#214: Ike and Tina Turner, "Proud Mary: The Best of Ike and Tina Turner" (1991)

Adeline pressed the last of her cigarette onto the ashtray in her car and let out a huff. She closed the bag of chips she’d gotten moments ago out of the convenient store she was parked in front of. She closed her eyes and counted the freckles she’d memorized on her face. There were ten freckles on each side starting at the top of her cheekbone and ending just above her lip. The freckles on her hands and legs were too big in number to count but Adeline tried anyway, stopping when she got to fifteen. She loved her freckles more than she loved anything else about herself. Adeline’s freckles were beautiful against her brown skin like constellations in the night sky and she held onto that fact for as long as she could.

Adeline tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear and turned on the radio. She tapped her fingers along the beat of “River Deep – Mountain High” and watched as the rain beat against her car window, it was coming down heavy and she relished the sound. The rain reminded her of the car wash. When she was a kid her favorite thing to do was get in the car with her mother and go to the car wash. They would roll up the windows and turn the radio dial up as high as it would go. Afterward, her mom would buy them lunch and a milkshake and make promises she always intended to keep. Adeline would make her seal them with their pinkies the way kids do. She believed in the power of promises for much longer than she should have. In those moments with her mother, the happy ones anyway, nothing and no one mattered enough to steal her joy. Adeline would simply close her eyes and smile, just as she was doing now at the memory. She ran a hand gently over the blanket in her lap that was housing the handgun she had bought a week ago.

There were moments in Adeline’s life leading up to this very one that solidified her decision. Last week Adeline had been fired from her part time job because of some last-to-hire, first-to-fire bullshit. She never asked for much because she knew she had it easier than most so she wasn’t about to go around asking people for things she couldn’t first try and work her ass off to earn. She came home early this morning from her nine to five to find an eviction notice on her door and asked herself why she was working so hard if she was only receiving scraps as payment?

There was no money left, she had no money left. Adeline had spent it all on her mother’s funeral last month. Now, she had no one left in her life to care enough for the both of them. Someone should have warned her about this side of the only-child syndrome. They should have given her something to make the pain stop. The medication she was on, antidepressants the doctor called them, made her worse. She was sadder, angrier, and exhausted all the time. Adeline bit her lip and placed the gun on her passenger seat before reaching back to grab the blanket she planned to wrap herself in. Her phone rang just as she was readying herself to pick up the gun.

“Addie? Addie? Don’t do this. Don’t leave me,” Spencer pleaded. Spencer was her ex-boyfriend, all six foot two, black hair and brown eyes. He was charming too, the kind that was as natural as breathing. His charm and charisma were what won her over in the first place. He was decisive and confident, the kind of man Adeline longed to love with the traits she desperately wanted as her own, but he had no place in her life anymore.

“So, I take it you got the note,” Adeline deadpanned. She immediately regretted answering the phone. This wasn’t even about himcontrary to his belief, not everything was. Sure, they were happy once, that is, until she caught him cheating in the very bed they shared every night.

“Let me take you back home. I’m sorry for cheating, Addie, you’ve got to believe that. Where are you?” Spencer asked. He knew the answer though, the tracking bug he placed on the bottom of her truck last Wednesday night under the guise of getting the rest of his things told him as much. Matt had called Spencer just before he went over to try and win her back. Matt told him that she had come into the store looking to buy a gun the day before. Spencer went into panic mode, he didn’t want her to do what he knew she would when Matt sold her the gun. After giving Matt an earful, Spencer hatched his plan to stop her. He knew that if she was going to buy the gun one week she wouldn’t turn around and kill herself in that same week. Adeline would need a week to plan, plus he figured that she would think no one would be suspicious if she waited. Still, Spencer had been following her everywhere she went as discreetly as possible since Thursday morning of last week, just in case.  In fact, he was now two parking spots over in Matt’s SUV, so she didn’t recognize him.

“This isn’t about you Spencer. I can’t do this with you, not today,” Adeline said, hanging up. Her eyes traveled to the gun in the passenger seat. She was just so tired. She picked it up slowly, watching it as if any sudden movements might make it go off before she was ready. Spencer opened his door quickly as he watched Adeline put the gun to her head. She was sobbing now, her finger on the trigger. Spencer was standing by her passenger door now, willing her to look at him. He reached out for her as she pulled her finger back. He had already removed the bullets.

—Keah Brown