Marcus Hook, PA, USA.
“Bobby. That Camaro that just came in. Go pull the radio. And the seats. Anything good on the body, mark it before Grover okays it for the crusher.” I nod my head and walk over the hill. From here it looks totaled. Nothing worth saving. Maybe the rear quarter panel. The sun glistens, and it’s hot as hell. I should’ve worn my shades. My thoughts drift to Nicki. Her birthday is coming up and she keeps dropping hints for an iPhone. She deserves it. Passing the wrecks; X’s line the roofs like tic-tac-toe.
They said a couple died in this one. No kidding. The roof looks like a smashed cockroach — the windshield, a spider web. How the hell am I going to get inside to pull the radio?
I throw my weight against the car, rock it to get the frame out of the dirt and with a crowbar, pry open the door. It creaks — metal grates against metal. Sweat streams down my forehead. The radio doesn’t look bad but the seats are one with the dash. There’s a lot of blood too.
I loosen a track under the bucket seat and move it sideways. The sun flashes inside as a white light blinds me. I squint as the object comes into view. Whoa! My stomach does a somersault. A withered bloody finger with a painted red nail, and a diamond sits royally on it. But I have seen worse. Splattered brains and hanging flesh from the headliners visit me in my dreams. I pop the ring off the withered digit and return the finger to its final resting place. My sweat-soaked shirt feels like ice. I gotta shake this off. This job can be the pits sometimes. I study the rock. It must be a carat!
Poor girl. Her idiot-to-be probably demonstrating this puppy’s power. Fast car, big diamond. Showoff. Too bad.
I should tell the old man, but then I’d have to hand it over to him. He hasn’t given me a raise in two goddamn years. After work, I could drive over to Lou’s pawn shop. We need the money, and my honey could have that phone. I’d even take her out to a nice restaurant. Why shouldn’t I keep this? It wouldn’t be for me. It’d be for Nicki. And it’s not like I’d hand her the diamond. God, it creeps me out just thinking about my baby wearing that.
Leaning against the car, the sun wraps its arms around me as I dream about the beach. I would have enough money for a getaway. My lady and I sprawled out on the sand — our bodies hot — drops of sweat rolling down between Nicki’s gargantuan breasts. Then we’d jump into the ocean — swimming away from everyone as she wraps her legs around my waist and… Whew.
But, what if one of the grief-stricken parents wanted the keepsake or needed the money? Nah. Besides, my boss has the title with the show-off’s name on it, and it wouldn’t go any further than the junkyard office if I turned it in. I have to keep this. Yep. That’s why I was the one to find it, and not the others. Joe and Grover would spend the cash on whores and pot. I’m doing the right thing. Sure I am.
Then again, Nicki will want to know how I got so much money. I’ll tell her the truth, eventually. She’ll get it. It’s not the first time I’ve found stuff. What about the gold chain I gave her last year? She didn’t have a problem knowing where that came from. I don’t even know why I’m thinking about this so hard. It was fate that I found this. Right?
Shoving the ring into my dirty jeans pocket, I ‘X’ the wreck.
Rooted in Philadelphia suburbia since she was a child, Linda M. Scott has used this gritty locale as the basis for many of her works. A graduate of UPenn in English and Creative Writing and award winner for her short story sealed her fate as a writer. Keep watch for her debut novel, “Widow of Arbor Heights”.