“A Piece of Good Luck” by Tracy Cross



Hugh and Floyd sat in the dive bar, drinking.

"Hey Hugh! Remember that botched bank robbery years ago that you did? Man, when I heard about that madness, I laughed for days." Floyd laughed as he drank the remainder of his beer and beckoned the bartender for another.

"Man, looking back, it was not funny , but now that we're older. . . I can see how amusing it must have been when I shot myself in the foot, the getaway driver leaving me, the dye packs exploding as I walked out of the bank.”." Hugh tapped the counter acerbically before the bartender walked away. The bartender filled Hugh's empty mug and left the pitcher. “Yeah, real funny.”

"Hey, Floyd, whatever happened to that drug you made...?" Hugh gulped his beer.

"The drug I made? HNFP: Hugh and Floyd Productions? Even when you were locked up, I thought of you." Hugh turned to Floyd and jokingly pointed a finger in his face. "Those were the days of making some of the best stuff ever. Now, this crap they're making these days has nothing on my stuff."

"All right," Hugh leveled his hands and turned back to the bar, "Come off the soapbox, man. They make what they can with what's available."

"I guess." Floyd sighed, " I was making insane loot. It was inevitable-some chem grad would figure it out. When they did, their stuff was flooding the market! My stuff became obsolete, so I switched and ran drugs for the new guys. And even after being a drug runner for those shits, they still set me up."

"Sucks, man," Hugh shook his head. "Really sucks."

Technicalities got me out. Then, I was put in this shithole 'Quad'. I had no clue what a Quad was."

"Tell me about it. I got only a little bit of info in the joint. They gave me credits, a letter and a map before I was released. I am an ‘undesirable’." Hugh laughed and Floyd joined him.

“You’d think they woulda had flying jet cars by now. Right, man?” Hugh stated.

“Heh, now everything is ‘holograms’ or whatever. My last doctor visit was on a tv screen!”

Holoscreen.” Hugh corrected. “I don’t get it. Society…ugh.”

They nursed their watered-down beers at the booze stained bar. The bartender flung a towel over his shoulder, walked over to the television and turned up the volume.

"Hey, check this out!" he said.

"Good news for the residents of Quad Three! Edward "The Sphinx" Maccoli made a successful run through 'The Gauntlet' and is now an Official Police Officer. He made it through Quad Three with Christina Vasquez of Quad Four and . . ." the voice continued as pictures of the new recruits flashed across the screen.

"Sphinx! That's Joey Maccoli's kid! Is he a cop now? Damn, I taught him everything. It looks like somebody smashed his face into a brick wall!" They both paused and looked at the TV. "Well, with a man 'inside', maybe we won't get jacked as much. You know, things could get easier." Hugh grinned and pumped his fist in the air.

"Things will be easier!" A voice yelled from across the room.

" Shoulda thought of that before you tried to kill him. 'Sphinx' don't forget a face." Another voice yelled.

#

Floyd and Hugh looked at each other, paid their tab and left. They walked out of the basement bar, in the building covered with vines, and up the trash covered stairs. They walked halfway down the block. The building where they lived was a nondescript-brownish brick with a few windows scattered like playing cards and no higher than ten stories-as all the others. When Floyd reached to open the door, Hugh checked to make sure the address was correct.

“Still smells like piss. Must be the right spot.” Hugh joked.

They made their way up several flights of toy cluttered steps, and Hugh opened the door to his place and flipped on the light. Floyd's apartment was right across the hall.

"I can't believe it," Hugh lamented, "I taught that kid, ‘Sphinx’, all my tricks and gave him my secrets." He switched on a lamp. He'd managed to procure some subdued artwork and a plant for his apartment. He also had a small table and two chairs next to the window he'd made in prison, the only things he kept when released.

"Hey bud, you look lower than a bowlegged toad, what gives?" Floyd asked as he sat across from him. "Maybe that kid will come to town and remember to help you out or something."

"To the 'Quad'." Hugh corrected.

"Yeah, Quad." Floyd cleared his throat.

Hugh wiped his brown, "Doubt it. Who comes to the 'Lowers'? What we need is a piece of good luck, like a four-leaf clover or something."

"What we gonna do with a piece of good luck? We are two old guys from a past that doesn't exist. We lucky to have these crap shacks the 'benevolent government' has given us."

"No, man, we get us some good luck and maybe we can leave and move into one of the nicer Quads." Hugh strolled over to the sink and turned on the tap, "Water?"

