Thursday, July 16, 2009

Big Bad Wolf

eenie meenie minie moe
catch a nigger by the toe
if he hollers let him go
eenie meenie minie moe

my momma told me to pick
the very best one

and you

are not


and davy counts us off again and again and we're all in a circle each of us with a foot poked out standing up hands on hips with a dirty bare foot stuck into the middle davy kneeling down below us his own foot extended like a russian dancer

he's inside the circle that is us

we're in his yard just one of many yards around the houses in the neighborhood there are no fences there is no need for any one lawn bleeds into the next which bleeds into the next which bleeds into the next neat little homes all in a row down the street up the street a neat little patchwork of neat little homes all single story all made of worn brick

weather worn dark red brick

there are no houses made of straw no houses made of twigs there are no three little pigs there is no big bad wolf there is only

karl's brother

karl's older brother don't know how much older but he's older old enough to have been in and out of jail a few times already none of us really know him we're hardly twelve thirteen and we don't really know him we just know of him i don't think karl knows him that well either

karl's brother he gets out of jail every now and then comes home to stories and tales and rumors and people pointing at him from across the street nodding toward him as they gossip as they talk of how such a good boy he had been

back before

and then one night one day the deputy pulls up to karl's house and he's gone again he's back in we'd heard he'd stolen a motorcycle we'd heard he'd stolen a car we'd heard he'd robbed a country store

but it's summer nineteen seventy one he's back out this summer he's back home this summer

this his last summer in halifax

he's got a motorcycle he's got an old indian he works on it every day in their tar and gravel driveway he fiddles with this fiddles with that

he sits on an old milk crate next to his motorcycle a bunch of wrenches lay on a leather apron a can of dubya dee forty a screwdriver some used spark plugs a couple of new ones still in the box a spacer and some wires with leads a transistor radio all sitting next to him on the drive

tinny country music crackling from the little speaker

he's wearing jeans and a white sleeveless tee shirt smoking one fag after another grease on his fingers smudges on his arms all the way up his arms those arms with muscles always knotted up and tense a tattoo of a snake wrapped around a single stemmed rose

he scares the shit out of all of us

karl says he says it sometimes with pride sometimes with a little puzzled look on his pudgy face karl he says he going to vietnam so i guess karl's brother he's scared too

karl says they let him out of jail to go to vietnam the judge he says that karl's brother needs to learn how to be a responsible citizen the judge he says that karl's brother needs what the army's got to offer him so he's going to vietnam that's why they let him out of jail this time karl says that his brother doesn't talk much since he got out this time karl says he his brother he watches the news on the tee vee channel thirteen out of lynchburg the only channel they get because karl's house doesn't even have an antennae

says his brother just sits and watches the tee vee news and works on his motorcycle i guess he karl's brother i guess he has his own big bad wolf mister nixon himself mister nixon president nixon he sent karl's brother a letter single page letter telling him he has to report down to the selective service station he has to join the army shave off his long greasy hair

his ma karl's ma she sits out on little stoop on the side of the house the side door going right into the kitchen she sits out on the little stoop on the side of the house in her housecoat and nightgown and slippers her hair in curlers

she leans over smoking a cigarette

we watch from the scheffler's yard we're sitting around on the lawn it's the end of the day we ain't done much all day i have a paper route craddock he works mornings out on his granddaddy's tobacco farm richard holt he ain't never had to work his momma gives him money davy scheffler works down at dixons five and dime sweeping out the store room some mornings bill bishop his daddy got him working around the house

right now we're doing nothing now we me davy bill bishop richard holt davy's sister vivian craddock craddock's sister gayanne we're all sitting around we're counting the fireflies as they start to come out dancing around the yard but it's august and it's hot and sticky and we're too tired and bored to even get up and chase them

and the bats flitter up and around above us in the dusk and every now and then we slap at a mosquito and every now and then we slap at a gnat as it tries to sneak up our nostrils or into the corner of our eyes and we tell stories and we talk about how bored we are

we talk about cars about the car we're gonna get when we're sixteen craddock he wants a plymouth he hates ford's he says ford stands for found on road dead me i want a ford i want a mustang like my old man drives we tell jokes dirty jokes we tell jokes about pussy and niggers about shit we know nothing about

we joke we kid karl he's an easy one to kid his daddy is never around karl is kind of big and fat and he has sores on his legs and his clothes are dirty and his pants always have holes sometimes with patches on the holes most of the times there's no patch

we kid him about being poor hell ain't none of us got money but karl he's extra poor so we feel better than karl and we're punk cracker kids so we poke at him and point at his momma sitting on the stoop we tell him his momma's big old tits are going to fall out of the nightgown we can see them swinging beneath the sheer material

