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Road Killing: Planet Buzzkill Chapter 1
© 2021 James LaFond
He woke late with a gnawing hunger in his stomach. There was something else though; a feeling of uncertainty, which had never greeted him upon waking in the past. He rolled over in the soft afternoon light, basking in the rays of the autumn sun filtering through the white blinds of his third story apartment. He peeked over Anna’s abandoned pillow at the clock and saw that it was 1:18 PM. It was Sunday afternoon already. He had slept through mass again, and he could tell by the sounds down the hall that Anna and her mother had returned already and were hard at work in the kitchen.
Victor Cruz was a dishwasher at Mo’s Bar and Grille. The job paid well enough to keep them in the apartment. He did not get home until 4:30 AM on the weekends, which did bother him, because it meant he missed mass. Anna would not wake him when he was tired. She was a good hardworking little girl. If it were not for Anna and her mother making empanadas and cooking for the single construction workers that lived in this complex, they would not have a car, and would have to live in some rough neighborhood downtown—no place to raise the children. Anna was already pregnant with twins. Just the thought made him smile as he pushed himself up out of bed in his boxers and T shirt and headed down the hall to have breakfast while the ladies had lunch.
The carpet was nice and white and fluffy, having been brushed by Mamma—by hand!—as she did every morning of the week.
America, home of the lazy gringo and the fat rapper!
He could not believe how lucky he was to be living in such a nice clean place provided by such easy regular work. And when the babies got here, they would all be able to stay. When spring came he would pick up a landscaping job during the day so that Anna could go to school. With an associate’s degree she wouldn’t have to do laundry at the hospital every weekday night, and Mamma wouldn’t have to stay home alone all night, particularly with the two new babies—a boy and a girl would arrive in just two months.
He thought to himself as he passed the bathroom, How lucky can one Mexican chicken farmer be?
Then, as he stepped into the living room, he heard Mamma sobbing. She was sitting on the couch holding her face, looking down at her ankles sobbing. When she looked up at him there was terror in her eyes; an expression he had never seen on her face. He made to walk over to her and she put out her hands for him to stay back. Just then he heard Anna curse and screech in the kitchen. Mamma’s eyes told him that that was where he needed to go—now!
Anna cursing, that must be bad! A rat—Mamma got bit by a rat! A rat is in this nice apartment? Oh I’m taking care of this!
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