Fate’s Red Nails
Fate’s nails were red. At first, she’d tease them across your skin, but inevitably, those ruby blades always sliced to the bone. That was how she kept them red.
Ricardo’s mother told him this the moment she deemed him a man. “Watch out for that temptress,” she said.
Ricardo always listened to his mother.
Yet, he pulled over on the rural road. Parked in a freshly mowed field was a truck the same blood color as Fate’s nails. It could have been the truck of his dreams had he dared have such dreams. A “For Sale” sign propped against its windshield. Before he knew it, his hands were gliding across its buffed hood, then shielding his eyes as he peeked in the windows.
“Beauty, ain’t she?” said a man in an unbuttoned suit jacket and overalls.
Ricardo shrugged. “It’s alright.”
“’Twas my grandpa’s, and he don’t need her no more, so she needs a good home.”
Ricardo gulped. He could be that good home. His car ran fine, but this truck was water in the desert—something he hadn’t known he needed tied up with a red bow and delivered by Fate.
As he peeked at the price written in the sign’s margin, Ricardo gripped the cashier’s check in his pocket. Who needed a vacation when he could have the truck of his non-existent dreams?
“Dios en los cielos, bring me not into temptation,” Ricardo prayed. Silly to tell God that God was in heaven, but his mother always said it that way.
He released the check and pulled out an inhaler.
“Asthma?” Overalls asked.
“It’s preventative.” Two puffs through the hollow plastic mouthpiece punctuated his reply.
Overalls leaned over the hood. “This beauty could be called preventative, too. She’ll be whatever you need, guaranteed.”
Ricardo didn’t need a truck, but somehow, he signed paperwork and handed over his vacation money. He pulled onto the highway in the Fate’s vehicle, windows down, wind singing through his hair, and radio blaring. She had given him a gift. He should have known the backswing was coming.
The truck waited in the parking lot while he worked. Clouds covered the sun and poured their wealth onto the sizzling blacktop when he emerged from the office building, shoulders slumped and head drooping as low as his loosened tie.
He climbed into the truck, not noticing how he dripped on the pristine upholstery. “Dios de mi madre, what am I going to do?” His arms and face collapsed over the steering wheel. “I need someone to talk to.”
The truck shuddered, shrank, and folded until he sat on the cement in the pouring rain. A dog with fiery fur rested her head on his knee.
Ricardo looked around. “A-are you a shapeshifting robot? A guardian angel?” He lowered his voice. “A devil?”
The dog stared, understanding in her round, golden eyes. Just like headlights.
He patted her head. “W-what would happen if I said I needed someone who could explain a few things?”