The Debt Collector

The Debt Collector

The Debt Collector 1600 1200 Maureen O'Leary

That rainy night, my arm hairs electrified by the static from the yellow plastic chair in the police station, Christine was there all pissed off because the auto dealer let her buy a truck she couldn’t afford, encouraging every bell and whistle possible, even the pink lights on the underside so that when she barreled down the highway at night she looked like she was driving a Barbie spaceship. Christine was nineteen but looked twenty-seven and she’d been getting things her way since she was ten with lanky arms and legs and elbows like battering rams. When she missed three payments, the dealer sent a debt collector who was Christine’s forty-year-old cousin Louis trying to work a job that paid enough to get him out of living with his mother in East Layton. Christine, who wasn’t afraid of anybody, sure wasn’t afraid of her own meager cousin, so when she saw him coming, she got in her truck and gunned it with Louis in hot pursuit, but the road was icy and the old boy’s rickety Nissan got spun backward at fifty miles an hour off the road and into the creek, which was raging by this time because of the aforementioned rain. In the police station Christine’s blonde hair flew around her face like the mane of a crazy lion, and people want to call her Mean Christine all day long but I will tell you for free that mean was never her whole story, and I could tell she was afraid for Louis that he was dead because of the way she was fingering the cross around her neck and also by the way she was chewing up her tears like they were stones in a river rising in flood.

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