Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Delivery, fiction by Eric Beetner

             Lucy refused to hurry. If their food delivery got cold, that’s on them for being too damn lazy to come get their own burritos. Elgin, the boss/head chef/pain-in-her-ass, wouldn’t let her park in the lot behind the restaurant. It’s for customers, he’d say. So she walked two blocks down to her car with the plastic bag swinging in one hand while she tried to navigate her phone screen with her opposite hand to find the address of the delivery.

She wasn’t looking up when the voice made her stop.

Gimmie your money.”

There were two of them. Young males, t-shirts and baggy jeans, desperate dilated pupils vibrating in their skulls. She could almost hear the rattle of nerves. They weren’t experienced at robbery, but neither was Lucy experienced at being robbed.

The one who spoke had a gun. A dull black .22 that might not work, might not even be loaded, but she wasn’t about to find out over one burrito and a side of guac. The other one hopped on the balls of his feet, checking the area for prying eyes, cop cars, and whatever demons haunted him nightly. His hands were stuffed deep into the pocket of his hoodie and moved like he was rolling dice in there.

Lucy didn’t carry a purse. Not enough stuff to hold in there. Besides, purses cost money. Money she didn’t have. Wouldn’t be driving deliveries for a second-rate Mexican joint if she could afford a Kate Spade.

Guys, c’mon.” She held her arms out, trying to show them she wasn’t that different from them. Just a neighborhood girl doing her best, trying to make a few quarters to pay the rent. Same as them, she also wore a hoodie, also had shoes nearly worn down to the stitching.

But she knew the look in their eyes. They didn’t care about her, about her struggles, her single-digit bank account. They cared about the next baggie of rocks and the right dark doorway to smoke them.

Money. Now.”

He waved the gun like the tip of the needle on a seismograph. The quake was coming, and Lucy didn’t want to be in its path.

Whatever. Take it.”

She reached into her back pocket. Saw them flinch, thinking she had a weapon. She slowed and brought out her wallet, opened it, and removed the thin folded bills. The only thing left in the fake leather billfold was her driver’s license, insurance, and social security card, a picture of her late parents, and her one and only credit card, which wasn’t worth much more than the plastic rectangle it was made of. She flung the money out ahead of her, and all eight dollars landed on the sidewalk between them. The one without a gun lunged forward and snatched up the pathetic wad. Her night’s tips so far. All she had and all they were gonna get from her.

Both robbers had runny noses, scabby skin, pale even in the street lights.

Come on,” the one with the gun said. “All of it.”

That is all of it, dipshit. Who the hell do you think you’re robbing? I deliver takeout for fucks’s sake.”

She didn’t want to antagonize them, but she had given up giving a shit anymore. Shoot her, go ahead. Can’t stress about money from a hospital bed or a casket. Do me a favor, she thought.

Son of a…” Their movements got more animated. Eight bucks wasn’t going to get them the next score. But that was their problem, not Lucy’s.

The guy shoved her money into his front pocket and then jumped forward again and snatched the bag out of her hand. It tore as she tried to hold on to it, and the chips and guac fell to the sidewalk with a splat. He got the torn bag the rest of the way to him and cradled the burrito like a football.

Aw, come on,” she said.

They turned and ran into the darkness in a burst of adrenalin and the few lingering fumes of their last high.

Lucy was left on the sidewalk a block away from work, a smear of green on the sidewalk like an alien bloodstain and a pile of crushed chips the birds would feast on come morning, if the rats didn’t get them during the night.

She turned, slump-shouldered, and walked back to see Elgin and tell him what happened. She knew what he’d say. All lost orders had to be paid for out of the driver’s pocket. Her now empty pocket. His policy was designed to prevent hungry drivers from eating a customer’s meal and blaming it on the bag spilling when their car went around a tight corner. She knew he wouldn’t understand or be sympathetic to her being robbed any more than he would if she tripped and dropped a delivery in the gutter. If he had to make two meals, he was getting paid for two meals.

