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One Foot in the Grave

 
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Glenn Douglas
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 12 Apr 2010
Posts: 206
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2017 2:07 pm    Post subject: One Foot in the Grave Reply with quote

A low keening sound comes from the beat up old juke box tucked away into the corner of the bar. It’s a voice that warbles and groans, singing a song of days gone by and romanticizes the hardships of the poor and impoverished folk residing in the rural counties out past the interstates, waystations, and civilization. Glenn can only guess that this is the meaning of the song. Its melody is only just there beneath the din of noise, the murmur of voices and the explosions of loud, violent laughter that fill the tiny bar off one of the farm roads that took up most of the town’s real estate. Men with skin turned to leather mill about drinking light beers and cheap whiskey, talking about the labors of the day, the accidents, the cost of good workers and the lowering value of their goods or crops. The mechanic is broke because he isn’t getting any business. He isn’t getting any business because the farmers aren’t making any money. It’s a vicious cycle.

He’s been in the town for two nights and three days now. A man walks up and pats him on the shoulder and holds out a bottle, his smile is mostly toothless and the skin around his eyes looks like he’s spent too much time standing around staring into the sun.

“Where you hitched up tonight, son?”

“Same as before,” Glenn says. He takes a sip from the offered beer and nods to a door behind the bar.

“My offer still stands.”


“Not looking for work.”

“Then what the *** are you doing all the way out here?”

Glenn thanks him for the beer and leaves. He steps out front and lights a cigarette, saluting the passing sheriff’s truck with his bottle. The truck pulls into a space further down the dirt parking lot and a woman steps out in a khaki uniform. She approaches.

“You know you’re not supposed to be drinking that out here,” she says.

Glenn hurls the bottle out over the road and into a ditch on the other side. He takes a drag off his cigarette and looks at her. She’s thirty-five, or thereabouts, and tired in all the ways a person can be. She’s pretty like an old painting is pretty. It’s got cracks on the surface, the colors have dried up and begun to bleach. But underneath you can see the artist’s original vision, the smooth lines and brushstrokes that slowly fade with the passing of the years.

“When are you leaving?” she asks.

“Why?” he answers.

“You make me uneasy.”

“Couple of days. Just resting, been on the road a while.”

“You got two, exactly. Understood?” she puts a hand on her hip, right above her gun.

“Yes ma’am,” Glenn tips an invisible hat to her and turns to walk away from the bar.


“What’s your name?” she asks.

“I ain’t gonna tell you that,” he says, stepping out of the dirt lot and onto the dark asphalt road.

She doesn’t follow him.

He walks for an hour or more. Walks until the distant, westward sun falls from the earth and the sky fills up with the light of stars he counted when he was young. They’re different out here, the shapes don’t add up and he puzzles on this for a spell. Not much happens out there on the road. A car might pass him by once or twice, its high beams temporarily blinding him. He wonders how he looks in the wash of bright, artificial light in those brief seconds he’s illuminated. Wonders if the driver sees him, or if he’s just a ghost.

He’s taken this route twice now. Down the road a ways, then back up the other side. He’s headed back after his handful of smokes and his hour or more of thought. The bar he comes to is quieter than the one he left before. It’s empty, except an old bartender with a beard that gray but stained yellow-green-and-brown around the mouth. He grunts at Glenn and Glenn grabs the broom from him and starts sweeping. It takes another hour to finish sweeping and cleaning the bar. He’s not too thorough, and the old man doesn’t seem to mind. When all’s said and done, he steps through the door behind the bar and past the storage room on the other side. In the back is a mostly unused office with an old, heavy safe, a cot, and a computer that’s a few decades out of date. He sits on the edge of the cot and reaches between his legs to pull his bag out from beneath it. He does a quick check to make sure the old man hasn’t stolen anything from him, then he flicks the light switch and goes to sleep.

It's warm. Warmer than warm. Hot, even. So Glenn wakes up and looks at the flickering light visible beneath the crack in the office door. He gets up and opens it and there’s a fire on the other side, engulfing the storage room in an angry fusion of orange and red. He tugs his boots on, grabs his bag, and charges through the fire to get to the door on the other side. He keeps his head low and his arms around his bag to protect it from the lashing flames that leap up at him as though eager for something else to burn. He barrels through the door and clambers past the bar. The main room is ablaze as well. The fires lick the ceiling and the lightbulbs overhead begin to pop and explode. He makes it to the main door and, not having a key, grabs it by the handle and pulls until wood splinters and cracks. The iron bars of the gate outside bend when he kicks. So, he kicks again, and again, until the metal is torn and twisted and he has an opening wide enough to just squeeze through.

