by Isaac Boone Davis

For Marcie

Somewhere near Hazard, Kentucky. 4:45 PM

His sister calls him from the shelter. Says it's not that bad in there. She tells him he can't visit, no men can, but maybe next week they can Skype. He doesn't know how to do that and neither does she. But there's a girl in here with a computer and that girl is pretty cool. She says she'll teach her how.

She says there's a TV in there but she and the boys don't watch it. Some of the girls can get pretty nasty about it, so instead she and the kids just play board games. They got Clue, Pictionary, Checkers, and that one with the ships that's boringer than fuck. They used to have Monopoly but her first week a couple of the girls used the money to boil out hair dye.

"Lordy," he says. "It's a shelter. Not a damn old jail."

"Honey," she tells him, "some of these girls it's about all they know."

The boy hangs his head into his cell phone. It's about five or so and You Know Who will be back from work shortly. He can't be talking to her then. She's supposed to be dead. He asks her what else she's doing besides living in the shelter.

"Working," she says. "I almost got enough saved for my own place. Won't be long."

"You gonna get a place in town?" He asks.

"Hell no, Lexington. I'm going over the road." The word Lexington hurts his feelings. He doesn't really know why. It just does. He trys to change subject but he's not good at that. So, accidentally he kinda says the same thing.

"Man come in the store the other day and says there's not gonna be any more of us left if Obama keeps doing like he does."

"Good," she says. "Wish he'd hurry up." He laughs even though he doesn't think it's funny. Then he remembers something that made other people laugh even if he didn't understand the joke.

"Remember what daddy used to say about Lexington?"

"Yeah," she says.

"300,000 hillbillies trying to pass for white." She doesn't laugh.

"Yeah," she says. "Daddy was funny until he got dead."

He works too, of course. Stocks shelves and takes the buggies back at Foodland. He could probably make enough. Get away from You Know Who but he's only working about thirty-two hours a week. He knows he needs to work forty. He knows he should do it. He knows his daddy would want him to. But he just doesn't. Rather spend that time fishing. Or walking in a circle.

He thinks about those seven, eight or nine hours or however much they are between him and getting his own place as his fat boy hours. Or his faggot hours. Or his retard hours. Since that's kind of how he's paying the rent these days. Also, he got him this tattoo of a blacksnake last week. The tattoo is pretty awesome but it set him back a few bucks.

She asks him if he wants to speak to his nephews and he says yes. She puts the boys on but they don't say much. They never have. So he tells them put mommy back on the phone.

She keeps talking. Tells him what it's like in there. Tells him about her friend with the computer. That girl come up in Pert Creek over near Whitesburg. That girl's stepfather pistol-whipped her in the backyard. That's how she got up in there. She tells him how they'll play Monopoly without money. She says if you land on someone else's property instead of paying you got to do jumping jacks.

"I'm getting into some serious shape up in here," she tells him. "You won't even recognize me you come up to Lexington."

"Won't recognize nothing."

She tells him how if they can figure out that Skype shit he can play one of them games along with them. He's not listening. "Pictionary," she says. "We can play that over the computer."

"Can't draw a lick," he says. "Y'all'd make fun of me."

"Fuck yes, we would" she laughs.

He stares at his arm. That blacksnake cost about two hundred dollars. And he could have saved it, or spent it on rent, or gotten a deposit for an apartment, but instead he got that tattoo. He just loves him some fucking blacksnakes, man. Has ever since he was a little feller. So now it's that blacksnake calling him fat boy. Saying he's stupid. Saying he don't even know how to take the garbage out right. He reckons that's how it is sometimes. Your own skin making you small.

"No," he says. "We played that game in school. But I weren't no good at it. They'd give me them clues but I can't draw for nothing. Can't never make that thing look like what it was."

BIO: The last of the gentlemen grave robbers, Isaac Boone Davis's short fiction and journalism can be found in many journals both online and in print including Smokelong Quarterly, Literary Orphans, The Blue Lake Review and many others. He has recently completed(?) a novel about life in Eastern Kentucky. He is cantankerous. He is wrong a lot. He is not the boss of you. He can be reached at isaacboonedavis@gmail.com