Ruby drove me to her place. “Why your place?”
“I thought it’d be safer, you know if someone came looking for ya.”
“Well, I don’t mean to impose.”
“Like that ever bothered you before.”
“I meant to say, ‘thank you.’ That’s it, thanks, babe.”
“You’re welcome, Billy.”
We drove the rest of the way in silence and at her place I poked around in all the closets before heading for the bedroom. She was getting undressed.
“Sorry, Sugar. I didn’t mean to interrupt.” I half backed out of the bedroom.
“Billy! What’s wrong with you? We’ve seen each other…must be hundreds of times by now!”
“I know.” I said, it just didn’t seem right anymore.
“Well come on in here and get undressed. I thought you were tired?”
“I am…are you staying?”
“Yeah, I didn’t get much sleep last night either. People were calling all night. Some for interviews, a lot with prayers, some…not so nice.”
She shook her head, “No. I pulled the plug on the phone around midnight. But the governor’s office sent a guy around at dawn this morning. Not that I got so much as a wink or two last night anyway. You were dying, as far as I knew anyway, no one would tell me anything on account of we’re not family.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
“I called Sam down at the diner, he understood and told me to take as much time as I need, his daughters around anyway, so the shifts will be covered at least.”
“Good. I was thinking of taking a couple days. Maybe going up the coast. You wanna come with me?”
“That would be nice Billy. Can we leave our cells here and travel under false identities?”
“Um, I don’t know about that, but maybe we could check in under my mom’s name and stay out of the spotlight.”
I undressed, used the bathroom and crawled into bed after pulling the shades down and turning on an oscillating fan. Ruby was waiting for me under the light covers, nude. I put my arm under her head, and she stared at it, fingers touching my skin and running back and forth over it.
“There’s no scar, even. I was expecting a scar.”
“You know, I didn’t even look.”
She pulled the covers back and ran her fingers over my legs, “Nothing, Billy. I can’t feel nothing. Where were you cut at?”
I put her hand on my left leg, “Here.” I moved her hand to my right one, “And her.”
“Above the knees? Did it hurt?”
“Not at first. But it caught up real fast. He cut the chair too when he did my legs, so I fell over and lay there bleeding on my office floor…” I groaned.
“What?” She snatched her hands back, they had settled on something decidedly different than either of my legs. “Does it hurt?”
“No! My office? What a mess it’s going to be. I mean all that blood. And three people died there too, how am I ever going to work there again?”
Ruby was quiet for a minute, “Well I bet it’s a crime scene right now, so you probably won’t be able to work there until the city gets done with it. I doubt they will want to work stepping in blood either, so they’ll clean it up.”
“You think so?”
“Sure, honey.” She moved in and kissed me, a gentle kiss on the lips, tentative and light. Her hand moved back too, one on my hip the other, not.
We made out like that for a few minutes, and I’m ashamed to say nothing happened.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“I don’t know. This has never happened before.”
“Not with me.” She said.
“Not ever!” I insisted.
“You’re tired. I shouldn’t have started anything. It’s just…I almost lost you. Do you have any idea how that feels? Of course you don’t! I was losing you, you weren’t losing me.”
“I’m sure you’re right; it’s just me being tired. I feel like I could sleep for a week and I’m still sore all over.”
“Oh Billy, you should have told me! Alright, just sleep. C’mon I’m sure you haven’t forgotten how to cuddle.”
Ruby rolled over, and we spooned there on the bed together. I was still trying to pull a bone out of my hat, but failing miserably. In fact, by the time I gave up Ruby was snoring softly beside me.
“What the fuck is going on with me?” I asked softly. There was no answer, and I finally let the fatigue take me down the rabbit hole.