of their relationship by now that he usually paid it no mind. But she also wasn’t usually standing next to him with half her breasts spilling out of a half zipped bodysuit.

Ever’s phone pinged with a reply almost instantly, Beau’s name flashing across the screen with a series of emojis after,

‘LOL that a joke???’


Ever laughed to herself, covering her expression to hide her devious delight. She went to slide her phone into her pocket, remembering she didn’t have any - instead sliding it into the fabric that stretched taut across her chest.

“Do you have Maddie the whole weekend then?” Ever asked, the two of them waiting at the curb and giving a little wave as Maddie ran up to the door with some of the kids who were working the same route as them.

“Yeah” Bash nodded, facing the house Maddie was gathered at, “Lucy’s on some trip I think, it was easy to convince her. I think the costume probably won half the argument though, thanks for that '' He glanced down at her stiffly and flashed a smile under the mask.

“Please - she’s a literal doll. I will make her a costume any day of the year, just because.” She waved off his thanks, never one to take genuine compliments easily. “Besides, no way I’m missing out on being able to boss you around with a whip.”

“Dad, Evvy - look!” Maddie interrupted- Bash sent a silent thanks to his kid for her good timing, “They had FULL size candy bars! I got a whole snickers!”

“Oo, is that for me?” Ever asked, holding out her hand expectantly.

Maddie wrinkled her nose, reading Ever’s expression before cackling with delight. “No! You gotta earn it!”

Bash laughed as Maddie shoved the candy in her bag and scrambled off to the next house ahead of them, keeping his eyes on her and definitely not on the whip hanging from Ev’s side

It was that evening time when the golden light was slipping through the shedding trees, casting elongated shadows across the cracked pavement and giving everything that warm, orange hue. Maddie was down another house before they made it to the next one, the small group of kids she’d joined with somehow instantly her pack. Bash watched her go but didn’t try hard to keep up, knowing she knew this street just as well as the next. It was that early hour of Halloween where the kids were young enough that the screaming and laughing was pure bliss and the clear joy of the evening seeping into him. He didn’t get a lot of normal like this, most of his time with his kid taken in stolen car rides or trips to ice cream. Lucy was warming to him lately- he was pretty sure she was dating someone new, so that probably helped. It meant his mind was wrapped in moments like this, Maddie laughing, golden shadows, and Ev somehow enjoying herself at his side- and not whatever shit Beau was getting the Lobos into.

The unmistakable coughing of an engine and grind of brakes behind him broke that peace, forcing his face into the same scowl as his mask. “Course he’s here” He grumbled under his breath as a door slammed and a man let out a low whistle.

“Aw, Evvy, daaaamn look at you” Beau cackled when Bash turned around, the younger brother almost doubling over at the somehow perfect rendition of the moody anti-hero.

Everleigh looked over to Bash with a sympathetic expression. Beau was at all times hard to be around - but he was about to be insufferable. She walked towards Beau, a smile splitting across her face in an attempt to disarm him. Her arm reached out to wrap around him, gently guiding him upright to interrupt his cackles.

“Hey baby, I didn’t realize you’d be coming out. I would’ve made you a Robin costume.” She teased, kissing his cheek affectionately.

Beau twisted his arm around her, his immediate inclination to tug her tightly against him at war with his awareness of the very family friendly setting they were in. And the ominous form of his brother, who had not moved from his absurdly Batman-like pose on the sidewalk.

“You just want me in skin tight spandex and underwear too. You know he’s got zero idea who Batman is outside the Dark Knight right?” He slid his hand a little low, stopping right above the smooth leather covering her ass.

Bash coughed, stiffly turned over to see Maddie finishing up with her current house, then turned back around, “Thought you said you were workin’ tonight”

Beau grinned at his brother as he released Ev, his touch lingering a little over her hip, “Workin’ now, thought I’d stop by on my way to Knox. If I’d known Evvy was gonna dress you up like a superhero family I might’a decided to come”

Ever pouted, grabbing a hold of his chin to turn his face towards hers. “I asked you to dress up with me, you told me over your dead body.”

“Oh” He raised a brow and glanced directly downwards, “You should’a asked me while you were wearing this”

“Hmm, well then I guess you learned your lesson.” She said, all too smug as she reached up to kiss him.

“Tio, Tio!” Maddie squealed, running full sprint across multiple lawns back towards the three of them wrapping her arms as best she could around both Beau and Ever. She jumped back after a moment, running a circle around them high from the sugar. “Look, Tio! I’m Wonder Woman!”