He stumbles out into the dirt and lands on his hands and knees, his bag hits the ground in front of him. Glenn sits back on his haunches for a second, coughs the smoke from his lungs and replaces it with air. Then he grabs his bag, stands, and turns to look at the bar as the roof begins to crack and sink. It’s so loud he doesn’t hear the footsteps behind him. When the man speaks Glenn whirls around, ready to strike.

“That’s some fire,” the man says. He’s young, fair skinned and dark haired. He wears a leather jacket and has dark eyes. “How do you figure that got started?”

“Who the *** are you?” Glenn asks.

“Just a traveler, like you man,” he lifts his hands in a placating gesture.

Glenn drops the bag by his feet and grabs the man by the collar of his jacket. He lifts him up and then drops him onto his back and goes with him, a knee to the young man’s chest and a fist raised and ready to fall.

“Your nice guy act ain’t playin’ here,” Glenn says.

The young man smiles at Glenn feels something warm at his side. He looks down between him and the young man and sees the latter’s arm looping past his leg, fingers wrapped around the handle of a folding knife. The blade is stuck in his side.

Glenn snarls and punches. The man laughs, his nose bleeds, and Glenn hits him again and again. Bones crack, lips split, and his knuckles bleed. He beats the young man until his face is all red and broken, until he’s sure the kid is dead, and then a little more for good measure. Then he stands, stumbles, and falls onto his backside gripping the knife still stuck in him. He sees the flash of red and blue lights bouncing off the trees that line the road before the sheriff’s truck pulls into view. An old fire engine lumbers along the road behind her. She pulls into the dirt lot and gets out of the truck and upon seeing Glenn and an unmoving body, draws her gun.

“Hands where I can see them!” she says. Glenn obliges, grimacing.

“I need an ambulance,” he says. She looks at his side, then over at the young man.

“One’s already on the way,” she says. “Who is that?”

“Don’t know. Never seen him before.”

“He dead?”

“Probably,” Glenn says. “He stabbed me. Think he started the fire, too.”

“And why on earth would he do that?”

“Maybe he got pissed about the old man watering down the drinks.”

She walks over to his bag and kicks it away from him, then goes to search it.

“That’s private property,” Glenn says.

“You’re under arrest,” the sheriff answers. “It’s evidence now.”

His sigh is exhausted. He stands, slowly, and walks over to her with a hand on the handle of the knife. She steps away from the bag and raises her gun.

“Don’t move!”

He reaches for the bag and slings it up onto his shoulder. She repeats the order.

“You ain’t gonna shoot me,” Glenn says.

She shoots him in the right shoulder, he spins and falls and hits the ground hard. He sees the ambulance rolling into view just as his vision fades to black. The ride to the hospital is filled with brief glimpses of bright lights and paramedics leaning over him, holding gauze to his wounds and checking his vitals. He’s in and out of consciousness for the rest of the night.
_________________
I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.
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Glenn Douglas
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 12 Apr 2010
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Jobs: Gumshoe, Undertaker

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He awakes to the sound of muffled voices and buzzing lights. His eyes open to blurry vision and the white above him is so blinding that he thinks he’s died and gone to heaven -- which he knows isn’t true. Glenn has never truly repented his sins. Heaven’s gates would be forever closed to him. He sits up and wipes the sweat from his brow. Then he falls back down with a groan and metal braces clash together noisily beneath him. Glenn turns his head to one side, his cheek brushing against a pillowcase that felt like paper, and frowns at the quietly beeping machine that stood beside his bed. Its numbers and lines mean nothing to him. Glenn turns to start yanking at lines and cables and pauses, seeing a pair of handcuffs. One end is latched around his left wrist, the other around the metal rail along the side of his bed.

He resumes tearing equipment from his body. The beeping changes in frequency. He yanks hard with his left hand and the railing on the side of the bed tears free with a horrendous screech. Then he stumbles from the bed, across the floor, and smacks shoulder-first into the wall. The gown he wears is loose, a pale blue color. He doesn’t see any of his clothes, his bag, or anything else to wear. The door to his room opens with just a touch and he leans out to peek into the hallway. There’s a pain in his shoulder and his side. Dull aches that flare up whenever he breathes too deeply. The sheriff comes down the hall. He jumps back into the room and looks around, holding onto the broken piece of metal attached to his left wrist. He can hear her footsteps outside the door to his room. The handle turns and he scrambles around to the other side of the bed and shoves it toward the door.