Plus, now she’d be so late on the delivery she could expect a dogshit tip.

Maybe it would have been better if the jittery kid had shot her.

While she waited for Elgin to cook up another burrito, Lucy sat and thought about her options in life. She came up blank after about ten seconds. She had no better way to make money if she didn’t want to turn tricks or strip. A friend had told her once she could make some cash selling platelets or blood, but that didn’t seem like a long-term solution.

She picked at the chipped finish on a table in the corner of the restaurant and listened to the insistent beat of Tejano music, trying not to cry.

Ten minutes later, Lucy stepped out with the re-made burrito and kept her head up. She pleaded her case, but Elgin did not care. The cost of the extra burrito was coming out of her pay for the night. She was too tired to argue with him.

She walked fast, head on a swivel, down to her car. Got in and locked the doors. Only then did she bring up her maps app and find the address. If she saw those two tweakers huddled in an alley somewhere, she swore she’d run them over, even if her eight bucks was long gone in a cloud of meth smoke.

A full thirty minutes after the order was placed, she knocked on the door of the apartment. It was on the second floor of a U-shaped stucco monstrosity with open walkways and dead potted plants at the top of every staircase. Out of open windows the sounds of six different TVs swirled around her in the night air like a swarm of mosquitos.

Come on in, it’s open,” a voice called from inside.

Tentatively she turned the handle. Letting herself in was not normally the way it was done, but she needed to hand off the bag if she wanted any sort of tip at all. She stayed outside and pushed the door open. One of the TVs was his.

The guy sat on a two-cushioned couch, the TV tuned to an MMA fight. Both of his legs were in casts. Lucy relaxed a little. The guy couldn’t get out to pick up his own burrito or even stand to answer his door. He was no threat, she decided and stepped inside.

Aw, thanks so much,” he said.

Sorry it’s so late.”

She held the plastic bag out in front of her and tried to get from his gestures where he wanted her to set it down. She aimed for the crowded coffee table in front of the couch. Empty soda cans and wrappers from his last few meals were scattered there.

Just set it there,” he said. Lucy made a small space between the junk and set the bag down.

Wow, that sucks,” she said, pointing to his legs.

Yeah.” He shrugged.

Nobody signed them.”


Nobody signed your casts.”

Oh.” He gave a weak smile. “I haven’t had any visitors.”

She’d given him enough time if he was going to give her a tip, he’d have done it by now. A half-hour for a burrito was too long, and she knew it. She didn’t blame the guy for stiffing her, even if it wasn’t her fault.

She gave him a small wave. “Okay, well, have a good night.”

Hold on, hold on.”

He reached under him and drew out a small wad of bills from a back pocket. He held out a five-dollar bill and leaned forward with it.

Oh. Thanks so much,” she said, and she leaned to meet him halfway and take it.

So you do deliveries all night?”

Yeah. It’s all right.”

I bet you know the whole city.”

I got maps on my phone.”

The fight on TV swelled to some kind of crescendo, and the announcers started yelling when one guy went down, and the other stood over him, hitting him in the headlong after it was clear the guy had gone unconscious.

You deliver, like, everything or just burritos?”

I mean, burritos, quesadillas, nachos…”

He smiled at her. He was kinda cute, but she wasn’t sure if this was flirting or if he’d just been laid up with no human interaction for too long.

No, I mean, like, do you deliver other things besides food?”

Oh. No. Not yet. Nobody asked me to. A buck is a buck though, right?”

Right. Exactly. Yeah.” Their polite laughs died down into an awkward silence. “I’m Miller, by the way.” He waved, too far away to shake hands. Lucy smiled politely. He was cute enough, but she was in no mood for a pick-up.


He shifted on the couch, trying to adjust his body to sit up straighter. “You wanna do me a favor and deliver something for me, Lucy?”

She was caught off guard. Her agreement with Elgin was loose. She wasn’t a regular employee. He paid her under the table, so he didn’t have much say whether she did other work on nights when she drove for him.