Beau released Ever and spun around to grab Maddie in one massive swoop, swinging her up as she screamed, “You're the only kid in town that gets a professional costume made and a whole team of superheroes escorting you around, you know that?” Maddie wound her arms around his neck in a tight, instant hug before kicking herself loose.

“I got three full sized snickers on only this street! Guys come on we have to go before they run out!” She instantly ran off, forgetting the adults in favor of the distant crowd of kids she’d been with.

“Remember that leash I bought you Bash?” Beau asked as she ran through several yards, his eyes instantly drifting back to Evvy’s costume now that the sugar-high chaos was gone.

Bash snorted and turned back around, “Think what Luc would do if she caught me leashin’ her kid. I'm catching' up with her”

“I’m right behind you,” Ever assured, waiting until Bash was out of earshot to look back at Beau with the look you give a puppy who had misbehaved.“Why can’t you be nice? You know how much this means to him.”

“You're dressed up like Batman and Catwoman” Beau replied as his hand twitched back towards her waist, “Why can’t you be nice?”

Ever feigned surprise, careful not to oversell. “Is that what this is about?! Baby, it was Maddie’s idea. She saw a picture when we were looking up family costumes. I don’t want her to miss out on these kinds of memories just because her parents aren’t together. It doesn’t mean anything but that.”

“Besides,” She added in a whisper. “You know at the end of the night you’ll be the one who will really get to enjoy this costume.”

He pulled her in and grinned into her hair, sliding two hands around her waist as he stepped them back against his car. Beau had a strong mind to open the door behind her and drive off, but he also knew she was right. For all Bash’s stubborn seriousness, the man turned into molten putty when Maddie was around. He’d probably have to come scrape his brother off the sidewalk if Ev didn’t stick with them.

“Alright, I’ll share” Beau leaned in for a slow kiss, “Promise you’ll bring the whip with you later”

“Mhmm, promise..” She mumbled against his lips, his hand on her ass to pull her closer.

“I’ll text you when I’m done,” Ever assured him, gripping at the fabric across his chest. “I’m going to post the picture on my socials later - be nice.”

“I’m nice, I’m nice” His words dripped with sarcasm but he’d keep his word. Maddie was a little monster but he loved the kid and wanted his brother to have every moment he could with her. Ev smiled at him, that slow one that made him want to tug her back against him, but instead he just slapped her ass and threw a wave to the distant smudge of black that was his brother before leaving just as abruptly as he came.

Ever watched as he drove off, waving in the rearview window with a look of triumph. Suddenly aware of a hot stare on her, her posture shifted. She had seen the dark curls from down the block, the oil stained shirt - now facing her with a cigarette between his lips and a look in his eye she was all too familiar with.

“Enjoying the show?” She asked, raising her arms to behold the scene that had just unfolded in front of him. Gemini was hardly a stranger to the games she played with Beau, they’d played each other’s pawns on more than one occasion. She walked towards him with a sultry feline grace, running the length of the whip through her fingers until the distance between them was enough to make him shift. Tilting her head to the side, malice and desire twisting her lips upward. “Don’t worry, I’ll get out of here before your little girlfriend shows up.”

“I’ve got a date to get to after all,” Ever plucked the lit cigarette from his lips, her gaze lingering on his mouth and making sure to give her the best angle on her ass as she walked away. She managed to catch up with Bash within a couple of houses, Bash not-so-obviously hanging back to make it easier. She couldn’t wipe her smirk expression from her face, too satisfied with herself. Beau and Ever wouldn’t be Beau and Ever without their mind games. A part of her wished she felt guilty for putting Bash in between them, though he was in enough denial about his attraction to her it made it easier to cope.

“Did I miss anything?” She asked once she reached him, putting out her cigarette glancing around trying to find Maddie in the mob of children that ran door to door.

“Twix, I think” He answered, letting her fall in step next to him as they all moved onto the next house.

Ever laughed softly, catching sight of Maddie. She had made friends with the other kids instantly, they were already swapping candies between houses. Ever nudged Bash’s side gently, pointing over to Maddie then looking back at him. “She’s having so much fun. I think you fucking nailed Halloween, Papi.”

