“Ay! Ha ha! ‘Ata girl! Right in the gut!” Skinny lowered her smoking gun, then her eyes from its site. She looked down for a long while, watching some dandelions lean with the breeze. Skinny imagined them turning crimson, their petals dripping with blood. She imagined tiny screams, bending helplessly from bullets catching them in their stomach.
Dusty, her father, stood behind Skinny, glaring over her shaking shoulder at the corpse fastened to a tree. “Woo, boy! You really nailed ’em! Ha ha, boy you really showed ’em! Woowee!”
Skinny’s ears were still ringing, her eyes glassy. Skinny’s whole body shook as she stood there, staring horrifically at her father’s delight. Dusty took the gun from her shallow grip, propping his shoulder on it as if posing for the newspaper.
“Oh, don’tya worry ’bout it, Skinny!” He patted her shoulder, pushing her further into the ground with each motion. “What ya did today is good, real good. Just take a look, what a beaut!”
What did he see? What was Dusty looking at? Skinny was certainly looking at the same thing, but couldn’t help picturing herself in place of the corpse. Her tied, lifeless limbs dangling, her bruised face drooped from a crying tree. Skinny began her slow walk towards the tree, her tears unnoticed by Dusty, his shimmering eyes focused and dazzled by the bloodied prize hunched against it.
Nearer the trunk, grass didn’t sway, weighed down by the same crimson Skinny imagined just after making her mark. Her first tears went unnoticed by Dusty as her sadness mixed with a thick pool of its life.
“Ah, Skin. Maybe ya shouldn’t’uh done this, after all. Maybe this was a bad idea.” Dusty’s comment made Skinny feel worse, and she collapsed under the tree, rope, and corpse, laying with its blood. “Hey, it’s all in the past. Ya heard what he was sayin’ anyway. About yer ma, and me—nothin’ but a load of ga’damn lies. Us bein’ monsters. We ain’t monsters, Skin. You ain’t no monster—yer a hero!”
Dusty looked down at her, grabbing and tearing grass from its roots in wet silence, streams pouring onto the hard ground. He shook his head and picked her up. “You ain’t a monster, Skin. Ya saved us. He was gonna do bad things to us. You know that.” Skinny didn’t know what to think, her jeans smeared with dirt and dark from blood.
Dusty took his knife from his pocket and cut the rope, letting the corpse drop with a thud on the grass. “Go on home, Skin. Git Egger for me, I need some help gettin’ rid a this S.O.B.” Skinny nodded, relieved to be released from her crime scene. “Ay, Skin. Take his badge. It’s yours now. Go on, you earned it.” Frozen, Skinny thought about running home, crawling into bed, and staying there for the rest of forever. Dutifully, she bent down and stripped a shiny badge from a beaten corpse. She placed it in her jeans pocket and headed home. Against her leg, the badge burned. Though it was clear of crimson, Skinny couldn’t help but notice blood seeping through, spreading over her body.