Okay, just to be clear, I have been writing. It just hasn’t technically been my stuff. I got a paying gig from a friend to doctor her book. More on that as events unfold.
Evelyn downed her pill with a shot of fire whiskey. In the other room, Liam was crying about something. The little green pills helped her listen to his high pitched wails without the need to strangle her nephew and the fire whiskey gave her the strength to deal with it. She stumbled out of the bathroom and lifted the little boy up into her arms, pressing a kiss into his mess of black curls.
“You smell like shit,” she told him. Liam bawled.
Once Liam was dry and Evelyn was dressed, she strapped the boy onto her back and stepped up to the surface. The city smelled like shit too but with a mix of rotting fruit and death to round out the bouquet. Evelyn wrapped a clean cloth around Liam’s nose and set to work.
Her work wasn’t easy. Easy jobs didn’t allow for a baby strapped to her back all day. Once Liam learned to walk without stumbling over his own feet, maybe she could get back into whoring, though he’d probably need supervision until he was at least eleven. For now, she lifted bales for farmers, laundry for rich women and coins off stupid men. No one noticed her in the crowd. She passed by them like a ghost, only black and fat, stealing whatever caught her fancy. Liam kept quite, occasionally cooing when he saw something that caught his fancy. Evelyn was well done with her morning larceny by the time he started whining for something to eat. She brought him Drax’s Room, the only pub in town where no one glared at her for bringing in a baby. Several of the dancing girls brought their kids as well and nobody said shit. Of course, most of the patrons were out of their minds on drink and pills so they didn’t really notice anything.
“Evie!” the bartender called, waving her over to the stool. “You’re still here.”
“For now, Bets,” Evelyn said, swinging Liam down onto her lap. She placed her morning earnings on the bar with a clatter. “Milk for the gentleman, bread and fire whiskey for me.”
“Starting with the sweet stuff?” Betsy asked, “how are you gonna have good dreams on nothing but whiskey?”
“I don’t need good dreams,” Evelyn said, shushing Liam, “I just wanna sleep through the night.”
“You’ve got your green men for that,” Betsy said, handing her a bottle of while liquid for Liam, “Hello, baby boy.”
“The green men are so I want to wake up,” Evelyn said. She took the bottle and held it up to Liam, who continued to fuss. “Come on, brat, I know you’re hungry. You haven’t shat since this morning or I’d have felt it so drink up.”
“I can’t see you depressed,” Betsy set her plate of bread and glass of whiskey in front of Evelyn.
“You don’t have to,” she said, finally forcing the bottle into Liam’s mouth. “Thanks to my little green men. Before they showed up, I wasn’t eating myself, let alone caring whether another brat lived or died.”
“If the green men are so sweet to you, why not diversify?” Betsy held a small vial of red and blue pills. “If a little is good, more must be better.”
Evelyn laughed. “Peddle your poison someplace else, Bets.” She pushed the bottle back. “Took me enough experimentation just to get to normal, I don’t want anything else mixed into it.”
Betsy laughed too, putting the bottle back into the pocket of her apron. “Fair enough. I like having someone half sane to talk to anyway. Drax will murder me if I don’t push his men out on everybody.”
“I’ve dealt with worse than Drax,” Evelyn said, biting hard into the bread. It was barely palatable but better than yesterdays. Drax never did a good trade in food, his main business took care of any hunger pangs.
“Speaking of worse than Drax, guess who’s back in town?” Betsy grinned, her smile stretching up to the tip of her cat like eyes.
Evelyn groaned, “Marisol?” she closed her eyes, more exhausted than ever. Liam started to wail. Evelyn patted his head weakly. “I know, baby, I hate her too.”
“Right in one, beautiful,” Betsy said. “She was sniffing around yesterday, just after you left. Looking for the savior.”
“Fine,” Evelyn said. She forced the bottle back into Liam’s mouth, waiting for him to remember he was hungry. “Will this settle up my tab here?” she pulled another bag of cash out of her pocket. Betsy counted it, quick as only a seasoned bartender could be, and handed her a bit of change back.
“Just barely,” she grinned. “Where to next?”
“No idea,” Evelyn slogged back her whiskey. “But we’re gone in an hour.”