Like what?”

Just a thing I can’t get out of the house to drop off. You’d be doing me a favor.”

She pointed a thumb over her shoulder and took a step back toward the door. “I don’t know…”

I’ll give you fifty bucks.”

Her feet stopped moving. On TV, the ref stopped the fight, and the crowd went wild.

It was drugs. Had to be drugs. What else could it be? Some dude was willing to pay fifty bucks cash for a delivery at nine o’clock at night? Yeah, drugs.

What kind of drugs Lucy didn’t know and didn’t want to know.

Miller had handed her a backpack. It was about half full, not too heavy. It had been duct-taped into a solid brick, only the shoulder straps left out for easy carrying. There was no peeking at the package, not that Lucy would have.

She got back to her Tercel and set the backpack on the passenger seat, contemplated strapping it into the seatbelt, but thought that seemed crazy. She contemplated a few crazy things. Stuff like: take off and keep going. Fuck this town. Take her fifty bucks, check into a motel, open that bag, and see what she was dealing with. Then go sell it and start over somewhere new.

But she knew nothing about selling drugs. Had no idea what to charge. And what if it was just pot? That wouldn’t be worth much. The guy with the two broken legs didn’t seem like a big-time pusher, so whatever he’d entrusted a total stranger with couldn’t possibly be that valuable.

She’d make the delivery and keep the fifty as the best tip she’d ever gotten. It was a good night.

Lucy entered the address in her phone, and the calm female voice told her it would take a half-hour to get there. She could see why the guy couldn’t just walk it there on crutches. Elgin would be pissed if she didn’t come back tonight, but he closed at ten and screw him anyway. It took her two full nights of driving to make fifty bucks from Elgin.

She made it there in twenty-five minutes. The girl on the GPS wasn’t even impressed.

Lucy hoisted the backpack and knocked on the door to the house. It was single-level stucco Spanish style with dead grass in the yard and a waist-high chain-link fence around the property that did nothing to keep people out. She saw the house had a Ring doorbell and extra cameras under the porch overhang and at each corner of the roof. The neighborhood wasn’t the best, and this guy wasn’t taking any chances. Then again, he was most likely a drug dealer, so it was kinda his fault the block was not so safe.

A woman answered the door. She kept it open only a crack so Lucy could see one eye and one arm on the woman. That one eye was painted thick with eyeliner. Detailed tattoos ran down her arm and up over her shoulder, which Lucy could see under the straps of the woman’s tank top.

She waited for Lucy to speak.

I have a delivery.” She held up the backpack.

The woman’s painted-on brows arched in confusion.

I don’t know you.”

Miller sent me.”

The woman gave her a stare as sharp as a dagger. “Hang on.”

The door closed. Lucy waited, thought about dropping the bag and going home. The door pulled open wider now. The woman was there – black tank, black skirt, muscles moving under all those tattoos. She waved Lucy inside.

The place was lit like a nightclub. Black lights, tiny twinkle lights hanging off the edges of framed movie posters for Scarface, Heat, Texas Chainsaw 3-D. Heavy beats pumped from some speakers she couldn’t see in the dim light.

She tried to hold out the package to the woman. “I’m just gonna drop this and go.”

Moses wants to see you.”

Lucy had no idea who Moses was outside of the Bible but got the sense it didn’t matter because if he had summoned her, she was going. If this woman had anything to say about it. When she turned to lead the way into the back of the house, Lucy saw a pistol tucked in the back waist of her skirt.

She followed, wondering if fifty bucks was enough for this shit.

The master bedroom of the house had been turned into some sort of office/bachelor pad/BDSM dungeon. Sitting up on a king-size bed layered in silk sheets was a man who Lucy could barely make out at first; the lights were so dim, and the air was so thick with pot smoke.

A large aquarium tank sat on a black lacquered dresser and held an iguana that barely fit the tank. It sat perfectly still eyeing Lucy. When her eyes adjusted a little, she noticed Moses properly. He wore gold rings on each finger, even the thumbs. His robe was open down to his sternum, and shapes of unidentifiable tattoos peered out from under the purple silk.

