Click on image to enlarge.
by Travis Heermann
Description: The easiest path usually leads straight into a minefield. Eddie, a young, pretty single mom, is trying to do the right thing by her three-year-old daughter. She really is. With no education, no job, and a string of loser boyfriends behind her, she faces hard decisions every day. Gas for the car, or food for Joy? She's already been forced to move back into her mother's decrepit old trailer in Shady Acres Trailer Court in rural Arkansas. Should she get a normal job working long hours for minimum wage, or should she put on her stiletto heels, bikini bra and micro-skirt and go back to exotic dancing so she can bring home fistfuls of cash for a few hours' work? When she catches her daughter playing with handfuls of baby copperhead snakes behind the trailer, the choice gets a lot easier: get out of there by the quickest means possible. But at what cost? And is that strange man the devil or her knight in shining armor? Excerpt: "Joy! Where are you?" She circled the trailer, scanning the waist-high forest of weeds and bushes. "Joy!" She pushed through the weeds, ignoring the leaves and pollen and bugs brushing her naked legs. A hummingbird hovered near a trumpet vine's orange flowers, distracting her for a moment, a supremely delicate creature with tiny blurred wings, like a floating dab of rainbow. "Look, Mommy! Worms!" Eddie gasped and jumped and spun all at once. Joy held up two chubby fistfuls of writhing, squirming creatures, pale on one side, coppery brown and striped on the other. Their little wedge-shaped heads were twisting and striking at her fingers and knuckles, but their mouths were too small to bring their tiny fangs to bear.
eBook Publisher: Eternal Press/Damnation Books LLC/Damnation Books, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: July 2011
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [80 KB]
Reading time: 35-49 min.
Eddie had sworn that she would never, ever come back to this place. Yet, here she was. She stomped a faded beer can flat and kicked it under the trailer, wishing it were someone's head.
"Mommy, lemme down, peez!" Joy called from her car seat in the back of the Buick, jammed in there with all their worldly possessions packed floor to ceiling.
"Comin', honey, just a sec," Eddie called over her shoulder as she stepped up the stairs to the door of the trailer. The sodden, half-rotten particleboard steps sagged under her weight. She checked the knob. The door was still locked. At least no one had broken into the place in the six months since she had left. She pulled out the old key, tasting the bile rising in her throat.
"Goddammit," she muttered, before sliding the key into the rusty lock, jimmying it just right, and opening the door. As the square of hot sunlight spilled across the linoleum in front of her, she heard a skittering in some corner. Some things never changed. She couldn't imagine what the little bastards had been living on since she, Joy and Dallas moved out of this place. She'd have to get some mousetraps. Again.
"Comin', honey! Just a sec."
She stepped inside. The place smelled exactly like a thirty-year-old mobile home that had been vacant for six months. Dead and musty, with hints of mildew, general decay, mouse crap, and maybe a lingering trace of the massive puke stain Dallas had left in the middle of the living room on their last night in this place. It was still there, smack in the center of the dingy carpet. One more thing for her to clean before this shithole was even half-livable.
Jesus Christ was it hot inside! Like a tin shack closed up in the summer sun. Which it basically was.
Joy started fussed and whining. Eddie steeled herself against thoughts of walls full of mice, and against memories. Then she hurried through the trailer and opened as many windows as she could to air the place out.
In Joy's old bedroom with its grimy glass and window screens so old they had come unraveled, she flung open the windows. A freshet of cool breeze whispered through and tickled her face along with the sound of Joy, singing some nameless, tuneless gibberish melody as if she were some diva on American Idol. A lump welled up in Eddie's throat, and she giggled it away. The kid was really belting it out. Somehow that child could make her smile even at the blackest of times.
Scraps of paper clung to the walls, remnants of Joy's artwork, a few multicolored swirls of marker and crayon on the wood paneling. How many times had Eddie passed this room and seen Joy playing, all by herself, like a perfect little angel. Singing, doodling, giggling the kind of giggle that could melt the heart of a stone.
They hadn't all been shitty times in this place.