“but I’ll miss my baby!” Betsy cooed to Liam. “He’s so big!”
“He’s not your baby,” she groused, picking him up and tying him back on to her back where he squirmed irritably. “You want him, you can deal with the shit and the screaming. Say nothing of Marisol and her fanatics on my ass every second of the day.”
Betsy grimaced, raising her hands in surrender. “No, thank you. I’ll see you both when you’re back in town.”
Evelyn smirked and headed out the door. Her feet still ached from that mornings work and the days ahead only promised more walking. She leaned heavy on the gray stone wall of the steps leading down to her room, ignoring Liam as he fussed in her ear. Her sister’s child, the cause of most of Evelyn’s problems, was in his hair pulling faze, stretching out her curls into long straight lines before allowing them to spring back to their rightful place. She pushed open the steel door and began to pack.
“Hail to The Savior,” a whisper greeted her from the bathroom.
Evelyn groaned. “Fuck off, Marisol.”
The short fanatic stepped out slowly, like a cat sneaking up on a mouth. Her head was bowed, a mess of red curls beneath a gray habit, but her eyes rested on Liam with quiet reverence. Liam blew a spit bubble onto Evelyn’s neck.
“I see your ways haven’t changed, caretaker,” Marisol said, holding aloft the bottle of green pills, “Fire whiskey too? I cannot imagine what else The Savior is subjected to.”
“He’s not a savior,” Evelyn rolled her eyes, “And if Liam can stomach your pious bullshit, he can handle whiskey on my breath. Get out.”
“And Lo, the God of Earth spake through the molten fire and said; I shall give forth a Son from ash and clay and He shall lay low the wicked and raise up the meek, for My Name’s Sake,” Marisol quoted, fire in her dark eyes.
“Too bad Liam came out of a puss like everybody else,” Evelyn said. “Back to the scriptures, I guess.”
“Do you not see how selfish you’re being?” the small woman crossed the room too quickly, reaching out for Liam. “This child may one day save the world and you would keep Him from His destiny?”
“Move that hand, or lose it,” Evelyn warned, taking her knife from her belt. Marisol took a step back, “Liam stays with me.”
“Are you so stepped in sin that you will battle against salvation itself?” she asked. “The Savior will wash the world clean of strife and suffering. He will end our addictions and bring a new light into the darkness.”
“It’s not Liam,” Evelyn said.
“Not if you continue to thwart His potential,” she said, circling around to block their exit, “You really think you are best for Him? You, who cannot even face the day without your little green men and your whiskey?”
Evelyn reached over her shoulder, trying to calm Liam’s cries without taking her eyes off the other woman. Her fingers pressed into her nephew’s soft curls but he screamed still. Maybe Marisol was right. Liam deserved more than a half crazed former whore to raise him on stolen goods. A life running from town to town, dodging either the soldiers or Marisol’s cult, wasn’t what Bellina wanted for her child.
She should have stayed alive then, Evelyn thought, clenching the knife harder. She’d seen Marisol’s compound, where her followers worshiped Liam like a god. It was clean and safe, with good food all the time. The people there would tend to his every need, every whim. They’d never resent a child for spitting up on them or shitting down their dress. Liam would be taken care of and all they wanted in return was for him to cleanse the world of all its sins. And what happens to him when he can’t?
“Out of the two of us,” she said, “I’m the only one who doesn’t want anything from him. Now get out of my way.”
“No.” Marisol drew her own knife. “I had hoped to end this peacefully. It brings me no pleasure to rob My Lord of His last human relative.”
Evelyn ran for her, slicing hard and fast through the air. Marisol blocked with her arm. The blade sunk into her pale, bronze flesh leaving a thick line of blood to drip on the stone floor. Evelyn didn’t care, stabbing again and again until she fell. She stopped only for a moment to grab her pills before running up the steps.
When Liam’s cries finally reached her ears, they were out of the city. She slumped down on the side of the road and took him into her arms.
“Shush, baby, it’s okay,” she whispered, cradling the little boy close to her chest. “I’m sorry you had to see that but it’s gonna be okay.”
She wondered if Marisol was dead, or only injured. Either way more would come after her. Her tears mixed with Liam’s as Evelyn fumbled for her pills.
A Day In The Life of A Desperate Woman