Page 55 - WTP VOl. VIII #7
P. 55

 were doing it with the bedroom door wide open,
and he had this big-ass pistol on the bed stand, so I grabbed it, and the damn thing went off, and I shot a huge hole right there in the wall above the bed. That’s how it all came to a head. The guy ran off screaming he was gonna call the police. Which he did.”
“Yeah. And that’s when I knew my mom was really off-beam. She thought the whole deal was just the grandest fun. I can still see her sitting there in bed, completely in the buff, a gunshot hole over her head, and the cops came and she was still laughing and clapping her hands like a little girl at a birthday party. She got sent to the funny farm for a while, and I don’t even know where she is now. Las Vegas, I think. But I really don’t care.”
“You must be lonely.”
My breath catches. I’d never framed it quite that baldly. Tears well, and I wipe them away.
“Not really. So.... Your turn.”
“Nah. You already know my story.”
“Just the aftermath. C’mon, deal’s a deal.”
“Oh, shit. Okay, just... I’ll keep it short.” She takes a long, slow breath. “The Sad Story of Mindi Lee, as told by Mindi Lee. know about the fire. Well, basi- cally, my daddy started it. He didn’t mean to. He was smoking late one night watching TV in bed and fell asleep. The stupid thing they warn you about, right? And the whole house went up like cardboard. By the time I woke up, my door was too hot to touch and the smoke so thick I could barely breathe. My room was on the top floor, in the front of the house. I broke out the window and kept screaming until the fire trucks arrived. By then my room was in flames. My bed, my dresser, my Pink Panther nightstand—everything was on fire except this little circle I was standing in by the window. The fire was so hot and so loud, I couldn’t tell heat from sound, it was like the whole world was a screaming train wreck.
“I turned to face the fire, and it was like some kind of beast looking me right in the eye. It reached out a finger, touched the sleeve of my nightgown, and just like that I was in flames. This is gonna sound strange, I know, but at that moment I decided to give up. To give in. I gave myself over to the fire, and I felt such
a feeling of peace that it was a shock when these big arms wrapped themselves around me and pulled me
out the window to safety.”
“Christ, Mindi.” My heart races. “That’s an incredible story. What happened to your family?”
She pauses a long time.
“Nobody made it. My mamma and daddy and my little brother all slept downstairs, and the flames just moved too fast. The fireman was very kind.
He said they probably didn’t suffer. Said the smoke would’ve knocked ’em out first. I’d like to believe that, because for me, the pain was pretty terrible. Imagine the worst pain possible, and this was a hundred times worse. Even on morphine, I could feel the pain hiding there, lurking behind the drug. When I got out of the hospital I moved in with my aunt, who lived just two blocks away from my old house. She still lives there, and every time I visit, I have to go past where my old house used to be. It’s a new house now. I even know the family that lives there. But I won’t go in. I can’t. Getting burned wasn’t half as painful as losing my family.”
Her breathing has grown ragged.
“Mindi?” I say softly. “I wish I could hold you.”
“Yeah, me too.” She is silent for a long while. “So then...tomorrow, eh?”
“Yeah. Tomorrow. You can decide the whole what- where-when thing if you want.”
“How about you meet me after work? Do you know Manny’s Best? It’s a firing range just south of Wilm- ington.”
“I’ll find it. But I thought you did phone sales.”
“On Fridays I run the line at Manny’s. It’s a part-time gig in exchange for shooting time. I get off at three, then I usually shoot for a couple hours. If you meet me at five, we can go get a cup of coffee. Or come ear- ly and bring a firearm if you want to shoot yourself.”
“I probably would shoot myself.”
“You know what I mean. I’ve got a tournament com- ing up and I need to practice. So if you come early, don’t expect me to babysit you.”
“How will you know it’s me?”
She attempts a laugh, but her voice sounds strained. “Don’t worry, you’ll be easy to spot. And listen, Dale...
(continued on page 65)

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