BYE BYE LOVE
Thanks to an accident shutting down the interstate for a few hours, a convoy of truckers had pulled into the Landry Truck Stop for lunch. Tildy loaded her plastic tub with dirty dishes, pocketed her tip, wiped the table clean, and moved on to the next one. A few more busy days like this and she'd have enough money in her stash to get out of Landry and her sorry-assed marriage permanently. The thought brought a smile of satisfaction to her weary, life-battered face.
A pair of hands grabbed Tildy's waist and spun her around. The smile faded as her husband, Jake, pulled her close and danced her around the diner. That he'd been up to no good was a given. Jake was never this happy unless he was downing a six-pack, and there wasn't a whiff of beer on his breath.
"What put you in such a good mood?" asked Tildy as she untangled herself from his embrace and grabbed her tip money from the table before he could slip it into his pocket.
He pulled a stack of bills from his shirt pocket and fanned them under her nose.
"Where'd you get all that money? You told me the bank wouldn't give you another loan until you paid off the note on that big screen TV you bought to watch the Super Bowl."
"You've been holding out on me, Honey."
"What are you talking about?"
"That bracelet you had, the one your grandma gave you? I took it down to Harry's Swap Shop. Did you know that piece of junk was an antique? Harry gave me two grand for that little trinket."
"That was my bracelet, Jake. You had no right to sell it.”
"That's where you're wrong sweetheart. We're married. What's yours is mine."
"Give Harry his money back, tell him you made a mistake. That bracelet was the only remembrance of grandma’s I had left and I want it back."
The back of Jake's hand caught Tildy's jaw, knocking her to the floor. “You don’t tell me what to do, woman."
Tildy struggled to her feet, waving off the truckers who'd left their seats to help her. No point dragging them into her troubles. With the Sheriff being Jake's favorite drinking buddy, they'd wind up lining the Sheriff's pockets with fines they couldn't afford to shell out because they decided to play knights in shiny armor.
“You’ve wrung out the last drop of love I ever had for you, Jake Lamont,” she said. “You'd best get my bracelet back or the next time you drink yourself to sleep in front of that fancy TV set of yours, you might wake up dead.”
"Oooo, you're really scaring me," he laughed. "All this time we've been pinching pennies and you're hoarding a fortune in your underwear drawer. What else have you been hiding from me?"
Tildy flushed as he scooped the tip money out of her apron pocket, biting her tongue to keep from saying something that would land her on the floor again. He’d gone too far this time.
The Sheriff was halfway through his breakfast the next morning when Harry called to report a break-in at the Swap Shop. “Damndest thing, though,” said Harry. “All they took was a bracelet Jake Lamont sold me yesterday, and that ain’t even the strangest part. Danged if that thief didn’t plunk down the two thousand dollars I paid for it.”
The sheriff, who’d fielded a dozen calls about the Lamont’s domestic dispute at the truck stop, headed out to Jake’s house. There was no telling what Jake might have done when he found out Tildy stole his money.
He walked into the Lamont house figuring he’d have to talk a beaten and bloody Tildy out of pressing charges, but Tildy had turned the tables on Jake. The sheriff found Jake duct-taped to his Lazy Boy, his balls shriveled under the glare of a double barreled shotgun Tildy had slid between his legs. But it wasn’t the cold metal of the gun that had knocked the stuffing out of Jake, it was the sign Tildy had taped to the shattered big screen TV before she left.
“AIN’T YOU GLAD I’M NOT LIKE YOU?”