Just as the sheriff gets it open, the bed comes hurtling her way and slams the door shut again. Then Glenn takes the length of metal in his hand and starts striking the windows with it. They shatter after a few swings and he grabs the chain of the handcuffs and starts to pull, teeth clenched. The links unbend and snap and he climbs over the pane of broken glass and out the window. It overlooks a parking lot. He’s on the second floor of a three-floor building. The sheriff’s truck is a handful of yards away and so he climbs out and holds on to grooves in the old brick and mortar building as the sheriff shouts at him from the other side of the door. She’s got it open now, and she moves past the bed and pokes her head out the window.

“What the *** are you doing?” she asks.

“Runnin’,” he answers.

He jumps and lands on dark asphalt. The ground hits him hard and he rolls with the impact. His head swims, his wounds ache and he has to remind himself that he’ll be fine in another day. So, he shakily gets to his feet as a man in a blue security guard uniform comes running at him with a stun gun and takes aim. The lines snap out and latch onto Glenn. He feels the current travel through his body and his muscles begin to spasm. His jaw tightens, he tears the lines away and advances on the guard, who scrambles back and fumbles for a baton at his belt. Glenn hesitates, eyes the guard for a moment, and then turns and runs toward the sheriff’s truck.

The window shatters under his fist. He climbs into the driver seat and reaches beneath the console, tearing away plastic and wires until he finds what he needs and the engine rumbles to life. By the time the sheriff gets down to the ground floor, Glenn’s pulling out of the parking lot in her truck and rumbling away down the dark country road.

He’s gone about five or ten miles before he pulls over and rests his head against the back of the seat. He looks out the window at the dark nothing stretching on for miles on end and wonders, not for the first time in his life, where he went wrong.
_________________
I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.
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Glenn Douglas
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


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Jobs: Gumshoe, Undertaker

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This world is cruel. It is empty in its meanings, harsh in its lessons, and unforgiving of your faults. It reminds men of their failures and hoists regret upon them. Man is cursed to forever wonder about “what ifs”. What if he’d done something different? What if he’d stayed at home? What if, what if, what if… Glenn sits there in the sheriff’s truck and wonders this for a while. He smokes a cigarette stolen from the glovebox and lit with a lighter in the console. The engine clicks and clacks as it settles into rest and the hollow, metal frame of the vehicle echoes with the howl of wind as it crosses over the empty flatlands stretching out to meet the night sky. Stars twinkle like they did when he was a boy, and they make him think of Brandon.

He thinks not of the specter that came to visit him during the last winter, but of Brandon the man. The brother, the father, the husband, the son. He sees him bleeding in the dirt, his head a red portrait of anger and betrayal, the entrance wound of a bullet drawing a line through the skull. It still makes his hands shake, so he sticks the cigarette between his lips and inhales while his freed-up hands go to grasp the steering wheel. He squeezes and twists and wishes it was the handlebars of his motorcycle he’s holding onto. Then he starts the engine and backs out onto the road. The headlights flicker on as he drives away from the darkness out east and heads westward, back into town.

There are patrol cars outside the hospital, their yellow paint fading and their blue and red lights dim as they flash against the pavement. A slew of officers in khaki uniforms turn to watch the truck pull by and back into a space. They stare dumbfounded as Glenn clambers out of the truck, still in his medical gown, and walks over to them on the tips of his toes. He doesn’t like the feeling of bare ground beneath his feet. Reminds of him of his life as an animal. He approaches a young man with blond hair and brown eyes. The young man smiles uneasily and pulls out a pair of handcuffs from his belt.

“That won’t be necessary,” Glenn tells him.

“After the stunt you pulled, I think – “ he stops short when Glenn lifts his left hand and shows him the bent-up remnants of the handcuffs that had bound him to the bed.

“Son,” Glenn says, “if I don’t wanna be held, you ain’t gonna hold me.”

The man puts the handcuffs away and nods slowly. “You turning yourself in?”

“For now. Where’s the sheriff?”

“Right here,” says the sheriff as she steps up after crossing the hospital parking lot. “You want to tell me what the hell that was back there?” she asks, shoving a finger into his face. Then she turns to the officer beside her and says, “And why the hell isn’t he in cuffs?”

The young man shrinks back under her stern gaze. “I mean, he broke the last pair, right?”

Glenn smirks. The sheriff scowls and heaves out the most exasperated sound he’s ever heard from a woman.

“Take me where you gotta take me,” Glenn says.

“You can’t be hurt that bad, considering what you just pulled,” she says.

