By John King
Indiana could feel a tooth swim around in the blood foaming out of her mouth as the woman, one of two RCMP officers, held her wrists from behind.
“Quit fighting. You’re only going to make it worse,” she told Indiana before sticking her right leg between the prisoner’s. The officer took a hold of the girl’s dark hair and scraped her face against the cement to emphasize the point. “I think I’ve had just about enough of you.”
“Fuck you,” Indiana replied. There was the concrete wall she was pushed up against and the way it made her face cold when the rest of her burned. She needed out and they kept telling her she wasn’t going anywhere. That made her burn.
She was sick of being pushed around and could hear ringing in her ears as anger gave her strength enough to push back against the woman. Slamming her elbow into the officer, Indiana whipped around, tearing herself free. Before either of the dumbfounded officers could react, Indiana wound up a right and clocked her square in the nose. Had there been more strength behind the 18 year old’s blow, it might have broken the officer’s nose.
“Fucking little bitch. Better add assaulting an officer to the list now honey. Come on Andy, get the hell in here and help,” she roared to her partner, who looked as some men do when watching two women locked in a cat fight. “We have to strip her. Take her jeans off,” she said as she fought Indiana to the ground.
A wave of dizziness hit Indiana and she began to choke, coughing up blood.
“What’s wrong with her?” Andy asked.
“Doped pretty good I would say,” she replied directing her attention to Indiana. “You take any drugs?”
Indiana glared at the two hunkered over her. Before she went black, she thought about what was inside her as her heart pumped cocaine through her body so fast and strong it almost broke her.
“Ah, my old friend,” he said to Carpenter.
Old Blue sat in the soft light of the pool table lamps. He sat where he always sat – in the corner booth of the pool hall, reading a newspaper and drinking coffee. The old man waved Carpenter to sit down across from him. “Good to see you, thought you might’ve skipped town.”
“Now why would I go and do a thing like that, Blue?” Carpenter asked.
“Ah, I know you wouldn’t kid, I know,” Old Blue said as he waved over a waitress. “What’ll it be, gin on the rocks?”
“Yeah, that’ll be good Blue.”
“Never understood why you drink the stuff, not til I remembered your mother used to drink it. She was a real beauty, a real class act, your mother. I remember she would have her suitors wait outside her house. Rain or shine, she would make them wait, taking her sweet time as she spied on them. That’s what I remember about your mother. Those damned suitors standing in the rain, it’s my last memory of her,” Old Blue said, shaking his head.
“It was our last Christmas together. She took me on a vacation to Hawaii. We went to this beach. She said the lifeguard told her a giant sea turtle was in the bay. So I went out, and I found it. I found that turtle. That’s my last memory of her, Blue,” Carpenter said.
Old Blue folded his newspaper. “So, kid, where’s your better half these days? Never see her around no more.”
“Oh, you know Blue, keeping her hidden away from view.”
“All to yourself?”
“Yep, all to myself.”
“It’ll never work, kid. You should just leave it alone, but you won’t will ya?”
“What’ll never work, Blue?”
“You and her.”
“You’re smart kid, I always liked you. I told your mother I’d keep an eye out for you. This thing you have, this girl, it’s no good. Leave it alone,” he said before taking a sip of his coffee.
Old Blue had never liked Indiana. The first time Carpenter brought her in, Old Blue said she was a black cat, bad luck, and chased her out. Now as Old Blue stared him down with those Frank Sinatra look-alike’s, Carpenter wasn’t too sure what to do. He had a plan coming in but now Old Blue had turned the whole thing into a poker game.
He supposed Old Blue already knew and was playing dumb. If that was the case, Carpenter’s chances of staying alive weren’t good considering the drug debt he owed.
“Kid, it never ends.”
“What never ends, Blue?” Carpenter asked downing the last of his drink.
“I think you know. You better have another one,” the old man said waving over the waitress.
“No, I gotta go Blue, sorry, things to do, you know,” Carpenter said getting up.
