Rosanne Griffeth's Errid and Delilah, fiction

Some nights, run­ning his rig down High­way 25 through Hot Springs, Errid would go past the brown brick build­ing. He'd glance to see if any lights glowed in the three trail­ers out back, like maybe she still worked there. Maybe she worked there right now, her black nylon slip stick­ing to her bel­ly and her bra dig­ging a rash into her flesh in the sum­mer heat. Maybe she turned her back to some stranger, tucked a strand of limp blond hair behind her ear and said over her shoul­der, "Hey Mis­ter, can you give me a hand and unzip me?"

She'd done that the night he met her, step­ping out of the pool of her dress and kick­ing it away from the tan­gle of their feet. She stroked his side­burns, mussed his hair and when she touched the hump on his back, he'd flinched. He could still hear her croon­ing, "Shh­hh, shh­hh," low and smil­ing, like she com­fort­ed a hurt child. Some­times he'd think of that and have to pull over.

She'd told him they called her Delilah, a bib­li­cal name, when she sidled up to him that night. His truck had blown a gas­ket and he pulled over at the lit­tle juke joint. Back in the fifties, it had been a beau­ty spot, one of those one-lev­el river­side motels. The strip of rooms burnt down long ago and they'd replaced them with trail­ers.

Errid placed a hun­dred-dol­lar bill down on the bar and asked the bar­tender, "Can you break this for me?"

She knocked her drink back, slapped the lip­stick-jew­eled glass down and said, "Hon­ey, he can't, but I prob­a­bly got change back in my room if you want to fol­low me."

He trailed after the sway of her hips, the soft groove in the small of her back. He left that hun­dred-dol­lar bill behind in the beat up trail­er and some­thing else, some­thing he couldn't lay a fin­ger on it was so sweet and heartachey.

That's why he went back. He thought maybe he'd find that thing he left there. The thing that kept him up at night think­ing about her and how she smelled like cig­a­rettes and Jean Nate. He took anoth­er hun­dred-dol­lar bill, crum­pled in his big hand.

Errid blinked into the flu­o­res­cent light. Change had come to the lit­tle brown house. Fold­ing chairs now lined up fac­ing the bar where a flame-eyed preach­er man stood, scream­ing the word of God. She sat in the sec­ond row. He could tell it was her by round slope of her shoul­ders and the line of her spine.

 "Wel­come, Broth­er, wel­come!" The preach­er man's gaze cut through Errid and peo­ple turned to stare. She looked at him, cut­ting her eyes over her shoul­der. He imag­ined she whis­pered, "Hey Mis­ter…"

The hun­dred-dol­lar bill was hot, wet and small in his fist. He took a seat and when the ser­vice went on and everyone's eyes faced for­ward, she con­tin­ued to look at him. "I've come back for you," he thought to her, like she could pick the notion from the dust in his eyes.

Her lips pursed and she gave a lit­tle shake of her head, set­tling back in her seat. Errid reached to touch her, but pulled back, fig­ur­ing he had her answer.

The preach­er passed a chipped din­ner plate around and Errid dropped the sog­gy bill onto it. He slipped out of the place, unseen, unheard and drove off into the night where the road still mur­mured her name.

Rosanne Grif­feth lives on the verge of the Great Smoky Moun­tains Nation­al Park and spends her time writ­ing, doc­u­ment­ing Appalachi­an cul­ture and rais­ing goats. Her work has been pub­lished by Mslex­ia, Plain Spoke, Now and Then, Pank, Night Train, Key­hole Mag­a­zine and Smoke­long Quar­ter­ly among oth­er places. She is the blog­ger behind The Smokey Moun­tain Break­down.

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One Response to Rosanne Griffeth's Errid and Delilah, fiction

  1. GO says:

    This sto­ry works for me every time that I read it.

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