So you workin’ for Miller, huh?”

His voice was smooth and all street. Laid-back like a man who knew he was in charge here. A low murmur of dub reggae played as a soundtrack to the smoke.

No, no,” Lucy said. “He just paid me to drop this off.” She held out the package, wishing like hell someone would take the thing away from her so she could leave.

Moses snapped his fingers once and beckoned the package forward. The woman from the front door finally took it from Lucy and handed it over. Lucy felt the relief in her arm muscles and in her chest as she exhaled. She tried not to breathe in too deep to avoid a contact high.

Moses didn’t open the package but hefting its weight a few times before tossing it to the end of the bed, where the tattooed woman scooped it up again and brought it to a desk in the corner. She pulled a knife from her pocket, thumbed it open and went about opening the package.

So you workin’ for Miller, but you don’t work for him?” Moses said to Lucy.

I don’t work for him. I brought him a burrito, and he paid me to bring you this.” She watched as the woman cut layers of tape away. “Can I go now?”

So you know where’s he’s at?”


Moses nodded slowly.

I guess so.”

How’s he lookin’?”

I don’t know. Okay, I guess.”

You guess?”

Yeah, for a guy with two broken legs.”

Moses smiled. Both of his top canine teeth were capped in gold. “That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout.”

So I’m gonna go now,” Lucy said and turned.

It’s light,” the tattooed woman said. Lucy froze.

Shit, I knew that when I held it,” Moses said.

What’re you gonna do?” she asked.

Moses looked down at his hands and adjusted his rings. “I’m gonna finish what I started.”

Lucy took one step for the door.

Hold up.”

Lucy found herself in a moment where she had to decide whether to run or not. She’d seen the gun on the tattooed woman. Moses surely had more around here somewhere. Running was not an option. And no, this was not worth fifty bucks.

You say you know where he’s at?” Moses asked.

Yeah. I’ll give you the address.” She fumbled for her phone.

Moses snapped his fingers again. “Nah. You show me.”

Moses had stood and stripped off his robe down to silk boxer shorts. He pulled on a pair of Adidas trainer pants and a loose t-shirt. Lucy learned the tattooed woman’s name was Diamond. She learned this when Moses made Diamond take Lucy’s wallet and ID to hold.

You don’t need to do that,” Lucy said. “I’ll take you to Miller. I don’t even know the guy.”

And I don’t know you, so I don’t know who you know. And I don’t know what you look like when you lie to me. So I get insurance.”

Diamond dropped the wallet into the iguana tank. The lizard ignored it.

I’m just a delivery girl.”

So deliver me to him,” Moses said. He reached into the top drawer of the dresser and took out the biggest gun Lucy had ever seen. It was chrome plated and looked heavy, and the rings on his fingers made clicking noises when he moved it in his hand. Moses smiled at the gun and studied his reflection in the chrome.

Let’s roll.”

He stepped out into the hall. Lucy looked over her shoulder at her wallet, her ID, her one credit card, sitting in the bottom of that tank like it was a fake rock in the faux southwestern theme. She caught Diamond’s eye.

You better go,” she said. “Moses don’t like to wait.”

Lucy thought she saw some fear there. This wasn’t a devoted sycophant. Diamond might have started out the same as Lucy but never got away.

Is he gonna kill me?” Lucy asked.

Not unless you give him a reason.”

Lucy followed out the door.

Moses looked disgusted that he had to ride in a car as beat up and old as Lucy’s. He also held the air of someone who thought he deserved to be driven around anywhere he wanted to go.

Lucy kept a tight grip on the steering wheel and her eyes forward. The level voice of the GPS called out turns as it re-traced her route back to Miller’s apartment.