swinging like large bolognas in the window down at the butcher shop

his momma is talking with karl's brother she's got a tall plastic cup with ice and a small straw and some kind of brown liquid maybe ice tea maybe something else she's smoking her cigarette she's pointing with her cigarette lipstick staining the tip we can't hear her she can't hear us

karl he doesn't say anything

we just keep on laughing joking a tear streams down karl's face then another his lip trembles but he doesn't say anything until his brother glances over i guess he's tired of listening to whatever his mom is saying he glances over all pissed off to begin with he notices karl

he sees davy scheffler whispering something to karl and pointing

we hear the wrench clanging on the drive as it slips down out of his hand just lets it fall to the ground tosses flicks his cigarette he walks toward us across the lawn he takes his time it's only about twenty thirty yards far enough away he lights another fag flicks his zippo against his jeans lights his cig walks right up to us

we want to scurry and run we don't we're frozen fascinated at what might happen open to the possibility we're so fucking bored we're twelve thirteen years old living in a town of eight hundred people in the middle of buttfuck egypt southside virginia we're so bored we'll sit there and wait take the chance that whatever is about to happen it will happen to one of the others not to us

karl's brother he walks up to us we're a bunch of dumb cows just standing around waiting for the cowboy to cull us out of the herd and send us to the butcher he karl's brother he doesn't say anything he just walks up right up to us stops looks down looks at karl looks at each one of us not a glance not a quick look a good hard three count stare at each and every one of us none of us holds the stare we look down at our dirty bare feet within a two count davy is the last one whose eyes he steals davy he's the only who can keep his head up the only one who returns the look karl's brother he grins flicks away his half finished fag and with no warning smacks the shit out of davy scheffler just smacks him once an open palmed smack i'm sitting right next to davy i feel the wind of his hand flying through the air i feel the heat from his palm landing on davy's cheek i hear the loud sudden


and the surprised scream escaping involuntarily from davy's mouth that sudden outburst of shock pain dismay and embarrassment davy is a proud boy i've seen him take the lash of his old man's belt one two three his old man having him by the arm davy not even doing the chicken dance no sidestepping so slipping away i've seen davy take a beating and not utter a word not a cry not a whimper

but this time davy falls back and over and rolls trying to get out of the way we all scatter and scramble as karl's brother reaches down not to grab davy again he's done with davy he grabs karl by the arm yanks him up drags him back over to his own yard

karl trying to get away

his momma already throwing away her cigarette opening the door going into the kitchen screen door slap slap slapping behind her karl's brother drags karl around back karl's beat up pee eff flyers one with an open toe drags karl across the drive his pee eff flyers scraping along the gravel

the summer air is still and heavy we're silent and we hear nothing we hear nothing we hear nothing not even a cricket or bullfrog or starling nothing until we hear a


and the sound of flesh hitting flesh once twice three times and we hear nothing else not a word not a cry not a whimper

the summer air goes still and heavy and we're still silent there's not even a cricket or bullfrog or starling nothing until vivian she's the youngest she just turned twelve she's tall and skinny with new sprouting summer tits we're silent until vivian she says hey we should play fox and hounds take off get out of here and the crickets and bullfrogs and starlings all chime in and we all chime in with ideas of teams and who is going to be a fox who is going to be a hound

and davy he's the oldest he's thirteen going to be fourteen soon he has hair under his armpits and on his legs and he says hey he says hey

everybody put your foot in get in a circle put your foot in and he counts us off

eenie meenie minie moe
catch a nigger by the toe
if he hollers let him go
eenie meenie minie moe

my momma told me to pick
the very best one

and you

are not


and then again and again and again each of us not being it each of us leaving the circle one goes to the foxes the next one goes to the hounds the next one goes to the foxes until no one is left in the circle about half way through the count i go to the hounds i hate being a hound it's much more fun to be a fox

i'm a hound with craddock and his sister gayanne and bill bishop and the others are foxes vivian runs into the house comes running back out with a box of chalk for the foxes to mark their trail we're supposed to find them the foxes they all take off we're to count to a hundred we're to go find them who the fuck knows where they'll go we use the entire town the woods the trails the farms around town wherever the fuck we want to go

we own this town just like it owns us

and we count one and two and three and ninety seven and ninety eight and ninety nine and one hundred we get ready to go and karl comes running around from his back yard as we're leaving he catches up joins us a little out of breath from the short run his face is turning a little purple on one side bright pink and red and purple he's holding something as we take off heading off up the street up the hill after the others the foxes he karl he holds up two big green bottles holds them up wide over his head like two trophies like he'd just knocked cassius clay out of the ring