Floyd shook his head.

"Hey, all I'm saying is things are bound to change for us. We are due." Hugh chugged his water.

Floyd scratched at his graying stubble, "Like a genie's lamp or somethin'?"

"No, think bigger!"

"Two four leaf clovers?"

"Don't be a dick, Floyd. The bigger, the better-- and the more luck! Okay, so imagine something with a lot of good luck symbols on it." Hugh held his hands up for emphasis. "We can pull it out, rub it and ba-boom, we got good luck! I'm telling you, I'm so sure we are gonna get lucky that I put in an application to move Quads. I checked in with my parole officer and I did some community work with delinquents here. All I need to do is get this one piece of good luck and I'm moving on up!" Hugh's eyes twinkled.

Floyd sat back and rubbed his stubble, "Sounds like a plan and it seems you've been working it." He pushed back from the table. "We can talk about it tomorrow. I gotta go to bed; work in the morning. . I'll meet you at the bar at six? We can talk about luck."

"Uh, I may be a little late , I'm gonna check out that piece of luck. After I have it in my hands, things will change for me, you’ll see. Man, I'm going places." Hugh clapped his hands and stood, "Things are about to change for this old man."

"Yeah, 'night, 'Lucky'." Floyd walked to the door, "Just remember me when ya luck changes and don't be disappointed if it don't."

"Yeah, yeah." Hugh locked the door behind his friend as he left.

#

Floyd worked the assembly line in one of the nondescript warehouses in the Quad. Sorting circuit boards or bolts was an easy enough job. Other days, he drilled. He did not worry about where the things he worked on went; he was glad to have work.

He met Hugh for lunch. They both carried the same standard issue metal lunch boxes. They could eat the standard lunch from the cafeteria: cold cut wraps, an apple, milk, and a bag of chips. They always opted out. They joked the warehouse food was probably from the same prison kitchens.

Floyd looked around, "You ever wonder where that meat comes from?"

"Oh no, not the 'Soylent Green' business again!" Hugh chuckled.

"We eat the same every day. It's a population control technique." Floyd swirled his ramen in his thermos he brought from home. "So, Hugh, I've been thinking about this luck. What's the deal?"

"Lean in," Hugh whispered, "I am gonna blow your mind."

"Dude, as long as no one gets hurt, I got your back. You know this, right?" Floyd slurped some of his ramen broth from his thermos.

"Look at where we live, man. Felons, thugs, rapists; do you think any life is worth anything in this Quad? As soon as one of us 'passes on' , their apartment is emptied, scrubbed clean and set up for the next person.

"I feel like I'm still in prison and you can't tell me you don't. We get up, work, eat, go home and sleep. Do it again the next day."

Floyd interjected, "But we are not in prison. We're free."

"Are we though? Are we really free?" Hugh sat back in his chair and nodded at Floyd.

"Do what you think is right. Just -- no one should get hurt in your quest, Lancelot." Floyd reluctantly stood and patted him on the back.

They announced an extra four-hour shift. Hugh and Floyd glanced at each other.

"Okay, see you at the bar in four hours," Floyd saluted.

Hugh gave him two thumbs up and walked away.

#


If he had not promised to meet Hugh later, Floyd would have gone home and passed out. His body was too old to work twelve-hour shifts, but he enjoyed the bonuses.

He punched out and joined the other old man drones as they left the warehouse, each headed down their separate paths. It was particularly loud that evening: street workers soliciting at every intersection, robbers casing out alleys and random fights -- everywhere. Floyd held his lunchbox handle and strolled past the women, down the streets with crumbling signs that promised new apartments or places of employment. Floyd laughed to himself at the rusting signs. He heard kids playing among the rubble of the bombed out warehouses, sounding like ghosts of the past. He walked by the enclosed gardens that said: "keep out" and "will shoot on sight ". There was always someone living in a shack on the land with a shotgun leveled at anyone that tried to climb over the gate. .

Surprisingly, some street lights shone down as he neared the central area of town where most of the shops and bars were, and the Quad felt alive. He checked his watch. He thought he could rush home and take a quick shower. As he strolled inside the building, the old mailboxes along the wall grasped at the plaster, full of flyers and magazines spilling onto the floor. He ascended the steps, hearing a few televisions blasting, babies screaming, and a few kids playing in the hall. He never recalled seeing any kids outside the apartment building. He'd spoken to one of the mothers once, and she'd told him it was simply not safe for them to go out.

