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The International Writers Magazine: Fixer up

Linda Waltenberger

Kelly's stomach was in jumbles. The knots and gnarls hurt, twisted and pulled. Her insides were about to jump through her skin and there would be nothing she could do to prevent it. She was losing her mind. 
Oh, shit. Where's the nearest emergency room? She didn't know. She didn't know where she was. She only knew she needed a fix.There! She knew that house, she had seen in many times before. Watch out! The light turned red. She didn't need to bring herself to the attention of the cops. She sure didn't need to spend the night in jail.

God! The light was green. How long had she been sitting there waiting for it to change? It could have been hours. Thank God it was 2:20 AM and the streets were nearly empty.       

Which way? Okay, I got it. I'll turn this way. I think this is the way. There it is! There it is! Oh, my God! She started to tremble so badly she didn't know if she could walk to the porch of the dilapidated old house. No one was around as usual and the windows were dark.

Kelly walked up the steps to the broken out front window.
She pushed the money through the open space and felt a hand take the money from her hand. There was no sound. She waited for what seemed like a long time.
"Shut up, bitch."

A hand came through the window from the blackness beyond. It was holding a full plastic bag. Her heart leapt. She smiled and felt the trembling increase to near uncontrollable. Her breathing increased. She felt she had run a mile at full stride.

Oh, my God! She grabbed the bag and bolted down the wooden steps out of the darkness and into the light from the street lamp. Shit! Where was the car? She saw it four cars down and ran.

Her hand was shaking so badly she didn't think she could get the key into the door lock. She heard it scrape and grind against the body paint. Shit! Larry was going to be pissed. Once inside she locked the doors and reached under the seat for her bag. She pulled out her tools, used the console and measured out what she needed. It didn't take long.

She bolted upright, her head rolled slowly backwards while her eyelids fell over the eyeballs. She exhaled, felt more relaxed. Her muscles released the tension. Anxiety left her body and mind. Her thoughts slowed. Oh, yeah. She knew where she was now. She was okay.

When she opened her eyes she could see more clearly. The street lights were still on but didn't need to be. A rat skittered into the gutter and disappeared down into the sewer. Ahead of her, down the street, car lights came on. It sat for a few minutes then slowly pulled from the curb. When it passed she could see a man in the driver's seat. He paid no attention to her. Probably didn't even see me. He's seen this a lot on this street. He knows what's going on.

Kelly started her car and thought about her kids. She had to get home before they woke up so she could get them up, tell them to get dressed and to get out the door for school. Larry would already be gone. He knew where she was. They had gone through this over and over the past three years and had argued about it just as many times. He was sick of seeing the money slip through his fingers with nothing left over and not having enough to pay the bills. They were behind in rent and utilities. He had borrowed from his mother and now she was asking for it back.

The bitch! They had no idea what she was going through! They could never understand.

Kelly felt groggy yet wide awake and alert. She always felt several things at once. She hated feeling. It almost hurt, was alien, another dimension of existence. She could feel the anxiety again.

Oh, God. I don't want to feel this. I'll call Chuck when the kids are gone.

Larry didn't know about Chuck. Chuck was her special buddy. He always had money and didn't ask for much in return. Giving him what he wanted didn't matter to her anymore. It was just a means to an end, a little something to get what she wanted and needed. She knew he was clean. He told her so. He was always squeaky clean. His clothes were expensive and he drove only the best cars. He always smelled like he had come right out of the shower.

Oh, shit! Where's my cell?

Kelly's glance flew to the seat beside her, she thrust her right hand into her coat pocket then the left hand checked the left coat pocket.

Shit! The car swerved and she corrected. She felt her cell phone in a jean's pocket.

Damn! Her chest almost hurt from the fright of thinking she might have lost her cell phone. Her whole life was on that cell, all of the numbers she needed to stay alive.

She pulled into her driveway and towards the back of the apartment complex. She could see the kitchen window and the light was on, as usual. Larry's truck was gone, as usual at this hour. She glanced into the rear view mirror and saw a reflection staring back at her.

