D-E-D, Dead

By Larry "Animal" Garner

Action & adventure, Thriller, Crime & mystery

Paperback, eBook

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4 mins


    Damn, it’s cold out here! I’ve been working on the pit in the barn for about five hours and it was pretty warm inside while I was digging. My back is screaming at me and the smell of horseshit was getting pretty thick, so I came outside to get some fresh air and stand up straight for awhile under the lean-to attached to the barn wall.
    It’s been raining for nearly three days, which is both good and bad. There hasn’t been anyone driving around this little hollow for a few days; that’s good. It’s Friday night. No, it’s Saturday morning, and I haven’t been willing to sneak out and do any exploring for fear that my tracks will give me away; that’s bad. My old buddy Kenneth Dutton, the owner of this property, is in Memphis for a few days and all the locals know he’s gone. It wouldn’t do to have fresh tire tracks showing up in the mud on the two-track he calls a driveway. Someone would surely come snooping around. Neighborhood watch isn’t a concept confined to cities. Country folk have refined the idea for decades; in an area where you can hear a car door shut from better than a mile away, those up to no good had better be damned sneaky. I am. At least I have been so far. Kenneth is the only one who knows I’m here, and my health and welfare depend on keeping it that way.
    The rain is starting to let up a little now, and the wind has settled down some, as well. I’m all for that because the gusts make it seem even colder, whipping the torrent sideways in sheets. Good thing the barn has a sound roof, because I’ve been hiding and sleeping in there for the last four days, up in the loft, hoping that those looking for me will have lost my trail. I started the pit yesterday and have been working at it pretty steadily as my sore back allows. The dirt floor is fairly easy to dig in, thank God. I really should get back in there and try to get it finished, filled, and covered so I’ll be ready to split when Kenneth gets back tomorrow, er. . . later today.
    I hear a vehicle out on the paved road on the other side of the bramble patch about a hundred yards behind Kenneth’s house, and whoever is driving it is in a hell of a hurry. I can clearly hear him shifting up and down, taking the turns and dips at full song. It sounds like he’s having fun, and Molino road is a good place to do it. There isn’t ever much traffic, and almost none on a weeknight after dark. But this ol’ boy is out there in a downpour, with no moon, and driving like the devil himself is on his ass. “Haul ass, Bubba,” I wish the unknown driver, and turn to go back into the barn.
     I hear Bubba’s exhaust note change, then the unmistakable sound of someone dynamiting the brakes. Even on wet pavement, the sound is hair-raising, signaling impending doom for some unlucky bastard. The next noise that reaches my straining ears is even more unnerving. Whump! It’s obvious that Bubba has struck something solid. No more engine noise. Silence. I keep hoping to hear Bubba cussing and hollering so I can go back to work with a clear conscience. I really can’t afford to appear out of the brambles in the middle of the night to help some drunk who drove past the limit of his skill. “Come on, dammit!” I whisper. Let’s hear a car door, maybe some good old fender-kicking. Minutes pass, and I get more and more agitated. Shit, shit, shit! I really don’t need this, but I just can’t ignore the fact that someone might be out there broken up and in need of help.
     I go into the barn to retrieve my slicker and my old boonie hat. While I’m at it, I grab my big-ass Maglite, my nine millimeter S&W auto, and my Buck knife for good measure. You never know what (or whom) you might run into in the woods at night. I’ve spent quite a bit of time learning different routes from the barn to a few different hidey-holes in the woods, using the terrain to hide my tracks as well as possible. Before he left, Kenneth showed me a way through the brambles, just in case I ever had to get to or from the paved road in an emergency.
     I head that way now, constantly listening for any sign of life from Bubba. It is black as sin out here, and I tear my slicker and my skin in a few places as I make my way through the tangled mess. As I get closer, I slow to a crawl, hoping to hear something that will let me go back to my hiding and digging. No such luck. All I can hear is the rain in the trees and on the pavement.
     I peer out of the brambles, trying to find the vehicle. Maybe he drove off, and I just didn’t hear it. Yeah, right, like anyone could drive by here without me hearing it, even on a night like this. Damn, why couldn’t I have been inside digging my little ass off, instead of loitering around outside when Bubba Andretti decided to haul ass down a twisty, dark, wet road in the middle of the night?
     I hear an almost imperceptible pinging sound from a ways down the road to my right. I still don’t want to use the Maglite unless it’s necessary, so I walk down the middle of the road, hoping my night vision is sufficient to keep me from busting my ass.
     There’s a dark shadow in the road about twenty yards away, and it isn’t moving. At least I don’t think it is. I keep looking for the car as I approach the shadow, and finally see it off the road on the left, another hundred feet away. It is in the embrace of a huge tree, and the pinging I hear is the engine and exhaust system slowly cooling down. There are a few creaks and groans, either from the tree or the car, but no human sounds at all. As I stand there, the rain picks up again. “Well, let’s get on with it, dumb-ass,” I tell myself, hoping to get this over with and return to my dry and relatively warm barn.
     As I approach the shadow, it slowly takes shape. It’s a full-grown boar, big as a fucking calf, and it is right in the middle of the road. I lean down to see if maybe I can salvage any of the meat, when the son of a bitch bolts upright and snorts at me like a berzerk freight train. If I’d had much of anything to eat in the last few hours, I’d have shit my pants. As it is, the boar is still woozy and I am freaked right the fuck out. My flight-or-fight mechanism must’ve gotten shorted out, because I levitate backwards about ten feet or so while pulling the nine mil from by belt.
     I jack a round into the chamber and fire three times as soon as my feet return to earth. The boar goes down and stays there. I feel bad for killing the damned thing after he’d just survived getting knocked on his ass, but he scared the shit out of me and I get pissed off when something or someone scares the shit out of me.
     “Now you’ve done it,” I say to myself. I figure a whole passel of Bubbas will come around the corner any second, drawn by the gunfire. I haul ass back to my little trail and hunker down, waiting for company. Maybe the rain masked the sound, or maybe it is impossible for people to tell where it came from. Or maybe they figure someone is out poaching and decide to mind their own business. Which is what I should’ve done . . . minded my own damned business. It’s hell having a conscience. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to make mine inoperable for years. I guess my folks just did too good a job.
     Anyway, there’s no posse, so I decide to get on with it. I walk back up the road, taking a path well clear of the boar. I even turn on the light, verifying the fact that he is indeed dead. D-e-d, dead, as Kenneth would say. He’s gonna shit himself laughing when I tell him about it. I notice the car is wrapped tightly around the trunk of the tree, and my hopes for Bubba’s good health fade.
     I call out, and my voice is almost lost in the wind and rain. “Yo! Are you okay?”
     Jesus, what a stupid question. Silence. I walk up to the driver’s window, not really wanting to look inside.



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