Sunday Storytelling #18: Sheila Goes to Portland, Part 3featured

Sunday Storytelling {the ponytail diaries}

Sunday Storytelling is where I post a piece of fiction on Sunday. It might be a complete short story, a snippet of a work in progress, a character sketch, a response to one of the thousands of creative writing prompts I’ve collected through the years. Most of them won’t be polished or “final,” so feedback and criticism is welcome, but please be constructive in your comments. Read other Sunday Storytelling pieces here.

Read part 1 of Sheila’s story here, part 2 here.


Five hours later, I’m up to one hundred and forty two dollars. The “sister moving to Portland and I’m going back to school there” worked four more times, amazingly. I didn’t even have to change the story much. Simple works sometimes.

It’s around four or so. I start walking towards the train station. As I pass a Taco Bell, my stomach growls. I don’t know how much train tickets cost, but…surely they’re not more than a hundred bucks, right? I haven’t eaten anything but the stale granola bar I found at Mark’s this morning.

Ah fuck. The Taco Bell is across the street from a pub. And it’s Happy Hour.

I really need a fucking drink.

I go to Taco Bell first, get a couple Crunchwrap Supremes and a large Pepsi. I scarf everything down as fast as I can and head over to the pub. It’s a divey pool bar that looks vaguely familiar. I’ve probably been here with Tommy or Billy or Mark or someone. I sit down and order a Jack and coke.

“Sheila? What the fuck, girl?”

It’s a nasal, low-pitched voice behind me. I freeze, my drink halfway to my lips.

“Lucy,” I say, turning around slowly.

Lucy and I…well, we have a history. She and Tommy would hook up pretty much whenever I left town. She was one of the few who wasn’t okay with me coming back.

“What the fuck you doing around here?” she asked, sitting down next to me, smiling like we were best friends.

I shrug. “Just passing through, actually.”

“You seen Tommy?”

“Yeah.” I don’t elaborate. I sip my cocktail slowly, twisting my wrist so the ice cubes in the glass swirl around and clink together.

“You hear abou’ the new bitch he’s goin’ with?” Lucy always tried to talk extra tough to make up for the fact that her childhood was even more charmed than mine.

“Yeah.” I’d hope to be able to stay here for more than one drink, but now I just want to down this one and get the hell out of here. I don’t want Lucy to tell me anymore about Tommy and his new girl or start asking any questions.

“She’s such a fuckin’ bitch. Hey, Sam, double whiskey neat. One for me and one for my girl here. We got some catchin’ up to do.” Lucy winks at me. What the fuck kind of game is she playing?

“No, no thanks, I’m good, I gotta get to the train station…” I try to say, but she’s yelling something at someone near the pool table. Sam sets two glasses in front of us. I finish my Jack and coke and pick up the whiskey. I didn’t watch him pour to see what it was, but I’m guessing it’s from the bottom of the well. It smells more like burnt gasoline than smoky oak, but I take a healthy sip anyway. It burns like gasoline going down, too, and I cough.

Lucy turns her attention back to me. “Listen, Sheila, we gotta help Tommy out. He don’t know what he’s doing with this bitch. She’s got him workin’ at this new pizza place downtown, goin’ to school, he doesn’t go out or use or deal anymore. None of us have seen him in months. And Don? He’s pissed.”

I keep my eyes forward, focused on a random liquor bottle on the back wall. “He seemed happy enough when I saw him.”

“Look, maybe he’s happy, maybe he’s not. I don’t give a fuck. All I know is Don’s pissed that Tommy’s not bringing in his share anymore. You know how much Tommy used to move? Now Don wants me and Billy to make that up. Fuck, girl, I’m dying here. Billy’s useless and I can’t make the contacts Tommy used to, and Bobbie got picked up by the fuckin’ cops last week.”

I have no idea why Bobbie getting herself arrested – again – has anything to do with this. I do know why Lucy’s scared, though. Donnie’s not a pleasant person to be around when his quotas aren’t met, and she’s a shit dealer. She’s too scared to go after the big customers. I finish my drink, grateful that I never got more involved than I was with Donnie and his group.

“Wish I could help ya, Luce, but I’m not sticking around. I’m leaving for Portland tonight.” I hope I am, at least. I still haven’t bought my ticket. I hope there’s a non-stop overnight train straight there. I hope I have enough for a bed compartment. I suddenly want to find a drug store on the way to the station to get a toothbrush and some Listerine or something. Maybe a sweatshirt. It’s probably cold in Portland.

“What? Sheila, you can’t. You gotta help me. Just help me make a few sales. I need to move two grand by next week. I know we can do it together. Please, Sheila? For old time’s sake?”

I slam my almost-empty glass down and turn to face her.

“For old time’s sake? What old time’s sake? Fuck, Lucy, stop it. You hate me and I hate you. Give it up and leave me the fuck alone.”

That felt good.


Comments, feedback, and constructive criticism welcome…

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