Nikki goes up the deer cut with the ax and a box of trash bags. At the top, Coy Hawkins is gone. She opens her mouth to call him and thinks she doesn’t know what to say.
“Hey,” Nikki says.
“Down here. Watch your step,” Coy Hawkins says.
Coy Hawkins is down on the rock ledge, squatted by Renee. He points where the deer cut makes a sudden hitch left and leads down the other side. Nikki holds onto the trunks of trees. She is sweating by the time she reaches them. She looks up at where she was and feels sick.
“Grab onto my waist,” Coy Hawkins says.
“What?” Nikki says.
“We got to pull her off this ledge,” Coy Hawkins says.
Coy Hawkins is so skinny when Nikki loops her arms around him. Coy Hawkins grips Renee by the shins.
“One, two, three,” Coy Hawkins says.
Panting, Nikki falls down on the deer cut next to Renee.
She looks so freakish without a face. Coy Hawkins strips off Renee’s clothes with his knife. He cuts off Renee’s panties with one flick. She is not shaved. Coy Hawkins slices the pads off each of Renee’s fingertips.
“Ax,” Coy Hawkins says.
Nikki takes Renee’s wrist brace from him. She flings it like it’s infested on Renee’s cut clothes.
Coy Hawkins jams the butt of the ax into what’s left of Renee’s mouth. Then Coy Hawkins raises the ax above his head. He brings it down hard on Renee’s neck. Nikki’s head bangs the tree behind her.
“Fingerprints and teeth,” Coy Hawkins says.
Nikki stares at him.
“Nikki,” Coy Hawkins says.
“What?” Nikki says.
“Trash bags,” Coy Hawkins says.
After they’ve finished, Nikki looks at the blood on the ground.
“It’ll rain,” Coy Hawkins says.
Down the deer cut, Coy Hawkins carries the heavy bags. Nikki follows with the light bags, watching him. She waits for him to look where the money’s buried. But he doesn’t once turn his head.
“Are you mad at me?” Nikki says.
“Stop asking me that,” Coy Hawkins says.
In the wild yard, the car is gone. Nikki notices immediately. Coy Hawkins just walks straight to the pickup. He flips back the tarp and hefts the heavy bags up into the bed.
“Throw her clothes on the trash pile,” Coy Hawkins says.
Inside Nikki’s brain something warm bursts and bursts and bursts.
Katherine Faw Morris is a native of Northwest North Carolina. Her writing has appeared in The New York Observer, NYLON, BlackBook, and The Winston-Salem Journal. She lives in Brooklyn with one husband and two pitbulls.