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novels by George W. Parker The Krew Death;Juxtaposed The Letters Conversations at Night Vanishing Trick The Boy in the Box
Conversations at Night By George W. Parker
Copyright 2012-2013 George W. Parker Scrib ! ition
A rights reserved! No part o" this #ook $ay #e reproducedin any "or$ without the per$ission o" %eorge &! 'arker!
Scribd Edition, License Notes "his ebook is license #or yo$r personal en%oy&ent only. "his ebook &ay not be re-sol or given a'ay to other people. (# yo$ 'o$l like to share this book 'ith another person) please p$rchase an a itional copy #or each recipient. (# yo$*re rea ing this book an i not p$rchase it) or it 'as not p$rchase #or yo$r $se only) then please ret$rn to S&ash'or s.co& an p$rchase yo$r o'n copy. "hank yo$ #or respecting the har 'ork o# this a$thor.
Special Note +rkansas is a real place. +s is !gypt. ( kno') ( gre' $p there. B$t this is a 'ork o# #iction. +ll the inci ents an characters in this novel are entirely #ictitio$s) an no re#erence is inten e to any act$al person) living or ea . (t,s %$t that every story has to take place so&e'here so ( set this one in an area 'here ( kno' the 'eather. GWP
Contents Part 1 - Life -1./0-1.123 4r$gs) Se5 an 6iolence.
()verything is #eauti"u * in it+s own way!, -ay .tevens
Part 2 - Art -1.12-1.123 + &an 'ants to be re&e&bere .
(/ we can think a#out these $atters !!!, The Ants 0 1o do# er and &i son
Part 3 - Civilization -Be#ore 1./03 Pro#iles in Co$rage.
(No $an $akes opportunity!, .ea &o "* &o " Larson* 2 Jack London
Part 1 - Life
Chapter 1 - Dann 4anny 'as stone ) 'ire an bore . (t 'as nearly &i night. 7e 'as resse an stan ing in the &i le o# his be roo& trying to eci e 'hat to o. "he past three ays he ha spent partying 'ith #rien s) balancing his r$g intake to stretch his ays o$t as long as possible. "he #rien s ha crashe so he ha gone ho&e to his 8o&,s an 4a *s place. 7e 'ent to the 'in o') p$lle $p the sash an cli&be o$t into the col +rkansas night. 9$tsi e he stoo on a lo' rolling rise ne5t to a gravel roa . +s #ar as he co$l see 'as #ar&lan . (n the istance there 'as an occasional #ar& ho$se light. 4anny cli&be into his tr$ck an hea e to to'n. "he tr$ck bo$nce an sli its 'ay along the gravel roa to'ar the high'ay. 4anny rolle an lit a %oint as he steere . 7e stoppe at the intersection 'here the gravel roa hit the high'ay an took a eep rag o## the %oint. +rnol *s store 'as to the right) :at*s service station 'as iagonal across the high'ay. 7e o'ne both the resta$rant an la$n ry north o# that. "here 'ere a #e' ho$ses alongsi e the high'ay. !verything 'as close ) only a night-light here an there. 4anny e5hale . 7e ease o## the cl$tch an crosse over the high'ay to the la$n ry. 7e p$lle $p in #ront) an parke parallel to the glass #ront oor. (t 'as a t'enty-#o$r la$n ry. (ts interior 'as lit by a pair o# 2; inch #lorescent t$bes. :at ha p$t in the la$n ry a #e' years earlier. (t 'as a single coin operate 'asher an a coin-operate ryer. "here 'as a #or&ica-toppe table #or #ol ing clothes an
t'o 'hite plastic chairs. (t ha pai #or itsel# several ti&es over. 4anny st$bbe o$t his %oint an cli&be o$t o# the tr$ck. 7e 'alke over to the oor) p$she it open an 'alke in. 7e 'ent over to the 'ash &achine. (ts li 'as close . 7e opene it an looke in. (t 'as e&pty. 7e %iggle the coin sli e an the coin rop bo5. "hen he grabbe the lip o# the t$b an p$lle the 'ash &achine a'ay #ro& the 'all. (t 'as light an &ove easily. 4anny reache behin an $npl$gge the &achine. 7e t$rne o## the hot an col 'ater at the 'all) $nhooke the hoses an roppe the& to the #loor behin the &achine. 7e 'alke back o$tsi e. 7e reache over the right tr$ck #en er into the tr$ck be an p$lle $p a to' chain. <4a&n) it*s col . ( sho$l have bro$ght so&e gloves.= 7e carrie the chain back insi e the la$n ry. (n #ront o# the 'ash &achine 4anny roppe the chain to the #loor) grabbe the lip o# the t$b again an sli the &achine si e'ays so that there 'as plenty o# space all aro$n it. 7e picke $p the chain) loope it $p high aro$n the &achine an set the catch hook sec$rely. 7e picke $p the #ree en o# the chain an stretche it o$t the oor to the tr$ck. <Shit.= 7e nee e a little &ore length to tie the chain aro$n the to' bar. <:$ck.= 7e roppe the chain) 'ent back insi e) grabbe the 'ash &achine an p$lle it three steps closer to the oor. 7e 'as &aking a lot o# noise b$t no one hear hi& yet. 7e latche the chain to the to' bar) got back in the tr$ck an starte $p the engine. 7e ease o## the cl$tch an took $p the slack in the chain. 7e co$l hear the 'ash &achine &ove along the #loor insi e.
4anny #loore the accelerator. "he tr$ck tires sp$n then took hol an the tr$ck l$rche #or'ar accelerating. "he 'ash &achine %$&pe across the la$n ry #loor. (t hit the oor'ay an e5plo e the glass oor an rippe the #ra&e #ro& the 'all. "he tr$ck 'as in secon gear 'hen it hit the high'ay pave&ent hea ing north. "he 'ash &achine #ollo'e behin 'ith shrieks an sparks. >ights ca&e on all aro$n to'n. !veryone hear hi& no'. 4anny an the 'ash &achine 'ere 'ell $p the roa 'hen he stoppe . 7e %$&pe o$t o# the tr$ck an ran aro$n to the 'ash &achine. 7e %erke the chain o## an tosse it into the tr$ck be . 7e %$&pe back in the cab) #loore the gas an t$rne o## the tr$ck lights as he contin$e to hea north. +t Co$nty >ine ?oa he t$rne le#t an hea e 'est. 7e co$l not stop la$ghing.
Chapter 2 - Darrell "he school in !gypt) +rkansas ha a split ter&. (t let o$t $ring the spring #or planting an in the #all #or harvesting. (t 'as s$&&er an school 'as in. 4arrell stoo in the s$nshine on the so$th si e o# the high school b$il ing. 7e 'as 'aiting #or classes to res$&e a#ter l$nch. "all an thin) nervo$sly shi#ting his 'eight #ro& #oot to #oot) he 'ore a long-sleeve bl$e cha&bray shirt b$ttone $p to the neck) bl$e %eans an black brogans. "he shirtsleeves an pant legs 'ere rolle $p a co$ple o# t$rns e5posing the rib knitte en s o# his long han les. "he tops o# his 'hite socks 'ere rolle o'n e5posing an inch gap o# $ncovere skin. 4arrell 'as in the tenth gra e. 7e 'as t'enty years ol . +t so&e point the school a &inistration eci e to stop
#ailing hi&. 7is a vancing age 'as create so&e i##ic$lties. + co$ple o# his yo$nger class&ates ca&e over. "hey 'ere resse #or the s$&&er 'eather in %eans an shortsleeve shirts. <7ey 4arrell) 'atch y$h oing@= one o# the boys aske . <+h) ah) ah)= 4arrell sta&&ere ) his voice &$ch eeper than the yo$nger boy*s) <y$h nee to leave &e alone.= 7e i not &ake eye contact as he talke . <Why 4arrell@ We ain*t oin* nothin* to y$h)= the other boy e5plaine . <A$h nee to leave &e alone)= 4arrel repeate shi#ting his 'eight #ro& #oot to #oot a little #aster than be#ore. <7ell 4arrell) 'e %$st 'ante to ask i# y$h got a look at 8rs. Cook this &orning@= <=Aea) those big ol* knockers o# hers really look goo to ay.= Both boys la$ghe nervo$sly at the tho$ght o# their teacher*s breasts. <No) no) no)= 4arrell shook his hea nervo$sly) looking #or a 'ait to escape the B$estioning. <A$h nee to leave &e alone.= :ro& behin the t'o boys 4arrell,s yo$nger brother trotte $p silently an gave the& a big shove) al&ost knocking the& o## their #eet. <What are y$h oin* to 4arrell@= ?ay&on e&an e . ?ay&on 'as shorter an stockier than 4arrell an in the eleventh gra e altho$gh three years yo$nger. 7e 'as resse si&ilar to 4arrell b$t 'itho$t the long han les. <What are y$h* oin*@= <7ell ?ay&on ) 'e ain*t oing nothin*) %$st talkin*.= <"hen get the hell the o$t,a hereC= ?ay&on or ere . "he boys h$stle o$t o# the area. <4arrell) y$h okay@= ?ay&on aske . <+h) ah) #ine) yeah) #ine)= 4arrell no e . <9kay) goo )= ?ay&on s&ile . <(*ll see y$h on the b$s later.=
<Aeah) yeah) on the b$s) later)= 4arrell ans'ere .
Chapter 3 - !err "he co$nty %ail 'as ol b$t serviceable. (t 'as clean) the in&ates kept it that 'ay. "he tr$stees &a e s$re the in&ates o# it. Derry 'as one o# the tr$stees. !veryone ne' hi&. Derry 'as serving si5 &onths ti&e over so&e ba checks. Serving ti&e 'as easier than riving tractor or picking cotton. Derry ha one a lot o# #ar& 'ork in 21 years an i n*t like it. 7e ha been in %ail a #e' ti&es too. Dail 'ork 'as $s$ally easier. <Gri erC= a ep$ty calle #ro& the #ront o# the %ail. Derry steppe into the hall #ro& his cell. <Aes sirC= he calle back. <Boss nee s yo$. Get $p hereC= <Aes sir)= Derry calle h$stling $p to the o##ice. "he ep$ty sat behin a esk. 7e tosse a set o# car keys to Derry. <Boss nee s his yar &o'e . Get one o# the tr$cks an a &o'er over there an take care o# it .= <Aes sirC= Derry grinne . <(*ll take care o# it.= <7eyC= the ep$ty stoppe Derry. <(# the Sheri##*s 'i#e is ho&e yo$ ask her i# it*s okay. Boss oesn*t 'ant yo$ &aking a b$nch o# noise an bothering her.= <Aes sirC ( 'on*t bother her sir.= Derry a##ir&e an hea e o$t the oor. (t 'as a bea$ti#$l ay o$tsi e. + great ay to be alive. + great ay to be a tr$stee. Derry ha been oing the Sheri##*s yar #or si5 'eeks no'. 7e ha been oing the Sheri##*s 'i#e #or #ive 'eeks. 7e ha n*t spoken to his o'n 'i#e $ring the three &onths he ha been in %ail.
Chapter " - Darrell <Boy) get back here an #i5 so&e l$nchC= "he sho$ting voice 'as thin an the 'or s not spoken cleanly b$t they &eant b$siness. <+ss hole)= ?ay&on s'ore $n er his breath. B$t he i n*t &ove to ans'er the or er. 7e 'as seate in the o$tho$se 10 yar s north'est o# the ho$se. "he shotg$n ho$se 'here the sho$t ha co&e #ro& 'as set $p o## the gro$n on short 'oo en blocks. (t #ace east an 'as thirty #eet back #ro& the high'ay. "he e5terior 'as ro$gh #inishe planking. "he roo# 'as tin. (t ha a porch #acing the roa . +t the #ront corners o# the porch the roo# 'as s$pporte by 252s. :ro& each s$pport back to the ho$se) abo$t #o$r #eet above the porch) ran a 252 brace. 9n the so$th si e 'as a large copse o# oak trees 'ith heavy $n ergro'th. "o the 'est an north o# the ho$se 'ere c$ltivate cotton #iel s. (t 'as Sat$r ay a#ternoon. 4arrell 'as o$tsi e rela5ing on the #ront porch. 7e 'as laying on the right han 252 brace. "he #ront 'in o' 'as near hi&. "he $nscreene lo'er 'in o' sash 'as raise . "he open #ront oor 'as o## to the le#t. "he hot breeEe #ro& the so$th br$she over hi&. "he #irst roo& 'as 4arrell,s be roo&. ?ay&on an their a ) Geral ) slept in the &i le roo&. "he back roo& 'as the kitchen. +gainst the le#t 'all) $n er a 'in o') 'as an oak ining table 'ith three &is&atche chairs aro$n it. Geral sat at the table. 7e 'as thin) $nshave ) his hair tangle . 7is overalls 'ere irty an he 'as shirtless in the heat. <BoyC= he sho$te again.
"here 'as a bl$e ena&el co##ee pot) co##ee c$p an nearly e&pty bottle o# 'hiskey setting on the table. Geral reache #or his c$p. "here 'asn*t &$ch air &oving in the kitchen. Geral sippe #ro& his c$p. <4a&n 'orthless shit)= he s'ore B$ietly as there 'as no reply. 7e sat the c$p o'n on the table an stoo slo'ly $p $sing the table to p$sh $p against. (t took hi& a'hile to get #$lly straightene $p. 7ol ing onto the back o# a chair Geral stea ie hi&sel#. 7e &ove his han an took hol o# the oor #acing into the center roo& an care#$lly steppe a'ay #ro& the table. When ?ay&on steppe o$t o# the o$tho$se he hear his #ather roar at 4arrell an hear 4arrell screa&. "hen he sa' 4arrell rolling on the gro$n at the #ront o# the ho$se. ?ay&on sprinte #or'ar . Geral stoo on the porch leaning over the rail sho$ting at 4arrell. <Go a&n it boy. Git $p 'hen ( tell y$h to git $p. +n stop that go a&n screa&ingC A$h* think (* kille y$h.= 4arrell p$lle hi&sel# into a tight sitting position 'ith his ar&s 'rappe aro$n his legs) his knees p$lle tightly into his chest. 7e 'as not screa&ing) he 'as crying. ?ay&on ran $p an roppe to his knees besi e 4arrell. <4arrell) y$h ok@ >ook at &eC +re y$h ok@= 4arrell looke at ?ay&on an no e his hea sta&&ering) <+h) ah) ah F ah)= b$t co$l n*t speak. ?ay&on looke $p to his #ather) <Wat,ch y$h pick on hi& #or@= <D$st tryin, to get hi& to act like a &an.= <>ike yo$@= <"he only one aro$n here.= ?ay&on stoo $p) his #ace re an istorte 'ith rage) an he helpe 4arrell to his #eet. 7e looke $p at his #ather. <4on*t y$h every to$ch hi& again. 4o y$h hear &e ol &an. (# y$h o) (*ll git y$h. (*ll git y$h 'hen yo$*re sleepin,
or (*ll git yo$ 'hen yo$*re in the shitho$se. B$t ( 'ill git y$h. +n yo$ 'on*t like it &$ch.= <Big talk #or a boy)= Geral replie B$ietly. B$t that 'as all he sai in reply. 7e t$rne an &ove slo'ly back into the ho$se as ?ay&on br$she the irt o## o# 4arrell.
Chapter # - $enn %&itch "he trees stoo threa bare. "he #iel s 'ere barren. "he 4ece&ber 'eather 'as &iserable. (t 'as col . + contin$o$s riEEle ha been #alling #or t'o ays. (t 'as getting ark. "he car heater only ble' col air. "he heater coil in the */1 Gala5ie 'as broken. Genny) the river) 'as b$n le $p against the col in a big coat an orange h$nting hat. 8itch) ri ing in the passenger*s si e) 'as not resse as 'ell. 8itch ha r$n o$t o# the ho$se 'ith %$st a s'eater as protection against the 'eather. "hey 'ere both 1. an ha been #rien s #or years. "hey 'ere on their 'ay to &eet $p 'ith another school b$ y) 4anny. + si5-pack o# 8il'a$kee*s Best sat on the seat bet'een the&. "hey 'ere a #e' &iles north o# !gypt hea ing so$th on the high'ay. <Go a&n) it*s col in here)= 8itch s'ore. 7e reache over an &esse 'ith the heater controls. <Won*t o no goo )= Genny la$ghe . 7e la$ghe a lot. 7e 'as stone . <ShitC= 8itch c$sse an 'rappe his ar&s tightly against his bo y. <(* be 'ar&er i# ( roll the 'in o' o'nC Des$s.= Genny la$ghe . <Sh$t the #$ck $p.= Genny la$ghe . <?oll another one)= he s$ggeste . <+n rink a beer. 8aybe that*ll 'ar& yo$ $p.= <Shit) it can*t h$rt.=
Genny reache into his coat pocket an p$lle o$t a baggie an papers an tosse the& over to 8itch. 8itch B$ickly ha a %oint rolle an lit. "he car*s lighter 'as in goo 'orking shape. 7e tosse the li on the seat besi e the beer as he took a eep rag. 7e passe the %oint to Genny an opene one o# the beers. Genny took a hit an han e the %oint back so he ha a han #ree to open a beer. +#ter a co$ple o# passes Genny aske ) <Better no'@= 8itch s&ile an then la$ghe ) <Aea) better no'.= <Goo )= Genny la$ghe . <When 'e get to 4anny*s 'e can 'ar& $p.= <(*& goo )= 8itch s&ile . (n a co$ple o# &in$tes they reache !gypt an slo'e o'n. Where the state high'ay c$rve east thro$gh to'n he t$rne 'est o## the high'ay onto the co$nty roa an slo'e o'n even &ore. "he gravel roa 'as pitte ) pot hole ) an ribbe like a 'ashboar . "he Gala5ie bo$nce an shivere its 'ay along the &$ y trek. <Des$s)= 8itch s'ore. <"his is the crappiest roa .= <( on*t kno')= Genny la$ghe . <Co$nty >ine ?oa s$cks a big one too.= <"hat,s tr$e)= 8itch agree . <B$t 'e ain*t on Co$nty >ine ?oa . "hat a&n #iel o$t there 'o$l be s&oother than this.= "hen looking aro$n the car seat he aske ) <Where i that a&n %oint go@ 4i ( rop it@ 4i yo$@= Genny 'hippe the steering 'heel to the le#t an the big Gala5ie bo$nce across the roa ) over the shallo' itch an into the b$sh hogge cotton #iel . (t i n*t go #ar be#ore it 'as b$rie $p to the a5les in &$ . <What the #$ck are yo$ oin,@= 8itch sho$te . <D$st trying to #in a s&ooth spot)= Genny s&ile . <Sorry.= <What are 'e goin, to o no'@= 8itch sho$te back. <We have a kilo o# ope in the tr$nk) a h$n re 'hite
crosses $n er the seat an yo$ get $s st$ck in the &i le o# a #iel . 4on*t 'e look bright@H <7ey F hey) it*s okay. (t*s okay)= Genny soothe . <4anny*s ho$se is %$st $p there. 7e*ll p$ll $s o$t.= 8itch cal&e o'n a little) b$t not &$ch. <Well) yo$ 'alk the #$ck $p there an tell his parents yo$*re stone an r$nk yo$ p$lle o## the roa into the &i le o# the go a&ne #iel . (*& not going, (*ll sit here an 'ait.= <7ey F it*s okay)= Genny soothe . <(*ll go get 4anny. 7ave another beer. (t*ll be okay.= "he rain 'as still #alling b$t a lot slo'er. "he Gala5ie 'as back on the roa ) r$nning an it*s hea lights pointe back to'ar the high'ay. Both Genny an 8itch stoo at the rear o# the car 'here 4anny 'as $nhooking the to' chain. 4anny #ree $p the &$ y chain an tosse it into the back o# his tr$ck. 7e 'ipe his glove han s on his ins$late overalls. <Ao$ both o'n &e a li #or p$lling yo$ o$t o# this. (t*s col as shit o$t here.= 8itch &$&ble soðing abo$t Genny that 4anny i n*t hear. Genny no e in agree&ent to 4anny*s price. "hen he sai ) <4anny) let*s get the hell o$t o# here. We nee to get to the ho$se an b$st $p this kilo. +n b$rn a little bit a o# it.= 7e la$ghe . 4anny la$ghe too. <9kay. >et &e get one o# yo$r beers an (*ll #ollo' yo$. (*& not going to ri e in that icebo5 o# yo$rs.= <4anny) (*ll ri e 'ith yo$)= 8itch pitche in. <7ey)= Genny starte b$t 8itch interr$pte . <7ey F it*ll be okay)= 8itch soothe so$n ing %$st like Genny. 4anny la$ghe . <Bring so&e ope 'ith yo$. >et*s get o$t o# here.=
Chapter ' - (illard <7ey Dean)= a eep voice sho$te #ro& the #ront. <We nee so&e &ore B$ s $p here.= Bob Ging*s is abo$t ten &iles 'est o# !gypt near S'i#ton. (t is a bar) grill an ance hall &a e $p #ro& t'o a %oining b$il ings. "he bar an grill is in an ol er b$il ing #inishe 'ith bro'n #iel stone. "he #ront oor #aces the roa 'ith a co$ple o# large 'in o's on either si e. "he #ront has several booths an the bar) along 'ith the grill) in the back. <Aea) okayI be there in a sec)= Dean replie #ro& across the roo&. She 'as t'enty-eight) &e i$& height 'ith sho$l er length bleache blon hair one $p in og-ears. She p$lle three beers #ro& the cooler) poppe the tops an 'alke the& $p to the #ront o# the ca#J. Sitting in the booth 'aiting on the beers 'ere Willar ) his yo$nger brother Di&&y an their $n er age co$sin Carl. Di&&y an Carl sat opposite Willar 'ho #ace the oor. Willar 'as thirty years ol an lai o## #ro& the bo5 #actory. "ypically he 'o$l 'ork a 'eek or t'o then he 'o$l be lai o## #or a &onth or so. Di&&y 'orke part ti&e at a gas station in S'i#ton. 7e 'as t'enty-t'o. Co$sin Carl 'as seventeen) p$t looke thirty. 7e ha no tro$ble getting serve in every bar in the co$nty. 7e rove tractor #or his #ather. +s Dean 'alke to their table Willar eye her #ro& hea to #oot. She 'as 'earing a light bl$e 'estern shirt 'ith the sleeves rolle $p al&ost to her sho$l ers. "he shirt*s tail 'as tie together $p $n er her breasts so her &i ri## ha a&ple e5pos$re an her breasts a&ple presentation. 7er c$t o## >evi*s 'ere short eno$gh to give an e5cellent vie' o# her cheeks.