Bash smiled slowly, a small little pang slipping through his chest at the image in front of him. Ever was right, Maddie was all louds expressive movements and cheeky grins, perfectly content with her candy haul and night. He felt sated, more proud of this small victory then any of the runs with the Lobos. He’d done a fucking good job.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gemini Yazzie Character Portrait: Friday Knapp Character Portrait: Knox Porter Character Portrait: Beau Piedlelobo Character Portrait: Constance Graves Character Portrait: Delilah Cambell
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ImageDays had become shorter, night taking more bit by bit. You’d never notice it at first until one day it felt like you just couldn’t escape it. Knox had never been an early riser, much preferring the stolen moments at morning light; face buried in her hair spun of gold, running his fingers over the hills and valleys of her landscape.

Most morning’s he worked started with breakfast at Biscuits with Beau. Their calendar was an innate rhythm between them; second Tuesday of the month was a delivery to Roscoe’s Rodeo, the 15th of every month a check in at the warehouse up north, a meeting with the Ghouls once every six weeks to assure that promises surrounding their alliance were kept.

That tiny Plymouth Road Runner their home away from home. Comedic really, both of them much too tall for it’s compact space. Knox had learned to navigate the space like it was his own, the seat pushed all the way back with his feet hanging out the window. Wasn’t much, but it made sleeping with Mariah wrapped in his arms all the sweeter.

Knox had never been one for Halloween, or any holidays really. His mother would try to get him to dress up as a kid, he’d comply with the promise of candy but his heart was never really in it. Felt silly to pretend to be anyone but himself, but the moment his daughter started dressing in frilly princess dresses he felt his heart melt. He took the day off, unable to face the disappointment if daddy couldn’t make it to trick-or-treating - promising Beau they’d make up for lost time tonight. Her hand was too small to fit in his, sticky from the candy she’d stuck in her mouth when she thought momma and daddy weren’t looking, Knox and Mariah sharing a wink as they looked the other way.

The cacophony of shrieks of delight and racing footsteps was welcomed change to Edenholle, a place too often hushed by the silence of discretion. In between rung bells and knocked doors, Knox pulled Mariah in against him watching as their girl ran back and forth between them and the next candy score. A part of him felt like this was never really his, like he was living someone else’s life; someone who had by some fate scored the dream and Knox was just riding in their skin for these moments.

His phone vibrated in his back pocket, Knox groaning with annoyance. He already knew it was Beau, asking where Knox was so he could swing by and pick him up.

“I think my time’s up,” He said with an sheepish expression, scratching the back of his neck as he sent Beau a pin to his location. There was always guilt when he had to say goodbye, always leaving Mariah for long stretches of time. He wondered how she filled her time, or with who. He slid a hand to cradle her cheek, a his calloused thumb running rough across her silken skin.

“Don’t be too mad at me.” He said, leaning in with a languid smile and low eyes, mouth seeking hers. He savored the taste of her lips between his, lingering that contact as he spoke. “Promise I’ll be back tonight.”

He heard the hum of the approaching engine, the Green Beast approaching. Their daughter recognized the sound, running back to grab ahold of Knox’s leg - too familiar with the sound, knowing daddy was leaving.

“Noo, daddy you said you’d go trick-or-treating with me,” She whined, the wavering in her voice the first signs of a full blown temper tantrum. Knox leaned down to scoop the girl up, holding her between him and Mariah.

“I gotta get going, baby girl. I’m sorry I can’t stay all night, but now you get to have momma all to yourself.” Knox tickled her sides as he spoke, forcing the girl to giggle - the sort of unfiltered infectious joy that only a child was capable of expressing. He could hear the sound of the car slowing to a halt between them, the low idle hum resonating with Beau’s impatience.

“Be good alright, baby.” He said, giving his girls both a kiss - leaning in to whisper in Mariah’s ear, his hand snaking around her to give her ass a quick squeeze. “You too, alright.”

He jogged over to the passenger side of the green beast, giving them both a last look as he slid into the car. Beau didn’t even allow him time to adjust the seat before lurching forward, driving them towards the horizon.

Image

Constance had never celebrated Halloween as a child. Her parent's had thought it a Satanic holiday, it's Pagan origins never without mention. For the Church, however, it had grown to be one of their busiest nights. She expected many would have penance to pay tonight.

"After you've replaced all the sheets, make sure all the rooms are stocked extra with the essentials - and give the surfaces a dusting." Constance dictated over Lila's shoulder, each word articulated with the kind of suppressed rage only god-fearing parents could breed. "I've got to go into town for some supplies but I'll be back within the hour, I expect this place to be sparkling by then."