he holds up two bottles of boone's farm wild mountain grape wine

he says

pulling the bottles back down to his chest looking over his shoulder he says let's go come on let's hurry we run off he tells us his brother went inside the house and karl he knew where his brother kept his beer and cigarettes and yes these bottles of boone's farm and he grabbed them we have to go we have to go now before karl's brother comes back out

and we're no longer that interested in the hounds we wander up the street up toward my house we start in the scheffler's yard it's on the corner of pine and cypress we walk up the the street toward my yard it's on the corner of oak and cypress

only they're not streets they're lanes pine lane cypress lane oak lane i don't know the difference but they're not streets they're lanes

we see the first fox marker they've drawn an arrow with the chalk drawn it on the road a bright yellow arrow we follow its direction we go a couple of blocks we see another arrow except this time the arrow is really two arrows drawn on the road one points right across the street off toward a path that goes down into the woods heads down toward the creek the other points left toward my back yard toward the tree house that davy and bill bishop and i built in the big cypress in the corner of my back yard

not really a tree house just a bunch of planks nailed across two big branches about fifteen feet up just some planks and an old piece of chain link fence nailed alongside it's a sort of white trash hammock


we nailed short boards up the trunk a shaky ladder leading up into the canopy


we look left up into the tree and don't see anyone we look right where the path leads down into the darkness we look left we look right we shrug and head left climb up into the tree one at a time karl comes last he tosses me the bottles and follows us up

karl opens the first bottle twists that top right off and takes a big long swig and coughs and hands it to bill bishop who does the same who hands it to craddock who does the same who hands it to me and then onto gayanne and back around again and again until karl finishes it off and drops the bottle into the bushes below

all this time not a word is said we just sit back lay back suck down the throat and stomach sting masked in that sickly sweet juice while the light fades and the darkness seeps from down around the edges up into the sky a starless molasses sky with only a big old moon hanging there light yet dull

and bill bishop leans sits back against the trunk and craddock stretches out on his side his head propped up in one hand and and i crawl out onto the chain link hammock gayanne quietly behind me trying to catch my eye and karl he sits indian style in the middle of us all trying to open up the second bottle

but his hand keeps slipping and he's laughing and we're laughing we're all laughing that drunken kid giggle the more he tries to open it the more he just can't do it the more we giggle

in the still night air it's just our giggles and the crickets and the bullfrogs and we can hear the television from the neighbor's house it's turned up loud so they can hear it over the roar of the big window fan and the sound drifts out and over and up to us a sound all chopped up by the metal blades

it's a thursday night bewitched is on

and gayanne she takes hold of my hand and craddock he reaches over steadies the bottle while karl tries again this time we here the crack hiss of the top breaking its seal spinning round and karl offers first hit to craddock who passes it to bill who passes it to karl who passes to me and i give it to gayanne who hits it and gives it back to her brother and again

and we're laughing and craddock nearly rolls off the rickety platform and bill is hugging the trunk of the tree and karl is laid out on his back howling at the moon like some old dog and gayanne she leans over and tries to kiss me and i let her and then i kiss her back and we're rolling precariously about on the chain link hammock suspended over the bushes below

i touch one of her budding tits and she slides my hand up her shirt and we're oblivious to the others to the howling the giggling the laughing such sweet kisses lips so young and soft and open and willing and we explore without thought of anything else we don't know what we're doing we don't care

my twelve year old cock is so hard it hurts i know it will hurt tomorrow but i don't care we don't care

nobody cares about nothing

it's a summer night

until we hear bill bishop gagging until we hear bill bishop give a big ralph over the side of the platform spewing purple vomit projectile vomit over and over and karl laughs and craddock laughs and my cock isn't hard any longer

and we hear the tell tale sound of the indian roaring to life the crickets go quiet and the bullfrogs go quiet and the still air stirs and we see a lone headlight coming up the hill following the roar

and the laughing stops and we lay flat on the platform and yeah it's karl's brother on his bike and he's roaring up the hill until he nears the cypress and slows we peek over the edge of the planks through the mesh of the chain link as he glances up

gently tosses something into the soft grass in front of the tree

before gunning the engine and taking off on up the road becoming a faint red light in the night becoming nothing nothing

and we scramble down the tree all of us except for bill bishop who begins his vomiting anew but this time hacking hacking the dry heaves and we scramble down the tree to find an unopened bottle of boone's farm wild mountain grape

karl leans over to pick it up falls tumbles into the dew laden grass we pile on top it's a late night game of smear the queer we roll around until karl also vomits he crawls from beneath the mound of drunk kids until his head slides over the edge of the culvert and he vomits

and he cries

and we climb back up into the tree house bottle in hand where i wake up with the morning doves cooing the mockingbirds cackling gayanne still asleep on my shoulder both of us in the hammock and bill bishop and craddock and karl all huddled up shivering snoring on the platform

the bottle unopened

and all that

No comments: