Emily took the mirror out of her purse. She was looking for blood splatter but noticed her hair instead. She didn’t like how her hair looked when it blew in the wind. Instead of looking full like she wanted, it looked straggly and thin. She couldn’t decide if it was due to the hair cut she got, which she hated, or the product she had been persuaded to buy at the salon. Whatever the reason, she didn’t like it and wanted to get back in the car as soon as possible. This wasn’t just due to her hair looking shitty, but because of the body in the middle of the road. Emily knew the road was seldom travelled but she didn’t want to take chances just in case one of those survivalist nut cases up in the backwoods came down in a tank or something.
Emily reapplied her lipstick as she drove down the mountain. She got out her mascara and added a bit to her upper lashes when she got to the one and only stop light in town. She even got a bit of blush to each cheek before the light turned green. She was hungry and Chicken King was right at the corner. She liked Chicken King because the chicken fingers were easy to eat and the straws were just the right diameter. She was particular about these things knowing that it all contributed to her looking as good as she did. People thought it was just her lucky genetics and that pissed her off. She worked hard and sacrificed to look this good. She wished people realized that.
She ate as she drove down the coastline. She wondered how long it would be until the body was found. She wondered if wild animals would find it and drag it off the road. Wouldn’t that be convenient she thought. She noticed the moon was red and thought that was very strange.
After about 3 hours of driving she stopped for gas. She put on a pair of those cheap rubber gloves that come in a box before touching the gas hose since the worst thing in the world was to be able to smell gas on her fingers after she got back in the car. She went into the convenience store to go to the bathroom but the toilet was covered in pee and she couldn’t do it. She would just have to wait. She got a pack of gum and told the teenage clerk he should have been checking the toilets more often because one had urine all over it. He looked at her blankly and said, “Someone else does that, I just take money.”
Emily got back in the car and drove away. She was upset about that encounter, realizing that it was an example of the younger generation having no initiative to make something of themselves. What had gone wrong with America anyway, she thought as she searched for another gas station.
She stopped at two more places along the way looking to pee. Both were unacceptable. One had a cracked toilet seat and she just knew it would pinch her flesh if she sat on it. As she walked towards the door she looked at the clerk, a young Mexican woman with dark blush on her cheeks and high arched eyebrows painted on, and said under her breath, “No wonder this place is in disrepair. You people are lazy.” The clerk didn’t hear what she said but did notice Emily’s red lipstick and thought it was too bold considering how dark her eyeliner was. When Emily got back in the car she looked in the rear view mirror and put a fresh coat of lipstick on. She was happy she had some style compared to that ugly clerk. “How could people want to look like that?” she whispered to herself.
The second store only had a unisex bathroom. A man emerged from it right as Emily walked up. Emily hated the idea of sitting down on the same toilet a strange man had peed in, especially as fat and ugly as that man was. She immediately turned around and stomped out. She slapped her hand on counter as she left and said to the clerk, “What the fuck is wrong with you people?” The clerk, a Korean boy about 13, didn’t understand english and had no idea what she said, only that she was mad about something. His mother was in the back room and didn’t hear anything.
She almost cried when she got back in the car after the third try because she really had to pee. But she looked in the rear view mirror, smoothed out an errant eyelash and said to herself, “I have my standards and lowering standards contributes to the downfall of society.” She had memorized that line from her “Planning For Success’ CD and repeated it to herself often. She also didn’t cry because it would have smeared her eyeliner, which had taken a long time to put on that morning.
By this time her bladder was close to bursting. She was glad she hadn’t compromised her standards but she also was getting desperate. The next place had better be acceptable or she wasn’t sure what she would do. She wasn’t holding out much hope when she walked in and saw that the clerk was a black woman. She had a big pile of what looked like black, brown and tan snake coils on top of her head. She had on a very low cut top that showed overflowing breasts. Emily wondered how someone could show that much breast and not show her nipples. “No wonder they all get pregnant so early”, she muttered to her self.
While it wasn’t pretty inside the bathroom, and that annoyed her, it was clean. She was comfortable enough to sit all the way down on the toilet and go. She felt so relieved that she actually said out loud to herself, “Now I can die happy.”
She left the bathroom and walked back into the store. As she did she noticed a young boy, maybe a teenager, standing at the counter. He was in a tan, button down shirt, khaki pants and loafers. His hair was cut in a contemporary but still traditional look. He was standing up very straight and looking straight ahead. She thought some mother was proud of that boy, he looked like he was going to do great things in life.
She smiled as walked towards him, coughing in hopes of getting his attention. Right as she did this he raised his right hand and pointed a gun at the clerk. But he heard Emily cough at that same moment and, without thinking, turned his gun toward her and pulled the trigger. Emily had enough time to widen her eyes and drop her jaw in disbelief. The bullet went straight into her open mouth, hit the back of her throat and cut right through her brain stem as it exited. Emily’s brain was able to think one final thought before she died. “My lipstick…”
The store clerk, named Edna, ran to the back of the store when the shot was fired. The boy ran after her. He tripped and fell hard on a slick patch of wet concrete on the loading dock. Edna, hiding behind the dumpster right next to where he fell grabbed a piece of wood from a pile of broken pallets and hit him on the head as hard as she could. She didn’t realize the piece of wood had a big nail sticking out of it. The nail caught the boy in the eye and he screamed in pain as she kicked the gun out of his hand.
Edna was a local hero. She was given a civilian service award by the sheriff and that made her consider studying law. She eventually earned her law degree and spent many decades representing immigrants before she retired and moved closer to her grandkids.
The boy went to prison as a juvenile, where his nickname was ‘Cyclops’. He got out when he turned 25 and moved to Alabama. Ironically he ended up being a clerk in a convenience store until his death in a car wreck at age 30.
The woman Emily murdered was found on the road where she died. Her name was Shannon and she was remembered by many in her town as a wonderful wife and mother and a dedicated volunteer at the psychiatric hospital. Her murder was never solved. Her husband of 12 years eventually remarried and moved away to Arkansas with his new bride and his 3 kids. They had a daughter together and named her Shannon.
Emily’s body stayed in the local county morgue for a month. No one claimed it and they were unable to find any relatives. She was cremated and her ashes were stored in the morgue. The cardboard box they were in was put in a supply closet during a building expansion 3 years later. During some jack hammering in the parking lot next door the box fell onto the floor and broke open. When the custodian saw the mess he swept the ashes towards the drain in the floor and washed them down. The cardboard box was thrown away.