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Delsa Redecorates

This one reminds me of the old Far Side cartoon. The wiseguys show up and say, Next time it won’t just be your furniture we redecorate!

Actually the story is nothing like that. But I miss that cartoon. This story is more like a kick to the balls with a side of “How do you like it?


Delsa Redecorates by Emily Carpenter




Dot can’t do nothing but yell, come outta there, Delsa, you fuckin’ retard on the other side of the door, ’cause I barricaded it with a two-by-four I found out back. I got the nails a long time ago, from one of the garbage piles at the street, and kept them up on the closet shelf. After they called for breakfast and everbody left, I hammered up both ends with one a them rocks from around the mailbox and bingo-bango, no Dot.

I wish I’d of thought about a fingernail brush, though, or some soap, when I was up at the Qwick Mark. The blood could maybe get in the paint and mess up the blue. I can’t mess up that blue. Law, was I excited when I saw that can a paint setting on the floor by the janitor’s closet. I knew it was blue without even seeing inside, even though nothing in the Qwick Mark had blue walls that I could see. It was a message from the Holy Ghost, I guess, and I took the paint without even checking.

I’m only gonna paint one wall—one piss-yella, moldy, rat-crap wall as blue as the sky. It’s gonna be a sight. The girls are gonna have a fit when they get back tonight. Right now they’re jammed in the truck, halfway to the plant, wondering where I got off to.

They’ll be talking about me, anyhow, while they’re pulling turkey guts, blood pouring down their hands and arms like rivers, splashing into their elbows and pits. Blood on their faces, in the cracks around their eyes and mouths, gelling up from the heat, catching the flying fluff in their mouths that the pinners missed. Fingers and backs cramping up and blood all over.

I remember the first time I got turkey blood in my mouth. Feathers down my throat, and the flies. Mostly it’s best to swallow them, coughing just slows you down. When they first sent me here, I thought I’d of rather died than stay in this house and work at that processing plant one more day. But if you wake up and see the sun, that’s one more day, which means the plant.

I pry the lid off the can of paint with my knife—the one I snuck from the plant—and look inside.

The paint’s pink, not blue. Goddang baby-butt pink.

I about start crying. I must of gotten myself so worked up that I heard the Holy Ghost say blue when He was saying pink. But now, really. Who the hell would paint a Qwick Mark bathroom pink anyways? It’s so light, it probably won’t cover the black, maybe not even the piss stains or the spotty mold along the bottom. It won’t cover nothing. Not what she’s done on the wall. Not what she’s done to the other girls.

Shoot, Dot don’t care. She don’t care about nothing, not even the slow girls. She makes Ruthanne keep her hands on one of the porch posts during lightning storms just to watch her cry. She flat out hits Fat Virginia on the back of the head at supper because she don’t like the sound of her chewing. Now that’s mean.

What she done to me, right here on the wall, it ain’t right. Not like it drew blood or nothing but that don’t make it okay. Everbody can see the letters, right here on the wall. Four black letters like hammers hanging on a pegboard. Four letters I have to look at ever night from my cot. After she wrote it, she asked me what I thought it said, then she laughed and threw the marker at me, and it hit me in the eye. She’s the devil, Dot.

I go ahead and start sponging it on, even though I’m mad as all get out. I don’t know why, but I end up making an angel to cover the letters—I make the wings stretch from the C all the way to the letter T—and the skirt hangs all the way down to the floor. After that I run my fingernail down the inside of my arm right along the vein. A curl of turkey blood gathers under my nail, and I wipe it on the angel’s face. I make it a mouth with a swoopy top and bottom lip. It looks nice, the way the blood smears into the pink. I give the angel eyes, a nose like a sharp beak and a red beard down her chest. I scrape my arms and legs and neck and give her a blood belt around her dress and a blood halo. Then I pick a feather off the floor and press it to one a the wings. I pick up a bunch of them and press them all over her. When I step back, I like to die.

The Turkey Angel, Saint of the Slaughterhouse, looks down at me.

Her red mouth whispers to me, and I lean close. I hear ever word, you can bet, and it chills the bone. After she’s done talking, I think how it’s been quiet for a good long while. Dot must of gone off to her room to watch TV. She’s got a set back there that picks up four channels. A set and a read bed and a pack of cigarettes.

After a talk with the Angel, I feel calmer. I know what I got to do. Here in a minute, I’ll pull off the board and go find me some jelly and bread in the kitchen for a sandwich. Then, if I want, if I please, if the Angel says I may, I’ll go back to my room and get my knife so I can show it to Dot.


My short fiction has appeared in Dogzplot, Wyvern Lit, LongForm Fiction, Hobo Pancakes, and Sweatpants & Coffee. My first novel Burying the Honeysuckle Girls will be published April 2016.