She reache the table) sat beers o'n in #ront o# Willar an Di&&y an then stretche over to serve Carl 'ho sat insi e against the #ar 'all. Willar B$ickly reache o$t an c$ppe her right tit in his le#t han . "hro$gh the shirt &aterial he rolle her nipple bet'een his th$&b an #ore#inger. Dean leis$rely straightene $p an re&ove Willar *s han . <4on*t han le the &erchan ise $nless yo$*re b$ying.= Willar looke at her s&iling #ace an ban ie back) <7o' can ( tell i# ( 'ant to b$y it i# ( can*t #eel it #irst@= <(# it ain*t too har ) $se yo$r i&agination)= she ret$rne ) contin$ing to s&ile. <(t ain*t too har ) yet)= Willar ans'ere . <+n ( o got better things to $se than &y i&agination.= <(K& s$re yo$ o)= Dean giggle . "hen she bent back over the tale to pick $p the e&pties. Willar reache aro$n behin her 'ith his le#t han an slippe it insi e her shorts) caressing her right cheeke as it 'orke its 'ay in'ar s. Witho$t a t'itch Dean contin$e gathering the e&pty bottles. When she ha the&) she stoo $p an s&ile at Willar an Di&&y an Carl. <(# ya*ll all 'ant anything else) %$st holler.= "hen she t$rne an 'alke B$ickly a'ay leaving Willar *s hang hanging in the air. <9hhh) Go a&n)= Willar &oane . <We gotta* get so&e o# that boys. "hat 'as hot. 7o' &$ch &oney 'e got@= +ll three starte igging #or their 'allets. 9ver at the bar a cre' c$t) heavy set &an abo$t #orty#ive years ol rose $p o## his stool. 7e t$gge at his belt) p$lling his tro$ser $p an 'alke to the #ront booth. 7e stoppe in #ront o# Willar . 7is #ists 'ere clenche tightly. <Who in the #$ck o yo$ think yo$ are@= he e&an e . <Na&e*s Willar an this here is &y brother Di&&y an co$sin Carl. Say <7i= to the &an boys.= Di&&y an Carl sai <7i.=
"he &an sp$ttere in rage. <"hat*s &y little sister yo$ 'ere #eelin* $p.= <Ao$r sister h$h)= Willar sai looking the &an in the eye. Willar gest$re 'ith the beer bottle in his han to the &oney gathere in #ront o# hi& on the table. <Ao$r sister*s #i5in* to be o$r #rien .= Di&&y an Carl both la$ghe . <Ao$ son*s o# bitchesC= the &an roare as he re' back his right #ist. Willar stoo $p an hit the &an in the hea 'ith the beer bottle. "he &an roppe straight to the #loor. Willar &ove in an lan e several kicks to the &an*s hea an ribs 'hile Di&&y an Carl picke $p their &oney.
Chapter ) - !ohnn (t 'as late 'inter. "he 'eather ha been ry an &il #or several ays r$nning an Dohnny 'as o$t 'orking) trying to get a %$&p on planting. 7e 'as stoope at the rear o# the tractor $n#astening the isk #ro& the hitch. "hen he isconnecte the hy ra$lic lines. 7e 'alke aro$n to the le#t si e o# the tractor. Stan ing on the gro$n abo$t a #oot in #ront o# the le#t rear 'heel Dohnny presse on the starter. >e#t in gear the tractor l$rche into &otion as the 'ar& engine ca$ght. "he le#t 'heel 'as i&&e iately on top o# Dohnny*s right #oot) p$lling hi& o'n on his back be#ore he co$l &ove a'ay. <"hank go ( got the isk o##)= Dohnny tho$ght as the tractor 'heel rolle $p his leg pinning hi& to the gro$n . "he #reshly iske earth 'as so#t $n erneath Dohnny. "he tractor 'heel crosse above his hips. Dohnny grabbe at the gro$n 'ith both han s an trie to sli e hi&sel# $n erneath the 'heel an to the right in an e##ort to keep the 'heel #ro& cr$shing his hea .
With the 'heel cli&bing $p his sho$l er Dohnny t$rne his hea . !5erting every &$scle he #orce hi&sel# o'n lo'er into the irt.
Chapter * - +arr 7arry co$l plant a straighter ro' r$nk than &ost co$l sober. 7e practice a lot. "he green pick$p rove o## the gravel roa ) across the shallo' itch an into the #iel 'itho$t slo'ing o'n. !ven 'ith the heavy early &orning e' a long pl$&e o# $st #ollo'e it. 7arry 'aite a &in$te #or the $st to pass be#ore opening the cab oor. 7e steppe o$t o# the tr$ck carrying a large &ason %ar #ille 'ith ice 'ater. 7e set it $n er the tr$ck to keep it o$t o# the s$n. 7arry 'as short 'ith a big sto&ach) a 'i e bri&&e hat on his hea . 7e 'alke o$t to his Dohn 4eere 'ith the #o$r ro' planter behin an cli&be $p. 7e ha stoppe in the &i le o# a ro' 'hich 'as $n$s$al #or hi&. 7e looke over to the a %acent #iel at the tractor parke there as he starte $p his. 7e an Dohnny ha kno'n each other #or over thirty years. :in ing Dohnny ha been ro$gh. 7arry p$t the tractor in gear an l$rche #or'ar picking $p the planting 'here he ha le#t o## the ay be#ore. 7e 'as al'ays a #e' ays ahea o# everyone else in the #ar&ing cycle. 8ost everyone 'as isking an he 'as all rea y planting. "he &orning e' b$rnt o## B$ickly as he &a e ro$n a#ter ro$n in the so#t irt. 9ccasionally he p$lle the #lask o$t o# his overalls an rank.
Chapter , - !ohnn Dohnny 'as rinking. Whenever the roar in his hea beca&e too lo$ he rank. 7e 'as al&ost al'ays rinking. Sitting on the co$ch 'ith the 'hiskey bottle claspe in his right han ) Dohnny 'as 'atching "6. 7is le#t han angle over the en on the co$ch. Dohnny 'atche "6 'ith the so$n &$te . 7e i n*t kno' the i##erence) he 'as stone ea#. 7e s$##ere irreparable a&age to his hearing the ay the tractor ran over his hea . "he octors tol hi& he 'as l$cky to be alive. Gla ys) Dohnny*s 'i#e) ca&e into the living roo& #ro& the kitchen carrying a ha& san 'ich #or hi&. <Dohnny) here*s so&e l$nch)= she sai . <Dohnny) here is so&e l$nch)= she sho$te . She trie to give the san 'ich to hi&. <Git that a&n thing a'ay #ro& &e)= Dohnny roare . 7e p$she the san 'ich violently back at Gla ys ca$sing her to spill its contents onto the #loor. She b$rst into tears an stoope to clean it $p. <>eave that shit aloneC= Dohnny bello'e . <D$st git the hell a'ay #or& &eC= 7e took a long p$ll at the bottle.= Gla ys sc$rrie back to the kitchen an stoo at the sink crying. +t a co&&ercial Dohnny rose #ro& the co$ch an hea e to the kitchen. 7e sa' Gla ys sobbing at the sink. <Sh$t it $pC= he or ere . She t$rne her back to hi& in tears. 7e 'alke over an han sp$n her aro$n so that she 'as #acing hi&. <Sh$t it $pC= he sho$te . She contin$e sobbing. Dohnny grabbe Gla ys* han s in his le#t han an raise his right. (t #ell heavily across her #ace 'ith a lo$
pop. Gla ys 'ithere in pain an trie to break #ree. "he right han #ell again. Dohnny release Gla ys* han s an she bolte #or the back oor. B$rsting o$t into the open she race into the cotton #iel behin the ho$se. She st$&ble b$t kept her #eet) r$nning as #ast as she co$l thro$gh the #reshly plante #iel . Dohnny e&erge #ro& the back oor 'ith a se&ia$to&atic thirty-o$ght-si5. Stan ing on the back porch he took a bea on Gla ys as she #o$ght her 'ay thro$gh the so#t irt. 7e sB$eeEe the trigger. Gla ys st$&ble again) lost her balance an #ell onto her #ace) eating a &o$th #$ll o# irt. + #e' #eet ahea o# her the irt 'as kicke $p by Dohnny*s &iss. 7e i not realiEe he ha &isse .
Chapter 1-- .o ?oy p$lle into :at*s station an stoppe at the reg$lar p$&p. "he station oor opene an 4ennis) :at*s son) ca&e o$t to p$&p the gas. <:$ck) laEy shit 4ennis)= ?oy s'ore 'hen he sa' 4ennis. ?oy got o$t o# his car. 4ennis 'as nineteen) ha %$st roppe o$t o# college a#ter one se&ester) 'as classi#ie 1+) an 'as 'aiting #or his ra#t notice. <7i 4ennis. :ill it $p 'ith reg$lar. (*& goin* to step insi e an get a cigar.= <S$re thing sir)= 4ennis ans'ere as he 'alke aro$n the #ront o# the car to the p$&p. ?oy 'alke aro$n the back o# the car an hea e insi e.
:at 'as insi e stan ing besi e the so a pop bo5. <Ao$ 'ant soðing to rink@= he aske . <( got so&e beer in here i# yo$ 'ant one.= <No thanks :at) ( can*t stay. D$st one o# those 4$tch 8asters there an 4ennis is #illing it $p #or &e.= :at &ove behin the co$nter an han e a cigar over to ?oy. <(t*s Sat$r ay. Ao$*re not goin* to 'ork are yo$@ <Aea) ( gotta go in tonight.= <Whe'''') all that &oney yo$*ll be &aking)= :at grinne . <+ll that &oney (*& spen ing)= ?oy ans'ere as 4ennis ca&e insi e to 'rite $p the cre it slip.
Chapter 11 - &artins "he ho$se sat in a #iel #acing so$th. + co$ple o# h$n re yar s to the 'est 'as the river. "here 'as a coarse grass yar . "he #ront porch 'as set $p on cin er blocks. (t sagge in the center. + tall sapling c$t #ro& the 'oo s along the river leane against the ho$se as a "6 antenna pole. "he b$s river o'n shi#te as he neare . D$st be#ore he honke the horn the oor to the ho$se #le' open an a s&all re hea e boy ca&e r$nning) h$stling to reach the roa be#ore the b$s stoppe . "erry 'as eight. 7e 'as resse in han e o'n han &e- o'ns. 7is hair ha not been co&be in a'hile. 9n either si e o# his hea sprigs o# hair stoo o$t over his ears so he looke as tho$gh he ha 'ol# ears. When the b$s ca&e to a halt in #ront o# "erry the river open the oor. "erry bo$nce $p the stairs onto the b$s. 7e love school) never &isse a ay. <Where*s yo$r bothers@= the river aske .
"erry pointe to the ho$se an h$rrie o'n the aisle to a seat. 7e sat o'n in #ront o# Nor&an. Nor&an 'as a #at 0th gra er. :ollo'ing his &orning rit$al he picke $p his &ath book an hit "erry on the hea 'ith it. "erry looke straight ahea s&iling. 7e love going to school. "he river honke the horn an p$t the b$s into gear. Bobby 'as ne5t o$t o# the ho$se) &oving slo'ly) carrying his books. 4ark haire ) bright eye he 'as an $n ersiEe t'elve year ol . "he river honke the horn again. >arry shot o$t o# the ho$se an blaste past Bobby. Wil coarse black hair #lying he 'as $p the b$s stairs be#ore Bobby 'as hal# 'ay. Bobby 'as barely on the b$s 'hen the river close the oor behin hi& an poppe the cl$tch. Booby took a seat near the #ront an began to rea . >arry bo$nce aro$n on the back seat. Nor&an hit "erry in the hea again.
Chapter 12 - Lann <4onny) ( on*t give a a&n 'hat yo$ think. ( r$n this co&pany an ( say 'e*re not selling. +n that*s #inal.= >anny set behin his esk in the s&all o##ice starting at his bother. "heir 'ell services co&pany 'as a #ast gro'ing b$siness as the local #ar&ers t$rne to rice instea o# cotton. 4onny stoo %$st opposite the esk glaring at his bother. <Who &a e yo$ boss@= he e&an e . 4onny 'as a tall) strong yo$ng &an $se to har 'ork aro$n the #ar&. >anny la$ghe . <Ao$ an Charley &a e &e boss.= >anny 'as #i#ty percent &ore &an than his brothers co&bine . 4onny got angrier. <We a&n 'ell 'o$l n*t o it no'.=
>anny leane back in his chair. <Ao$ s$re as hell 'o$l . 8y &oney is the only reason 'e have this place. Ao$ an Charley i n*t have a pot to pee to &e. +n yo$ still on*t. (*& not selling this place so yo$ can scre' a'ay all yo$r share. Charley kno's 'hat*s goo #or hi&.= <D$st like 8ichelle kno's 'ha,st goo #or yo$C= 4onny snappe back. >anny stoo $p. 7e 'asn*t as tall as 4onny b$t he 'as 'i er) bigger. <8ichelle has nothing to o 'ith this)= >anny sai slo'ly. <She has everything to o 'ith it. Be#ore ( intro $ce yo$ to her yo$ i n*t care abo$t this place. No' yo$ %$st o 'hat she tells yo$.= <4onny) yo$ nee to t$rn aro$n an get o$t,a here. Ao$ got 'ork to o.= <:$ck yo$. Ao$ gonna &ake &e@ 8aybe 8ichelle can &ake &e@= >anny ca&e aro$n the esk in a ea r$n) hea lo'ere an plo'e into 4onny knocking hi& back against the o##ice 'all. >anny 'rappe his ar&s aro$n 4onny*s 'aist an sB$eeEe as 4onny p$&&ele his back. Charley 'as o$t #ront loa ing $p one o# the tr$cks 'hen he hear the crash #ro& insi e the o##ice. <Shit)= he s'ore an race to'ar the o##ice oor looking #or soðing heavy to pick$p. Charley 'as the r$nt o# the #a&ily an stepping bet'een >anny an 4onny 'as like 'alking into the &i le o# a og#ight. (t helpe i# yo$ ha an a5 han le 'ith yo$.
Chapter 13 - Dennis "he night 'as hot) the air #$ll o# &osB$itoes. Big cypress trees along the e ges o# the ol river channel c$t
o## any air &ove&ent an al&ost all light. 4ennis sat B$ietly in the #ront o# the %ohnboat) listening. "here 'as a croaking o# #rogs $p an to his le#t. 4ennis ease his pa le into the 'ater an gave a p$sh. "he #rogs contin$e croaking. +#ter his secon p$sh) as he ri#te closer to the noise &akers 4ennis p$lle in the pa le an #lippe on the gigging light he 'ore on his hea . "he bea& 'as bright an tightly #oc$se . 4ennis playe it along the bank o# the river. +bo$t t'enty #eet in #ront o# the boat the light #roEe a b$ll#rog. "he boat 'as &oving slo'ly to'ar the #rog. 4ennis reache #or his gigging pole. "he boat ha eno$gh &o&ent$& to reach the #rog. 7e kept it #roEen in the light. 7e slo'ly raise the pole 'ith his right han an g$i e it o$t 'ith his le#t. "he istance narro'e as he 'aite . 7e thr$st the pole #or'ar an the triple tine gig pierce the big #rog. 4ennis p$lle the pole in) poppe the #rog o## the gig an roppe hi& into a 'et to' sack. 4ennis t$rne o## his light an listene .
Chapter 1" - /0c1 :i#ty-si5 year ol B$ck 'as a little r$nk as he stoo on the pitcher*s &o$n at the high school #iel . 7e stare past the batter) his nephe' 4ean) to the catcher) his nephe' :rank) #or the signal. 7e got the sign) checke the r$nners on #irst an secon ) an #ire a #astball at the ribs o# his nephe'. 4ean ha no chance. 7e co$l n*t &ove #ast eno$gh to get o$t o# the 'ay o# the ball an it ca$ght hi& sB$are hi& in the ribs. <Goo a&ne ol &an)= he c$sse ropping his bat an glaring at B$ck.