“Guess this means you ain’t putting me back in a bed.”

“Nope.”

They arrive at the police station fifteen, maybe twenty minutes later. He’s seated inside an interrogation room with concrete walls painted white. The table in front of him is small, rectangular, and metal. He’s chained to it, and it’s bolted to the ground. His ankles are chained to the metal chair upon which he sits. They gave him his clothes back upon entering the station. He’s wearing them now.

Across the table from him sits Sheriff Maria Daniels. Her attention flicks between him and the folder stuffed with papers and forms in front of her.

“Glenn Douglas,” she says. “That’s your name, right?”

Glenn doesn’t answer.

“You’ve got some history, Glenn. What brings you all the way out here? Doesn’t seem like a man such as yourself would come all this way for the sights.”

“Story’s the same as the one I gave you when I first came to town,” Glenn says. “Just passing through. Needed a place to lay my head a few days.”

Either she believes him, or she decides he’s not going to tell her the truth. Instead of pursuing the subject, she asks, “So what happened at Pete’s?”

Glenn shrugs, leaning back in his chair. “Your guess is as good as mine.”

It goes on like that for a time. Pointed questions, evasive non-answers. Both get frustrated, Glenn almost tears the chains away and throttles her. She leaves and he’s alone for hours. Alone with his thoughts, with the image of a man beaten beyond recognition – not that Glenn recognized him before – with the flames engulfing Pete’s bar still fresh in his mind. He can almost feel the heat on his skin. It makes his hair prickle and stand on end, his arms itch with the sensation and he wants desperately to get away.

Just as he resumes entertaining the notion of slipping away, the door opens and the sheriff walks in alongside a much older man with gray hair that’s all in a mess. He has dark eyes that are surrounded by a ring of wrinkles, his upper lip is covered by a thick mustache and he wears an old hat that’s seen better days. He takes the hat off and sets it on the table. He thanks the sheriff before she leaves and then takes a seat in the chair opposite Glenn.

“Glenn Douglas,” the man says. “Been looking for you for a long time, son.”

“What for?” Glenn asks.

“Son, damn near every state from California to Virginia is looking to sit you with the death penalty. Even the ones who outlawed or got a moratorium on it. So why do you think I’ve been looking for you?”

Glenn settles back in the chair again and grinds his teeth slowly. “So, what badge are you sportin’, old timer?”

The man opens his denim jacket and shows off a glinting U.S. Marshal’s badge. A tin colored star with a ring around it and the words United States Marshal in blue letters upon that. Glenn studies the badge a moment and smiles.

“Montgomery Smithson,” the man says. “You can call me Monty.”

“Alright, Monty,” Glenn says. “Where do we go from here?”

“Just tell me about the last couple of days, and we’ll figure out the rest as it comes to us.”

Glenn shrugs and tells him. He tells Monty of his days traveling from town to town, sleeping here and there. He’s done odd work and a lot of resting under the stars. He came to town just a few days ago and Pete allowed him to stay in a cot in the back of the bar in exchange for cleaning up and playing the part of bouncer if things got a little rough. Then he tells Monty about waking up to the fire, about the man outside, about the sheriff, the shooting, the hospital, and his return. When it’s done, Monty lights a cigarette and passes it over. Glenn’s range of motion is limited but he reaches for it and bends down to stick it between his lips and inhales.

“There’s a problem with that story, son,” Monty says after lighting a second cigarette.

“What’s that?”

“That man you killed ain’t there. Coroner called as I got here, said the body’s gone missing. Know who he was?”

“Never seen him before. Seemed like he knew me though.”

“Pete’s got insurance,” the man says. “And he ain’t pressin’ charges. And without a body, we can’t charge you for murder.”

“So? You got a whole folder of my misdeeds here,” Glenn says. “***, you can retire on me. Looks like you’re close to it anyhow.”

“Don’t be an asshole,” Monty says. “I’m tryin’ to do you a favor.”

“What’s that?”

Glenn leans away as Monty stands and rounds the table. The marshal fishes a small set of keys from his jacket pocket and undoes the cuffs binding Glenn to the chains at the table and chair. Then he walks over to the door, opens it, and points out into the hall with a thumb.

“You’re free to go, son. The officer here will take you to get your things and send you on your way.”

“Why?”

“Because the past needs to stay there, sometimes. You need to worry about the future.”

Monty pats Glenn on the shoulder and turns out of the room. Glenn steps out after him and watches as the old marshal walks down the hall to where the sheriff waits. She scowls past him at Glenn, who can’t help but let out a quiet laugh as he turns to follow the young officer in the opposite direction.

