~ SWAPPING PAINT ~
A piercing shriek punctuated by a loud scream wakes me from a dream about me and Ruby in the backseat of a racecar. I glance at the clock. It’s nearly ten am. The light streaming in from the windows is sunlight.
“What was that?” Ruby yawns but doesn’t move, stretching her curvy limbs around me. “And how do you turn it off?”
Another scream rents the air. “Something’s wrong.” Probably the understatement of the year. I pull on my jeans, slip my feet into moccasins.
Ruby is already at the door, taunting me in her shorts and tank top. “And they say women take a long time!”
She’s out the door before I can reach her. I follow as quickly as I can. Is it the twenty year difference between us or will she still be the same when she’s ninety? Having met her great-grandmother who lives in the mountains, smokes a pipe and plows her fields with a mule at the age of eighty, I’d say I’ll never keep up. I’m just a 42-year-old Polish ex-cop who’s shaves his head to keep people from noticing his bald spot and can’t run on the bare ground without shoes.
The group outside is gathered around a racecar. For a minute, I think Dale Earnhardt Junior must be there to sign autographs. Even the big name drivers make the rounds to talk to the fans. That’s one of the things I love about racing. Nobody gets too big for their britches.
But the color of the car is wrong and it’s number 110. Ruby is already pushing the crowd aside and sticking her head through the driver’s side window of the Ford. She’s not a petite woman and she has the strength of a bulldozer when it comes to getting where she wants to be. I push and shove to get close to her, wishing I could still flash my detective’s badge and get people out of my way.
“He’s dead.” Ruby finds my eyes with hers as she stands up straight. “I think he’s been shot.”
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