B$ck stoo on the &o$n an la$ghe at 4ean. 4ean hea e to the &o$n . !very other Wilson r$she onto the #iel to stop the #ight. B$ck 'as the best pitcher in the #a&ily) best in the co$nty) he 'as %$st having #$n. 7e ha ai&e #or 4ean*s ribs not his hea . "he yearly #a&ily :o$rth o# D$ly picnic 'as al'ays like this. 7itting 4ean) B$ck ha loa e the bases so he co$l pitch to his el est son +n re'. +n re' 'as $p as the 'inning r$n 'ith t'o o$ts. Pitching #ro& the 'in $p B$ck tosse a big) slo' c$rve. +n re' ha batte against his a #or over t'enty years no'. 7e 'as looking #or the c$rve. 7e s'$ng thro$gh it. "he ne5t t'o pitches 'ere #astballs high an tight on +n re's #ists. B$ck o##ere $p his best har c$rve 'hich ha +n re' bailing o$t o# the bo5 as it c$t over the insi e corner #or strike t'o. +n re' beat his bat on ho&e plate as he $g back into the bo5. B$ck*s ne5t pitch 'as a #astball $p an a'ay. 3 an 2. +n re' #o$le o## the ne5t t'o c$rve balls. B$ck 'ipe the s'eat #ro& his #orehea an peere in #or the sign. 7e shook :rank o## t'ice. "he r$nners 'ere breaking 'ith the pitch as B$ck release a change $p. +n re' 'as looking #astball a'ay an 'as 'ay ahea o# the pitch. 7e corkscre'e hi&sel# into the batter*s bo5 as :rank glove the pitch #or the thir strike.
Chapter 1# - /0zz (t 'as early) the s$n %$st $p. (n the cotton #iel bet'een his ho$se an his rent trailer B$EE cli&be $p on his :or
tractor. Balancing on the right a5le he bent o'n an 'ipe the e' #ro& the tractor seat 'ith his sleeve. <4a&n) ( 'ish ( co$l a##or a ne' tractor. + big one) 'ith a cab) +C) po'er steering) an a stereo. "hat 'o$l be nice.= <( on*t reckon ( can #inance a rig like that. B$t it 'o$l s$re be nice.= 7e starte $p the tractor) lo'ere the b$sh hog) an starte back &o'ing o'n the ea cotton stalks. +#ter a #e' t$rns o# the #iel he sai ) <(# ( &ortgage the ho&e lot an barn ( bet ( co$l s'ing one o# those tractors.= +#ter several &ore t$rns) <4a&n) Wanita*ll raise hell 'ith &e i# ( o that. We %$st got the co&bine pai o##.= <:$ck her) he s'ore. <She ain*t o$t here riving in this shit. (*ll get &e one o# those tractors.= 7e contin$e c$tting as the ay 'ar&e an the $st picke $p.
Chapter 1' - /ill <:ighting sol iers #ro& the sky :earless &en 'ho %$&p an ie 8en 'ho &ean %$st 'hat they say "he brave &en o# the Green Beret. Silver 'ings $pon their chest "hese are &en) +&erica,s best 9ne h$n re &en 'ill test to ay B$t only three 'in the Green Beret.= (t 'as &i &orningI Bill 'as #illing the spring ay 'ith song) better than Sta## Sergeant Sa ler 'o$l have. Bill ha a birth e#ect that i not allo' his right heel to to$ch the
gro$n . (t gave hi& a Dohn Silver gait as he 'alke the school gro$n s. "he &orning 'as 'ar&. +ll the classroo&s ha their oors an 'in o's open. !veryone insi e the roo&s 'as 'atching an listening to Bill. Bill i n*t notice the a$ ience. 7e 'as en%oying the ay an the song. 7e 'as 2: an on isability. <"raine to live o## nat$re,s lan "raine in co&bat) han -to-han 8en 'ho #ight by night an ay Co$rage peak #ro& the Green Berets. Silver 'ings $pon their chest "hese are &en) +&erica,s best 9ne h$n re &en 'ill test to ay B$t only three 'in the Green Beret.= "he school s$perinten ent steppe o$t o# the high school b$il ing an stoo on the porch #or a &in$te listening to Bill sing. :inally he ca&e o'n the steps an hea e across the gro$n s to intersect Bill*s path. Bill stoppe singing. <Goo &orning Bill. 7o' are yo$ to ay@= <7ello 8r. Willia&s. (*& great to ay. 7o' are yo$ an 8rs. Willia&s@= <We*re oing 'ell Bill. "hank yo$ #or asking. Ao$*re in great voice this &orning.= Bill la$ghe ) <(t*s a great song. ( love singing it.= <( think everyone in class en%oys it too Bill. Ao$ o realiEe that 'e are having classes on*t yo$@= Bill looke aro$n an then ans'ere ) <No sir. ( i n*t think abo$t classes. (*& sorry i# (*& ca$sing a proble&.= 8r. Willia&s b$t a han on Bill*s sho$l er. <Bill) it*s not a proble&. +ll the ki s are en%oying it) b$t ( o think its ti&e they got back to st$ ying. What o yo$ think@= <( g$ess ( nee to be gettin* back ho&e any'ay)= Bill ans'ere .
<( appreciate that Bill "hanks)= 8r. Willia&s ans'ere . Bill t$rne an hea e to the high'ay) singing. <Back at ho&e a yo$ng 'i#e 'aits 7er Green Beret has &et his #ate 7e has ie #or those oppresse >eaving her his last reB$est. P$t silver 'ings on &y son,s chest 8ake hi& one o# +&erica,s best 7e,ll be a &an they,ll test one ay 7ave hi& 'in the Green Beret.=
Chapter 1) - (ild 2hin3 Wil "hing 'as a ark green) 1.2/ :or Co$pe. "he ra io antennae 'as broken o## an a length o# clothes hanger 'ire ha been inserte in its place. Di&&y ha painte <Wil "hing= in 'hite paint 'ith a t'o inch br$sh on both oors an the tr$nk. (t 'as parke in #ront o# the secon bay at the gas station. Di&&y 'as a class&ate o# 4ennis an 'orke evenings #or :at. 7e an 4ennis 'ere locking the station $p #or the night. <>et*s get so&e beer an go to the river)= 4ennis s$ggeste . <Shit) so$n s goo to &e)= Di&&y la$ghe . <Go by 4arb*s an see i# he*s ho&e 'hile ( stop at the ho$se an get a co$ple o# si5 packs. 8eet &e at the river= <?oger that)= Di&&y ans'ere . 7e ran o## to <Wil "hing= an sli across her tr$nk an cli&be in. "he #lathea :or roare . Di&&y sla&&e it into reverse an got s&oke as he backe $p. 9$t on the high'ay Di&&y ra&&e it into #irst) got r$bber an 'as o## to pick $p 4arb) ra io blasting.
4ennis 'atche Di&&y leave an then cli&be into his G"9. 7e p$lle a'ay #ro& the station in a &ore leis$rely #ashion. 7e an his a ha recently p$t in a ne' engine. 4ennis 'as setting on his car tr$nk along si e the river 'hen Wil "hing ski e to a stop. Di&&y an 4arb pile o$t an then #ro& the back seat ca&e Bill. <Bill 'as o$t 'alking 'hen 'e 'ent by so 'e aske hi& along)= Di&&y e5plaine . <4arb) Bill) goo to see yo$. Get a beer)= 4ennis ans'ere . +#ter everyone rank a co$ple o# beers 4ennis o##ere $p) <So&e p$ssy s$re 'o$l s$re nice.= !veryone agree 'ith that. <Well) 'e co$l r$n by an pick $p Patsy)= Di&&y sai . <She*s a little angry 'ith &e a#ter the last ti&e)= 4ennis s&ile . <Well hell) yo$ &a e her 'alk ho&e necke )= Di&&y la$ghe . <+nyone 'o$l be pisse at yo$ #or that.= "hey all la$ghe . <B$t no') she is s'eet on 4arb there) ain*t she 4arb@= 4ennis aske . <8aybe yo$ co$l take Wil "hing an pick her $p@= <S$re) < 4arb agree ) <(# it*s okay 'ith Di&&y. She*s a lot &ore #$n than a sister.= Di&&y tosse his keys to 4arb. <7$rry back lover.= !veryone la$ghe &ore. <Save so&e beer)= 4arb or ere as he cli&be into Wil "hing.
Chapter 1* - Pat "he ho$se set o## the high'ay o'n on the Cache ?iver*s #loo plane. (t 'as a coarse plank ho$se 'ith a tin
roo# an a 'oo heating stove set #lat on the gro$n . When the river le#t its banks it #ille the ho$se. 4arb ease Wil "hing o## the high'ay an parke . "here 'ere no lights on. (t 'as a little past ten. 4arb steppe $p on the porch an knocke on the oor. + light ca&e on pretty #ast. <Who is it)= a 'o&an*s voice aske . <(t*s 4arb) 8a,a&. (s Patsy ho&e@= <9# co$rse she*s ho&e. She*s in be ) 'here yo$ sho$l be.= 4arb s&ile . <( 'as 'on erin* i# she co$l co&e o$t an talk@= Patsy*s &o& opene the #ront oor. <4arb) go ho&e. We on*t nee any tro$ble.= <( ain*t gonna ca$se any tro$ble 8a,a&. ( 'as %$st 'on erin* i# Patsy co$l co&e o$t an talk.= 4arb hear a back 'in o' open as he talke . Patsy,s &o& i n*t notice the so$n s <Ao$ boy*s are al'ays ca$sing tro$ble. +ny ti&e yo$*re here it*s tro$ble.= <(*& sorry &a*a&. (*& sorry ( bothere yo$. Please tell Patsy ( stoppe by.= 4arb 'alke back to Wil "hing. Patsy 'as cro$che o'n o$t o# sight besi e the river si e oor. She let o$t a little sB$eal 'hen 4arb got there. <Shhh)= 4arb sai opening the car oor. Patsy slippe in lo' an snake aro$n the gearshi#t an cro$che on the #loorboar on the passenger si e. <PatsyC= her &o& sho$te . <+re yo$ o$t there 'ith 4arb@= 4arb stare $p the car an roare a'ay leaving Patsy*s &o& sho$ting a#ter the&. Patsy giggle ) sat $p on the seat an sli over ne5t to 4arb. 7e han e her a beer an p$t his ar& aro$n her sho$l ers. She sippe the beer an &ove a han onto 4arb*s thigh. <"his is Di&&y*s car. Where*s he at@= she aske .
<7e*s rinking so&e beer) 'aiting #or $s)= 4arb ans'ere . <(s that ok@= Patsy no e her hea an r$bbe 4arb*s thigh. <+nyone else@= she aske . <4ennis an Bill are there. "hat*s all.= <Bill is creepy)= Patsy replie ) <an 4ennis is a %erk.= She took t'o big g$lps o# beer an leane closer to 4arb.
Chapter 1, - &artins 9l &an 8artin 'as 'alking along the itch) carrying a to' sack) looking #or bottles an cans. 7is broa bri&&e black hat ha no shape to it. 7is long black coat an black pants 'ere c$t #or a &an t'ice his siEe. "he 'hite shirt he 'ore 'as b$ttone $p to the neck. + tr$ck approache p$lling a $st stor& behin it. 9l &an 8artin t$rne his hea o'n 'in as the tr$ck stoppe an the $st contin$e on. "he #ar&er in the tr$ck rolle his 'in o' o'n. <8orning ?obert.= <8orning.= <( 'as 'on ering) i# ah&&) i# ah&&) 8ary 'as b$sy this &orning@= ?obert 8artin looke the &an in the eye. <( 'o$l n*t think so.= <+h&&) o yo$ think she* like so&e co&pany@= <4on*t care i# she likes it or not. We got bills to pay)= ?obert ans'ere . "he #ar&er s&ile ) <Great) ah&&) (*ll stop by an check in on her.= ?obert set the sack o'n an crosse over to the tr$ck. <Ao$ o as yo$ please.= 7e hel o$t his han . <9ne o# the boys is there b$t he 'on*t pay no &in .= "he #ar&er*s #ace t$rne re . <Ao$ s$re@=
<Bobby*s sleeping. Ao$ 'on*t 'ake hi&.= "he #ar&er shi#te his 'eight an p$lle his bill#ol o$t o# his back pocket. 7e passe ten ollars over to ?obert. ?obert no e his hea an 'alke back to his sack. "he #ar&er rove on. 7e parke on the roa in #ront o# 8artin*s ho$se. (# anyone rove b$y they 'o$l kno' 'ho 'as insi e. (t 'asn,t easy to hi e yo$r b$siness. 7e crosse the yar ) steppe $p on the porch an knocke on the oor. (t took 8ary a little bit to open the oor. She ha long black hair an 'ore a gray shi#t. <?obert sai it 'as okay #or &e to stop)= the #ar&er e5plaine as he steppe past her. 8ary 'as yo$ng eno$gh to be ?obert*s a$ghter) an 'as his niece. She close the oor. "hey 'ere in the &ain roo& o# the t'o roo& ho$se. (t ha a 'oo heating stove set back in the corner. + "6 set on an ol en table opposite a legless co$ch. "here 'as a chair an cots. "he boys slept in this roo&. Bobby 'as asleep on a cot against the 'est 'all. "he ne5t roo& 'as the ol &an*s an 8ary*s roo&. "he #ar&er took hol o# 8ary by the ar& an le her into the roo&.
Chapter 2- - .o "he General !lectric #actory 'as the best place to 'ork in Donesboro. (t ha the best 'ages an the best bene#its. (t ha a $nion in a right to 'ork state. "he Lnite !lectrical Workers an G! ha %$st signe a ne' contact. "he latest strike ha laste 01 ays. ?oy 'orke secon shi#t. 7e 'as a $nion ste'ar . +t break ti&e he 'as sitting at one o# the tables in the break roo& 'ith several other &en an 'o&en #ro& the #inishing area.
<( on*t see ho' those a&n scabs can set over there an eat their inner)= >onnie sai . <"hey &ake &e sick.= Several others agree . <(gnore the assholes)= ?oy or ere . <"he strike is over an i# yo$ #$ck 'ith the& it*ll be yo$ ass not theirs. "he co&pany*ll be 'atching a#ter the&) not yo$.= <Sons o# bitches)= >onnie o##ere . !veryone at the table agree . 8any pro $ction line e&ployees 'ere not $nion &e&bers. "hey receive the sa&e pay ecree by the $nion contract b$t they save the&selves the $nion $es. "hey receive all the sa&e bene#its b$t pai none o# the price. +n &ost o# the& ha crosse the picket line $ring the recent strike) a ing ins$lt to in%$ry. "ate 'as a big re hea . 7e 'as over at the ven ing &achines getting a so a pop. 7e ha 'orke at the plant since he got o$t o# the ar&y in 1.0;. 7e ha never %oine the $nion. "ate got his so a o$t o# the &achine an ca&e over to the table 'here ?oy 'as sitting an sat o'n at the en besi e a yo$ng 'o&an na&e 4arla. <7i 4arla.= 4arla i n*t ans'er. <( hope (*& not interr$pting.= <Get o$t o# here scab)= >onnie sai . <W$ n*t talkin* to yo$ >onnie)= "ate ans'ere looking o'n the long table at >onnie. <B$t ( 'as talkin* to yo$)= >onnie sai . 4arla go $p #ro& the table. <7ey) on*t leave 4arla)= "ate sai an reache o$t an grabbe 4arla*s ar&. 4arla i n*t say a 'or as she trie to p$ll her ar& #ree. <>et go o# her asshole)= ?oy sai leaning #or'ar so that "ate co$l see 'ho 'as speaking. "ate let go o# 4arla*s ar&. <Ao$ #orget to call &e Scab@= he aske ?oy. <( i n*t #orget anythin* ass hole.=
<Well &aybe 4arla i . 4i she #orget yo$*re &arrie ?oy@= ?oy 'as $p an across the table an ha "ate by the throat be#ore anyone co$l stop hi&. 7e sp$n "ate aro$n an ha hi& stretche over the table. Neither &an &ake a so$n as they str$ggle . !veryone at the table stoo $p an blocke the #ight #ro& sight. "'o &en prie ?oy*s han s #ro& "ate*s throat an p$lle hi& a'ay. ?e #ace ) "ate r$bbe his throat an sai . <(*& going to report yo$r ass ?oy. See ho' yo$ like that.= >onnie &ove over close to "ate. <( 'o$l n*t o that scab. ?oy likes yo$ better than 'e o.= "ate looke at the #aces s$rro$n ing hi&. 7e r$bbe his throat again then &a e his 'ay thro$gh the gro$p. When "ate 'as gone the t'o &en release ?oy. >onnie looke at hi& an la$ghe . <D$st ignore the assholes ?oy.= (t 'as al&ost B$itting ti&e. 4arla 'alke $p to ?oy*s station an aske ) <+re yo$ 'orkin* over tonight@= <( ha n*t eci e )= ?oy ans'ere . <+re yo$@= <No) they i n*t ask &e.= <Probably no reason #or &e to stay then.= <Goo )= 4arla s&ile . <See yo$ at the ti&e clock.= <7o' abo$t at the tr$ck@= ?oy aske . <S$re)= 4arla ans'ere an s&ile . <( nee to get back to the line. See yo$ in a #e' &in$tes.= ?oy 'atche her closely as she 'alke a'ay.
Chapter 21 - !C DC roppe o$t o# school a#ter the eight gra e. 7e 'as nineteen years ol . (nitially he &o'e yar s an i 'hatever ay labor he co$l #in . 7e event$ally got a %ob in Donesboro at the bo5 #actory.
"he bo5 #actory 'as the 'orst place to 'ork in Donesboro. (t pai poorly) ha #e' bene#its an the 'ork 'as har . (t 'as a gro$p o# tin roo#e she s scattere abo$t a large lot. "hey store their ra' &aterial o$t in the lot. "hat*s 'here DC 'orke ) $nloa ing an then stacking the e&pty ski s. DC 'as s&oking a cigarette one &orning 'ith his back $p against a stack o# ski s. 9n the opposite si e a #orkli#t backe into the ski s an cr$she DC $n er the&. DC,s back 'as broke in the acci ent 7is &other set hi& $p in the #ront roo& o# the ho$se a#ter he 'as release #ro& the hospital. !verything 'as closer that 'ay. DC sat $p slo'ly in his be an lit a cigarette. 7e 'as restless. 7e s&oke the cigarette o'n to the #ilter) s&ashe it o$t on the si e o# the be an lit a #resh one. "here 'as little else #or hi& to o. +cci ent ins$rance ha taken care o# the hospital bills an isability pai hi& &onthly. "he octors 'ere c$tting back on DC,s pain &e icine. 7is back i not #eel as 'ell as it ha . H"he& s&art octorsCH he sai easing hi&sel# o$t o# the be . 7e #licke the cigarette b$tt across the roo& an began to slo'ly pace the roo&. HWhat o they kno'@ (t ain,t their backC ,>ive 'ith pain., B$llshitC Nobo y else lives 'ith thisCH 7e &ove #aster) bent slightly at the 'aist as he talke . 7e gest$re 'il ly into the air as he c$rse the octors. <8o&C 8o&C Where are &y pills@= 7is voice reache the level o# a sho$t. DC,s &other slippe o$t the back oor. (t 'as another t'o ho$rs be#ore ti&e #or another pill. She hea e across the cotton #iel that b$tte their ho$se to the 'oo s. (t 'as sa#er to 'ait o$tsi e. DC 'as thro'ing things in the #ront roo& no'. Books) chairs) pillo's) he sent the& #lying thro$gh the air.