"Evenin' Mr. Floyd." A little snaggle-toothed girl with two pigtails walked up to him and sang as he put his key in the lock.

"Cindy Lou, don't try to rip me off today. I'll give you a piece if you leave me alone. Next time your ma wants money, have her come see it to me." He flicked a silver coin in the air.

"My name's not Cindy Lou. My name is Becky." She yelled over her shoulder as she caught the coin.

He made it inside as the little girl's footsteps raced down the hall and another door slammed shut. He needed to stop giving his coins away.

"They will all think of me as some idiot donor." He took his clothes off and jumped in the shower.

He bounded down the stairs and headed to the bar to wait for Hugh. He held his finger up for one beer. The bartender limped over with a glass, "Evening sir, where's your friend?"

"Late, I guess." Floyd checked around and didn't see Hugh. "Just one tonight, Damon. I think he should be here any minute."

"Sure, Mr. Floyd." Damon wore a white apron and had a heavy Irish accent. He also had a pronounced limp. When he returned with the beer, Floyd asked him how he ended up here in the Quads.

"Well," he leaned back and wiped his hands with a towel, "Everything was fine with me wife and such. Kids were grown and off to school, ya know. The wife asked if her mum could stay in the extra room we had. I wanted wifey happy, so I agreed. But I'll tell ya', damned if her mum didn't ride my ass everyday about any and everything. 'Dayyy-mon' is how she said me name, 'Oye need. . .' and it just went on."

He paused and refilled a beer for someone at the bar. He walked back over to Floyd and continued, "I mean, I tried to talk to her but I may as well ha been whistlin jigs to a milestone. So, one day, the wife goes ta work and I'm alone with this old bag. She asked me for one simple thing; I can't remember and I walks out to the yard, gets me favorite axe, come in and chop her up. I had her buried and the house cleaned before the wife came home and oh was she a mess when I told her. But let me tell ya' boy, she looked relieved, she did. There was a twinkle in her eye and she smiled a little before she called the coppers. Visited me ev'ry day in prison too until she died some years later. Rest her soul."

"Is there any person with a decent soul living here?" Floyd mumbled.

"Why d'ya think we're here? No one is decent." Damon joked.

Hugh whipped in like a hurricane and pulled up a stool next to Floyd, "Aye, one for me Damon. How's it goin'?"

"Slow and steady, sir. Was just chatting with yer bud here. I'll grab that beer for ya'."

Damon hobbled away as Floyd whispered, "I like Damon and his Irish accent. The other bartender, I don't like as much." Floyd took a huge gulp of his beer.

"So, I found it." Hugh nodded. "And I wanna show it to you." Hugh took a swig of beer from the glass Damon had placed in front of him.

"What'd ya find? This piece of luck?" Floyd finished his beer and took out a black card, preloaded with credits, to pay for it.

"Yep, and we're going to see it tonight. Right now." Hugh turned up his glass and poured the beer down his throat. "After I finish my beer, of course." He put the glass on the bar and left a few bills, "Let's go."

“Drinks on me. Card’s prepaid with credits. Those bills are relics, man.” Floyd swept the bills up and passed them to Hugh

When they left, "Sphinx" was on television talking about how rewarding it was being a police officer after his rough childhood and hard work. Everyone in the bar applauded except Hugh. He headed straight for the door. Floyd moved slower than Hugh and tried to keep up as Hugh led them down a street and around the complex maze of warehouses to a tattoo shop. The shop was above ground and well lit, occupying one of the nicer warehouses. Hugh opened the doors and a friendly girl with a high black Mohawk and golden-brown skin walked over; her arms covered in tattoos.

"What's up, Hugh?" She smiled behind the counter. She wore black leather pants, biker boots and a black shirt that stopped above her pierced navel. She had perfect white teeth and a happy demeanor for a girl living working in such a bad place.

"Hey, Terra! This is my friend, Floyd. We’ve been buds forever." Hugh took off his green baseball cap and rubbed his hair with his dirty tanned hand.

"Are we still talking about 'luck'?" She beamed, put her elbows on the counter and cupped her face in her hands.

Floyd noticed the tattoos covering her body, all except for her face.

"What's all them tattoos stand for?" Floyd asked.

