Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Evangeline (Part Nine)

Tucker served his time and was released on a Friday. His girlfriend Sandy picked him up in an old Toyota she borrowed from her neighbor. She had been waiting 18 months for this day and in honor of the occasion, had purchased a new dress from the Kathie Lee Gifford Clothing Collection at WalMart.

She was all smiles and teary-eyes when he walked out of the prison gate. Sandy threw her arms around his neck and squeezed as tight as she could. Tucker patted her on the back and told her to turn loose before she strangled him. He kissed her pretty mouth and gave her his signature wink, and off they went to Sandy’s humble apartment in Chicago’s south side.

Four months later, Tucker was still unemployed and Sandy was beginning to turn on him. She worked two jobs as a waitress, one at the coffee shop on the corner, and one at an Irish pub a few blocks down the street. She bought all the groceries, cooked all the meals, kept the apartment clean, and did the laundry. Sandy was hoping that Tucker would find a job so that they could get married. She was certain he would propose to her once he found work. But Tucker always had good excuses, the work never came, and Sandy’s patience was transparently thin.

On the four month anniversary of his release, Sandy tearfully broke the news to Tucker. She was pregnant. No doubt about it. He needed to get a job, and she meant NOW. Tucker assured her that he would find a job immediately, not to worry, everything would be ok, and he loved her.

So Sandy headed out to the coffee shop and Tucker headed out to the used car lot. He took the money his Grandma Shaw had sent him and bought a 1979 Ford F150 for $500. Then he drove to the Army surplus store and bought several pairs of desert camouflage pants, four black t-shirts, five pair of socks and one pair of black boots. He drove from the Army surplus store to the liquor store and purchased four bottles of tequila (long drive to Virginia) and from there, he headed to the grocery store where he stocked up on peanut butter crackers, barbeque potato chips, beef jerky, Little Debbie Swiss Rolls and a twelve pack of Coca-Cola.

He drove back to Sandy’s apartment and quickly stuffed his meager belongings in a brown paper grocery sack. He sat down at the kitchen table and wrote her a note on the back of the water bill.

Dear Sandy,
I need to find a job before I can be a good daddy or husband. I’ll be in touch. Here’s $200 to help with the back-rent.

He laid the note on the table with the two 100-dollar bills on top. He stood up, took one last look around, picked up his bag, and headed for the door. Just as his hand began to reach the door knob, he remembered something. He turned and went to the bedroom. There in the top drawer of Sandy’s dresser was her Daddy’s Colt .38 Special, brand-spanking new, still in the box, along with a plastic zip-lock bag full of bullets.

Tucker took the gun and the bullets, gave his handsome reflection a wink in the mirror, and kissed Chicago goodbye.

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