Moses took a joint from his pocket and lit it with a lighter shaped like a dragon who spit fire. Most of the smoke went out the open window, but Lucy knew her car would smell like pot for weeks. Or maybe the burritos would cover the smell quickly. If Elgin still had a job for her, that is.

Man owes me money, is what it is,” Moses said.

I didn’t ask.”

Yeah, but you oughta.”

Lucy ignored him and turned left when the GPS told her to.

You don’t like to know why you’re goin’ someplace when you go?” Moses asked.

I’m usually going someplace because someone ordered Mexican food and was too lazy or too stoned to pick it up themselves.”

Moses laughed a dry, wheezing sound. He took another drag.

He was late with what he owes me,” he went on. “That’s how his legs got the way they is. Now he makes a, whatcha call it – an olive leaf?”

An olive branch.”

Yeah, that. But he only pay me some. That shit don’t fly with me.”

So now you’re going to go try to collect money you know he doesn’t have? How does that work?”

You seen his legs, right?”

You gonna break them again?”

He got arms, don’t he?”

Lucy decided she preferred her policy of keeping quiet with Moses. Street lamps passed shadows and bars of light over the car. Outside, almost every place they passed was closed. It was late enough now that the city had turned over to the night shift. A whole different population came out at night. Lucy was usually one of them, but tonight the streets felt more dangerous. Maybe she would try to become a morning person.

Not a bad plan,” Moses said. “Use a delivery girl for drop-offs and shit.”

Not me.”

Why not you? I can pay you more than some taco joint.”

I don’t doubt that, but I get pulled over with a taco, and I don’t go to jail. I’m late delivering a burrito, and I don’t get shot.”

Man, what do you think my business is?”

I don’t know for sure, but I don’t want to know.”

You think I keep customers if I go around shooting everyone?”

Lucy squeezed the wheel tighter. “Okay, maybe I watch too much TV, but I still don’t want any part of delivering for you.” She worried she sounded too harsh, so she added, “No offense.”

What’s your name again?”


He puffed and exhaled. “You all right, Lucy. Yeah, you work for me now.”

She didn’t want to argue. Not right then. Miller’s apartment was up ahead, and she figured Moses would forget all about her once he got into it with Miller. She pulled to the curb.

That’s it up there. Apartment eight.” She pointed to the second floor.

Moses tossed the joint out the window and let the final lung of smoke push out of his mouth. “Okay, let’s go.”

I’m just dropping you off. I don’t need to go with you.”

Moses had one foot out the door. “You think he’s gonna answer the door if he hears it’s me?”

Hey, come on. This is far enough. I don’t have anything to do with this shit, okay? I brought you here. That’s it. That’s all.”

Lucy.” Moses smiled wide enough to show his gold caps. “What’d I say? You work for me now.” He lifted the chrome-plated gun, and it filled the space between them. He didn’t point it directly at her, just let it hang there.

Fifty lousy bucks. She should have said no.

Okay, fine. I get you to the door, and that’s it though.”

Her shaky voice behind the defiant words made him laugh. “Come on, Lucy.”

His bloodshot eyes checked every shadow and doorway as they approached. The building was quiet now. The TVs off for the night. Most people had real jobs in the morning, not whatever freelance work she was doing now for Moses. Why, damn it, why hadn’t those muggers shot her?

She stopped in front of apartment eight. Miller’s TV was still on. He had nowhere to be in the morning, she guessed.

What am I supposed to say? He already got his burrito.”

Just say something.”

Moses leaned in and tapped the barrel of the gun against the door three times. The TV went quiet, and there was a pause. Then Miller called out, “Who is it?”

Um, its Lucy. From before. With the burrito.”

Delivery girl?”

Yeah. It’s me.”

She could hear him stand and the clunk of his casts on the floor as he made his way to the door. Moses stepped aside so he wouldn’t appear in the peephole view. Lucy waved when she saw the light wink out in the tiny lens.

The deadbolt turned and she felt a sickening feeling that she’d just killed a man. Moses wasn’t here to break his arms. He’d never once put the gun away. Moses was here to kill Miller.

