Bobbie Faye Sumrall was full up on crazy, thank you very much, and had a side order of cranky to spare. The bank—citing the picky little reason that it didn’t want to lend money to people who were routinely shot at—said no to a loan for a new (used) car. It wasn’t like she’d ever been hit by an actual bullet, for crying out freaking loud. Immediately after that, she couldn’t get an insurance company to give her a quote for a start-up business grant application she needed to turn in. (Three insurance giants had gotten restraining orders as soon as they heard who was calling.) (Wusses.) And then the FBI guy she’d been blistering hot and bothered about had dropped off the planet two weeks earlier, and geez, there was only so much rejection a girl could take. She needed to have one night, one measly little night, to sleep well. That wasn’t too much to ask, right?
Apparently, the Universe thought it was.
Bobbie Faye and the Universe were like warring spouses locked in an eternal battle, trying to blow one another up rather than admit the other was savvier. (The Universe, by the way? A big fat cheater.)
Still, she tried. She went through her nightly routine: she squeezed into the tiny bathroom of her small, almost-not-ratty trailer, fantasizing about actual hot water while she grabbed a tepid shower. To wind down, she poured herself some juice and nibbled on crackers. (Yeah, her luck was solid. The juice tasted like it had gone bad. And not in the good “fermented” kind of gone bad.) Thankfully, her five-year-old niece, Stacey, had been invited to spend the night at a friend’s house. No matter how much she loved the little rugrat, she was grateful that tonight there wouldn’t be fourteen billion attempts to hogtie the kid into bed for a whole five minutes of sleep before Stacey bounced up again, determined to drive Bobbie Faye out of what little was left of her mind.
When Bobbie Faye did finally stretch out on her lumpy twin mattress, she sank into disturbing, hallucinogenic dreams—all disjointed, a half-step two-step out of rhythm, bits and pieces swirling in a kaleidoscope of confusing colors. At one point, she saw herself as if from afar and damn, she looked odd. She could have sworn her boobs were off kilter, like one was higher than the other, but maybe it was just that striped butt-ugly shirt she was wearing, the one she’d won back in high school in that dumb “spirit week” contest. She was twenty freaking eight years old; why couldn’t her subconscious mind be a team player and clothe her in something ueber cool and sexy? And why did her long and normally loose-flowing brunette hair look so… strange? It seemed all wrong. It was stiff, like she’d emptied a can of hair spray and shellacked it into a helmet.
Great. Bad dream and bad hair. Just perfect. But at least she wasn’t bald, like that little schlumpy guy she was talking to. She leaned over the man and he kept babbling. He was dying and rambling as he stared at her off-kilter boobs, saying something about them not being real. The jerk.
Oh. Wait. Make that the schlumpy pot-bellied guy she was shooting.
Why in the hell was she shooting this guy? Five times. Damn, but it was a beautiful pattern. At least her dream got that part right.
He didn’t remind her of anyone she knew. Stupid subconscious. Why couldn’t it at least let her pretend to take out one of the jerks driving her insane? Mr. No-Extension-For-You IRS Guy would have topped her list. Or maybe Nick Lejeune, the local bookie who kept placing odds on her every move. (Would she wreck today before or after noon? Would she inadvertently blow something up or would it be on purpose? Would she be in jail on her birthday?) He was making a fortune and not even giving her a cut. But no… the dead guy in this dream wasn’t the least bit familiar. She watched herself as she picked up all of the dropped casings, felt for a pulse on the dead guy, and wiped her fingers on her hideous shirt. Then the images churned, and wind rushed at her, tangling her hair, buffeting her arms spread wide open as if she were flying under the streetlights in the small commercial district of her tough, no-nonsense industrial hometown of Lake Charles, Louisiana.
When she woke up, she had a raging headache and her mouth was painfully dry. She peeled her eyes open, and holy fucking shit.
There was something definitely… blood like in her hair. She’d sleepwalked a couple of times as a kid, mostly wandering aimlessly through the house. She had a vague sense of having done it again. An almost-memory of having heard something in her sleep—had she gotten up to check? Then banged into something? Her closet door was open, so it was a possibility. She glanced down, dreading what she’d find, but no, she still had on the same t-shirt she’d worn to bed, but there were a couple of bruises on her left arm and a cut on her right that she didn’t remember having the night before.
So it had been a dream. A way too realistic bad dream. Probably best to ease up on the chocolate suicide cake after dinner.
She sprang up as she felt the weight of cold metal in her right hand, a weight she recognized and instantly wished she didn’t. It was her Glock. She froze, her body running cold and clammy. It was supposed to be locked up. It was always locked up, especially with Stacey living there now. Bobbie Faye gingerly sat up and checked the magazine: five bullets were missing.
Clearly, the Universe thought it was payback time.
From Girls Just Wanna Have Guns by Toni McGee Causey. Copyright© 2009 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.