The Rocking Chair
a fictional short
Ruby’s rocking chair moved rhythmically on the weathered wood deck that had been added to the trailer sometime late in the 1960’s. She spent her days in the chair, shotgun in hand, surrounded by a dozen feral cats. Sometimes she listened to the Stones. Sometimes to Deep Purple. At other times she sat and thought. Sometimes she just sat–and rocked–to Martha and the Vandellas. Nearly ancient Motown music was the only thing left of the Motor City besides a sense of desperate desolation and a lot of rats. Which is why the cats, don’t you know.
Sometimes she fell asleep there on the porch of her metal home. During summer, the heat turned the place into an oven and the electricity hadn’t worked for a long time, so there were no lights, no swamp cooler, no power. Which seemed odd, since the music played all the same, even while she slept on the porch, clinging to that twelve gauge, break-action, coach gun, loaded with 00 buckshot, safety off.
There were people who believed that Ruby lived in the rocking chair but twerent true. Every Sunday she walked one block east to church, wearing her best. She sat in the service and listened to the preacher croon out his cadence of hellfire and damnation, even though the building burned to the point of being unused back in the nineties. Every Wednesday, she walked two blocks west to the corner market where she bought cat food for herself and her children. The water department had a neighborhood office next door where she paid the bill in cash on the first of every month.
Mail service stopped in that part of Detroit sometime in the 2000’s because Cleotis Jackson killed three or four letter carriers in succession. That ended the welfare checks that everyone lived on, but she did for Cleotis with that coach gun when she found him skulking around the back of her place one moonless winter night. Dogs must have pulled the body away in the next evening. There was a lot of growling and snarling as they worried the meat in a neighboring tumbledown shack for several days.
The dogs left her chickens alone, and she had quite a flock, none of them named. If she had a hankering for a frier, it bothered her to kill a chicken with a name. The eggs were divided between herself and her children. She had no idea why the dogs steered clear of her place but it might have had something to do with genetic memory. Over the years she’d sent her share to dog heaven, or wherever the departed hounds went. They always wanted to get into those chickens. Dogs and Cleotis. Both ended the same.