Packy & Backy

by Allen X. Davis

You should be ashamed of yourself, complains the woman in the back seat to her husband-boyfriend. Doing something like that to a fifty-year-old woman. Her eyes are hidden behind dark sunglasses and you think bruises and black eyes yet she seems to be grinning ever so slightly. You’re taking them to the package store for more booze, then back home—their third packy & backy in two days. Hey, he declares, staring straight ahead, I told you nine fuckin’ times to shut your fuckin’ pie hole, but would you listen? Noooo. It’s your own damn fault. And besides, you’re only forty-eight. He’s kind of a big dude in a black shirt buttoned all the way up to the neck like a priest. With you I feel like I’m sixty, she snaps back. Hey driver, smiles the dude, would you let a woman talk to you like that? My ex-wife said she was going to kill me and then kill herself, you answer. But of course the judge didn’t care. See, she says, you should consider yourself lucky. Lucky, he mutters, staring straight ahead again as if in deep thought. Last week when we made this same packy run her brother rode along, fresh out of prison that very morning. He had a few drinks in him but sat there fairly quietly in a work jacket looking out the window while the other two, half drunk, bounced off the walls. Turn that up! shouted the dude when Bob Seager came on the radio and all three of them sang along to Night Moves. You wonder where the brother is today—hopefully not back in prison but working and getting his shit together, unlike these two. She’s havin’ hot flashes, says the dude when we pull up to Kappy’s Liquors. We gotta get somethin’ to cool her off! She comes out of the packy holding a single rose, slightly wilted. He loves me! she cries, and sticks it in her hair. And he’s sorry for what he did. Shhh! he hisses. I know, she sighs, I know. She leans over, whispers something to him and explodes into laughter—shrieks and shrieks of wild, derisive laughter—while he sits there, smaller than before.

A NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Allen X. Davis’s short fiction appears or is forthcoming in Gravel, Flash Fiction Magazine, Microfiction Monday Magazine, Madcap Review, A Quiet Courage, Barking Sycamores, and Empty Sink Publishing.