"Well, my left arm," she held her arm out, "is like all the evil and bad I've done. Here's a gun--held up a liquor store, some dudes I beat up -- those are the 'Day of the Dead' faces with their mouths stitched--Snitches." She snorted, "Some chick I didn't like, so I took care of her: the doll with the sewed up mouth. But this, this one is my favorite: my spider web on my elbow. If you know what that means, well, you wouldn't want to mess with me outside these walls, you know?" She winked.

"Well, you got me. What does it mean?" Floyd asked as he leaned in closer to inspect it.

Hugh elbowed him in the side.

"Mmmm," she hummed. "I killed someone in prison. Don't tell them that, I could lose my job." She laughed.

Floyd pulled back, intrigued, "But the other arm, what's that all about?"

"Everything is like yin yang, you know? These tattoos on my right arm are my good luck symbols. For every bad tattoo representing my past, I got one representing my future. Like the Buddha, his hands, some Tibetan script, koi swimming upstream and a favorite that my boy just finished, a hamsa on my inner arm with the warning eye. It's for protection and whatnot." She held her arm out and outlined it for them.

"So all this good luck negates the bad luck and bad things?" Floyd asked as he tilted his head to examine her tattoos.

"You could say. I mean, I'm trying to bank some karma as well--good deeds and all that. Hey, Hugh, decide on some ink yet? I'm always ready to start."

A tall white guy lumbered up behind her and smacked her on the butt. His face, a series of ridges and tattoos. His thick, ink covered arms swung like baseball bats, and he had the same spider web on his elbow. He shot a quick glance at Floyd and Hugh. He grunted and stood next to Terra, "You gents lookin fer something particular?"

"I think we found it. Terra, have a great night." Hugh smiled and backed out the door, followed by Floyd.


They walked along in silence until they got to Floyd's apartment.

"Well," Floyd began, "We are getting all sleeved up for luck? This is your idea of good luck? I think I'll take my chances with a rabbit's foot or something. Besides, I tried to get some tattoos in prison and almost had my arm amputated because they got infected. India ink and a needle, my ass."

"You just don't see it, do you?" Hugh held his head down and snickered, "We ain't gettin' tattoos. We takin' 'em."

Floyd's eyes widened. "Wait, what?" He thought for a moment, "No, not what I think. We could. . . we could. . . man I just. . ."

"Pal, let me show you something, over here in my place. I finished it today, worked on it for a while."

They walked across the hall to Hugh's place. Hugh flipped the light switch, "Bathroom." He pointed.

Floyd walked into the bathroom. It was covered in plastic drop cloths, "We're taking that chick's arm and we're gonna skin it. See, I've read about how these Japanese people sold their fully tattooed skin after they died; like willed it to someone. It was treated like a prized possession. So, when they died, it was part of the will for them to be skinned and the skin was sold and preserved. It's a black market thing now, but it got so popular they -- the Japanese -- made offers to bikers, here in the US. Or what was the US. Now, we steal that chick's arm and skin it. How else are we gonna get that much good luck?"

"You can't be for real."

Hugh pulled a chainsaw from behind the curtain in the bathtub, "Do you think I am joking? I told you, man, one way or another, I'm getting out of here." He laughed and started the chainsaw. "Purrs like a kitten."

"Are you serious? You are going to take some girl's arm? That has to be the stupidest thing ever! Think about it. I mean, what are you going to do, whip out her arm when you're buying a lottery ticket and start rubbing it? This is some serious shit, man! I do not want to have someone looking to exact justice on me in this Quad. Lives here are worth nothing. If you do that, your life will be worth less than nothing. You may even be moved into a worse Quad, and I don't think you'd survive there at all."

"Oh and now you don't support me in my endeavor?"

"Why would I support murder? Sure, her tatts looked cool. Sure, she was a nice looking girl who wouldn't give an old man like me the time of day, but this is wrong. Besides, did you see ol' boy standing behind her? He looks like he eats guys like us for breakfast, lunch and dinner!"

"Meh, I'm not worried about him. I just need to get her alone and I can handle it, understand? Again, I'm asking if you are going to support me in my endeavor of acquiring, ah, something to help me change our current circumstances." Hugh straightened, up nodded his head and crossed his arms.

They stood face to face. Hugh’s stance was defiant. Floyd signed and shook his head. He stepped out of the bathroom, "You have fun."

He only saw Hugh one more time.

#

Floyd sat in the bar after another shift at the factory, days after he tried to convince Hugh he was wrong. The idea was ludicrous, but every time he knocked on his door to talk about it, Hugh didn't answer. He couldn't find him at work. Eventually, he gave up.