"Yeah, yeah - save the whip cracking for tonight, Constance." Lila huffed under her breath, audible but still a sound of defeat. She could hear the sound of Constance's heels clicking away, followed by the sound of the door behind her.

Lila waited a beat to make sure Constance wouldn't come back, pretending to forget her keys or wallet to make sure Lila was still working. When she was certain the Mother Superior was gone for good, Lila threw herself across the freshly made bed to roll over onto her back and watch the ceiling fan. The days had been bleeding into one another lately, Lila felt the weight of the monotony.

Lila had settled in the church because it was easy, but she’d grown complacent. Never really wanted anything except tomorrow but now it was the very thing she dreaded. Lately she’d felt like she was outside her own body, watching herself as she went through the motions. She’d save enough to leave, but - where would she go? After a few moments she got up with a huff, deciding she’d skip the grunt work and take Constance’s wrath later. Affixing her habit, Lila gave herself a quick check in the mirror before heading upstairs and joining the festival.

They hosted a festival for the families of the congregation during the day with face painting, hay rides, games. It wasn't that large of a production but the kids loved it, and the parents appreciated having somewhere to let their kids run wild that didn't cost nothin'. No, tonight would be when the church really made it's money - when the fest closed and the basement door was open.

Constance had been helping Father Friday with Halloween since he’d first taken over the church. Each year the after-hour celebrations became grander and more explicit, she wondered if this was how it felt to be in the cities of Sodom and Gamorrah. To live a life of such hedonism and feel the wrath of god ready to descend on you at any moment.

Her parents still worked shifts behind the counter of their general store, the bell above the door giving a hollow ring as she entered. Her mom was stocking cigarettes when Constance walked in, looking over for only a moment then quickly away. It had been the same ever since they left the church, certain Father Friday was Lucifer himself. Constance had grown used to her parent’s feigned ambivalence. That was the beauty of faith, when you let it lead you it didn’t matter what others thought about you.

“Good afternoon to ya, momma.” Constance greeted, tipping her head graciously - because her parents might not be talking to her but they damn sure raised her well enough to respect her elders. She gave a little smile as she walked past towards the back of the store where hardware was kept, returning a moment later with her arms filled with bundles of rope. “Just these, please.”

Her mom rang up the rope wordlessly, making sure to avoid eye contact.

“I took all that was left back there, so you might need to reorder more.” Constance added, not because she expected her mom to acknowledge it but because she knew it was something her mom would want to know. It used to be part of her after-school job to help her parents do inventory to see what they needed to order, but now they had some grandkid of one of their friends doing that.

“That’ll be $46.23.” Her mother said flatly, with all the warmth you reserved for a stranger. Constance pulled out a crisp hundred dollar bill from her bag, sliding it across the counter to her mother. “Keep the change, have a blessed day momma.”

It was the only way Constance could give her parent’s money. She knew they were struggling. Folks were depending on the local mom and pop shop less and less these days, evident by the expired tinned brown gravy on the shelves. Constance was gone before her mom could say anything, that bell ringing behind her.

Cradling her paper bag, she decided to take the scenic route back to the church to invite some of the families that were out trick or treating back to the church for the festival - giving those she was certain to see in the basement after a wink as she walked by.

“Brother, Sisters.” She’d say, because whether or not they were members of the congregation they were all brothers and sisters of the Lord and Saviour.

“Brother Gem,” Constance called out from the end of the driveway. “Hope we’ll be seeing you in church tonight.”



Characters Present

Character Portrait: Waylon Maverick Character Portrait: Everleigh Sage Character Portrait: Gemini Yazzie Character Portrait: Constance Graves Character Portrait: Delilah Cambell Character Portrait: Rafael Serdán-Reyes
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“you can all go to hell,” is a goodbye charm off of pout chapped lips, an exit wound of sorts. miss ruthie knows this one real well. always been a fan of the dreamers, the young ones - the runaways. the type to build a tall tale out of just a year in her old town, then without realizing, become the very fiber of what keeps the place knitted together. those beautiful and foolish little things… seen for their desires and consequently, those desires’ end.

she’s spun it back in her head a dozen times with a laugh, tapping a smoke loose from the box when she’s alone and a clock out is far from reach. but she’s not quite by herself. it’s early, and her usuals need their coffee for a long day of fence-post-pickin’ and pancake flippin’.

