My friend Clayton once gave me some advice. He said, "Joe, never drive a red car, live in a house with a red roof, or date a girl with red hair." Now Clayton was a smart man. But I don't think he ever met a woman like Tammy.
A Redheaded Woman by Chris Leek
“Quit messin’ and get out the damn car, Tammy.”
She gives me a look like I’d just told her she was fat, and sits pouting in the back seat, with her arms folded. Here I am waitin’ on the biggest villain in Waynesboro, and she’s acting like it’s some kind of church social.
“This ain’t no game. I should never have brung you along.”
“Aww, but Deke…” she starts off with that whining voice, which she keeps special for times when she don’t get her own way.
“Suppose word gets back to Lester?”
“So who’s gonna tell him? Besides, I can handle Papa all right.”
“Well, I don’t know as I can; your daddy ain’t exactly the forgivin’ type. Look, baby, once I pay off Thornton, we can go any place you want.”
“Can we go up to Vegas? You said you’d take me to Vegas.”
I ain’t sure going to Vegas is much of an idea, it was cards what got me into this mess to start with, but I’m ’bout ready to tell her we can go to the damn moon if it’ll get her out the car.
“Sure we can, baby. Now do I have to come back there and drag you out?”
“You can come back here for somethin’ else if you like,” she says, her big green eyes peeping out from under that strawberry hair of hers, looking at me like she knows every cheap thing I ever done.
Grandpa used to say, a redheaded woman got too much fire in her belly to keep a watch on the one in the stove. He got most of his wisdom from a jar of shine, so I didn’t pay it no mind, not ’til I met Tammy, then it started making sense real fast.
I know my girl is a parcel of trouble, but damn, if she don’t wrap it up pretty.
I see Buck Thornton’s big yella Hummer, pulling into the rest stop and rolling up behind my junker, so now I got a worse kind of trouble.
“Shit, he’s here, get on will ya?”
“All right, stop your bitchin’. I’m goin’. Give me the keys first; I want my purse.”
I got $3000 in small bills, stashed under my seat in a brown liquor bag. I won’t tell you how I got it, but givin’ it to that bastard Thornton will mean I get to keep on breathing.
Tammy slams the trunk down and leans in through my window. “Remember, sugar, Vegas, you promised me,” she says, poppin’ me a kiss and strutting off barefoot, towards the restrooms. She’s wiggling that tight butt of hers, ’cause she thinks I’m watching, which of course I am.
Thornton’s stood over by his gas guzzler, chewing on a big cigar and looking pissed that I’m keepin’ him, so I stuff the money in my shirt and step out.
It’s getting on for dark and this place is empty. I got a bad feelin’ in my guts, which ain’t just the chicken and biscuits I ate for dinner.
“You nailing that little redheaded piece, Deke?” Thornton says, blowing smoke all over me.
I didn’t come for the conversation, so I just look at my boots and don’t say nothin’.
“Hell, you must have more going on downstairs than you got up top,” he says, shaking his head. “So you got what I want?”
“Here it is, Mr. Thornton, every dime.”
I give him the bag; he peers inside, then tosses it in the Hummer.
“You’re short, Deke.”
“No, sir, I ain’t. It’s all there, $3000.”
“It was three last week, today it’s five.”
“It’s the recession, Deke. Prices are going up all the time.”
He’s smiling as if it’s a joke he never heard before, but I ain’t laughin’.
“I don’t got no five, and you know I got no way to get it neither.”
“Well in that case, I’ll just take it in kind, from your gal there.”
He points at Tammy with the wet end of his cigar. She’s busy doing the opposite of what I told her, leaning on the trunk of my Ford, cracking gum and scratchin’ her tit. Say what you want about me, but don’t tell me my old lady ain’t got class.
“That won’t happen, if’n you live to be a hundred,” I tell him and mean it.
“So who’s gonna stop me?” he says, with a big shit-eating grin.
“I reckon I might,” Tammy pipes up.
She’s stood there, all attitude. One hand on her hip and the other on her daddy’s street cannon. Now she’s got me scared fit to shit; that thing’ll stop a hog in a heartbeat, but Thornton got to laughin’ so hard he’s bent over double. When he stands up, the bastard’s got tears rolling down his cheeks and dirty forty-four in his fist.
“How about you put down the piece, girly, and pull up your skirts; you got yourself a debt to settle.”
Tammy looks at him sideways, like she might be thinkin’ it over.
“All right, mister, if it’s a fuckin’ you’re wantin’, try this on for size.”
Next thing I know, she’s sat on her ass and Thornton’s got a big red hole in him.
I can’t say for sure that she set out to kill him, not as such, but at that range a .357 don’t give you much in the way of a choice.
“I think I near broke my fanny,” she says rubbing her backside as I go pick her up.
“Shit, Tammy, you done killed him. What in hell we gonna do now?”
“Vegas is north sugar,” she says, climbing up behind the wheel of that big yella monster. “Well don’t just stand there lookin’ retarded. Get in the damn car, Deke.”