Wait

Flash
Grant Hettrick


Cole laced his polished shoe, rose from the motel bed. The pungent odor of cheap detergent and fresh sex wafted from the sheets.

“Wait.” Her sultry plea, like a purring kitten.

“I don’t have time, Inez.”

“You weren’t worried about time a few minutes ago, baby.”

“I’ve got things to do.”

“Things like your wife?” Inez held the stained white bedspread across her naked body.

“Things like my job. You know, my job, the place where I make money. I know you understand money.”

Inez pulled the bedspread over her shoulders and turned her back.

Cole’s insides tightened. Anger? Maybe, though he knew it never lasted. Frustration? Absolutely, but more than that.

“The room’s paid for another hour,” he said, “so you don’t have to rush out.”

The bathroom sink dripped, slow and steady.

“Wait.” The plea more urgent, the barest whiff of desperation and Cole was surprised by the ripple of relief that loosened his gut.

“What now?”

“Davey’s medicine has almost run out.”

“Davey’s your son, not mine.”

“Fine, go. Go home to your wife.”

Cole sighed as he slipped on his jacket. “I can’t bail you out every time. Get a job, apply for welfare, go after your dead-beat ex; it’s his kid.”

Silence. Then the rustling of the bedspread, like a snake across the brush, as Inez shifted and reached for her discarded clothes.

“Does every single time have to end with me giving you money?” he asked. Her quiet unsettled him.

Inez thrust a tube of lipstick into a silver glitter purse. Cole imagined the heat of her anger caused his brow to sweat. His stomach dropped a few inches, lurched like a creaky elevator. How long could she stay mad? Cole didn’t know for certain. The last time lasted thirteen days before he’d apologized. He’d lost six pounds, never slept for more than two hours a night.

“Inez?”

A canyon of silence divided them.

“Wait,” Cole whispered, “I’m sorry.”

Inez turned and the bedspread slipped from her shoulders, bunched across her slim waist. The crevice between her pert, perfect breasts glistened with sweat. Cocoa eyes locked his, a mesmerizing, unblinking stare, like a jungle cat.

Cole reached into his wallet and placed five twenty-dollar bills on the dresser. Her eyes followed his hand as each bill settled on the scratched wood. When the final twenty topped the pile, she looked at him, bit her lower lip, glanced back at dresser. Cole counted another hundred.

Inez smiled, closed her eyes, and lay back on the bed. “I love you, baby.”

The elevator settled. He admired the taut flesh of her stomach; the salty taste, from when he traced it with his tongue, burned white-hot in his skull. “I love you, too,” he said and reminded himself to stop at an ATM.
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For the past few years, Grant Hettrick has been writing short stories specializing in literary fiction. A recent example of his efforts can be found in the literary magazine Peeks & Valleys. He currently lives in New York City with his wife, Debra, and two children, Nate and Maddy. E-mail: ghettrick[at]si.rr.com.