The man who gives him his bag stands behind a counter with two-inch glass between them. He shoves the bag through the too-small slot and Glenn signs for it with a big X. Then he shoulders the bag as the officer leads him out of the station.

“Don’t suppose this town’s got a cab service?” Glenn asks.

“No it doesn’t.”

“Any chance I can get a ride back to Pete’s?”

The officer laughs and rolls his eyes before turning to step back into the station. The sheriff steps out and walks over to him.

“I’ll take you back,” she says. “And then I’m gonna watch you climb on that old bike of yours and get the hell out of my town.”
_________________
I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.
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Glenn Douglas
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 12 Apr 2010
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Jobs: Gumshoe, Undertaker

22828.58 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

His escort follows him for five miles. The sun’s a lot closer than it was the last time he was on the road, and he squints against the violent hues of red and orange that fill the eastward sky. The cool, early morning air is brisk and turns his cheeks and his knuckles red. Sheriff Daniel’s truck retreats in the reflection of a side-mirror, and he continues on for another ten minutes or so. Then he pulls off to the side of the road and knocks the kickstand down with his heel before twisting around in his seat to reach into a saddlebag. Out comes a folded up map of Arizona, and he spends some time trying to pinpoint his location.

He traces the road with the tip of a finger to the nearest town and folds the map back up. It gets tucked away into the saddlebag. He kicks the stand up, starts the engine again, and takes off.

An hour later, Glenn slows as he spots a truck on the side of the road. It’s an old Ford pickup. The hood is propped up and a man is bent over the old and dirty internals. He turns around as Glenn approaches, eying the gunslinger warily. Glenn kills the bike’s engine and climbs off, walking over with hands on his hips. He upnods to the truck.

“What’s wrong with it?”

The man stares at him with brown eyes that peek through greasy black hair. His face is rough and pockmarked and scarred. His skin’s like dried leather. Glenn reckons he’s twenty years younger than he looks, and he looks sixty.

“***, I don’t know,” the man says after a lengthy pause. He turns back to face the truck, gesturing with a grease stained hand toward the engine. “Gotta be the engine, checked damn near everything else.”

“Need me to call a tow truck?” Glenn asks.

“Nah, can’t afford the charges.”

“What are you gonna do?”

“Where you headed, son?” the man asks.

“Nowhere in particular. Next stop was Eden, just for gas and eats.”

“Eden?” the man cuts him a curious look with narrowing eyes. “You sure about that?”

“Something wrong with Eden?”

“It’s a ghost town. Nearest place that’s got any gas is about ten, fifteen miles back the way you came.”


“Can’t go back that way,” Glenn says. “What’s the closest headin’ north?”

“Oh…” he scratches his whiskery chin and shrugs. “Bylas. That’s twenty miles past Eden, following north. Ain’t much else. Little towns that ain’t incorporated here and there along the way, maybe. But I don’t typically go around to them, backwater folk. Can’t be trusted.”

“Where are you headed?” Glenn asks.

“Down to Safford, myself.”

“Anything I can do to help you out?”

The man studies him for a moment and shakes his head. “No, I’ll figure somethin’ out. You best get on your way.”

Glenn frowns at him, glances at the truck, and then says, “You got anyone expectin’ you down in Safford?”

“Family’s down there.”

“I can give you a ride.”

“It’s too outta your way.”

Glenn nods and pulls out his phone. He hands it over to the man, who studies it like he’s never seen one before.

“Call your wife, or one of your kids or whatever. Let someone know where you are.”

“Thanks,” the man says, and he steps toward the truck and taps hesitantly at the phone’s screen.

A handful of seconds pass, and he begins speaking. Glenn only catches one half of the conversation.

“Honey? It’s Bill...I ah...the truck’s shot, I’m on 70, between Pima and Eden...A young man pulled over and let me use his phone...Can you send Joe, have him come give me a tow?”

There’s a pause, Bill is quiet. “Thanks sweetheart. Love you too. I gotta give him his phone back now...Okay...Alright...Bye.”

He turns and hands the phone back over to Glenn.

“Thanks for that,” Bill says.

“No problem,” Glenn answers. “Thought you couldn’t afford a tow?”

“Joe’s my son. He’s got a big new pickup. Pretty sure it can haul mine.”

Glenn nods slowly and slips the phone into his pocket. “Well then, good luck.”

“You too,” the man says. “And remember, steer clear of Eden. Just head on to Bylas.”

