By Phil Gladden
Martin’s Ghetto Trailer Park, a collection of rusty, decades-old fire hazards, had a unique smell, especially in summer. Most residences had no power, so there was a continuous aroma of mystery meat cooking on half a dozen barbecue grills. Plus, the time-worn sewer system was broken in several places.
Rusty lived with his mother, Maude, who once worked as a fat lady for the carnival. Her career ended when they outlawed freak shows in the early eighties. They moved into a double-wide where she drew disability and never left her bedroom again. Rusty’s life as a caretaker became every bit as disgusting as one might imagine.
“Go to the 7-Eleven,” yelled Maude one morning. “And bring me some Tums, a couple of Harlequins, and a bag of Doritos. Oh, get me a pack of Kool menthols, and don’t take all fucking day, you little shithead.”
“Okay, Momma.” Rusty hated his life of emptying Momma’s crap bucket and running errands for someone who never spoke a kind word and stunk of bed sores and nonexistent personal hygiene. Mostly he hated being referred to as ‘you little shithead.’
But Rusty found peace a half-mile upwind from Momma’s trailer, at the convenience store. It was one of Rusty’s favorite places in his small world. He loved the purple slushies and, when time permitted, stood for hours watching the plastic Chilly Willy mascot rotate over the machine. He also liked to sneak the Playboys from the counter display and masturbate in the privacy of the restroom.
He placed Momma’s purchase demands on the counter, along with a crumpled twenty-dollar bill.
“Hey, Rusty, anything else?” asked the clerk. Nancy was a friendly, red-headed twenty-year-old girl, not much older than Rusty, who lived in an R.V. with her unemployed boyfriend.
“Yeah, give me a scratch-off ticket. Make it a Lucky Break, and man, could I ever use one.”
Nancy laughed. “I heard that.”
Outside, he scratched the silver paint off the ticket and saw the words ‘GOOD FOR ONE WISH’ in bold, black letters.
Yeah, sure, thought Rusty. But on the way home, the idea began to marinate and formed images of fancy cars parked at a nice, clean house with no neighbors. With all that money, he figured he could lure Nancy away from the 7-Eleven and her boyfriend, then do all the nasty things he had done to her in his dreams.
When Rusty returned home, Maude yelled, “It’s about damn time you got here, you little shithead!”
Rusty looked down the hallway. “I wish that bitch would shut the fuck up for just one damn minute.”
For the next sixty seconds, Maude struggled, but could not utter a single syllable. Rusty began to sweat when he realized his lucky break had once again come and gone. His hand shook as he reached into his pocket, and on the scratch-off ticket, the words had transformed. It read, ‘WAY TO GO, YOU LITTLE SHITHEAD.’