Chloe shuffled in the man’s dusty wake. Thin dogs pressed their bellies to dirt in the shade, escaping a siesta sun. Music like tin and glass shards drifted from yawning doors of drowsy cantinas. Eyes down, a step behind, she waited while the man rented a room in an adobe motel with wooden shutters.

Exposed U-plumbing under the bathroom sink perspired in the heat. The showerhead leaked with a rhythmic plink, and cinnamon stains streaked the tile.

Chloe’s pale legs dangled over the end of the bed. Lying back in a cotton-blue swirl of skirt, she stared at the lazy ceiling fan, imagining a draft. Her heavy saddle shoes weighed on her feet. Curls, dyed red, stuck to her forehead.

“Put them right there,” said the man, blocking the view inside the room.

The coffee-skinned kid in khaki shorts set the single suitcase inside, shifted his eyes from the little girl on the bed, and pocketed the Franklin he found in his palm. With a click like a gun’s trigger in Chloe’s ear, the man locked the door.



revised: 3/10/17; photo credit: Pixabay