<8o&) ( nee &y pillsC=
Chapter 22 - !0d D$ y an "ony ha been ating #or al&ost their entire high school %$nior year. "hey 'ere both too yo$ng to 'ork so their spen ing &oney ca&e #ro& their allo'ances. "hey co$l sit at D$ y*s ho$se 'atching "6 s$rro$n e by her parents) brothers an sisters or they co$l pool their &oney an spen it on a &ovie or bo'ling. 9r they co$l spen a hal# ollar on a pair o# con o&s an have everything set #or the 'eeken . "ony ha parke his a *s car on the si e o# a co$nty roa . (n the ay ti&e the car 'o$l have been visible #or &iles across the #lat #ar&lan . B$t at night it 'as pitch black) the area voi o# any ho$ses an tra##ic. "hey ha the night to the&selves. "hey 'ere in the back seat getting their clothes on. <What i yo$ 'ant to o to&orro' night@= "ony aske . D$ y 'as a little B$ite as she b$ttone $p her blo$se. "ony looke over at her. <Ao$ okay@= <Lh) yeah)= she ans'ere b$t i not look at "ony. <What*s going on@= "ony aske . D$ y i not look at "ony as she ans'ere . <?ick aske &e to go to 8e&phis 'ith hi& to&orro' night.= <+n @= "ony aske . <( tol hi& (, go.= <( see)= "ony sai cli&bing $p into the #ront seat. D$ y sli over into the passenger*s seat. "here 'as a long silence. <( %$st tho$ght &aybe 'e sho$l see other people)= D$ y e5plaine .
<S$re)= "ony respon e . <Ao$*re right. Ao$ rea y to go ho&e@ <Aeah)= D$ y ans'ere . <7e i n*t even arg$e)= D$ y crie into the phone. <7e %$st sat there B$iet. Ao$ kno' ho' he oes. 7e i n*t even try to stop &e. What a& ( going to o no'@ ( can*t call hi&. 7e oesn*t 'ant to be 'ith &e. ( kno' it. 7e 'o$l have trie to stop &e #ro& seeing ?icky. No) he oesn*t have anyone else. 7e %$st oesn*t 'ant &e any&ore. 7o' co$l ( be so st$pi @ (* o anything #or hi&. What can ( o no'@ 7e*s gone. ( kno' he*s gone.=
Chapter 23 - !C DC*s &other 'alke in the #ront oor. <DC) (*& ho&e. We nee to h$rry. "hey 'aiting in the car #or $s.= DC 'alke in slo'ly #ro& the kitchen. 7e 'as bent at the 'aist an &ove his legs sl$ggishly. <4i yo$ get &y pill@= he aske B$ietly. <S$re ( i 7oney. We nee to h$rry or 'e*ll &iss ch$rch.= <Can ( have &y pills@= DC aske . <S$re 7oney. B$t 'e nee to h$rry.= DC*s &o& reache into her p$rse an p$lle o$t a s&all orangish container an passe it B$ickly to hi&. DC took the pill bottle) looke at it) an shook it. <"here ain*t &any in here.=
<7oney) 4r. Willis sai that*s all he can let yo$ have $ntil yo$ co&e back in. 7e*s 'orrie abo$t yo$.= <7e ain*t 'orrie abo$t &e. State on*t 'ant to pay #or any &ore. "hat*s all the hell he*s 'orrie abo$t.= DC*s &o& &ove back to'ar s the oor. <"hey*re 'aiting #or $s DC)= an she &otione to the #ront yar . <( ain*t goin* 8o&. ( can,t stan or sit thro$gh preaching tonight.= <9G 7oney) ( $n erstan )= she replie as she slippe o$t the oor. She h$rrie to the 'aiting car. <4a&n octors)= DC s'ore shaking the pill bottle as he 'alke back to the kitchen. 7e p$lle a glass o$t o# the sink an #ille it 'ith 'ater. 9pening the pill bottle he tease a co$ple o$t into his han . 7e tosse the pills to the back o# his throat an rank the glass o# 'ater. <What the hell a& ( gonna o@= he aske looking into the pill bottle. <"his 'on*t last &e a 'eek. "hen 'hat a& ( s$ppose to o@ Cra'l aro$n here like so&e ol cripple@= DC si esteppe a co$ple o# #eet to the right an opene a cabinet. 7e reache in an p$lle o$t a nearly #$ll B$art o# 'hiskey. 7e took the 'hiskey an pills an 'alke care#$lly back to the #ront roo& so he co$l lay o'n. "he +sse&bly o# Go b$il ing 'as #$ll) 21 people. "he 'ere all on their #eet) singing) praying) 'aving their ar&s) ancing) an so&e speaking in tong$es. <Go ) ( love yo$)= DC*s &o& sai . With her han s 'aving high abo$t her hea ) her #eet &oving in a sh$##le she praye . <Ao$ are the only thing in li#e that &atters. ( a& here at yo$r co&&an . Witho$t yo$ ( a& nothing. Witho$t yo$ li#e is nothing. 7elp &e keep yo$ strong in &y heart. >or ) help DC. 7e nee s yo$ so &$ch.
!ase the pain in his back >or . >or ) ease all his pain. P$t yo$rsel# eep in his heart >or . "ake Satan*s pills a'ay #ro& hi& >or . Sho' hi& the tr$e 'ay to peace. Bring peace to hi& >or .=
Chapter 2" - Pat <"here she is)= the boy n$ ge his b$ y. "hey 'atche Patsy 'alking across the schoolyar . (t 'as l$nchti&e) a ne' school year. <She on*t look very tall)= <Ao$ on*t have to be tall to be a 'hore st$pi .= <( kno' that) asshole. What class is she in@ <She*s in the tenth.= Patsy ha &isse all o# the previo$s school year. She ha been $nco&#ortable 'ith everyone eyeing her. She 'as trying it again. She 'ent $p the stairs into the high school an sat o'n in the st$ y hall. (t 'as al&ost ti&e #or the bell to so$n . 8r. Willia&s ca&e o$t o# his o##ice an 'alke over to her. <7ello Patsy. Can yo$ co&e 'ith &e@ <S$re 8r. Willia&s)= she ans'ere an stoo $p. <+n bring yo$r books too.= Patsy starte to cry as she picke $p her books. She #ollo'e 8r. Willia&s to his o##ice. 7e hel the oor open #or her an then close it as he #ollo'e her insi e. <Please set o'n Patsy.= She sat an crie . 8r. Willia&s han e her a bo5 o# tiss$es #ro& his esk an then took his seat behin the esk.
<Patsy) ( on*t think it*s going to 'ork)= he starte . <Ao$ are %$st too &$ch o# a istraction to the rest o# the school.= <What a& ( s$ppose to o@= Patsy sobbe . <Well) 8rs. Willia&s an ( have been taking to people abo$t yo$r sit$ation an ( think 'e have sol$tion.= 7e picke $p a sheet o# paper #ro& his esk an sli it over to'ar Patsy. <"here*s a nice secretarial school in Donesboro. "he 'o&an there is intereste in &eeting yo$. 8rs. Berry can help yo$. She has helpe a lot o# girls. Patsy) yo$ t$rn eighteen in a co$ple o# 'eeks. When that happens yo$*ll be eligible #or so&e govern&ent assistance. "hey*ll pay #or the cost o# the school an they*ll pay yo$ to atten as long as yo$ are passing the co$rses. 9ne o# the great things 8rs. Berry oes is she allo's so&e girls to stay 'ith her. +n she has agree to o that #or yo$. Ao$ 'ill have to &ove into Donesboro an a'ay #ro& yo$r &o&) b$t it is a great opport$nity to change yo$r li#e an o soðing 'ith yo$rsel#.=
Chapter 2# - Star Star 'as ol . 7e live by hi&sel# in an ol trailer on the north en o# !gypt. Both his son an a$ghter ha their ho$ses close by. "hey checke on hi& reg$larly. 7e o'ne a lot o# lan in the co$nty. "he s$n 'as %$st co&ing $p. +n electric co##ee percolator b$bble in the corner. Star peere into his re#rigerator looking #or break#ast. 7e &ove a co$ple o# plastic containers aro$n so he co$l p$ll o$t a bo'l o# navy beans. 7e sat the bo'l o# col beans on the kitchen co$nter an picke thro$gh the irty ishes in the sink. 7e #o$n a #airly clean plate an rinse it.
"he beans ha been cooke 'ith bacon grease. Col ) they 'ere a congeale &ass in the bo'l. Star took a tablespoon an la le o$t several spoon#$ls onto his plate. 7e got the ketch$p #ro& the re#rigerator an carrie it an the plate o# beans over to the table in the ining area. 7e 'ent back to the kitchen to #i5 his co##ee. "he &orning 'as 'ar&. Star set o$tsi e his trailer on the grass besi e the rose b$sh. 7e e5a&ine every inch o# the s&all b$sh occasionally re&oving an insect. People riving past on the high'ay pai little attention. "he rose b$sh inspection 'as a aily event) 'eather per&itting. "here 'as no &oon. !5cept #or a #e' scattere lights aro$n !gypt the night 'as black. Star le#t the ark trailer an 'ent to his car parke on the gravel rive'ay. "he */1 #alcon ha no plates) no registration. Star ha no license) no ins$rance. +ll that paper'ork) that legal per&ission ha been taken a'ay #ro& hi& years ago. 7e i n*t nee the&. 7e ha the &oney #or gasoline an any a&ages he &ight create. Star #$&ble 'ith the ignition in the ark car. "he co$rtesy light 'as o$t an he co$l never re&e&ber to #i5 it 'hen the s$n 'as $p. "he si5-cylin er engine roare into li#e. Star g$nne it ti&e an again en%oying the noise. 7e sli the car into gear. "he tires sp$n an the car l$nge #or'ar . "$rning onto the high'ay the tires sB$eale an the car #ishtaile as it gaine spee . "'o &iles o'n the roa Star t$rne on the hea lights. Star ha been cr$ising the co$nty roa s #or t'o ho$rs. "he &oon ha risen. "he 'in o's 'ere o'n. "he night air r$she thro$gh the car. "he gravele roa 'as har packe an generally s&ooth. When the car hit a patch o# san y gro$n it sh$ttere an veere to the right.
"here 'as little Star co$l o to control the car. 7e allo'e it to have its hea as it careene into the shallo' itch on the right. 7e never let $p on the accelerator. 7e cleane o$t the itch #or a stretch o# #orty #eet be#ore #inally g$i ing the car back onto the roa . 7e spe on.
Chapter 2' - 2he /o s S$n ay a#ternoon) :loy M 10 an >loy M 12) 'ere o$tsi e playing. Both boys 'ere resse #or the s$&&er) bare#oote ) shirtless) c$to## %eans. :loy stoo on the gravel rive'ay #acing a cotton #iel 'ith a >o$isville Sl$gger graspe in his right han an resting on his right sho$l er. 7e bent o'n) picke $p a rock 'ith his le#t han an stoo back $p. 7e shi#te the bat slightly an #oc$se on the rock in his han . 7e tosse the rock $p) &ove the #ree han to the bat) cocke the bat) stro e into the #alling rock an s'$ng. 7e ca$ght the rock on the s'eet part o# the barrel an sent it #lying in a line rive across the roa an eep into the cotton #iel . 7e s&ile . 7e looke aro$n at the a &iring cro' s. +s #ar as he co$l see 'ere acres an acres o# bloo&ing cotton. "'o ho$ses 'ere in sight b$t 'ho co$l see i# anyone 'as ho&e. Be#ore searching #or another per#ect rock :loy looke to his brother. <4i yo$ see that one@= he aske . <Aep. Nice hit)= his brother ans'ere . <What i# they hit that rock 'hen they*re b$sh hoggin*@= <Des$s) >loy . 9ne rock in t'o h$ner acres o# cotton an yo$*re 'orrie abo$t the b$sh hog hittin* it.= :loy bent o'n an picke $p another rock an 'hacke it across the roa an then another.
<"here) that triples their chances. What o yo$ think abo$t that@= <( think i# they hit a rock an it knocks o$t one o# o$r 'in o's 4a *ll kill y$h.= <Des$s >loy . Go ri e yo$r bicycle)= :loy or ere in isg$st. <Well) on*t yo$ hit &e in the hea 'ith one o# yo$r rocks)= >loy retorte . <(# ( i hit it) the rock 'o$l %$st b$st $p like a irt clo .= >loy p$she o## the bicycle an hea e o'n the rive'ay. 7e i seven petal revol$tions be#ore reaching the irt roa an then he coaste . :or the past hal# ho$r the challenge ha been to see ho' #ar he co$l coast o'n the irt roa $sing only seven revol$tions. 7e staye in the har packe center o# the roa ) a'ay #ro& the po' ery $st. +s the bicycle lost spee he began to 'ork the #ront 'heel back an #orth) 'alking it along the roa ) so&eti&es setting a ne' recor ) so&eti&es #alling short. Bet'een rocks :loy calle over) <Ao$ 'ant to play ho&e r$n erby@= <(*& tire o# ho&e r$n erby.= <We co$l play le#t han e ) pitch an hit le#t han e )= :loy s$ggeste . <9kay) that so$n s like #$n.= >loy got o## his bike an 'alke it $p onto the car port as :loy 'ent to get the 'hi##le ball an bat.
Chapter 2) - /0zz 2N20 +8. "he roar o# #la&es 'oke Wanita. <B$EE) B$EE) 'ake $pC "he barn*s on #ireC= She shook B$EE #ranticly.
B$EE 'as in a col s'eat 'hen he sat $p in the be . <B$EE) the barn*s on #ireC= B$EE looke aro$n ) then %$&pe $p an ran to the 'in o'. "he barn 'as blaEing. "he #ire lit $p the area like aylight. 7e stare #or a secon be#ore r$shing to the phone to call the #ire epart&ent. "he vol$nteer #ire tr$ck 'as t'enty &in$tes a'ay. Wanita an B$EE 'ent o$t to #ight the #ire. "he barn 'as to #ar gone to save anything. (t looke like the ho$se &ight go. B$EE $se the 'ater hose to keep the ho$se spraye o'n. Neighbors arrive #ro& every irection. 9ne took the hose #ro& B$EE 'hile others began to #ill b$ckets #ro& the han p$&p. So&e began to carry #$rnit$re an ho$sehol goo s o$t onto the yar ) a sa#e istance #ro& the #ire. B$EE irecte the saving o# their val$ables. Wanita 'as in tears. "he #ire 'as too intense an the ho$se to close. Soon it 'as ablaEe. "he #ire engine arrive in ti&e to 'ater o'n the s&ol ering r$ins. B$EE trie to co&#ort Wanita) <(t*ll be alright. (t*ll be alright.= <B$t everything*s gone)= she sobbe . <7$sh)= B$EE soothe . <7$sh. We got ins$rance an 'e*ll #i5 it all back better than ever. "hat ol place ain*t 'orth cryin* over.= B$ looke over to the ne' tractor 'hich he ha le#t o$t in the #iel . 7e 'ipe the perspiration #ro& his #orehea #or the tho$san th ti&e that night. 7e ha 'aite a long ti&e #or Wanita to a'aken hi&.
Chapter 2* - /0c1
B$ck 'as craEy 'ith rink. 7e tore into the closet looking #or his 30.0/. 7is 'i#e*s #ace 'as blee ing #ro& the beating he ha given her. She 'as on the phone calling +n re' #or help again. +n re' an his 'i#e live a h$n re yar s a'ay. "he ho$sehol s #ar&e together B$ck 'as al'ays 'il 'hen he rank 'hiskey. +s he got ol er he got &eaner. "he #ight ha starte over the #rie potatoes. 7e #o$n the ri#le. +n re' race o$t his #ront oor an across the eB$ip&ent lot. + shot rang o$t as he b$rst into his parents living roo&. B$ck stoo in the center o# the roo& looking #or his 'i#e. 7e #oc$se an #o$n her laying on the #loor near the co$ch. 7e p$lle the ri#le*s bolt back) e%ecte the spent ro$n ) an ra&&e another shell ho&e +n re' crashe into hi&. Both &en #ell to the #loor. "hey grapple #or the ri#le) neither $ttering a so$n e5cept #or gasps #or air. "he ri#le ischarge ) p$tting a hole thro$gh the ceiling an roo#. +n re' bit B$ck,s right han ) ra'ing bloo . B$ck*s grip loosene an +n re' gaine control o# the ri#le. 7e kicke at his #ather an scoote back'ar s on the #loor) gaining roo& to stan . +n re' 'orke the bolt an shot his #ather. +n then) again. +n re',s 'i#e 'as on the phone 'ith the Sheri##,s o##ice 'hile +n re' 'atche his a ie.
Chapter 2, - Dennis
"hen it 'as B$iet #or a &in$te be#ore 4ennis steppe into sight on the path 'ith the 'o$n e G( sl$ng over his back. 4ennis raise his 'eapon) #licke o## the sa#ety) an steppe o## the path to his right so he co$l better see $p an o'n the path. <We*ve 'alke right into a #$cking <kill Ke& all= a&b$sh. "hen 4ennis ease into the %$ngle on the insi e e ge o# the ben . With the sB$a *s spacing an the heavy #oliage 4ennis co$l only see t'o &en ahea . >et*s get the #$ck o$t o# hereC= . <9h Des$s Christ) (*& hit)= the G( screa&e . D$st ahea o# hi& 'as the ki #ro& Connectic$t they calle <Aank.= <Shit)= 4ennis s'ore. +G21s ans'ere by 81/s. "his 'as 4ennis* secon to$r.= <G$ys) help &e. 7e race past Aank an 4ennis to 'here the path bent a little to the le#t an 4ennis lost sight o# hi&. (*& hit)= the G( sho$te . "here 'as a b$rst o# a$to&atic 'eapons #ire ahea at the #ront o# the patrol. B$t not #or long. "he level o# erratic g$n#ire noise increase at the #ront o# the patrol. +G21s an 81/s 'ere going at both en s o# the patrol) heavy at the #ront b$t light at the rear. <Watch &y tail)= 4ennis sho$te $p the line at Aank 'ho 'as cro$che in the &i le o# the path. <(*& #$cking hit. "en &aybe #i#teen secon s later there 'ere several e5ten e b$rsts o# 81/ an +G 21 #ire near the ben . <Aank)= 4ennis yelle ) <get $p #ront an tell the >ie$tenant it*s clear back here. "here 'as a lot o# sho$ting in !nglish an 6ietna&ese. "here 'ere several b$rst o# #ire past the ben .= 8ost o# the sB$a &oving along the %$ngle path in #ront o# hi& 'as reasonably e5perience .4ennis 'as the last &an in the patrol. + G( ca&e tearing ass back o'n the path to'ar 4ennis* position #ro& the #ront.