When the door pulled open, Miller had a smile on his face. “Hey there. I was hoping I’d see you again.”

Lucy made a decision she hoped she wouldn’t regret. She also knew that if it did get her killed, at least this would be over. Fifty bucks wasn’t going to solve her problems. Maybe she could sacrifice herself to save someone else. Trade her worthless life for his.

Miller, look out, he’s here to kill you.”

Before the smile could droop from Miller’s face, Moses had pushed off the wall and swung himself into the doorway. He kicked high and got Miller in the gut, knocking him back into the apartment. Moses shouldered Lucy out of the way as he pushed in, raising the gun as he charged forward.

Lucy knew she could run. She could get away from Moses before he had a chance to deal with her. She could get away and not have to see Miller’s head get blown off. But the only value her life had right then was in saving someone else’s. She followed them inside and shut the door behind her.

Moses stood over Miller, who was still trying to catch his breath from the kick. Moses pushed the huge gun into the prone man’s face.

You steal money from me, little fuck? You try to pay me back with pennies when you owe me dollars? Huh, little fuck?”

Lucy searched the room for a weapon, trying to keep to Moses’s back so he wouldn’t see her and turn his attention, and his gun, on her. She wasn’t sure what to expect – a gun rack on the wall? A knife block in the kitchen of someone who clearly never cooked his own meals?

Miller made whiny, pleading noises that sometimes morphed into words. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…I’m broke, man…I just…”

Moses kept berating him, threatening with the gun. He put a foot on one of the casts and Miller bit down hard on a scream of pain.

Lucy had moved to the far side of the couch. The flat-screen TV was paused on a reality show with big-breasted girls in bikinis on some tropical beach. Beneath the TV was another backpack like the one she had delivered. Same size, same wrapping.

Moses lifted Miller by his dirty t-shirt and set him on the couch. The shirt ripped at the collar. Miller was crying now.

You had two chances now,” Moses said.

I get three. Everyone gets three. Three strikes, man. That’s how it works.”

Moses punched the gun forward and hit Miller in the mouth with the barrel, cracking his front teeth.

Shut up.”

Lucy spoke in a high, excited tone. “I have it. I have the money.”

Moses and Miller both turned at the sound of her voice and saw her standing as a stark counterpoint to the screen next to her. Lucy in her oversized black hoodie and flat, black hair and the blondes frozen in mid-jiggle, their tan skin only barely covered by triangles of fabric. But she had something they didn’t have – a backpack full of cash.

She held it out in front of her proudly. She smiled, thinking she had just saved a life.

Moses smiled back at her, his gold caps catching a glint of light. “Lucy, my girl. I told you you work for me now.”

Lucy saw Miller move, his hand go to his cast. Where it met his thigh there was a gap. His hand pushed into the space there and came back with a small .38 revolver.

She had another choice, another potential life to save. She didn’t have time, though. Nor did she need to. Moses saw her face fall, and he knew he’d taken his eyes off Miller. He turned back, and at the same instant the two men’s eyes met again, Miller fired.

Moses pulled his own trigger a half-second later.

Moses was gutshot. Miller had been headshot. In a dying spasm, Miller’s hand contracted, and he fired another shot into Moses. Miller fell back onto the couch, half his head gone. Moses crumpled and folded in on himself, falling knees first to the floor and then toppling over.

Lucy stood in the echo of the shots for a second and then let the backpack drop to her side. People would be here soon. Neighbors, the cops. She made her next decision very quickly. Lucy bolted for the door and took the bag with her.

She knew the smart thing was to drop the bag and run. The running she could handle, but the bag was welded to her hand. Inside was everything she needed to start over. Everything except her IDs and wallet. Things the owners of this money could use to easily find her. Things they could use to ruin her life, to impersonate her, to do any number of things she hadn’t even thought about.

But hadn’t the owner of the money just died in front of her?

There was always someone else. Someone higher up. Someone with a bigger gun, though with Moses she doubted that was possible.