“Thanks,” Glenn says, and he turns back to his motorcycle and climbs on board. Bill goes back to his truck and climbs into the cabin as Glenn turns the ignition and begins to pull off the side of the road, back onto the long stretch of highway.

All around him is a flat world. The ground is yellow and bleached by a hard, heavy sun. Pale and ghastly clouds of dirt and dust do the devil’s dance in the dry, dying patches of lifeless greenery that sprinkle the otherwise featureless landscape. He passes signs whose red paint is peeling and fading away. Occasionally he passes a lonesome house left in shambles, the dust devils doing their same playful dance in the skeletons of an old world long gone. The motorcycle and the wind are the only sounds he hears, and they sound quiet when lost in the open emptiness.

The highway goes up a hill. The climb gets steeper and steeper. He passes over and the land on the other side is gray, not yellow. There’s a dark pallor over the world as he descends the slope and comes level again with the horizon. He hears something else on the wind, and smells water and salt.

The sound is a low, quiet keening. It’s barely perceptible over the howl of the air rushing past him as he speeds along the pavement. Its pitch fluctuates between high and low and he wonders what it might be, when the quality changes altogether and he hears the sound of a honking horn. He blinks and the world is right again, and the dirt is yellow as the sun. He’s in the wrong lane and there’s a red Ford pickup barreling at him headlong. Glenn doesn’t have time to curse. He squeezes the brakes and jerks hard to the right. The motorcycle skids and jumps and then it starts to tip, and he throws all his weight to keep it upright. The ground tears through his jeans as he starts to skid across it, the weight of the machine pins his leg down so he can’t escape as it tears next into flesh and muscle until he slides over the side of the road, metal and tires screeching, dirt following him like a stormcloud, into a ditch. He sits there under the motorcycle and stares at the sun until his eyes water, his heart pounding in his chest. He can barely hear the sound of car doors closing, a voice that’s strangely familiar calling out to him.

“Son?” it calls. “Son! You alright?”

Glenn tips his head back as far as he can and sees the old man running toward him, Bill was his name, he remembers.

“Bill?” he says as the man gets closer. “You got your truck runnin’?”

“What?” Bill asks, perplexed.

“Your truck,” Glenn says. “It’s runnin’.”

“Don’t worry about that, son. Hold tight,” Bill walks around and grabs the motorcycle by the handlebars. He hauls the vehicle up and then lets it fall over in the opposite direction. It crashes loudly into the dirt again. Bill sees the state of Glenn’s left leg and inhales sharply. “Jesus.”
_________________
I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.
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View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
Glenn Douglas
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 12 Apr 2010
Posts: 206
See this user's pet
Jobs: Gumshoe, Undertaker

22828.58 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 3:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Come on up,” Bill grabs Glenn by the forearm and hoists him up and onto his feet. Glenn leans forward into the man for a moment and tests his feet. His ankle’s sore and his leg is an open, raw wound. But he’s standing. It hurts, there’s dirt and rocks stuck to the exposed, raw and bloody flesh and even the air makes it burn. He hisses quietly and looks down at his bike.

“Let me give you a ride,” Bill says. “Take too long to get an ambulance out here, and I owe you one. Get you to a hospital and get that leg looked at.”

Glenn nods and gestures to his truck. “Back that over here then?”

“We ain’t got nothing to lift your bike with, son. You’ll have to leave it here. Relax, I can bring you back to get it later. No one’s gonna come snatch it up.”

“Just back the truck up,” Glenn says as he limps over to the knocked over motorcycle and lifts it up to a standing position again. He pops the kickstand down and leans against the bike while Bill, mumbling under his breath, hurries over with a kind of awkward shuffle to climb into his truck. It backs up toward the side of the road.

Glenn takes his keys from the ignition of the motorcycle and pockets them. Bill comes around and lowers the door to the truck bed and watches with upraised brows as Glenn, with his jaw set in a tight grimace, lifts the motorcycle up overhead and shoves it into the back of the truck. Bill closes the door and pats it once, then gives it a shake to make sure it’s secure, and walks back over to the driver side and climbs into the cab. Glenn climbs in on the passenger side and Bill starts the engine again. They roll along.

“Didn’t reckon you was so strong,” Bill says. “You don’t look it.”

“I exercise a lot,” Glenn says.
“It’ll be a bit before we get to Safford. So just sit tight, I’ll get you there as quick and smooth as I can.”

“Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it. What happened, anyhow? Could see you swervin’ while I was still a mile out.”