After a few hours of television and small talk with Damon and the other patrons, he settled his tab and walked home. He went inside, flopped on his tattered couch, and turned on his new, very small, black market, black and white television to watch the news. He watched until he fell asleep. At the sight of Hugh's face, Floyd sat up and leaned forward to turn up the volume. He heard the word "murder". He wiped his eyes and focused on the screen. Even though they lived in one of the worst Quads, reporters from the wealthier Quads would sneak in and film footage, just to show the world how awful the people in the poorer and dangerous Quads were. There was hope for genocide in the poorer Quads because the rich were running out of space in their Quads.

Hugh's face was on the screen. A voiceover spoke about the murder. Some reporters managed to sneak into the apartment the night of the murder and capture the gruesome scene.

There was blood all over the bathroom. Terra’s body hung from the shower rod, her arm cuffed to the shower rod. Her legs were spread and cuffed to something unseen. She had on her leather pants and black shirt. The only odd thing, excluding the blood all over the walls and the floor, was her missing right arm. There was a bone and some muscle in the bathtub and Floyd heard the word, "Skinned".

He shook his head and mumbled beneath his breath. He couldn't believe his friend actually went through with a plan so macabre. He sat up and put his head in his hands, "I can't believe he was that desperate. He actually did it. Damn, Hugh."

He thought back to the last night he saw his friend. It began with an urgent banging on his door. He looked through the peephole to see Hugh grinning. He peeled the door open and began to speak before Hugh cut him off.

"I did it! I bought something for you, too!" Hugh spoke fast as he pushed his way into Floyd's apartment.

"Man, is this why you didn't come to work today? You didn't do it, did you?" Floyd closed the door as Hugh giddily paced around with a small-folded item in his hand. He looked at Hugh's blood covered shoes and felt his stomach drop. He felt a tingling in his chest. It felt as though he could hardly breathe while he swallowed around the sour taste in his mouth.

"I can't believe you did it." He moved in slow motion, while Hugh was a hive of energy. He pressed the door closed behind him. Hugh had the eyes of a mad man.

"This is for you." Hugh held the small-folded item out and motioned to Floyd. Floyd felt a chill run through him from head to toe.

"Come closer." Hugh beckoned, hunched over the item.

Floyd stepped back. Hugh lumbered over to him and pushed it in his hands. Floyd peeled back the layers of plastic and tissue paper. Inside was something small and very oily.

Hugh nodded with approval, like a mad scientist, "Luck will change tomorrow! I promise you! I told you I would do it!" Hugh ran in circles, tapping his fingers together, "I gotta finish, and everything is so fresh. Gotta start saving it, preserving it. Not a lot of books on preserving this type of thing, but I think I got it figured."

Just like that, Hugh was out the door.


Floyd knew about justice. He didn't realize justice in such a dangerous Quad would be so swift. Justice kicked in Hugh's door in the form of two fully tatted guys with baseball bats. The sound scared Floyd from awake. He scrambled over and looked out the peephole. One of the guys was the bald guy from the tattoo studio. He saw a huge brown skinned guy, covered in tattoos, bald and stocky, wearing sunglasses and standing in front of Hugh's door. The big guy had to sense something because he held his finger up and shook it very slowly from side to side, saying, "No" towards Floyd's peephole. Floyd stumbled back, his heart pounded in his chest, as fresh beads of sweat popped out on his forehead.

He walked to his sink and grabbed a bottle of water. He ripped it open and drank it. Part of the problem with these old buildings was that some of the apartments were sound proof and some weren't. Hugh lived in an apartment covered with brick walls, so any sound coming from within was muffled. Floyd dropped the empty bottle when he heard noises in the hallway. He ran over and peeked out the peephole and saw Hugh trying to flee. Someone grabbed Hugh from behind. Hugh held onto Floyd's door frame with all his strength as someone yanked him away. The door to Hugh's apartment closed. There were a few thumps. Then, silence.

The guy at the door pulled out a bottle of cleaning solution and a hand towel. He walked over to Floyd's door and cleaned the blood handprints on the doorframe. He resumed his position across the hall as he placed the bottle on the floor, folded the bloody towel and slipped it into his pocket.

Floyd stumbled and sat on the couch in a daze. Floyd knew things had not gone in Hugh's favor. Petrified, he crawled to the door and looked out the peephole to see women standing outside the door. Once the other guys left, the big guy at the door nodded and they rushed inside with their elbow length gloves and plastic suits to clean the apartment. The next day, the local news reporters asked Floyd's neighbors if they knew what had happened in the apartment. Later, they broadcast the footage, "We have obtained exclusive footage from inside the killer's apartment. We believe he was practicing some type of voodoo ritual. . ."