Lucy listened for sirens as she made her way back toward Moses’s place. By memory this time, no GPS lady required. She drove with one hand, the other still on the bag. She had no idea how much was inside, only that it amounted to several times her entire net worth at the moment.

But it would do her no good if they had her entire identity.

As she drove, she loosened her grip. The money wasn’t hers. It was soaked in blood. It could only bring trouble. More trouble than she’d already bought with it that night.

No matter what, she still got to keep the fifty bucks.

Lucy eased the car to a stop in front of Moses’s house. The steady red dot of the security camera on the porch watched her. She sat in the car for a while, thinking what she might say or do. Would Diamond give her ID back just for the asking? Would more people have shown up? Bigger, scarier people than Moses?

She longed for the misplaced confidence of the muggers from earlier in the night. But it wasn’t her.

Lucy got out, the bag still fused to her hand and walked to the front door. Diamond opened it before Lucy could knock.

What happened?”

Clearly, she didn’t expect to see Lucy and not Moses.

Shit got complicated.”

Diamond squinted over Lucy’s shoulder, trying to see if Moses was in the car.

Can I get my wallet back?” Lucy asked and held out the backpack.

Is he dead?”

Lucy nodded. Diamond looked like she might be sad for a second, but it faded. If anything, Lucy could see a weight lifted off her shoulders.


Lucy nodded again.

Diamond smiled. “That little fucker.” Diamond pulled the door open wide. “C’mon in.”

Look,” Lucy said. “All I want is my wallet and to get the hell out of here.” She set the backpack down on the floor.

It’s right where you left it.”

Not where I left it, where you put it, she thought. Lucy started down the hall. Diamond put a hand on her arm and stopped her. “He’s really dead?”

Yeah. Both did it to each other.”

Wow. And you saw it?”

I don’t think I’ll be able to un-see it.”

Diamond let her go, and Lucy walked back to the bedroom. She could see her wallet in the terrarium, and it looked like the iguana hadn’t moved a muscle. Lucy stepped close and felt the heat from the lamp behind the glass. She pushed open the vent at the top and the iguana lifted its head to see what the disturbance was. Lucy hesitated, but after the night she’d had, a bite from a lizard would be the best thing to happen to her that night.

She dipped her hand in an inch at a time until her fingertips could touch the wallet. She pinched it between her index and middle finger and lifted. The iguana watched her, unblinking.

Diamond had the bag open on the table in front of the couch. Stacks of cash were rubber-banded together.

Which one you want?”

Lucy crinkled her eyebrows at her. “Which one?”

I’m not sure how much is in either one. I didn’t get a chance to count it exactly. If this is everything between the two, it’s about fifty grand.”

You want me to take one?”

Shit, girl, you earned it. And I’m not greedy.” She went back to the stacks in front of her.

Looks like you’ve got that one handled.”

Other one’s back there.” She waved a hand vaguely back toward the bedroom. Lucy went back there, lifted the open pack, and zippered it shut, sealing the money inside. It made sense for her to keep this one. It was her original delivery.

Thanks,” she said as she passed by Diamond on her way to the door.

There’s ten times that hidden around here. Consider it a tip. Girl, you done me a favor like you don’t even know.”

I could say the same to you.”

Diamond had a smile on her face now as she licked her finger and kept counting bills. Lucy left and shut the door tight behind her, throwing a look over her shoulder to the security camera.

First stop, a gas station. Fill up and then see how far it would take her. Leave everything else behind. Wherever she ended up would be her new home. She could get a new job doing deliveries. Wasn’t such a bad job after all. At least the tips were nice.

Eric Beetner has been called “The 21st Century’s answer to Jim Thompson” (LitReactor) He has written more than 20 novels including All The Way Down, Rumrunners, and The Devil Doesn’t Want Me. His award-winning short stories appear in over three dozen anthologies. He co-hosts the podcast Writer Types and the Noir at the Bar reading series. For more visit ericbeetner.com