Glenn, who up until this point had been staring out the window and watching the flat landscape pass on by, turns to look at Bill. “Don’t know,” he says. “My eyes were playin’ tricks on me. Whole world seemed like it was on the verge of some great disaster, like the sky and the earth were gonna open at the same time and swallow us all whole.”

Bill doesn’t seem to know what to say to that. He glances uneasily at the man from the corner of his eye. Glenn leans to the side, his head presses against the cool window. The road is smooth out here, the ride’s an easy one for how rickety and old the truck is. A sign zips by and Glenn blinks at it.

“Thought we were going to Safford,” Glenn says.

“We are,” Bill answers.

Glenn frowns. “Ain’t Safford south?”

“Sure is.”

“And when I met you, you were on the way there. When your truck was dead.”

“That’s right,” Bill glances at him again and smiles. “Your head all fuzzy or somethin’?”

“I was headed north, up past Eden.”

“That’s what you said.”

“Then how come I find you southbound when we’d already passed each other?”

“Beats me,” Bill says. “I figured you’d turned around and got lost or somethin’.”

Glenn shifts uncomfortably in his seat and looks out the window again. He starts to scan the road ahead of him for more signs. Eventually, he sees one that reads: Eden, 5 Miles

“Bill, right?”

“Oh, that’s right,” Bill says, extending a hand to Glenn while his other remains on the will. “William Fogerty. Folks call me Bill.”

Glenn shakes his hand.

“What’s your name?” Bill asks.

“Tell me why we’re headed north, Bill. When Safford’s south.”

Bill’s smile fades and he nods toward the road. “We ain’t going to Safford.”

“Where are we going?”

“Eden.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know,” Bill says. “But I know that’s where I gotta take you. Nothin’ personal.”

“Who put you up to this?”

Bill’s lips purse. His mouth becomes a thin line.

“They tell you who I am?”

He nods.

“Then you should know, Bill, that I’ll kill you without a second thought if the whim strikes me. So how about we pull over?”

“Can’t,” Bill says. “It really ain’t personal, son. I gotta do what they tell me.”

“Who’s they?”

“Well it’s the Kings, of course. Who else would do somethin’ like this?”

“The Kings?”

“You ain’t heard of them?”

“I’m not from around here, Bill.”

“Well, I don’t know how, but the Kings sure as *** have heard of you, son.”

“What do they want with me?”

“Not for me to say,” Bill says. “I just do my part. For the good of all.”
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I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.
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Glenn Douglas
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eden reminds Glenn of York upon first seeing it. It’s a town stuck in the past. Most of the roads are dirt. The buildings have been around for too many generations. They weren’t meant to last as long as they have. Like the sick and infirm on support, they cling to the last vestiges of life only according to the whims of their inhabitants. The sun beats high, the paint of signs and storefronts has been bleached. The resemblance stops there. The people are more modern in their dress. Not by much, but Glenn can’t recall ever seeing anyone sporting a sleeveless shirt with a confederate flag on it and the band Lynyrd Skynrd in stylized print in York. The town’s largest paved road is flanked on either side by a myriad of old rusty cars, some abandoned and some still somehow serviceable. He can tell by the layer of grime on the windshields. On some, it’s got to be an inch thick, he reckons, whereas others only have the light dusting of a day or two’s drive.

Old Bill drives him straight down this road toward a building with a yard of sun scorched grass littered with pickup trucks. The building’s paint is fresher than the rest of the town, it’s red and white but still peeling and well on its way into disrepair. Windows are boarded up in places where the back of air conditioning units aren’t sticking out. Bill drives the truck off the road and into the yard. He pulls up to park at the end of a line of similar old pickups. He honks twice, and gives Glenn a look.

“It’s nothin personal, son,” he explains, his hands twisting up and in on themselves as he speaks. “You seem like a nice man, but I ain’t got a choice.”

“Suppose you don’t,” Glenn glances at Bill for a moment, but movement draws his eye toward the opening door.

Two men step out wearing biker cuts of dark leather. Patches over the breast are illegible from a distance, but he can guess at what they read.

“The Kings?” he asks Bill.

Bill nods and steps out of the truck. He walks over to the two men and keeps his chin tucked in toward his chest. Glenn shifts in his seat, looks down at the raw muscle and flesh of his leg, and grits his teeth as he shoves the truck door open and climbs out. His first step is weak and he stumbles against the door, but he rights himself and limps around the front of the pickup to approach Bill and the two Kings, who look at him with dark eyes and grim expressions, like men who are attending a funeral.