“Yeah, I know. Why don’t ya just sit down and have another. One more on me, old friend,” Old Blue said.
The cigarette hung from the tips of Richard’s fingers when he fell asleep. It dropped to the carpet floor and smouldered there until his wife came home. She picked up the cigarette, put it into the ashtray and slapped her husband as he slept.
“Fuck you doing?” he asked her.
“Bastard,” she said walking into the kitchen.
He shook his head and stood. The living room was silent. The television was turned on with the sound muted. Some boxing program was airing the Rumble in the Jungle. Richard thought about the day on an American army base when he watched the fight live on television drinking beers under the mesh of a mess tent with a dozen or so other officers.
Half the men rooted for George Foreman, who was younger, and packed a giant wallop. The rest chose to stick with the Champ, the veteran boxer who never joined the Vietnam War like they did. They all respected him for that.
Richard shook his head. His mind ricocheted back to the living room where the sounds of pots and pans rumbled out of the kitchen. He followed his wife into the kitchen and leaned against the door frame.
“What you cooking?” he asked.
“The fuck you care,” she replied reaching for some pancake mix.
“You gonna make me some?”
“So when’s this going to end?”
“Quit asking so many questions.”
Richard walked to the kitchen table and sat down just as there was a knock on the back door of the house that led into the kitchen.
“Jesus,” his wife said as she froze.
“I’ll be right back,” Richard said.
He opened the door and stepped out.
“So?” he asked closing the door behind him.
“She’s out, bail hearing this afternoon, faster than we thought. She told her whole story to me,” the man standing in the shadows said.
Richard nodded and went back inside his house. He sat down and watched his wife’s dress dance along her thighs as she made her pancakes.
“You know, I really could use some of those. It’s gonna be a cold night,” he said.
“Make your own.”
“I don’t wanna make my own.”
“You fuck off.”
She swung around with the flipper in hand and pointed it at him. Mouth half open, eyes dangerous, she stared at her husband. “Don’t you tell me to fuck off.”
She turned back around and flipped a pancake with a loud flop.
Indiana kept making those hissing sounds, the kind she always made when she was impatient about something.
“You take forever, come on already,” she said.
Carpenter brought the tip of a lighter to the blackened bottom of the spoon he held and lit a spark to cook the cocaine mixed with water and baking soda on top. The baking soda and water bubbling, the drug began to condense into a smaller more powerful hit than before.
“There, it’s ready,” Indiana said.
“Not quite,” Carpenter answered, glancing over at her.
“Don’t spill it.”
“I got it,” he said as he relit the lighter. “Give me a shiny penny.”
“I don’t have one.”
“Look for one.”
She lifted her hips as Carpenter glanced sideways at her. Aside from a missing front tooth, a scrape along her cheek and some bruises on her neck, she was no worse for wear. In fact, if you didn’t know it, you’d never suspect just hours before her stomach was pumped after overdosing on a fortune in crack. Seven balloons and one pops in the middle of being arrested. Carpenter was both mad and happy with her, mad because they were now forced to hit the road and happy because she was back in his line of sight.
Indiana checked her pockets for change. Using her shoulder blades to prop herself up, she slipped a hand into her pocket and found a penny. She hooked it with her finger, fished it out and held it against the vehicle’s interior light.
“Weird,” she said. “I didn’t know I had that.”
“Better keep it,” Carpenter said.
“Just a penny.”
“It’s your good luck penny.”
“I never believed in lucky pennies.”
“Come on, quit screwing around.”
Taking the penny, Carpenter started to dab at the cloud of sticky cocaine in the centre of the spoon before lifting it out and putting it on his pack of cigarettes.
“Pipe?” he asked her.
“Let me go first.”
“Gimme the pipe.”
“Let me go first,” she said again before breaking off a piece of the hardening rock. She eased it into one end of a pipe full of steel wool, which had been hidden in her other hand, before snatching Carpenter’s lighter from him. “Finders keepers.”
