The girl in the hood
Morning exercises -
We stood there, staring at the car. Lexus, new enough to be nice, but not nice. Its colors were faded, the trim and paneling washed out. It sat heavy on its tires. Water leaked from the doors and ran in rivers from out of the engine compartment. The windows were fogged. When the door opened a small flood of murky water spilled out onto the hot Arizona pavement. He was a business man, silk suit, brown shoes that squelched out greenish pond water when he stood. His skin sagged across his strong frame. Black blood was smeared across his belly, dried in tar-stiff lines down his pants and across one sleeve of his suit. There was a hole in his stomach, plugged with black creek mud. His mouth was sewn shut. Water poured out around the rough stitching; thick, algae-choked water. He was carrying a tire iron, hanging loosely in his hand. The end was sticky with blood.
I turned to the girl and pulled the frayed hood on her sweatshirt up over the tiny antlers poking out of her ginger hair.
-I think that's the guy...
-It's the guy. Get inside. If you hear the door open, or any of the windows, go out the back. Just keep running.
He was coming up the sidewalk. I could smell him, a smell like the rotting forest floor. The tiny iron anchor I always wore under my shirt went cold. I shoved the girl inside.
-Just keep running. I'll find you.
She looked at me with wide eyes, scared eyes, her hand held up to her mouth. My clothes were too baggy on her, the hems of the pants loose around her bare feet. I pointed inside and she went, disappearing into the hot air of the kitchen. I turned back to the street.
He was looking at me, and his eyes were ocean-black and cold. Condensation was building up on the flaking white paint of the porch rail, and the clear glass of beer on the table had gone dark with sediment.