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Cherries and Blueberries (standard:other, 3800 words)
Author: Kenneth BroskyAdded: Sep 03 2006Views/Reads: 1851/1220Story 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 


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