By Christopher Woods
“Joey, I’m leaving for the church social. Be sure to let Miss Alma in for Grandpa.”
“Keep an eye on her. My aloe lotion went missing the last time she was here.”
“You listening to me?”
“Clean up Grandpa good. I’ll be checking.”
After his mom left, Joey sat on the porch and waited for Miss Alma. A frog hopped by on the steps, and he tortured it slowly with a sharp stick until it was dead. He was tired of Miss Alma, his mom, and especially Grandpa. Joey had dreams. In another week, the carnival would be in town, and when it left, he’d go too. He had a little business to take care of first.
“Morning, Joey,” Miss Alma said, coming up the sidewalk.
“Morning.” He still held the bloody stick in his hand, and from the way Miss Alma averted her face, she knew better than to say anything.
“Your grandpa ready? All cleaned up?”
“Good. I don’t like dancing for him when he’s smelly.”
“I know, Miss Alma.”
Joey followed her into the house. The screen door slammed shut behind them. Miss Alma’s big backside jiggled and lurched. She weighed over three hundred pounds, and the floorboards creaked beneath her big bare feet, her toenails a bright red. He had thought about killing her too, but it might look suspicious. No, let her dance and go, and then he’d take care of Grandpa with the spiked lemonade.
Miss Alma greeted Grandpa, who sat drooling atop his potty chair. Then, she began moving slowly, back and forth, singing “Rock of Ages.” It was Grandpa’s favorite song, the one he wanted played at his funeral. His old eyes lit up as Miss Alma moved, swaying this way and that. In a few minutes, it was all over, except for the “clean up” Joey knew was coming.
Joey pressed the five-dollar bill in Miss Alma’s hand. She smiled, walked through the screen door, and headed back up the dusty road. This was the same road that led to the fairgrounds, where the carnival would set up camp.
“How about some good old lemonade, Grandpa?” Joey wiped the drool from the old man’s chin.
Grandpa smiled. He still hummed “Rock of Ages.”
“Stop singing and drink, Grandpa,” Joey said. He noticed that some of the rat poison was stuck on the rim of the glass. It looked like a margarita.
He imagined the carnival travelled to Mexico at least once a year.