Jody Day is the founding member of Critique Café. She is the author of the Washout Express Series from the Pelican Book Group. She writes devotionals, poems, and inspirational fiction, and has been published in national magazines. Jody is an employee of the Fort Stockton Public Library, a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, andFaithwriters.com. She hails from East Texas where she was born and has lived in Fort Stockton for 18 years. She loves singing with the Chorus of the Big Bend, serving in her church, and spending time with 14 grandchildren. The writing bug hit her in the 5th grade, when a poem she wrote was displayed in the school entrance. It was called “Happiness Is” and the only line she can remember now is “And at schoolwork, doing your best.”
Spotlight Feature Article:
Jett peeled off his surgical gloves and threw them in the trash. He followed the client into the lobby and sent him on his way. He leaned over the counter and smiled at Trudy.
“Only you could make that snake on his back look like a heart. Another disaster redeemed.” She leaned toward him and kissed his cheek, her red curls tickling his nose.
Jett allowed himself to enjoy the moment. Since he’d gotten clean, he’d made a decent living by fixing drunken, lovesick tat mistakes. He had Trudy to thank for that. He’d endured 18 months in prison, and Trudy promised to wait for him if he’d get clean and quit dealing. He’d received a reduced sentence because he ratted on B. A. Nero.
B. A. got 10 years.
Jett practiced his art during the day, and fought demons at night. Whatever good he did never rid his sleep of the fleshless, pointing fingers of addicts. He had two years to figure out where to go before B. A. got out and came after him.
“Who’s next on the schedule?” He heard a car door slam and looked out the window. A bulldozer in a white t-shirt and jeans rolled toward the shop. Jett’s heart screeched to a stop. He grabbed his throat and gasped for breath.
“What’s wrong with you?” Trudy’s face went white.
Adrenaline buzzed him. He dived over the counter, cut the lights, locked the door, and pulled the shade. He crouched on the floor. “Get down! It’s B.A. He’s out early.” But how? Good behavior and B.A. Nero could never exist in the same space. Maybe he gave up info and cut a deal. Either way, I’m toast.
“Don’t be crazy. What’s he gonna do? Get himself thrown right back in? He probably just wants work done.” Trudy walked around the counter and unlocked the door.
Jett grabbed her by the ankles. “No!”
B. A. stepped in and looked at Jett on the floor, still holding onto Trudy’s ankles. He reached his hand down and pulled Jett to a stand in one fluid motion. “You OK, man?”
Words stuck in Jett’s throat.
“Hi, B.A. Didn’t know you got out,” Trudy said.
“Yes, just last week. Need some repair work on my back.” He took off his t-shirt and turned around. Jett shuddered at the skull with flaming red eyes and menacing grin. The caption underneath gave B. A. his well-deserved nickname.
“Looks fine to me. Are you wanting to add something?” Like I Kill Snitches?
“I need the skull replaced with this.” He pulled a piece of paper from his pocket. Angel wings. “You can leave the B and the A, but replace the rest of the letters with this.” He took a pencil from the counter and wrote Born Again under the wings.
“I can probably do that.” If his hands would stop shaking. “What’s that, a new gang?” Jett motioned him to the workroom.
“In a way. I found Jesus while I was locked up.”
“Hm.” Leave it to B.A. to come up with an innovative con. Well, it wouldn’t happen at Jett Black Ink.
“I gotta tell you, B.A., I’m not dealing anymore. I run a respectable place now.”
“Glad to hear it. I know you’re the one who gave me up to the cops.”
Jett swallowed hard. “If you’re gonna hurt me, please leave Trudy out of it.”
“Actually, I want to say thanks. If it weren’t for you, I’d still be selling dope and destroying people.” He extended his hand for a shake.
Yeah, right. He stared at the massive paw.
“I mean it, Jett. I’m not the same. I really do appreciate what you did.”
Sweat itched Jett’s scalp as the giant hand inched closer. B. A. picked up Jett’s limp hand with both his, and shook it.
He searched B. A.’s eyes for the switch, the moment he’d let go and snap Jett’s neck. What? No way. Tears? Jett had seen some astonishing things in his lifetime, but the compassion in this hardened criminal’s eyes unsettled him like never before. Maybe this was for real.
“My given name is Barry. What’s yours?” The big man crossed his arms.
“I’d like to call you ‘born again’.”
“Maybe.“ Jerry gathered his tools. Maybe this monster turned Jesus freak could tell him how to get rid of the nightmares.
“Let’s do this,” Jerry said. He fired up his iron.