7e shi#te his attention to the "6. 7e ha %$st got ho&e #ro& school.. +s he entere the ho$se 8ary 'as straightening $p the be aro$n Bobby) picking $p the schoolbooks.ll be here as soon as he can. "he ol &an ha t'o things to a . + ba heart valve.H 8ary B$ietly #i5e their &eal as the t'o 'atche "6) 'hile >arry pro'le thro$gh the 'oo s along the river botto&.@H Bobby i not nee anything. When the ol &an 'as t'o steps a'ay #ro& "erry %$&pe o$t o# the chair so that ?obert co$l sit. 7e hea e to the chair 'here "erry sat. She bent o'n over hi& an aske ) HAo$ 'ant soðin. "here 'as no nee no'.ll #etch so&eone in the &ornin. 9l &an 8artin &an ha 'alke to !gypt to call the 'el#are octor.Chapter 3.H When he t$rne aro$n he notice Bobby. >arry 'as o$t r$nning in the 'oo s. long 'alk)H 'as his only co&&ent. "erry sB$atte at the right o# the chair an contin$e his vie'ing o# the set. "erry ha bro$ght the& ho&e #or hi& earlier in the 'eek.&artins "erry sat in the chair 'atching "6. 8ary hovere aro$n Bobby 'anting to o soðing) trying to #in soðing to o. H:$ckin.t take hi&. to git Bobby i# the octor 'on. 7e spoke to 8ary) H(. Bobby ha 'ante to keep $p 'ith classes. Bobby 'as ea . "erry i n*t take his eyes o## the "6. 8ean ti&es git in the kitchen an #i5 $p so&e s$pper. +s he h$ng $p his hat on a nail in the 'all near the oor) ?obert sai ) H"he octor. .s con ition. Bobby lay on the cot s$rro$n e by school books.
Gla ys took a seat on one o# the co$ches. She 'as $p #ro& her seat on one o# the co$ches an 'alking across her har 'oo #loors to open the oor 'hen the knock ca&e. Gla ys knocke .= <A. (t*s col o$t. Dean an Gla ys gave each other a big h$g. 7e an Gla ys got o$t o# the tr$ck an steppe $p on the porch. Dohnny hea e back to ?oy an the kitchen table.Chapter 31 . Gla ys sa' Dohnny looking at her so she repeate Dean*s B$estion) b$t in a lo$ er voice. Dohnny c$t o## the engine then the lights. . "hey shook han s in greeting. <Dohn) o yo$ 'ant so&e co##ee@= <S$re)= Dohnny ans'ere a little lo$ ly.= Gla ys an Dohnny steppe in the ho$se.all sit an (*ll p$t these coats $p an get the co##ee)= sai Dean as she hea e to the #ront be roo&. <>et &e have yo$r coats)= Dean sai .!ohnn (t 'as 'inter an ark an col . < (* love a c$p o# co##ee. Dohnny 'ave a han at ?oy. <4o y. Dohnny an Gla ys 'ere in their pick$p an t$rne o## the co$nty roa into the rive'ay o# a brick ho&e. Gla ys* sister-in-la' Dean ha been 'aiting. "he porch light 'as on an there 'ere lights on insi e.all 'ant so&e co##ee@= +s he sa' Gla ys taking o## her coat an giving it to Dean Dohnny #ollo'e s$it. Dean p$lle open the oor an p$she open the stor& oor. ?oy) Gla ys* yo$ngest brother) stoo $p #ro& the kitchen table 'here he 'as playing solitaire an 'aite #or the g$ests to co&e in. <7i) yo$ t'o get in here.
Gest$ring at the car s on the table 'ith his le#t han Dohnny sai lo$ ly) <>ooks like yo$*re staying b$sy. Dohnny reache over an tappe on the seven an sai ) <"hat*s the one ( 'as looking #or. Dean carrie her an Gla ys* co##ee to the living roo& an sat o'n besi e Gla ys. +n they can*t o anything to stop the roarin*. <7e*s oin* #ine. We 'ent to the octor yester ay. ( %$st nee to po$r it.= Dean #i5e the &en*s co##ee an carrie it over to the table. +n Go bless yo$ #or that)= sai Gla ys. ?oy sat back o'n at the en o# the table) gathere the car s $p an began sh$##ling the&. <(t*s been t'o years since he*s ha a rink an that*s 'hat ( a& &ost thank#$l to Go #or. Gla ys took her c$p #ro& Dean an hel it in both han s to 'ar& $p her #ingers. ?oy lai a r$n o# spa es o'n. <(*ve been praying #or hi&.= <+&en)= Dean agree . .= <D$st 'aiting on yo$ to sho' $p)= ?oy replie . ( got the co##ee alrea y &a e. Dohnny %$st shook his hea . <Ao$ 'ant*a play so&e r$&&y@= <S$re)= Dohnny ans'ere an p$lle o$t a chair #ro& the table an sat o'n. <7o'*s Dohnny@= Dean aske .= <(*& sorry)= Dean replie .= <( kno' yo$ have.= <Sorry abo$t that)= ?oy sai slo'ly so Dohnny co$l rea his lips. "here*s nothin* they can o to help his hearing. (t*s %$st gone. 7earin* ai s can*t help. <No) yo$ %$st set there an rela5. She sippe so&e co##ee. Dean ca&e back #ro& the be roo& an hea e into the kitchen. <Dean) yo$ nee any help@= Gla ys calle .
"hen he iscar e the last car in his han 'ith a snap.& not interr$pting anything a& (@= :at aske .Dohnny lai o'n three kings an then a #o$r on one o# ?oy*s r$ns. <Shit)= ?oy s'ore an tosse his car s o'n #ace $p. <Ao$. She 'alke o$t o# the o##ice 'ith a tire &otion.= Chapter 32 . 7e hel a si5-pack o# beer in one han . "he ca#e 'as e&pty.re lookin. :at 'as stan ing %$st insi e the oor. S$e s&ile . . Several s&all tables 'ith #ol ing &etal chairs #ille the #loor space bet'een the kitchen on the le#t an the #ront oor. nice this evenin. <(*& o$t)= he sai a little lo$ ly. 7e 'as hol ing a pair o# aces an a ten. Dohnny co$nte $p his car s an s&ile ) <( got seventy#ive. S$e 'as back in the s&all o##ice. <7i :at)= S$e sai 'ith a s&all s&ile. (t ha a pal& tree pict$re on it an rea ) H"he 9asis . + plastic sign h$ng on the glass oor.S0e (t 'as the #irst o# the &onth an the rent #or the resta$rant 'as $e. (. (t hel a esk) a chair an a cot. S$e hear the oor open.)= sai :at. "he o##ice 'as 'e ge into the #ar right corner o# the resta$rant. <7i S$e.= (t 'as late.= :at sat o'n an opene 2 beers. She 'ore tight #itting bell botto&s an a loose 'hite peasant blo$se. She stoo $p an #l$##e o$t her blon hair. <No) the place is e&pty. S$e sat o'n opposite an took one o# the&. <Well) ( can $se a co$ple. Ao$ gonna o##er &e a beer@ <8aybe t'o or three)= :at la$ghe . She 'as a #airly attractive 'o&an in her &i #orties) tall an lean.9P!N.
7ell) (. !verybo y.re &issing. Ao$ kno' ( hate askin.s it.<"hank yo$)= S$e ans'ere an br$she her hair back a'ay #ro& her #ace. 7o' are things goin. <7o'. <8ost everybo y.t kno' 'hat they.s seven cent a gallon cheaper there. 7e raine his secon beer an opene a thir .t happene .s eating boloney)= she la$ghe . <Ao$ 'ant to co&e on back to the o##ice so ( can pay yo$ part o# 'hat ( o'e yo$@= <S$re) that. "i&es are %$st to$gh. (t.s b$siness been@= S$e took a long rink o# her beer be#ore ans'ering) <Slo') real slo'. <( think everybo y.= She took the secon beer an s&ile at :at.= <(.= <( $n erstan :at.s goin.s the #irst o# the &onth..ll be great. She locke it) #lippe the sign over to sho' <Close = an t$rne o## the lights in the #ront o# the ca#e.& sorry to hear that)= :at replie . "hey on. .= S$e stoo $p #ro& the table an grabbe the last beer. on in to to'n #or gas.Specially since it.ve even bo$ght #ille $p in to'n. She sippe on the beer as she #ollo'e :at back to the o##ice. <( get a #e' l$nches an a co$ple o# inners an that. :at opene a secon beer #or hi&sel#. "hey both rank beer B$ietly.= <( agree 'ith yo$ there. <( &ake a little e5tra so&eti&es b$t it ain. <.t o#ten. things 'o$l pick $p a little b$t it ain.= :at la$ghe . <( 'as hopin. S$e #inishe her beer an :at opene another #or her. at the station@= <Sa&e) slo')= :at ans'ere .= S$e opene the last beer an 'alke over to the #ront oor. B$siness is b$siness. :olks are &aking a big &istake there.s still letting &e change their oil an o their grease %obs) so that helps.
7e crosse the roo& an han e one to Willar . <"hat*s 'hat ( &ean.(illard "he ol #ar&ho$se 'as set #ar o## #ro& the high'ay on a slight rise.Chapter 33 . <(*ll bring yo$ one.= <9h)= Di&&y replie . <( a& so go a&ne tire o# this shit)= Willar s'ore to no one in partic$lar. ( &ean there*s no #$t$re o$t here. We nee to &ake so&e real &oney. <9# having no #$cking &oney) that*s 'hat)= Willar sho$te back. Willar s'ore his isg$st $n er his breath. Willar sat on an ol broken o'n) legless co$ch. (t 'as a big #ra&e ho$se 'ith a h$ge #ront porch an cars) ol an ol er) so&e $p on blocks) setting aro$n it. "here 'as a &$ y track #ro& the high'ay $p to the #ront oor. <:$ck) ( kno' that. <4o 'e have any &ore go a&n beer@= <Aea)= Willar sho$te . <We can &ove to "e5as. "hen he 'alke over an stoo in #ront o# the heater to rink his beer. (n #ront o# the co$ch 'as a rectang$lar) blon co##ee table littere 'ith e&pty beer cans an #$ll ashtrays. We can*t even &ake eno$gh &oney aro$n here to b$y beer. + #e' #eet in #ront o# the table 'as a "6 'ith rabbit ears. 9n the back 'all o# the roo& a gas space heater blaEe a'ay. <What can 'e o@= Willar stoo $p #ro& the co$ch an t$rne to #ace his brother. <"ire o# 'hat@= Di&&y calle o$t #ro& back in the kitchen.= Di&&y 'alke in carrying t'o cans o# beer.= <"e5as@= . "he "6 'as o## at the &o&ent.= <We got &oney #or &ore beer)= Di&&y sai . <"here*s only three le#t)= he sai as Willar took the beer.
What o yo$ think) they gave &e phone call@= <Ao$ on*t have to call &e na&es Willar . "hey al'ays nee so&eone 'ho can 'el .= +#ter a secon Di&&y contin$e ) <What o yo$ think 8o& 'ill say@= <Gro' $p p$ssy. ( 'as %$st asking. 8aybe Carl*ll go 'ith &e.Lann "he early Nove&ber night 'as clear an col .= <7o' o yo$ kno' they pay goo @= Di&&y aske . <(t 'o$l be nice i# pigs co$l #ly)= >anny state taking the bottle. . >anny) 4onny an Charley sat aro$n the ca&p#ire) rinking. <P$t a stick o# yna&ite $p their ass an they*ll #ly all right)= 4onny la$ghe . "hey 'ere ca&pe o$t $p in the hills east o# ?aven en Springs.<Aea) "e5as. "hey got all that oil st$## in "e5as an 'e can both 'el . <Well it 'o$l be nice)= Charley ans'ere an took a s&all sip #ro& the bottle be#ore passing it on to >anny. +s >anny leane #or'ar to han the bottle to 4onny he co&&ente ) <Ao$*re al'ays looking to stick soðin* $p an ass aren*t ya@= 4onny glare at >anny as he receive the bottle. <( sa' it on the #$cking "6 $&b ass. +n they pay goo . "here 'o$l be a heavy #rost in the &orning. <DeeE) this is 'ay the hell a'ay #ro& every'here)= Charley co&&ente as he took the 'hiskey bottle #ro& 4onny.= Chapter 3" . 4eer season opene in the &orning. <Well yo$ on*t e5pect a b$ck to knock on yo$r oor) o yo$@= >anny aske 'ith a la$gh.
= 4onny la$ghe .= <+n on*t start on &e. :irst o$t o# the tent he grabbe one o# the tree li&bs they ha gather $p the night be#ore an stirre the ca&p#ire*s ashes.= 4onny sh$ttere as he rank #ro& the bottle. (t*s too a&n col an (* have to $se a tree li&b to break ya $p.= <8aybe 'e sho$l t$rn in)= >anny o##ere . +n then to 4onny) <+s long as yo$ on*t try to stick anything $p &y ass.= >anny la$ghe . 8iller sai it 'as a goo spot. >anny #o$n the bottle #ro& last night) took a s'ig an passe it to 4onny. <"ry so&e hair o# the og. <(t*ll p$t hair on yo$r chest little brother.= <9kay) save the #ire'oo )= >anny la$ghe .= >anny an 4onny both la$ghe . ( i n*t o anythin*.= <Co&e on a&n it)= Charley begge . (t 'as col an ark 'hen >anny rolle o$t o# his sleeping bag. Ao$*re the one sai this 'as a goo spot. <4a&n) &y hea h$rts)= 4onny s'ore r$bbing the si es o# his hea .= . <4on*t yo$ t'o start $p.<+h) co&e on)= Charley sai . Charley ca&e back #ro& aro$n the back o# the tent. <( on*t have any yna&ite. 7e lai so&e s&aller #ire'oo across the #la&e an B$ickly ha the #ire going as his bothers ca&e o$t o# the tent. ( %$st 'ant to go h$nting in the &orning. <Ao$ t'o are going to be the eath o# &e. <What ti&e yo$ got@= <+ little a#ter 0)= >anny ans'ere .= <"hanks. 4onny a e ) <8r. 7e $ncovere so&e coals) 'hich brighten $p into a #la&e 'ith the #resh air. 7e sai he an Benny $se to co&e $p here. 4onny took a long p$ll #ro& the bottle an then a e to Charley) <Pitch so&e 'oo on the #ire.
Being in the center i# either Charley or >anny %$&pe a eer there 'as a goo chance it* r$n past hi& an he* get a goo shot. <(# ( sit (*ll #all asleep.= . Charley starte r$nning to the so$n o# the sho$ts. ( shot hi&.= <So$n s like 'e*ll be stalkin* the& b$cks)= >anny sai . <Des$s Christ 4onnyC What*s happene @= <( shot >anny) Charley. 7e co$l &ake o$t so&eone calling his na&e. "here 'ere t'o &ore shops #ire . "he $n ergro'th 'as heavy. 7e sent $s 'ay $p here to get even 'ith $s #or soðing. Charley ha heavy going as he hea e north'est. <+re 'e gonna 'alk or sit@= Charley aske . "here*s so&e eer o$t there %$st 'aitin* to be kille )= >anny la$ghe . (t 'as #ro& #ar eno$gh over that it 'as probably >anny.= "he brothers gathere $p their gear) grabbe their coats an orange h$nting caps an hea e north #or a #e' &in$tes be#ore splitting $p.<( on*t nee hair that ba )= Charley ans'ere . (# 'e on*t have anythin* by 11 let*s &eet back here) git so&e l$nch an sleep. Charley veere o## to the north'est an >anny to the northeast. 8iller. Charley #o$n >anny lying on the gro$n ) 4onny on his knees besi e hi&. <Walk)= 4onny ans'ere . (*ve kille hi&= <9h #$ckC 9h #$ck noC= <7e*s ea Charley. "hen there 'ere t'o &ore shots rapi ly #ire .= <Grab so&e %erky an let*s get goin*.= "here 'as a shot to his right. Charley co$l here so&eone calling. <4onny) let &e have that bottle. <4a&n 8r. !very path he co$l #in see&e to hea $p hill. 4onny hel his gro$n #or a #e' &in$tes so his brothers co$l get so&e separation. +n he 'as col . <Grab so&e can y bars an let*s git goin*.
7$##&an*s gran son 4or&an. 7e 'as several years ol er than the other boys. <7ere chick) here chick)= 8rs. 7$##&an calle an began scattering #ee in #ront o# her as she 'alke to'ar the chicken coop. 7$##&an &a e her 'ay care#$lly o'n the back steps carrying a pan o# chicken #ee cra le in her le#t ar&. What*s happene @ "hose boy*s been &essin* 'ith y$h@= +cross the roa Nor&an) ?onnie an 4onnie 'ere in the tractor she 'ith 8rs. 7e hel his penis in his han . "heir ho$se 'as one o# several on that si e o# the roa . 7er son an his #a&ily live across the roa . A.= Chapter 3# . "hen ( sa' it 'as >anny. <B$t on*t o anythin* in &y &o$th. 8rs. What are 'e going to o 4onny@= <>eave yo$r gear here an get back to the tr$ck. ( g$ess 'ith the gro$n r$nning o'n to the east ( got behin hi& so&e ho' an ( sa' so&e &ove&ent an #ire . <See Nor&an) that*s all there is to it.Nor4an 8rs.all &ovin* slo'. (*ll give yo$ a B$arter %$st like ( i the t'ins)= 4or&an e5plaine . ( on*t kno'. <9h) okay)= Nor&an ans'ere . Get over to ?aven en Springs an call the police. Watching the chickens &ove to the #ee she sai ) <Chick) chick) chick. 7$##&an live in the only ho$se on the so$theast corner o# !gypt. 7e 'as stan ing an they 'ere kneeling in #ront o# hi&.<7o' in go *s na&e i yo$ o that@ Co$l n*t yo$ see his #$cking hat@= <( on*t kno' Charley.= .= <ShitC Shit) shit) shit. (*ll 'ait here #or yo$.
Nor&an %$&pe $p spitting an gagging. When the clock clicke over to seven +8 he p$nche o$t) p$t his car $p in the rack an h$rrie o$t the e&ployee entrance. (t 'asn*t long be#ore he e%ac$late . 4or&an an the t'ins la$ghe at his antics. "he trees aro$n the e ges o# the parking area 'ere beginning to change color.s b$s ro$te 'as al'ays r$nning ten &in$tes late. "he s$n 'as $p. <"here) 'e okay no'@= <S$re)= Nor&an ans'ere . 7ere.= Pete. Nor&an close eyes an opene his &o$th.<( pro&ise. !5changing ri es he starte $p the b$s. 4or&an steppe $p close. 7e p$lle o## the high'ay into the nearly e&pty parking lot an stoppe his tr$ck over close to the lone school b$s. <4ern it) (.= 4or&an p$lle a B$arter #ro& his pocket an han le it to Nor&an.t &in . 7ere*s another B$arter. +ll (*& gonna o is b$t it in yo$r &o$th an &ove it aro$n a little. <(t %$st happene . . 7e checke the ti&e on his 'rist 'atch.= Chapter 3' .& late. <Ao$ pro&ise C= Nor&an sho$te . <7ey) (*& sorry)= 4or&an e5plaine trying to B$iet Nor&an. engine an p$lle o$t o# the parking lot back onto the #o$r lane.Pete Pete ha his %acket on an 'as stan ing besi e the ti&e clock 'ith his ti&e car in his right han . Pete h$rrie across the e&ployee parking lot to his tr$ck. Pete al'ays got the b$s back to the school on ti&e. <D$st on*t o that again. Wasn*t anythin* ( co$l o. "he school i n. !asy &oney. Pete rove #ast o'n the #o$r lane $ntil he reache the high school. "he &orning 'as cool. "he ki s i n.t &in .