Oh, my God! I look like shit. She touched her face. The skin was dry and the wrinkles were real. Her eye sockets were deep and surrounded by dark circles. Both cheek bones protruded above sunken cheeks. The skin was pale, there were patches of discoloration. She didn't know what that was from and hadn't cared enough to see a doctor. Larry had told her she looked like shit. She knew she had lost weight but didn't know how much. Clothes hung from her bones. She had only seen Larry, the kids and Chuck for months, only going out after dark, not answering the house phone.

Suddenly she felt exhausted and wanted to sleep. She wanted a good sleep but hadn't been able to get one for months. Even taking the pills that Chuck had given her were only good for a couple of hours. She'd take them anyway this morning, as soon as the kids left for school. I'll sleep for a few hours then call Chuck. I'll have time to see him and get some cash. A wave of guilt passed through her bony body.

Oh, God! I'm so sick of that bastard nagging me about where the money is going.

She pulled the handle and pushed the door open. It felt heavy, she heaved and pushed. God, she was tired. Her legs and feet weighed her down instead of carrying her. Her coat tugged at her shoulders. Her eyelids burned and her eyes were dry. She blinked into the rising sun then put on her sunglasses. She seldom went without them anymore, even in the apartment. The steps were unending. By the time she got to the apartment door she was out of breath, had to hold onto the door frame for a minute to catch her breath before unlocking the door and going in.

Kelly turned the key and pushed, still unable to breathe regularly. Her mouth was dry. God, she needed a glass of water but hoped there was a cold beer in the refrigerator. The living room and hall were dark. She could only see into the kitchen. Larry must have cleaned up, it sure wasn't like she had left it. When did he do that? She opened the refrigerator door and pulled a cold one off the shelf, pulled the tab and took a drink of the ice cold beer.

Oh, that tastes so good. She took another long drink. She took off her coat, threw it over a kitchen chair and put her purse on the table.

"Angel? Michael?" She yelled down the hall.
Kelly flicked the light switch and went to Angel's bedroom door. She knocked.
"Angel? Time to get up."

Kelly opened Angel's bedroom door enough to put her head into her daughter's room. The room was dark but with the hall light flowing around her body she could clearly see Angel's bed was empty and made. She thought she remembered Angel in her pajamas and going to bed.

She lurched across the hall and opened Michael's bedroom door. She threw it open. His bed was empty and made. He hadn't been in it last night or was .......? Kelly again wondered if she was losing her mind.

My God! Where are my kids? She ran to the kitchen to get her cell phone. She speed dialed Larry's number. He answered after four rings.

"Yeah!" She could hear the machines whining behind him.
"Where are the kids?"

"They're fine. I took them to my mother's last night. I've had it with you, Kelly. I took all the clothes we'll need for the week. I'll come over Saturday to get more stuff. I'm not coming back, Kel. You're sick, you're so sick you're going to die if you don't get help and get yourself better. I can't watch you do it to yourself and I can't let the kids watch you. And don't bother going over to my mother's. I told her the whole story, why we haven't been able to pay her back what we owe her."
"You bastard! You can't do this!"
"How many times have I told you, Kel? I can't take it anymore."
"Alright, I'll get help.." Larry wasn't on the other end.
Shit! Kelly threw her cell phone across the room. It hit the couch and flew back in her direction.
God damn it! That bastard! She wanted to call Angel and Michael but didn't want to have to go through Larry's mother.
That bitch! God damn it!

Kelly sat at the kitchen table and put her head in her hands. She started to tremble. Tears tried to come to her eyes but couldn't. My God, what am I going to do without Larry and my babies? She leaned back in the chair.
Well, maybe it's okay. Larry and his mother will take good care of them, probably better than I've been doing. She sat in the morning sun coming through the kitchen window. She thought of her children getting up.
They must be tired this morning. I'll talk to Larry on Saturday.
Where's my cell? She walked into the living room, found her phone on the floor and speed dialed.
"Chuck? You want some company?"
© 2007 Linda Waltenberger November 2007
Linda Waltenberger <>

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