Image“i’m goin’ to texas.” ruthie parrots, tossing a complimentary pack of big red in a plastic shopping bag for the mud river blonde across from her register. her customer gives a knowing, happy nod. “hey, waylon, darlin’?

“yeah miss ruthie?”
“you let me know when you got your ticket and your bag packed, i reckon i’d like to see a town other than edenholle one day, too.” she says with a slightly nervous smack of her lips.
“i’m sure you’ll beat me to it.” waylon’s got a dizzy grin on.
“well…”
“then i’ll be askin’ you to put me in your luggage.”
“home is where the heart is.” ruthie eyes glisten with a hint of longing, and she don’t blink at the bittersweetness.

one day, maybe a long time ago, she was on the other side of the counter. plotting a great escape with someone old enough to be her grandparent, meaning every word. piled high in sun bleached curls, pockets lined with old breakfast order tabs and a couple of crumpled bucks. “yeah, just gotta’ figure out where my heart is, i guess.” waylon shrugs. ruthie doesn’t tell her that it’s gonna’ be buried somewhere in the arizona desert, just like her.

waylon’s gone without another goodbye, just a wave and a smile in the wind. she’s almost late and tripping over herself by the time biscuits swallows her whole once again.

first on her mind is old harry’s muddy pot of coffee, then the jar of blueberry preserves they only used on his flapjacks, then of course the cherry - that’d be for the pie made on account of lila’s presence, fresh each time. waylon ties herself into the grind with an apron’s bow and phone wire tangled up her arm. the receiver, tucked between her cheek and shoulder, slides threateningly as she grapples for a pencil and paper. but she never drops a thing. never has.

butter baked crust still steams on a plate, promised to that snow white lookin’ woman in the corner. waylon makes it a point to apology for any delay, hair out of dress code, spilling over her ear and into her eyes.

“got any plans for halloween, ladies?”


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the clock tick cadence of hips on this stretch of town is never anything new. but never any less interesting to watch. pitted between the eyes of a man and his brain are all cravings and trespasses that don’t make it to the mouth or hands. gemini peers down at his, then, deep-lined with old engine dirt and fissures. his cigarette gets a dry pull tucked between his teeth. a damp rag smacks the thigh of some old denim, hardly a sign of surrender, but he might be gettin’ close. there’s children screaming and laughing every which way — sending shakers and movers scattering like roaches for a less-lit street. respect for the innocent, here exists - at least for a grace period. a man ought to try to mind mouth and his inhibitions, or lack thereof.

he lifts his gaze to the cat making her ninth-life strut good and worth it, right in his direction, keen to multiply her luck like a gambler with nothing to lose. he always liked a woman who carried herself in such a way; could roll some dice and not give a rat’s ass when it shook out to her doom. she’s talkin’ dates and running knock off leather over her manicure in a slow draw. the gun might as well be smoking already and she don’t even know it or care. that’s everleigh.

“huh.” the grunt from his throat kicks ash into the air. a thumb nail brays over his stubble when he takes another drag of cancer, “didn’t know trick or treatin’ and toys for tots was your bag, ev, let alone your idea of a date night.” it translates: yeah, you’re putting on a real good one.

they exchange shit eating grins, old friends. two folks who don’t know whether they fall on antagonist or protagonist but make do just fine in the middle. there’s some gritty repute in it where they meet, have met, and will meet again. she’d run with the wolves for a while. and that was a-okay with a man like gem. a man who knew this one? right here?

she could handle her own.

he saves the compliments for the chapel matron who appears in everleigh’s shadow, something that feels close to an omen when it should be the contrary. his throat cracks downward and he hesitates on a reply. her hands fold politely in the front of her. never skirting the length of her arms or neck in a vibration of language that boasted in the sun. maybe, constance only did that in the dark. or not at all.

“you wanna’ see me there, connie?” he gives her a shifty wink, diverting his attention to an old pasture colored ford splitting the tide of halloween a little too fast to be local. the old handkerchief is relinquished in a slap over his shoulder, “be an honor to be in the presence of such well dressed faith, but ball’s in your court.” giving her a hard time wouldn’t be half as much fun if she wasn’t such good friends with the bible. some day, he’d like to know a little more about her, than just that. where her mind rested when it was off duty.

his half-proposition is severed by a mazlatan mess of noise and he can’t help but chuff ’n get back to work. “what a strange fuckin’ town.”