"hen he a e ) <"r$th tol ) ( like . <8orning Pete)= the &an at the register sai as Pete 'alke in.Pete close the oor o# the school b$s a#ter the last chil got o##. 7e checke the ti&e on his 'rist 'atch. .e& best 'hen they.e& every 'ay. <( %$st got the& pies in)= the &an at the register sai as he rang $p Pete.@= <?$nnin.e& that 'ay too)= the &an replie . "here 'as a blinking yello' 'arning light h$ng across the high'ay 'here a co$nty roa intersecte the high'ay. !lvis barely ha ti&e to #inish a song 'hen Pete creste a hill.= 7e grinne . <( like . late)= Pete ans'ere h$rrying over to the so as. 7e grabbe t'o. ?e-e5changing ri es Pete rove o## the cro'e parking lot an t$rne back onto the #o$r lane an hea e north. "he &an at the register s&ile . 7e ease the cl$tch o$t an &otore the b$s back to its earlier parking spot. 9n either si e o# the roa 'as a short strip &all. "here 'ere &oon pies on an en cap.s p$rchase. <Goo ) right on ti&e. <( like . "he stores 'ere like &irror i&ages o# each other) gas stations) B$ick &arts) banks) an ollar stores. <See y$h)= Pete ans'ere over his sho$l er as the oor close behin hi&. <See y$h to&orro' &orning)= the &an at the register calle . <A$p)= Pete agree as he gather $p his p$rchases an hea e to the oor. <7o' yo$ this &ornin.= Pete slippe an !lvis tape into the eight track an t$rne the vol$&e $p. Pete p$lle a big Pepsi o$t o# the so a bo5 an hea e back to the register. Pete slo'e o'n an &a e a le#t t$rn into the gas station on that si e an parke close to the B$ick &art.re ol an che'y)= Pete ans'ere paying the bill 'ith change.
= <+n still 'orking thir shi#t@= <Aep. 8ornin. <"heir 8o& nee s st$##.= <+n 'orking here. Shit &an) 'hen o yo$ sleep@= <No' an then)= Pete ans'ere . "hen he steppe $p onto the #o$n ation an %oine in the #ra&ing.)= Pete ans'ere . B$t she ain. 7e set his Pepsi on the corner o# the #o$n ation an b$ckle $p his 'ork belt.Back in the tr$ck) rinking his Pepsi an eating one o# the &oon pies) Pete p$lle onto the co$nty roa hea ing 'est.s a go a&ne #act)= another agree . <( on. +t the center o# the lot 'as a ho$se #o$n ation 'ith three &en 'orking there #ra&ing the ho$se. ?eaching across the seat he picke $p a tool belt #ro& the #loorboar ) then grabbe the rest o# his Pepsi.= <( tho$ght yo$ 'as ivorce @= one interr$pte . <Pete) yo$ still riving the school b$s@= one aske . ( #it it in.= <Well) 'e are. Pete 'as parke in an acre clearing s$rro$n e by trees in #all colors. Pete p$lle o## his %acket an tosse it on the tr$ck seat.= <"hat. <Aep.t 'orking an the ki s nee their &o&. <( got &y a$ghters to take care o#) saving #or college) yo$ kno')= Pete contin$e . . 7e stoppe along si e t'o parke tr$cks an steppe o$t.t nee &$ch. <(t takes a lot o# &oney no' ays. the g$ys calle . Pete). "he #irst &oon pie 'as eaten an hal# the Pepsi gone 'hen Pete slo'e o'n an p$lle o## the roa onto a gravele rive'ay. "he cre' took a break sitting $n er the trees nearest the tr$cks.= "he g$ys all kin o# s&ile at Pete.= <What o yo$ o 'ith all the &oney@ Ao$ &$st be rich@ Pete grinne a little. "he air 'as #ille 'ith ha&&ering. <8ornin.
here oin. :at 'as in the single bay o# the station greasing a car 'hen they rolle in. >et. over to 8e&phis this evenin.re gonna git over there an ri e so&e ri es an see i# ( can 'in . 7e never shook the nickna&e. 7e t$rne an calle ) <7ay) ho' y$h oin*@ :ill it $p@= Stepping o$t o# the car Willar ans'ere back) <Aea) #ill it $p..t 'ant Pete to get bore sittin.& taking .s get back to 'ork.e& a te y bear. <(. Willar p$lle his bro'n Bel +ir into the station at .= <+n yo$r 'orkin.s %$st an ho$r over there)= Pete ans'ere .t they)= one o##ere . Co$sin Carl 'as sitting in the #ront passenger*s seat.e& over to the 8i -So$th :air this evenin.<Aea) ( g$ess they o) on. Plenty o# ti&e to get to 'ork.& picking the girls $p a#ter the b$s r$n an 'e.N30 +8. tonight@ <Aea) it. (.@= <Aea) (. 7e 'as resse cas$ally in a .ll have the girls back to their &o&. Brother Di&&y 'as at ho&e.= "he three g$ys s&ile an shook their hea s. <S$re they o)= Pete con#ir&e .re goo girls. nothin.(illard "he gas station sat on the insi e c$rve o# the roa as it passe thro$gh to'n. :at ha a 'eight proble& 'hen he 'as a ki b$t he ha over co&e it a long ti&e ago. <"hey. 7e ease past the pre&i$& p$&p an stoppe at the reg$lar. !at so&e cotton can y. (t 'as o'ne an operate #or the past thirty years by :at.. We on.= <Ao$ rivin.s by ten.= +s :at h$rrie over to gas $p the car Willar 'alke aro$n ) stretching his legs. <9ne g$y stoo $p an sai ) <Well co&e on.= Chapter 3) .
<>ooks like it*s gonna git hot to ay)= :at o##ere as he reste his le#t han on the back o# the car an p$&pe the gas 'ith his right.t shoot)H st$ttere :at. Willar #ollo'e hi& insi e. :at p$&pe the gas. <>et &e go insi e an r$n this thing)= :at sai taking the car an hea ing insi e 'here the register an cre it car &achine 'ere. Grinning he reache into his #ront right pocket an p$lle o$t a cre it car .22 ?$ger pistol he carrie t$cke into his 'aistban . <"hat*ll be #i#teen an a B$arter)= he tol Willar . an levele it at Willar .s &o$th #ell open. <7ere y$h go. D$st sign here. :at #inishe #illing o$t the cre it slip.#a e green plai shirt) irty %eans an no shoes. Willar . 7is shirttail h$ng o$t concealing the . . 7e opene the register) reache in a#ter the &oney an p$lle o$t a sn$b nose .= :at looke at Willar an then looke at the car .3. When the p$&p kicke o## :at ease another #i#teen cents 'orth into the tank an onto the gro$n be#ore p$tting the hose $p. +s the station oor close behin Willar ) Carl sli over $n er the 'heel an starte the car $p) then race the &otor nervo$sly. <Aea) hot)= Willar ans'ere . <9G) great)= Willar ans'ere . :orest.= <(*& not signin* a Go a&n thingC= Willar s'ore p$lling the pistol o$t o# his pants an pointing it at :at.= H9-o-o-9G) %$st on. <9pen that a&n register an give &e the &oney :$cker. P$tting the car into gear he hel his le#t #oot o'n on the brake 'hile he contin$e to race the engine 'ith his right. 7e sai to Willar ) <7ere yo$ go 8r. 7e looke a little nervo$sly #ro& :at to Carl. "he actions ca$se spas&o ic %erks o# the car.
:at sB$eeEe the trigger. "he .3; kicke slightly as :at ble' o## the top o# Willar ,s hea . D$st like in the 'ar. "he b$llet an brains s&ashe into the #ront glass oor. Carl 'et hi&sel# 'hen he hear the pistol shot an the crash o# the #ront glass o# the station. :orgetting abo$t Willar he took o##) b$t stoppe a#ter only ten #eet. :at b$rst o$t o# the station oor) pistol in han ) an took ai& at Carl. Carl #loore the acceleratorI the spinning rear 'heels screa&e #or traction) belching s&oke. "he car &ove ) #ishtaile ) an narro'ly &isse a parke car at the resta$rant as it hit the high'ay. :at ran into the street a#ter the car) once again taking ai&. Carl hear t'o roars #ro& the .3;. 9ne b$llet hit the car oing little a&age. "he other shot &isse co&pletely. HGo a&n itCH s'ore :at as the car spe o$t o# range. 7e lo'ere the pistol an ret$rne to the station to call the police. +s he passe Willar ,s bo y he looke o'n an sai B$ietly) HSt$pi son o# a bitch. ( 'o$l have let yo$ get a'ay 'ith the gas.H
Chapter 3* - .o (t 'as the &i le o# an +$g$st a#ternoon. Gene 'as o$tsi e &o'ing the yar . + s&all clo$ o# $st kicke $p #ro& the grass #ollo'e her as she &o'e . +bove the roar o# the &o'er*s engine Gene crie an calle o$t to Go . <4ear Go ) ha have ( one #or yo$ to bring this sha&e o'n on &e@ What can ( o to bring ?oy back@ Why have yo$ taken hi& a'ay@ 9h Go ) 'hat can ( o@=
?oy ha &ove into a trailer in Donesboro. (t 'as close to 'ork an goo eno$gh #or the &o&ent. 7e 'as sitting on the co$ch rinking Cro'n ?oyal. "he hal# #$ll bottle sat on the en table in #ront o# hi&. "he >P he 'as listening to en e . "he t$rntable*s tone ar& li#te an s'$ng $p an over the recor an the &otor sh$t o##. ?oy stoo $p) set his glass o# 'hiskey o'n on the co##ee table an 'alke over to the stereo. 4arla ha loane it to hi&. Soðing to help hi& pass the ti&e 'hen she 'asn*t there. 7e li#te the tone ar&) t$rne the t$rntable back on an set the nee le o'n on 4arla*s :re ie 7art alb$&.
Chapter 3, - $enn %&itch (t 'as early evening 'hen the */1 Gala5ie 'hippe into the space in #ront o# the phone booth o$tsi e the tr$ck stop on 7igh'ay 1;. Both Genny an 8itch 'ere in the car. "hey pile o$t o# the car &oving in opposite irections) Genny to the 8en,s roo& an 8itch to the coke &achine. While Genny 'as in the restroo& 8itch #e coins into the bo5 b$ying so a pops #or Genny an hi&sel#. When Genny ca&e o$t o# the restroo& he #o$n 8itch sitting on the car hoo sipping a 4octor Pepper an hol ing o$t a 8o$ntain 4e' to hi&. "hro$gh a ry &o$th Genny sai ) H"hanks)H an took a long rink #ro& his 4e'. Wiping his &o$th on his shirtsleeve he grinne an trie to keep a straight #ace as he sai ) H"hanks) ( nee e that.H 7e an 8itch both broke $p la$ghing. Genny stoppe la$ghing s$ enly an looke aro$n nervo$sly. 8itch stoppe la$ghing. "hey 'ere stone an spee ing.
Genny &otione 'ith his hea to'ar the phone booth. 8itch sli o## o# the hoo an #ollo'e Genny to the booth. "he phone booth 'as ol I the botto& glass panes kicke o$t long ago. "he light insi e the booth i not 'ork tho$gh there 'as s$##icient ill$&ination provi e by the tr$ck stop resta$rant to ial a n$&ber. Stepping insi e Genny le#t the oor open so that 8itch) leaning against the booth) co$l hear. Genny r$&&age in his pockets searching #or a i&e. +l&ost esperately he aske in his hoarse voice) H8itch) yo$ got a i&e@H 8itch p$lle o$t a han #$l o# coins) spilling several onto the si e'alk. H7ere)H he sai aro$n his thick tong$e) passing a i&e over to Genny. "aking the i&e Genny roppe it into the phone an 'aite #or the slo' co&ing ial tone) r$&&ing his right #ingers on the booth 'all. ?eceiving a tone he iale an then 'aite #or an ans'er to his rings. HLh) hello 8rs. Dacobs. 7o' are yo$@ M Well) $h) (,& #ine. Lh) is ?obert there@ -- Co$l () $h) speak to hi&@ -"hank yo$ 8a*a&. -- ?obert) this is GennyC 7ave yo$ got any o'ners@ -- Ao$ on,tC ShitC 8e an 8itch nee soðingI 'e,re spee ing o$r asses o##. -- No) 'e,ve been oing 'hites an s&oking. 4o yo$ kno' any'here 'e can get soðin,@ -- :$ckC Lh) 'ell thanks any'ay. 7eh) say bye to yo$r &other #or &e.H HShitC What are 'e goin, to o@H Genny aske the air. "alking to 8itch he sai ) H7e oesn,t have anything.H 8itch looke paine . H4oes he kno' 'here 'e can get so&e@H HShit) noC 7e oesn,t kno' anything)H Genny shot o$t. HWell) ( g$ess 'e,ll %$st have to g$t it o$t then)H 8itch sai gl$&ly. Genny pl$nge his han s eep into his pockets an glare across the parking area to the tr$ck stop*s gas
p$&ps. :ro& behin a car at the p$&ps a yo$ng &an rose 'ith a gas noEEle in his han . H7eyCH Genny al&ost sho$te . H"here,s 8ike.= 7e pointe to the &an placing the noEEle back into the p$&p. Genny an 8itch both ran to the car) reaching it %$st as 8ike starte the engine $p. 8ike 'as a #e' years ol er an in college b$t he ha gro'n $p 'ith Genny an 8itch. H7i) #ellas. Watch y$h oin,@H HAo$ got any o'ners@H Genny aske . 8ike la$ghe . <( sho$l have kno'n. ( got t'o bottles o# Boone,s :ar&) that,s all.= H7o' &$ch ya 'ant #or one@H 8itch aske . H9h) ( on,t kno'. Watch ya got@H HWe,ll give y$h #i#ty 'hites)H 8itch o##ere . <(*ll o that eal)< 8ike s&ile . 7e reache $n er the #ront seat an p$lle o$t a bottle o# Boone,s :ar& +pple Wine. 7e han e it to Genny. 8itch gave 8ike a bag #$ll o# 'hites. <Pleas$re oin* b$siness 'ith y$h)= 8ike s&ile as he slippe the bag insi e his shirt pocket. <9$r pleas$re too)= Genny la$ghe an he an 8itch hea e back to their car . Chapter "- - Lann Sat$r ay a#ter the #$neral everyone b$t 4onny gathere at the 'i o'*s ho$se. Charley 'as back in a corner o# the living roo& talking 'ith 8r. 8iller. <4onny oesn*t kno' 'hat to o. ( &ean he kille >anny. What*s he s$ppose to o@= <+cci ents happen Charley. "here*s not too &$ch that he can o. 7ope#$lly everyone 'ill $n erstan an #orgive
hi&. 7e an 8ichelle have the b$r ens to carry)= 8r. 8iller o##ere . <Aeah)= Charley no e . <+n ( g$ess no' 'itho$t >anny 'e*ll nee to sell the co&pany. None o# $s can r$n it like he i . 7e &a e everything happen.= <>anny 'as a to$gh &an) b$t a goo &an)= 8r. 8iller agree . <7e 'as a har 'orker. Since he 'as little he 'as al'ays getting a#ter it.= Charley s&ile . <Aea) he 'as al'ays all over everything 'asn*t he@= "hen Charley shook his hea slightly an aske ) <8r. 8iller) ( nee so&e &ore co##ee. Can ( get yo$ so&e@= <No thanks Charley) (*& goo .= <9kay) i# yo$*ll e5c$se &e. (*ll be right back.= Watching Charley cross the roo& 8r. 8iller sai to no one in partic$lar. <( tr$ly on*t kno' 'hy yo$ boys 'ent 'here $p there. "hat*s Go *s ro$ghest lan .= 7e t$rne to look o$t the #ront 'in o' as he sippe his co##ee.
Chapter "1 - &r5 &iller 8r. 8iller opene the letter #ro& his son*s Captain) rea the 'or s <F( a& sorry #or yo$r lossF= an collapse to the #loor. Binh 4$ong province is north o# Saigon. (t lies in the (ron "riangle. Bennie*s tank sB$a 'as a vancing $p the roa . Bennie 'as cro$che on the back eck 'ith his 81/. "he "C an loa er 'ere ri ing $p on the t$rret. "he river 'as b$ttone $p. <8iller) rela5) sit o'n)= the "C calle o'n. <Ao$*ll get all cra&pe $p sB$atting like that.= (nco&ing s&all ar&s #ire broke o$t #ro& every irection. "he river increase spee .
"he "C ret$rne #ire 'ith the 82 to his #ront right. "he loa er #ire his 81/ to the le#t. Bennie 'as #iring to the le#t. +n ?PG e5plo e against the right si e o# the tank 'ith little e##ect. "he tank contin$e to increase spee . "he "C got on the ra io. "he loa er sli insi e the tank. Bennie lay ea ) #ace o'n) on the back eck.
