|Cherries and Blueberries (standard:other, 3800 words)|
|Author: Kenneth Brosky||Added: Sep 03 2006||Views/Reads: 1851/1220||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|The first chapter of "Leaving Dodge County," my collection of short stories, all centered around one character trying to leave his hometown forever.|
(This is the first chapter of "Leaving Dodge County." You can find the entire collection at www.lulu.com/content/381627) I've been riding the past hundred miles with a guy who's too drunk to drive. The first thing he told me when he picked me up on the side of the road was that he went by the name Wolfman and didn't answer to anything else. It was just one of those things, he said, and I told him that was good enough for me, provided he let me have one of those beers sitting in the cooler in the back seat. He asked me when I first got in why I was standing on the road in the first place. I told him I ran away from home even though I look in my early thirties. He seemed to accept the answer anyway. We've been quiet, mostly, content with listening to a wild church channel whose announcer is attempting to compare homosexuals teaching in public schools to weapons of mass destruction that may or may not still be hidden away in Iraq. The car itself smells like stale beer and old fast food. There are different colored crumbs in both drink holders and on the gear shift, along with an assortment of stains that mainly resemble the color of either ketchup or mustard. After we pass the last exit to a town claiming to have one of Al Capone's Midwestern hideouts, the Wolfman turns down the stereo a little bit. “You remember a couple months ago?” he asks. “Sure,” I say. How else to answer such a vague question, after all? Wolfman shakes his head a little bit, causing his long dark hair to drop over his shoulders. It's begun to horseshoe around his forehead, but to hide that fact he had long ago picked out the biggest, thickest glasses he could possibly find. They do well to make his large nose seem somewhat regular on his face. “The shooting, I mean. The one with the Asian who shot those three hunters. It happened right in those woods coming up on your right.” “What happened?” Wolfman takes a heavy slug from his bottle and savors the taste with barred teeth before answering. “Dunno, really. He was trespassing, they tried to get him out, he shot ‘em.” I look out the side window. Beyond the road is about fifty acres of corn crops and beyond that a thick forest. At the edge of the trees, I can make out a small looking post, an elevated club house some people use to hunt deer. For some reason, I play out the event in my mind and set it in the dead of night, putting myself under the bare canopy of naked, twisting limbs, standing on a carpet of soggy wet leaves. One of my friends is already dead, and I take refuge under a fallen log, listening to the Asian man's footsteps on the wet ground. I hear my other hunting pal whimpering off in the distance, then a loud crack of thunder that sends my ears ringing. Then silence. I see the Asian man creep closer to my hiding place. He doesn't spot me under the cover of night, even though his beady eyes skim right over my body. The shooting probably would have happened in daylight, and in daylight, he would have surely spotted me. “What's his story?” “Racism,” Wolfman says. “He says they were threatening him. Self defense, and all that great bullshit. But the thing is he was carrying an assault rifle, not a standard hunting rifle. They're gonna nail him no matter what because of that, don't you think?” I reach back for another bottle of beer and twist off the top with my arm. “It's bullshit that he could even buy one in the first place.” “You mean assault rifles?” he asks. “Or guns in general?” I realize I've let the beer loosen my tongue. I heard once it's best not to mix beer with politics and religion, something I've made a point of taking to heart. But I'm curious where it'll go, so I answer him honestly. “Guns in general, I guess.” Wolfman takes his eyes off the road to stare at me. Behind his patches of black facial hair, he's got an incredulous look on his face, as if I Click here to read the rest of this story (366 more lines)
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