#

A knock at his door snapped him out of his thoughts. Floyd walked over and looked out the peephole. A man in a suit looked around and patted his forehead with a handkerchief as two very armed police officers stepped back and blocked the hall with their stature. The knock was persistent. Where was his good for nothing lawyer to defend him now?

"Yes?" He cleared his throat.

"Sir, would you please open up? I need to speak to you about a matter.."

"What kinda matter?" Floyd asked.

"One of a monetary nature. Now, please, open the door or these two officers will kick it in. Trust me, sir, I don't want to be out here as much as you want me out here, broadcasting your news to your neighbors."

Floyd undid the locks and chains and opened the door. The man fixed his tie and walked in. One officer stood at the door and another came inside and closed the door. The man in the suit walked over to the table in Floyd's apartment and sat. He was sweating profusely and sporting a nasty comb over. His suit was a work of art: brown and polyester. Floyd thought the suit looked like something his father would have worn. The man smoothed his hair down, took a deep breath and pulled out a folder. He opened it, placing a pen on the papers. He motioned for Floyd to sit down.

"Sir, Mister. . .ah. . ." The man shuffled the papers, looking for a name.

"Floyd. Just Floyd."

"Yes, then. . . Ah Mr. Floyd. I'm not sure if you knew, but you were the prime beneficiary of a Mr. Hughefort Neville. Please sign these documents and I will have the credits transferred to your account immediately. You exhibit exemplary behavior and a high work ethic, which merits you a..."

Floyd interrupted, "Credits? Not prepaid card credits, but real monetary credits?"

The man cleared his throat, "Yes, monetary credits. We are currently phasing out green money with credits. Even now, we are offering two credits for every dollar as an incentive to embrace the new system."

"Am I getting 'two for one' on Hugh's money?"

"There's more than enough that you don't have to worry about the 'two for one' deal. We are willing to convert any cash you have on hand or in the bank." The man fidgeted as he spoke.

"Finish ." Floyd smiled, "Sorry to interrupt."

The man adjusted his tie, "Well, as I was saying. . . You exhibit exemplary behavior and a high work ethic, which merits you a one-time transfer to the outer edges of Quad Five. It's a lower middle-class place, but there is a small house on the edge, near the perimeter fence that needs to be fixed up. A person like you doesn't deserve to be here. You paid your debt to society. To be frank, you're old. Who are you legitimately going to harm?"

The officer by the door chuckled.

"What about work?" Floyd eyed the paperwork.

"I'm not sure you saw the insurance amount." The man's tone changed, lowering his voice. "You don't need to work anymore. You can spend your last years in peace, living on that small plot of land, fixing up the shithouse in a halfway decent Quad or you can stay here with your credits and get robbed. The choice is yours. News like this travels fast in these parts. You know, with you not opening the door promptly and all."

Floyd looked at the paper. He hadn't seen that many zeros in a while. He laughed a bit and signed as the man pointed to certain spots on the papers. He also had to initial here and here and here. When he was done, he put the pen down and asked, "How soon can I move?"

"The officer will be stationed outside your door tonight. There will be two more downstairs, so we can move you whenever you are ready." The man looked over the paperwork, stacked the pages together neatly and put them in a briefcase. He pulled out a device and clicked a few buttons, "Money is in your account. I'd like to thank you for your time, Mister. . . Floyd. I imagine you don't have a lot of belongings. Hopefully, you can leave tonight. Remember, word travels fast around here. Have a great day." He stood and extended his hand.

Floyd shook it and the man was out the door. The officer stood outside and asked Floyd if he knew when he would be ready to leave.

"I need about a half hour, is that okay?"

The officer nodded. Floyd closed the door.

#

Floyd exhaled. For the first time, he smiled. What luck! He was getting out! He walked into his bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed. He opened the nightstand and pulled out his Bible. Inside was a package wrapped in plastic. He pulled it out and peeled the plastic open.

It was the hamsa from Terra's arm, "I don’t know if this works, if Hugh was onto something or maybe it was just my time. Either way, thanks for the luck, baby. Tomorrow's gonna be a better day."

He wrapped the tattoo and put it back in the Bible, grabbed his bag from beneath his bed and packed his few belongings.