Chapter "2 - $enn %&itch 8ary live in a s&all three-be roo& brick ho$se on the roa to Calvin Crossing. Shortly a#ter she an her h$sban ) Bob) co&plete the ho$se he &ove o$t an $p into the hills near Po$ghkeepsie leaving Genny 'ith her. She ha lost control over Genny. She spent &ost o# her spare ti&e at the :irst +sse&bly o# Go ch$rch praying #or help in raising hi&. Genny slo$che back on the 'orn ivan #eeling very goo . 8itch sat opposite hi& in the recliner. "hey 'ere in the spare be roo& o# Genny*s 8o&*s ho$se. Genny $se it as his living roo&. H8itchC Why on,t y$h roll another one@H Genny aske 'ith a giggle. HS$re) (, be pro$ to)H 8itch replie popping the recliner into its $pright position. + blon ) #i#tyish &o ernist co##ee table lay bet'een the t'o. + broken po$n o# &ari%$ana lay scattere over its topI another $nto$che po$n sat besi e it on the #loor. "o help e#ray the rising costs o# living the pair ha entere into the b$siness 'orl . "hey 'ere their best c$sto&ers. 8itch began to rop &akings onto his papers. 7e picke a
#rag&ent o# al$&in$& #oil o$t o# the ope an contin$e on creating 'hat 'o$l soon be a #air siEe cigar. 8itch #inishe rolling the %oint) lit it an took a hit. "hen he passe it to Genny 'ho took a long) eep rag) savoring the bl$e s&oke. With their b$siness going 'ell Genny rea&e o# the #ancy ho$se) goo 'hiskey) an bea$ti#$l 'o&en he 'o$l soon have. 8itch lay back in the recliner thinking only abo$t getting lai . "here 'as no conversation bet'een the&. "hey sat an s&oke B$ietly 'ith their private tho$ghts. + car traveling on the roa o$tsi e ca&e 'ithin their hearing) the& another. "he car so$n s approache the ho$se an stoppe o$tsi e. Car oors opene an sla&&e sh$t. 7eavy #eet so$n e on the porch. + #ist beat on the oor. H9pen $pC "his is the Sheri##CH :ive ep$ties b$rst into the ho$se an race into to the roo&. "hey %erke the boys to their #eet. Genny an 8itch 'ere shocke b$t they 'ere too stone to react. "here 'as no resistance. "he boys ha their han s c$##e behin their backs. "he r$g ealers 'ere &arche o$tsi e an place in the Co$nty Sheri##,s car 'here they 'aite 'hile the evi ence 'as gathere $p. "hen the pair 'as riven a'ay to'ar their #$t$re at "$cker Prison :ar&. Genny, &other ret$rne ho&e in tears. +#ter ho$rs an ho$rs praying 'ith the preacher over the past several &onths) seeking the >oa *s g$i ance she ha #inally t$rne her baby in #or r$g ealing. "he preacher ha sai it 'as the Hbest thing #or everyone concerne .H
Chapter "3 - Darrell
(n late +$g$st ?ay&on t$rne eighteen. 7e i&&e iately roppe o$t o# school an %oine the 8arines. 7e 'as in ca&p in San 4iego 'aiting #or eploy&ent to 6ietna&. 4arrell t$rne t'enty-one the 'eek a#ter he le#t. No one notice . (t 'as late #all. +ll the cotton 'as picke ) the #iel s b$sh hogge . School 'as back in. 4arrell stoo on the porch in the &orning arkness 'atching #or the school b$s. 7e sa' hea lights appear an then the t'o $pper re lights o# the b$s. 7e &ove o## the porch an $p to the si e o# the roa . "he b$s i not slacken its spee as it near hi&. (t roare past hi& 'itho$t slo'ing 'itho$t ackno'le ging his presents at the si e o# the roa . Shocke an is&aye 4arrell stoo there an 'atche the b$s* taillights isappear o'n the roa . +#ter a'hile he 'ent back to the ho$se. "he #ollo'ing ay 4arrell 'as back o$t besi e the roa again. "he b$s roare past hi& again. 9n the thir ay 4arrell took o## chasing the b$s a#ter it past hi&. "he b$s river took pity on 4arrell an stoppe the b$s an 'aite #or 4arrell to catch $p. "he ki s alrea y on the b$s 'ere $s$ally lo$ an boistero$s. "hey sat B$ietly looking o$t the 'in o's as they 'aite #or 4arrell. When 4arrell 'as al&ost $p to the oor the river sli the oors opene ) got $p #ro& his seat an steppe o'n to the gro$n . <8r. Bob)= 4arrell sai in 'ay o# a goo &orning an steppe aro$n so he co$l cli&b onto the b$s. <No' 4arrell) yo$ kno' yo$ can,t go to school no &ore. Ao$,re t'enty-one. "he state ain,t gonna pay no &ore #or yo$r e $cation. 4i n*t they tell yo$ that last 'eek@= 4arrell no e his hea 'itho$t speaking. <Ao$,re too ol #or school no'. Ao$ kno' that. ( hate ( have to &ake yo$ stay ho&e. B$t 'hat can ( o@ "hat*s the la'.= 4arrell &ove again to step on aro$n .
<( can*t let y$h on the b$s 4arrell.= 4arrell stoppe an looke at Bob. Bob ha riven the school b$s #or as long as 4arrell co$l re&e&ber. +n no' he sai no. 4arrell $cke his hea o'n. Bob patte 4arrell on the back an cli&be back onto the b$s. 7e p$lle the oors close ) p$t the b$s in gear an ease a'ay #ro& 4arrell) picking $p spee . +s Bob p$t so&e istance bet'een the& an 4arrell the vol$&e an e5$berance o# the ki s on the b$s ret$rne . >ong a#ter the b$s 'as o$t o# sight 4arrell hea e back to the ho$se.
Chapter "" - !err Gla ys ca&e r$nning into the ho$se sho$ting) <DohnnyC DohnnyC= Dohnny 'as 'atching "6. 7e i n*t hear Gla ys. 7e #elt the vibration o# the #loor as she race to hi&. 7e t$rne his hea . <Dohnny) there*s a #ireC= Gla ys sho$te . <"here*s a #ire DohnnyC= Dohnny shook his hear. <Slo' o'n Gla ys. ( can*t tell 'hat yo$*re saying.= Gla ys grabbe Dohnny*s han an p$lle hi& to his #eet an then p$lle hi& thro$gh the ho$se an o$t the kitchen oor. She pointe at the tractor she . <Des$s Christ) the she *s on #ire)= Dohnny sho$te . <Get Derry)= he sho$te over his sho$l er as he ran to the she . "he #ire 'as leaping along the si e o# the she t'enty #eet into the air. "here 'as a tractor in the she . Dohnny &a e the ecision to go #or the #ire. (t 'as on the o$tsi e o# the she an ha only %$st no' leape $p the si e o# the
she . (# he 'orke #ast he co$l save both the she an the tractor. 7e race over to the gar en) grabbe the hose. +n t$ne on the shallo' 'ell,s p$&p. 7e p$lle the hose along as the 'ater began strea&ing o$t. Dohnny began spraye 'ater at the base o# the #ire. Gla ys ca&e r$nning. <Where*s Derry@= Dohnny sho$te . Gla ys shook her hea . <Go a&n it)= Dohnny s'ore. <(*ll &ove the tractor)= Gla ys screa&e at Dohnny. <NoC NoC= Dohnny or ere an he grabbe her by the le#t ar& to keep her #ro& going. <4on*t risk it. (t*s %$st a a&n tractorC= Dohnny contin$e to spay 'ater an the #ire roppe in siEe. "he #ire 'as soon o$t. "he she an gro$n aro$n it still billo'e s&oke. <Go call the #ire epart&ent. "ell Ke& 'hat*s happene an tell Ke& 'e got it $n er control. No reason #or the& to co&e o$t)= Dohnny tol Gla ys. <(*ll go call.= Dohnny let go o# Gla ys* ar& an she hea e to the ho$se. With all that s&oke so&eone 'o$l call it in. Dohnny contin$e to spay 'ater on the b$rnt patch o# gro$n an the scorche she . (t looke like the she 'as okay. When Gla ys ca&e back o$t Dohnny pointe at 'hat ha been the center o# the #ire. <Go a&n gas #ire)= he sai lo$ ly. <"hat*s Derry*s clothes ain*t it@= Gla ys looke closely 'here the 'ater 'as still spraying an co$l see the re&ains o# a s$itcase) Derry*s s$itcase. <"hat craEy boy set #ire to his clothes)= Dohnny sho$te . "he 'in ble' the s&oke a'ay #ro& the ho$se 'here Derry sat 'atching everything #ro& the roo#top. 7e 'atche the pair belo' r$nning aro$n an la$ghe . Gla ys hear the so$n an looke $p.
Derry 'ave . <7i 8o&)= he calle o'n to her. Gla ys p$lle on Dohnny*s ar& an pointe $p at Derry. Dohnny #ollo'e her &otion. <Go a&n)= he s'ore B$ietly staring $p at his son. <What are yo$ oin, $p there boy@= he calle . <D$st 'atching yo$ t'o)= Derry calle o'n. Gla ys repeate it to Dohnny several ti&es be#ore he $n erstoo . <What* yo$ b$rn yo$r clothes #or son@= <4on*t nee Ke&)= he ans'ere . Gla ys repeate it to Dohnny several ti&es be#ore he $n erstoo . <Ao$ goin* to go nake @= Dohnny aske . <( &ight.= Derry la$ghe . <"he& 'as goo clothes.= <Wi#e on*t nee &e) ( on*t nee the clothes)= Derry ans'ere . Gla ys repeate it to Dohnny several ti&es be#ore he $n erstoo . <(# yo$ 'eren*t al'ays rinkin* an chasing 'o&en she 'o$l n*t have kicke yo$ o$t.= Derry stoo $p an sho$te ) <:$ck her. :$ck everybo y. ( on*t nee her.= Dohnny shook his hea looking $p at his son. Gla ys got Dohnny*s attention an aske ) <What are 'e goin* to o@= <Shit) ( on*t kno'. Get the g$n an shoot the craEy #ool ( g$ess.= <DohnnyC= Gla ys sho$te . Dohnny shook his hea . <>et*s go in. 7e*ll co&e o'n 'hen he gets col an h$ngry.= <+n i# he on*t@= <(*ll call his brothers in the &orning.=
Chapter "# - Darrell "he evening 'as col an a&p. "he hea lights o# the green Nova e5pose a light &ist #alling across the e&pty #iel s. "here 'as not eno$gh &oist$re to nee the 'ipers. <D$st $p ahea )= ?ay&on ) pointing vag$ely to his right) tol the river. ?ay&on 'as resse in his 8arine $ni#or&. (t looke a little 'orst #or the 'ear o# the last three ays as he ha hitche an 'alke #ro& San 4iego. <Aeah) there it is)= ?ay&on e5cite ly pointe to the shotg$n ho$se %$st no' in sight. <( see it)= the river replie . 7e ease $p o## the gas. "he car began to slo'. ?ay&on tho$gh it kne' everyone aro$n ho&e b$t the b$rley river in his bro'n an black CP9 %acket 'as a ne' #ace to hi&. "he g$y ha picke hi& $p %$st o$tsi e o# Waln$t ?i ge an ha n*t sai &$ch other than he ha been picking $p a tractor part an 'as hea ing back ho&e. 7e &ight have been a Si&&ons. "here 'as a &illion o# the&. <"here*s no place to p$ll o##)= ?ay&on e5plaine . <D$st stop any'here. ( appreciate it.= <S$re)= the river gr$nte an bro$ght the car to a stop. ?ay&on opene the oor an 'as o$t o# the car B$ickly. 7e reache over the seat #or his sea bag in the back seat. <( really o appreciate it)= ?ay&on o##ere again as he stoo back to close the oor. <Not a proble&)= the river ans'ere . <Gill so&e gooks #or &e)= he a e 'ith a s&ile. <(*ll o &y best sir)= ?ay&on ans'ere an sh$t the oor. +s the car p$lle a'ay ?ay&on hea e to the ho$se 'ith his bag in han . "here 'as a light on in the #ront roo&. ?ay&on i n*t see anyone an he 'asn*t e5pecte .
(t 'as &i -&orning) overcast b$t no rain 'as #alling. "he t'o co$nty police cars 'ere parke o## the roa as &$ch as the narro' sho$l er 'o$l allo'. "he ep$ties ha been a#rai they 'o$l get st$ck i# they got any closer to the ho$se. "hey stoo on the porch talking 'ith ?ay&on . ?ay&on 'as in $ni#or&. 7e ha been $p early an 'alke the &ile to the nearest neighbor*s so he co$l $se their phone. 7e ha calle the co$nty sheri## to report his #ather*s eath. "he ol &an 'as sl$&pe over back in the o$tho$se. "he lea ep$ty 'as in his &i -thirties) tall) heavy set) 'ith re hair an re co&ple5ion. 7is gray Stetson 'as encase in plastic to keep it ry. "he secon ep$ty) hat in han ) 'as a ki ) %$st o$t o# school) $ni#or&) hat) shoes an g$n 'ere all bran ne'. 7e kept B$iet an 'atche . <>ike ( sai )= ?ay&on ans'ere ) <( on*t kno' 'hat ti&e Pa got $p. ( 'as back in the &i le roo&. 7e 'as &oving aro$n an 'oke &e $p. With his ba back Pa 'asn*t very B$iet.= <+n yo$ have no i ea 'hat ti&e it 'as@= <+ll ( kno' is it 'as still ark)= ?ay&on ans'ere . <( p$lle the cover over &y hea an 'ent back to sleep. ( %$st spent the last three ays getting here an (*& pretty tire .= <+n yo$r brother) 'hat 'as he oing@= <( s$ppose 4arrell 'as asleep)= ?ay&on replie . <What i he say@= <Well) he oesn*t talk &$ch oes he)= the ep$ty s&ile . <No) no) he oesn*t)= ?ay&on agree . <4i yo$r Pa have heart tro$ble@= ?ay&on looke the ep$ty in the eye as he ans'ere ) <7e ha every other kin o# tro$ble so ( g$ess he probably ha heart tro$ble too.=
<Aea) thanks)= the ep$ty replie . <"hat*s all the B$estions ( have. 8ike) yo$ have any@= <No) ( think that covers anything ( ha .= <Great) then 'e*ll go 'ait in the car #or the a&b$lance to sho' $p. When they get here 'e*ll get yo$r #ather &ove o$t an get hi& on in to the coroner. What #$neral ho&e 'ill yo$ be $sing@= <Whichever one*s cheapest)= ?ay&on ans'ere . <We on*t have &$ch to spen on that kin o# st$##.= <S$re) not a proble&. ( $n erstan .= "hen ?ay&on aske ) <( 'as 'on ering i# 'hen 'e*re one here co$l 4arrell an ( get a li#t over to &y +$nt*s ho$se. She lives near 8int$rn i# that*s all right. (* really like to get 4arrell o$t o# here.= <S$re) 8ike can give yo$ a li#t over there.=
Part 2 -Art
Chapter "' - 6red Goo eve,non. (t,s nice to &eet y$h. 8y na&e*s Cratchit) Bob Cratchit. Aep) no relation. "hat #ella* there,s :re . 7e lives here in the trailer. 7e,s %$st a ki . Closing his eyes :re rolls over in the be an b$rro's his #ace $n er the pillo'. 7e,s starting a thir shi#t %ob tonight so he 'ent to be long be#ore ark) hopin, to get so&e rest. (t i n,t 'ork. 7e lai there staring $p at the ceiling tiles $ntil it 'as too ark to see. No' he,s %$st laying there trying to see. "'isting an #lopping in the be :re lan s on his back an s'ears) HShitC ( g$ess (,ll %$st get $p be#ore ( 'ear &ysel# co&pletely o$tCH
"he be ,s on casters. B$t the roo&,s too s&all #or it to be place any'here other than 'here it is) against the trailer,s north en 'ith the 'in o' centere above it. "he 'in o' is the horiEontal lo$vere type. (ts han le,s &issin, an the 'in o' on,t close all the 'ay. Ao$ can $se a scre' river to open an close it b$t it 'on,t never close all the 'ay. "he hea o# the be is in the north an east 'all angle. (t,s s$ppose to be best to sleep in that irection. 9n the #oot o# the &attress the covering is b$ste open a little. Cli&bing o$t o# the be :re steps into the irty clothes stre'n abo$t the #loor. 7e keeps the& there in the #loor an his clean ones in 'hat he calls <the resser)= three car boar bo5es on the #loor insi e the closet. :re sh$##les his #eet) kicking clothes o$t o# his 'ay an hea s o$t thro$gh the ark trailer #eeling his 'ay along the hall) past the bathroo&) the s&all be roo&) an into the living roo&. 7e #eels a set o# 'all s'itches $n er his #ingers an stops. 7e #licks on the overhea kitchen light an blinks a co$ple o# ti&es as his eyes a %$st. "he kitchen corner is over at the so$th en o# the trailer) part o# the living roo&. (t has a hal# siEe re#rigerator) t'o chairs) a :or&ica toppe ining table) an a gas stove. "he stove has a clock b$ilt into it) the only ti&e piece here in the trailer. 4resse in a ark t-shirt an 'hite $n er'ear he checks the clock. <Goo ) .N3/. ( can get the hell o$t o# here in an ho$r an start &aking so&e &oney. "hen in a &onth ( can get o$t o# this crappy place an live so&e'here ecent.= :re stares at the clock. <What the hell.= 7e t$rns) leaving the kitchen light on an re-crosses the living roo& hea ing #or the be roo&.
7e resses) then rinks a Pepsi Cola #or s$pper. 7e br$shes his teeth) co&bs his hair an then checks the clock again. (t,s 10N10. <7ell) that,s close eno$gh. >et,s get the hell o$t o# here.= 7e opens the oor an #lips o## the living roo& light. HGoo night. See yo$ in the &orning.H :re closes an locks the oor an 'alks to his car.
Chapter ") - 6red%(es :re sits 'ith his pants aro$n his ankles. 7is elbo's are on his knees an his chin rests in his han s. "he #loor is not overly clean. H7e see&s to be a goo ole boy)H :re says to hi&sel#. H7e oesn,t look as tho$gh he,s any ol er than &e. ( hope 'e get along alright. 7e oes see& to be a nice g$y.H :re stan s) p$lling his pants $p. 7e 'ashes his han s an 'alks o$t o# the restroo& an into the l$nch area. "he secon #loor o# the #actory consists o#) #ro& right to le#t as yo$ leave the stairs) the restroo&s) l$nchObreak roo&) an the &ain o##ices. "he l$nch area has #o$r long tables 'ith &etal chairs arrange aro$n the&. "he 'all separating the restroo&s #ro& the break roo& has a coke &achine) &ilk &achine) co##ee &achine) san 'ich &achine) &icro'ave oven) an a ollar bill changer $p against it. H4o yo$ 'ant a Coke) 4r. Pepper) or an orange@H Wes asks 'hen he sees :re . 7e is stan ing in #ront o# the coke &achine 'ith his change in his han . H( on,t 'ant anything.= HCo&e on) (,& b$ying)H coa5es Wes. H9kay)H :re grins) H(,ll take a Coke.H
H(ce or no ice@H asks Wes. HWhat@H Wes repeats) H(ce or no ice@H 7e e5plains) H"his &achine gives rinks in a c$p) either 'ith or 'itho$t ice. ( al'ays get &ine 'ith no ice. Ao$ get &ore so a that 'ay.H HNo ice then)H :re ans'ers) stepping to'ar Wes to get his coke. HSit o'n. (,ll bring it over to yo$)H Wes no s to'ar the secon table over #ro& the restroo&s. HWhere is everyone@H :re asks. HWe see& to be the only ones here.H HWe are the only ones here)H Wes 'hispers 'ith a #rightening slo'ness as he t$rns to'ar the table. "hen he grins) 'alks over to the table an sits o'n. H"he press&en are o## to ay. (t,s their #irst ay o## in over a &onth. "hey,ve been r$nning the presses seven ays a 'eek) t'enty-#o$r ho$rs a ay all that ti&e. "he prep roo& has ha so&eone here all that ti&e) too) in case o# a press proble&. We haven,t ha a ay o## since the :o$rth o# D$ly. +n 'e are l$cky eno$gh to be 'orking tonight so that everything is rea y #or #irst shi#t in the &orning.= HDes$s Christ) ho' co&e they 'on,t let yo$) $s) o##@H H"he co&pany #eel it,s cheaper to have so&eone here in case o# a press proble&) than to have to call ,e& in at 2 a& an have the press sh$t o'n an 'ait $ntil they sho' $p. +n tonight 'e,re %$st l$cky)= Wes grins. <9nce yo$ kno' 'hat the hell yo$,re oing (,ll get a ay o##. Well)H Wes says stan ing $p) c$p in han ) Hlet,s get on o'n to 'ork.H 7e 'alks over to the trash can) thro's his e&pty c$p a'ay an hea s to the stairs. :re h$rrie ly #ollo's) catching $p 'ith hi& &i 'ay o'n the stairs. 7e #ollo's a step behin as Wes lea s the 'ay.