She tilted her head back and lifted the pipe over her mouth. She lit the end, melting the cocaine before bringing her head back down – eyes level with Carpenter. The pair stared at each other, his green eyes meeting her wide brown eyes as she worked the lighter and pipe – inhaling a deep breath. Exhaling, she closed her eyes and was still a moment before she shook when Carpenter touched her hand. She opened her eyes.
“Don’t look at me. You always look at me when I have a blast,” she said.
He turned away and glanced out the window. From behind the driver’s wheel Carpenter watched snow collect along the car window as the blizzard outside drowned out the dark skyline in front of them.
“Snow’s getting worse, should probably get a move on before we get stuck out here,” Carpenter said.
“I wish we could stay stuck out here in the snow forever,” she said, her words drifting far apart from one another in a lazy sort of way.
Carpenter realized he forgotten about the penny and handed it over to Indiana. “It’s your lucky penny even if you don’t believe in lucky pennies.”
She looked at him and took the penny. “So, where we going anyways?” she asked.
“Well that depends on what you told them.”
“I told them everything. Why else would I be out?”
“Okay then, I guess we gotta go as far as we can.”
“Yeah, like a couple of outlaws.”
“Yeah well, it’s a nice dream. We might as well keep on dreaming since neither of us will get into the U.S. in the first place.”
“I know a place we can sneak across. My dad showed me when he took me to North Dakota.”
“Yeah, he took me there once to see a healer – some sort of shaman or something I guess.”
“Why he do that?”
“I was dying.”
“Dying of what?”
“I don’t remember.”
“What do you mean you don’t remember? You never told me about this before.”
“I’ve never told anyone before.”
“Well, did he heal you?”
“I’m here aren’t I?”
“Mexico it is then,” Carpenter said, ignoring her and turning the car back on.
“Carpenter, I was pregnant.”
She turned to him, the corner of her mouth lifting in that way he loved so much before breaking as a tear slipped from her eye. He took her hand and didn’t say anything for a long time.
“When did you find out?” he asked.
“In the hospital but I always kinda knew.”
He reached over and kissed her cheek. She leaned into him. For a moment they were close. And she cried.
“Oh Carpenter I lost it. I lost the baby.”
“It’s going to be okay.”
“Carpenter, why do people like us always choose Mexico?” she asked.
“Because it’s so darn cold here.”
Indiana smiled and wiped her tear away.
“I love it when you smile Indy.”
“Yeah you do, do yah. Well get a move on then boy. We got a lot of driving to do. How much you got left?”
“Um, about fifteen after posting bail.”
“That makes two thousand between us. Think it’s enough?”
“No,” Carpenter said as he put the car into gear and started backing out. The car strained a second before plopping back down where it had been parked. “See, we’re stuck.”
The door of the car opened and a masked man knocked Carpenter unconscious. The man reached over and grabbed Indiana by the hair. He dragged Indiana out of the car. She kicked and screamed as he tied her hands and feet with cloth. He opened the back door. He threw her in and tied her to a door handle. The man tied Carpenter’s hands and feet as well. Before slamming the doors to the car shut, the man poured gasoline over Indiana and pulled out a book of matches. Then he lit her on fire.
As the flames ate them, Carpenter walked down a set of creaky wooden stairs to the beach he visited when he was a child. He looked for Indiana on the steps. He could not find her.
At the bottom of the stairs, his mother waited for him. The wind whipped the white beach dress she wore into the warm air as she pointed out across the bay. She told him of the giant sea turtle seen swimming there. Carpenter walked to the water and the cold of it struck his ankles. He looked back to his mother who smiled and waved him on.
Turning to the bay, Carpenter waded deeper into the water as the sun hit the waves further out. Waist deep, he dived in and began to swim before taking a deep breath. Sinking below the water, Carpenter drifted into the shelves of a coral reef. Getting deeper and farther, the shelves became steep and tall as a rainbow of fish followed him, surrounding him.
Carpenter caught a glimpse of the giant sea turtle as it weaved through the reef. Carpenter swam chasing, reaching out. The sea turtle led him deeper into the reef – deeper and farther into the waters.