Excerpt from Sweet Melissa

Sweet Melissa:

In Albuquerque, the college boys nailed Melissa and Popcorn inside a house. Just a precaution, they said. We wouldn’t want anyone to hurt you, they said. Whispered words through the door as they pounded nails from the outside.

Melissa heard them through the slab of wood. She was inside, with Popcorn. It’s fine, the college boys had said. The house belongs to our friends. They’re out of the country right now and we’re watching it for them, guarding it against break-ins. We’ll come back later with food and beer.

Melissa was hungry. She wanted beer. But more, she wanted to sleep. She hadn’t slept more than an hour or two on the porch in Colorado. When she had awakened, the girl, Natalia, was gone, the living room crammed full of crashed out soldiers. She didn’t dare walk through them. She sat on the porch until Popcorn woke.

When Melissa told her what had happened, Popcorn agreed to leave. Somebody from the house gave them a ride to New Mexico.
Again, Popcorn said she knew people, but the man and woman whose door they knocked on didn’t look happy to see them. “We’re sorry but we can’t have you here. Our new bambino needs a stable home and we need to say no to folks who drift in and out. Primary family only,” the man said, closing the door in their faces.

They wandered around the pretty college town. There were parks everywhere. They were hungry and broke and didn’t have a clue what was coming next. What came next was the sun, setting. It was gorgeous but a little bit chilly. They tried to sleep in the park, but the cops kept running them off. Finally some frat boys noticed their plight and said they knew of a house just outside the city where the girls could sleep.

They heard the car start. The boys had gone. Popcorn held her lighter aloft as the girls found their way into the bedroom. They passed through rooms they didn’t care about on their way to the bedroom. The window was boarded up and there were no sheets on the big mattress. No pillows. Better than a porch floor, Melissa thought, spreading her quilt.

Popcorn slowly unrolled her sleeping bag. She was so quiet. Melissa fell asleep, but Popcorn woke her up almost immediately.
“We can’t stay here,” she said.

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