The Bukowski Agency - Rush Home Road - Excerpt
Rush Home Road

a novel by Lori Lansens


IT STINKS OF PISS in the room. Sharla Cody breathes it in, thinking it’s a sweet stink. Reminds her of the little white flowers Mum Addy planted instead of grass on the square out front of her trailer. They keep coming up, those little flowers, year after year. Sharla likes the notion of seeing them each spring, like an expected but unreliable guest.

Sharla forgets the name of that piss-stink flower. Alyssum, Mum Addy had told her, and said though it was not technically a perennial it would surely come back, and it did. Mum Addy said that’s nature. Some flowers self-seed and that’s just what is. Only a fool would take the time to wonder about what is.

Once Sharla made a bride’s bouquet out of the white flowers. Mum Addy shook a yellowed curtain from her mending bin and fastened it to Sharla’s hair with wooden clothespins. They walked down the mud lane like Sharla was the princess bride and Mum Addy was the lady holding her train, doing that step then stop, step then stop, like brides do. Mum Addy sang some pretty love song Sharla never heard before or since.

At five years old Sharla still pissed the bed when she got lonely. Mum Addy’d cluck her tongue but never smack her. Both of them half asleep, she’d wipe down Sharla’s parts with a scratchy wet rag that used to be a brown sock, then she’d take her back down the skinny hall to her own musky bed to sleep the rest of the night.

Mum Addy wasn’t Sharla’s Mum. She wasn’t even a relation. She was an old, cigarette-smoking coloured lady from the mud lane of the Lakeview trailer park, twenty miles outside of Chatham, Ontario. Sharla was sent to live with the old woman when Emilio moved in with her real Mum, Collette. Emilio said if Sharla gave him a thimble more grief he’d set her fat ass on the stove. After that, Collette walked over to the mud lane and started knocking on doors. At the third place she tried, old Addy Shadd said she’d take the child in if Collette would give her a few dollars for food and such.

They never did get to the Kmart for new summer sandals like Collette had promised. Collette stuffed a white plastic bag with Sharla’s bunched-up shorts and a couple of tops, a too-small swimsuit, and the pyjamas with the kitten on it. Collette said, “Mothers send their kids to camp, don’t they? And boarding school if they got the money. No difference, so.”

“Yeah, but it ain’t camp,” her neighbour friend, Krystal, said.

“I could give a shit, Krystal. Anyways, it’s only till September and Emilio’s car accident money runs out.”

Sharla knew her numbers, so there was no good reason why Collette had to walk her all the way over to Addy Shadd’s. If she wasn’t retarded, though Emilio suspected she was, she’d find number four on the mud lane. Besides, Emilio couldn’t wait to fuck Collette on that green velveteen La-Z-Boy in the living room without worrying Sharla’d walk in on them again.
























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