“Let’s get this over with,” Glenn halts with just a few feet of space between him and the three men. “I’m Glenn Douglas. Who the *** are you, and what do you want?”

One of the two men, younger by at least half a decade than the other, tightens his jaw as he closes the distance and sucker punches Glenn in the stomach. Glenn feels the air rush out and he bows forward, and the man sneers. He can hear it. He can also smell it, the whisky on his breath, the humidity added to the air when the man’s expression makes him exhale. Glenn lurches forward and headbutts the man in the nose, and he goes sprawling back. His face is red and bloodied and his hands clamp over a broken bit of bone between his eyes, while Glenn straightens up and tries his best to keep the weight off his injured leg. He looks at the older of the Kings. He looks at Bill, whose face has gone pale. The poor old man takes a step toward his truck, and the older King smiles a small smile.

“Let’s get your bike down, yeah?” he’s got a voice like thunder. He speaks quietly but is heard despite this, it echoes in Glenn’s chest. It’s not the older biker who’s talking, but someone else who’s just stepped out of the red and white building. It’s a young man with dark hair in a leather jacket.

“You,” Glenn says, though he hardly recognizes him now. His face, last they met, had been a red mess.

“Sorry about this,” he says, gesturing at the bikers and Bill. “You didn’t give me a chance to explain myself back at Pete’s, so I arranged to have this little chat. Come inside? Want a drink? We got beer, or whisky, if that’s your thing.”

“Remember what happened last time?” Glenn asks.

“Vividly.”

“Then you’re some kind of stupid.”

“Shut up, you arrogant ***,” says the biker on the ground. His voice is nasally, like a man with a cold. Glenn looks down at him, spits, and when the man starts to shout something else obscene, he kicks him in the chest. He shuts up. The other biker is beginning to lose his patience. He’s leaning forward a little, his nostrils flare. He doesn’t blink. An attack dog, ready to be set loose.

“Thirty seconds,” Glenn says.

“I want you to work for me,” the young man answers.

“Doing what, exactly?”

“Whatever it is that needs doing.”

“What’s the pay?”

“Well,” the young man smiles and rubs the back of his head. “There isn’t any pay, I’m afraid. Not at first.”

“No,” Glenn turns and steps around Bill’s truck. “Bill, lower the gate.”

“Go ahead Bill,” the young man says.

Bill walks over and with shaking hands, produces his keychain. He fumbles for a moment, then unlocks the gate to the truck bed and pulls it down. Glenn starts to drag his motorcycle out.

“I need you, Glenn,” the young man says as he walks around to lean on the side of the truck. “Man of your skill, your strength, your determination. You’re invaluable.”

“Yet you ain’t gonna pay me.”

“You won’t want for anything,” he says. “I can’t give you any money, but I can give you food, shelter. You don’t have to spend so much time on the road, in *** motels or on the side of the road.”

Glenn looks over at the red and white building. “I’ve slept in cleaner ditches than this ***,” he says.

“Look,” the young man says. “Come with me, one job. See what it’s like. What we're about. You don’t have to do anything, just watch. No commitment. If you do that, I can pay you a little. As a show of good faith. But after that, the money’s dried up for a few months.”

“Your time’s up,” Glenn says as he rights the motorcycle and throws a leg up over it. He winces only slightly. “If I see you again I’m puttin a bullet in you. Don’t know how you’re standin now, don’t know what spooky *** you got goin on, but I ain’t interested. I know what it takes to kill the dead.”

“Glenn,” the man walks up, puts a hand on his shoulder, and smiles. “Be reasonable.”

“What’s your name?” Glenn asks.

“Jacob,” he says.

“Well, Jacob,” Glenn starts the engine. “Go to hell.”

Jacob sighs and takes a step back. He nods to the bikers. The younger one has gotten to his feet again. His face is streaked with lines of blood. They approach Bill and each grabs one of his arms. Then they slam him chest-first against the truck. He starts to struggle, he starts to shout something—maybe a sound of surprise, maybe a plea for help, or mercy. Whatever it is, it’s cut short when the biker with the bloodied nose slams Bill’s head against the side of the truck and yells at him to shut up.

Glenn hesitates.

Jacob smiles.

“I’d hoped it wouldn’t come to this,” Jacob says.

“You think I give a *** about this old man?” Glenn asks. “He’s the one who brought me to you. Lied to me. *** him.”

“You really are all piss and vinegar still, aren’t you?”

“Who the *** are you?”
_________________
I go on journeys out of my body and look at my red hands and my mean face and I wonder about that man who's gone so wrong.
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