Billy Thomson wiped his brow as he took a break from mowing. Since the trailer park had no real shade, he felt the brunt of the sun on his freckled skin. He examined his work so far, and for the most part it was good: he had navigated his mower through rusted sinks, doorless dryers, sofas with crushed springs, and other white-trash monuments. The results were respectable.
“Your daddy tells me you’ll be here another few months.” Billy looked up and saw JoAnn in the door of the nearest trailer, an apple in her hand, her pink sundress doing little to hide her pudgy belly and sweaty legs.
“No money, Jo. The landscaping business’s been rough,” Billy said, glancing at the new ring on her finger. It made him seethe knowing his father used business funds to keep his whore happy. He faked a nonchalant smile. “College will have to wait.”
“Why leave paradise?” she said. Billy watched her grin and slowly chew the apple, accentuating each motion of her mouth. She finished and tossed it into the yard, turning back inside where Billy’s father probably waited naked and drunk.
Billy clenched his jaw and restarted the mower. He pushed forward and ran over the apple, sending it crashing into JoAnn’s trailer. His heartbeat drummed in his ear. The rest of the world faded for a long time, a hand finally shaking him back to reality. It was JoAnne, crying. Behind, her trailer was consumed in smoke, its smoke detector filling the air with a torrid screech. A few park residents tried to desperately get inside.
“Something…something must’ve knocked over a candle! I couldn’t wake him up, it happened so fast! You have to save him, Billy!” JoAnn screamed. “You have to save him!”
Billy stood frozen and felt freedom in his motionless.