Passing thro$gh the press area near the 7arris press :re catches a gli&pse o# a h$ge) to'ering) press against the #ar 'all. <4a&n) that thing,s big.= <Aes it is)= Wes ans'ers over his sho$l er. Wes stops at the prep roo& oor an says) H(,ll get Pete) the plate &aker on o$r shi#t) to give yo$ a g$i e to$r 'hen he co&es in to&orro' night. (# yo$, like@H HS$reC (, like that a lot)H :re ans'ers passing into the prep roo&.
Chapter "* - (or1 "hat boy is b$ggin, the shit o$t,a &e. 7e co&es in here #irst thing this &orning. :lops into the be an then he tosses an t$rns to no en . +ll ay long. No one gets any rest. :re opens his eyes into the blin ing s$n strea&ing in thro$gh the be roo& 'in o'. H9h) Go )H he groans an gropes #or soðing to cover the 'in o'. 7e 'e ges the e ge o# a blanket into the $pper pane o# the 'in o' an #alls back into the be . :re 'akes 'ith a start) staring into blackness. H9h shitC (,ve slept thro$gh the alar&.H 7e leaps $p #ro& the be an st$&bles thro$gh his clothes to the light s'itch. <(,ll get #ire on &y secon .= 7e #licks on the be roo& light an h$rries to the kitchen. "he clock on the stove rea s 1N00 P8 HWell) Go a&nC (,ve still got another t'o ho$rs to sleepI (,& going back to be .H :re is asleep as soon as his hea hits the pillo'.
Lpstairs in the l$nchroo& a#ter p$nching in :re an Wes sit at the table) opposite one another) sipping on cokes) no ice. H7o' o yo$ #eel@H Wes asks. HAo$ look like shit.H :re ,s eyes are s'ollen an circle 'ith ark rings. H( #eel like shit)H he ans'ers. >a$ghing so#tly) Wes leans his chair back onto its rear legs. H(t,s pretty r$## a %$sting to ay sleeping) b$t yo$,ll get $se to it. "ell &e)H Wes aske 'ith a broa grin) Ha#ter one night) 'hat o yo$ think o# the %ob@H :re sl$&ps over his c$p o# coke) his hea rests in the pal& o# his le#t han . H(t,s pretty nice so #ar. ( like the B$iet) b$t checking register on a reprint %ob is not ho' ( 'ant to spen &y...= 7e stops talking an ya'ns) opening his &o$th to an incre ible siEe) then he contin$es) Hto spen &y evenings.H 7e takes a rink #ro& his c$p an stares at it 'aiting #or Wes to reply. HWell) yo$ on,t have to 'orry abo$t that tonight. We ain,t b$sy an Pete,ll be here.H Wes stan s $p. H(,ll intro $ce yo$ an he,ll give yo$ the 00 cent to$r o# the place. Ao$,ll love it. Pete,ll sho' yo$ everything #ro& the pl$&bing to the roo#top.H Pete is o'nstairs on the plant #loor. 7e leans against a s$pport col$&n at the #oot o# the stairs not #ar #ro& the s&aller 'eb press. "he press is &aking rea y so it,s B$iet. D$st &en &oving aro$n it. Pete picks his nose an 'atches the 'o&en 'orking in the bin ery at the #ar en o# the plant. 7e kno's the& all by na&e. 7e spen s the &a%ority o# his shi#t 'atching the&. Pete #inishes cleaning his nose as Wes an :re co&e o'n the stairs #ro& the l$nch roo&. Straightening $p #ro& the pole he t$rns to #ace the&..
HGoo eve,nin) Pete)H Wes says an no s at Pete. "hen he oes the intro $ctions) HPete) this is :re ) o$r ne' stripper on thir shi#t. :re ) Pete) the best plate &aker here) 'hen yo$ can #in hi&.H Pete grins at that. 7e 'ipes his han on his pants an e5ten s it o$t to :re ) HNice to &eet y$h.H :re takes the o##ere han 'ith a HNice to &eet yo$ too.H (t 'as a #ir& b$t B$ick han shake. :re notices a slight stickiness on Pete,s han . 7e steps back) looks at Pete. HPete kno's every inch o# this place)H says Wes) pro$ ly. HAeah. . . ( - ( o)H Pete con#ir&s. 7e #inishes speaking an inserts his right in e5 #inger into his right nostril. :re sees 'here the sticky han ca&e #ro&. 7e 'ipes his han on his back pocket. H:re an ( 'ere hoping yo$, take $s on a to$r)H Wes says) Hi# yo$ have the ti&e@H Pete bobs his hea an hea s i&&e iately to'ar the s&aller press) &otioning 'ith his le#t han #or the pair to #ollo'. Wes s&iles) slaps :re on the back an says) <Beats 'orking. >et,s go)H an p$shes :re into &otion.
Chapter ", - 2o0r Wes an Pete say goo -evening to a co$ple o# the press&en an intro $ce :re . "he press&en are b$sy getting the press set $p #or the shi#t so the to$r &oves on. Pete,s to$r &onolog$e is al&ost non-e5istentI <"his is that)= an <"hat is this.= 7e B$ickly lea s the& thro$gh the press) aro$n ski s o# &agaEines an rolls o# paper an hea s across the plant to the #ar 'all 'here the BakerPerkins stan s B$ietly.
"he B-P is over three h$n re #eet long an stan s three stories tall. (t is in t'o sections) a #o$r-color section on the le#t an a t'o-color section on the right. !ach section #ee s its 'eb to the center o# the press 'here the #ol er rises to a #oot belo' the plant ceiling. Pete stops at the control panel near the #ol er. HWell) :re ) 'hat o yo$ think o# it@H Wes asks. H(t,s a&n big)H :re says to a co$ple o# grins. H(t,s all co&p$teriEe ) too)H Pete inter%ects. H"his here controls this 'hole thing.= 7e points to the large bl$e console) covere 'ith b$ttons) s'itches) an igital rea o$ts. H(t oes everything b$t tell the ti&e)H Pete says pro$ ly. <+n the clock is over there) < Wes points an la$ghs. H7o' co&e it isn,t r$nning)@= :re asks. H"here,s nothing sche $le to r$n on it #or the ne5t three ays)= says Wes. <"hey nee to o so&e &aintenance. "his is a prototype an it,s got lots o# b$gs in it.H H(,ve never hear o# Baker-Perkins be#ore. Where oes this thing co&e #ro&@ H H!nglan )H Pete ans'ers. <"hey &ake brea baking &achines) too.=
Chapter #- - /aseball 7i. "his here boy is a real strange g$y. "here,s ti&es that he,s happy as all hell. Goes ,ro$n the trailer h$&&in, an singin,. "hen there,s ti&es he acts like he %$st lost his best #rien ) like so&eone kille his pet cat. +n so&eti&es he %$st sits on the corner o# the be resting, his hea in the pal& o# his le#t han 'ith his le#t elbo' $sing his knee like a table. 7e &ight be a &anic- epressive. No) it can,t that ,ca$se he plays baseball #or a livin,. What,s better,n that@
"he ball s&acks into the backstop 'ith a eep throate HWo-o-opCH HGo a&n it) Wes)H :re says stepping a'ay #ro& ho&e base) a ti&e sheet) Hslo' the ball o'n a little so ( can at least see it.H "he tape encase napkin ball rolls back the #i#teen #eet bet'een the backstop an the pitching &o$n ) a piece o# tape on the #loor) on the velocity o# the i&pact alone. S&iling #ro& ear to ear Wes ben s o'n an retrieves the ball. Wes says) H(# ( slo' o'n a little yo$ &ight get a hit. +n i# yo$ get a hit yo$ &ight beat &e.H :re steps back $p to the plate an takes a co$ple o# s'ings 'ith the sa'n o## &op han le they are $sing #or a bat. Wes 'in s $p an releases the pitch) a change-$p. :re is 'ay o$t in #ront o# the ball an can,t hol $p. HAo$,re o$tCH Wes cries in his best $&pire voice. <Botto& o# the #o$rteenth) 0-0.= HGo a&n it) Wes)H :re plea s) H>et $p a little.H H+n let yo$ spoil &y no hitter. No 'ay. 7ere)H he says an tosses the ball to :re . :re catches it an passes the bat to Wes as they e5change positions. Wes stan s rea y in the batter*s bo5. :re 'in s $p an releases the ball. "he pitch is a high #ast ball. Wes s'ings $n er it #o$ling it back #or the #irst o$t. :re co&es insi e 'ith a #astball on the #ists. Da&&e ba ly Wes &anages to get the bat on the ball hitting a slo' ribbler that %$st crosses the piece o# tape &arking the Hhit= line. H8an on #irst)H :re says e#iantly as he prepares his ne5t pitch. "his one is lo' an a'ay. Wes steps into it an s'ings) hitting it into the c$rtains covering the prep roo& 'in o') #o$l ball. H"'o o$ts) &an on #irst)H Wes states as he 'aits on the ne5t pitch.
:re co&es back insi e b$t the ball slips a little as he releases it. "he ball is on top o# Wes an sticking in his ribs be#ore he can &ove o$t o# the 'ay. HShitCH :re &$tters. H"'o on) t'o o$t. ShitCH 7e steps back on the &o$n #or the ne5t pitch. +ltho$gh it is a little lo') Wes %$&ps on the #ast ball an sen s it #lyin, into the plate roo&) over ninety #eet on the #ly. + three r$n ho&er. :re kicks at the &o$n . H7ey)H Wes o##ers) H(,ll give yo$ another shot at &e tonightI right a#ter 'e have a coke) 9G@H "hey hi e the baseball paraphernalia in the #il& rack an hea to the l$nch roo&.
Chapter #1 - Life :re sits on the corner o# the be hol ing his hea in his han s. <Shit) there has be soðing better than this. Workin, every #$ckin, night. Seein, the sa&e #$ckin, people an hearing the sa&e #$ckin, stories every night. (# it 'asn,t #or the &oney ( o'e (, B$it that #$ckin, place so #ast. ( haven,t ha a night o## in a &onth an a hal#. Shit) (, go hitch-hikin,. Go to Cali#ornia or soðin,. +t least 'ith a crappy %ob o$t there yo$,re ne5t to the ocean an the &o$ntains. Ao$ can,t beat that.= 7e p$shes $p o## the be an 'alks to the kitchen table an sits o'n. "here is an ashtray on the table 'ith a hal# s&oke %oint in it. Gitchen &atches are besi e it. :re lights $p the %oint an inhales. <:$ckin, kar&a)= he says e5haling the s&oke. <( on,t believe in #$ckin, kar&a. ( haven,t one anything to anyone.= 7e inhales an hol s the s&oke in a long ti&e. 7e stan s $p an begins to pace. 7e e5hales.
<Shit) i# (,& gonna have to live in a #$ckin, trailer on a irt roa ) in #$ckin, +rkansas ( &ight as 'ell be a go a&ne #ar&er. 8arry so&e seventh gra e girl) have so&e ki s an get a beer g$t. :$ck. "his %$st isn,t right.= :re 'alks over to the table an looks aro$n #or his clip. <Shit) &$st,ve le#t it in the be roo&.= 7e lights a &atch an hits o## the roach care#$lly. :re sits o'n at the table lookin, #or so&e kin o# ans'er. +in,t none. +in,t really any B$estions either. (t is 'hat it is. Ao$ can,t &ake a horse rink. +ll tho$gh ( have hear that t'o "e5ans can. ( #eel sorry #or hi& so&eti&es. "hen again (, like to kick his b$tt) &ake hi& get a &ove on. 7e nee s to B$it 'allerin, aro$n .. :re 'alks to the be roo& an resses #or 'ork. +t 10N10 he leaves the trailer an hea s to the car. 7e starts to p$ll o$t onto the roa b$t stops 'hen he sees so&e hea lights hea ing his 'ay. 7e 'aits $ntil Star spee s past an then he hea s o$t to 'ork.
Chapter #2 - 2he 2railer :re an Wes get o## 'ork early) the rive sha#t on the press broke. "hey rive o$t to :re ,s trailer. Wes sits on the co$ch in the living roo&. :re is back in the be roo&. <Ao$ really o live in the &i le o# no'here)= Wes says . <( tol yo$ ( i )= :re says as he co&es into the living roo&. 7e has a #o$r #inger li in his right han . <(t,s got it,s goo points.= Wes s&iles an :re tosses the li to hi&.
<( got this #ro& 8itchell. 7e,s a g$y ( 'ent to school 'ith. 7is brother lives $p in :ayetteville. "here,s al'ays ope $p there ,ca$se o# the college. +n it,s cheaper too.= :re sits o'n in the chair an Wes $nrolls the li . <S&ells goo )= Wes says inhaling eeply 'ith the li presse to his #ace. <(t,s goo shit)= :re s&iles. <8itch al'ays has goo st$##.= Wes p$lls so&e papers o$t o# his pocket an rolls a %oint. <Got a light@= <Got so&e &atches in the kitchen)= :re says an stan s $p. <Ao$ an yo$r a&n kitchen &atches)= Wes la$ghs. Why on,t yo$ %$st get a lighter@= <Why on,t yo$@ ( on,t like carryin, lighter #l$i in &y pocket. Si es) kitchen &atches are cooler. +ren,t they@= <S$re) 'hat yo$ sai . 7o' abo$t that light@= Wes takes a long) rag #ro& the %oint an passes it back to :re . <7o' &$ch cheaper is the ope $p there)= Wes asks thro$gh a big e5hale o# s&oke. <P20 a po$n less)= :re ans'ers. Wes oes so&e &ath as he takes another hit. 7e e5hales an asks) <Ao$ ever thing abo$t r$nning ope #ro& there back to here@= :re takes the last hit #ro& the %oint cons$&ing everything b$t a s&all circle o# blackene paper attache to the clip. :re grins hol ing his breath. 7e e5hales an ans'ers) <Aes ( have. (t 'o$l be easy &oney.= Wes grins. <B$t ( kin a 'orry abo$t getting, b$ste .= <Aeah) there is that)= Wes ackno'le ges. <( on,t think ( 'o$l care #or a "$cker phone call.= <Goo point)= Wes says. "hey sit B$iet.
H7ey)H :re says) breaking the silence. H( got a living ink blot in the be roo&. ( 'ant to kno' hat yo$ think it looks like.= H+ 'hat@H H+ living ink blot)H :re says. H?eally it,s a 'ater stain on the ceiling b$t it,s like an ink blot.= HSo$n s better than sitting here staring at the 'all)H Wes says 'ith a %oking grin. H(t is)H :re says. :re t$rns on the be roo& light an points to the stain. HWell) 'hat o yo$ see@H HBob Cratchit.H HWhat@H HBob Cratchit)H Wes repeats HAo$ kno') Scrooge an "iny "i& an all that.H H"hat,s 'hat yo$ see@H H"hat,s 'hat ( see.H :re looks $p an sees a istinctly 1.th cent$ry !nglish #ace 'earing a tall hat. <Well yo$ kille that #ast eno$gh.= <Ao$ got any co##ee@= Wes asks grinning. <>et,s s&oke another one an rink so&e co##ee.= (n the &i le o# the &orning :re #inality says) <Wes) (,& going to be . (# yo$ 'ant to sleep on the co$ch yo$,re 'elco&e to stay here.= <"he co$ch so$n s goo to &e.=
Chapter #3 - 2he 7asis :re sat $p in the be . (t 'as ark o$tsi e. <:$ck) ( 'on er 'hat ti&e it is@= 7e sees there,s a light on in the #ront o# the trailer. <Aeah) that,s right. Wes is here.= :re p$lls on a pair o# %eans an 'alks to the kitchen.
Wes sits at the table rinking a c$p o# co##ee. <Goo &ornin,) goo evenin,) 'hatever yo$ think it is)= he la$ghs. <"here,s so&e #resh co##ee in the pot.= :re 'alks over to the co$nter an #i5es a c$p. 7e looks at the clock on the stove. (t is ;N11 on a S$n ay evening. 7e sits o'n an rinks his co##ee. <( calle the plant abo$t a hal# an ho$r ago)= says Wes. <"he press is still o'n. We got the night o##.= :re s&iles. <Goo ) (,& tire .= <"ire @ Son) yo$,re to yo$ng to be tire . >et,s roll one an get the evening going.= "he co##ee pot is e&pty an the trailer is #$ll o# s&oke. :re is 'i e a'ake. H4a&n (,& h$ngryC What,ll yo$ say to getting a ha&b$rger at the ca#e@H <"here,s a ca#e@= Wes la$ghs. <SL?!.= "hey la$gh. (t,s a short rive to the ca#e. :re parks in #ront. "here are no other cars there b$t the lights are on insi e. "hey step insi e. "he ca#e is e&pty. :re an Wes take the #irst table they reach. "hey sit B$ietly. <"his is B$ite the place) B$ite the hot spot)= Wes ea pans. 7e starts la$ghin,. :re starts la$ghin,. "heir la$ghter brings o$t S$e) the proprietress) #ro& the o##ice. She,s not a ba looking 'o&an in her &i -#orties) blon hair) long legs) lean) an very tire . "he %eans she 'ears are tight #ittin, bell botto&s. 7er peasant blo$se is 'hite. :re an Wes stop la$ghing as she 'alks over to the table. She ben s o'n to 'ipe the table an the loose #itting blo$se billo's open sho'ing her breasts. Straightening $p) she p$shes her hair back 'ith her right han . <A,all haven,t been in here be#ore. HWhat can ( o #or yo$@H :re ,s &o$th hangs open. Wes speaks $p) HD$st a ha&b$rger an coke #or &e please) &a,a&.H
H8y na&e,s S$e)H she s&iles at Wes. She looks over to :re . H"he sa&e #or &e please)H he says B$ickly. H"'o b$rgers) t'o cokes.H She 'aits #or an ackno'le g&ent. HAes) thanks)H Wes says S$e t$rns an 'alks to the kitchen grill an starts 'orking on their or er. <4a&n)= says Wes #ollo'in, S$e 'ith his eyes. <Ao$ i n,t tell &e abo$t that part.= <( g$ess ( i n,t kno' abo$t it)= :re la$ghs. <"his place %$st re-opene . ( haven,t &et S$e be#ore.= <?econ, she &ight o##er so&e other services@= Wes grins. :re shakes his hea ) <Wo$l n,t be s$rprise .= "hey sit B$ietly as S$e cooks the ha&b$rgers. "hey on,t even look in her irection) altho$gh it,s not easy. S$e ret$rns 'ith the ha&b$rgers an sets the plates on the table. She sets a paper napkin an silver'are o'n in #ront o# :re . She has to ben an reach a little to place the silver'are in #ront o# Wes. Both boys stare at her breasts. She stan s back $p an says) <>et &e get those rinks. (# ( 'asn,t alone here ( 'o$l have alrea y one that #or yo$.= She s&iles at both :re an Wes. Both 'atch her as she 'alks back to the kitchen. When she starts back to the table 'ith the rinks both boys get b$sy eating their ha&b$rgers. +#ter setting the cokes o'n on the table S$e asks) H+nything else ( can o #or yo$ boys@ (t,s a little slo' tonight.H She looks kno'ingly #ro& Wes to :re . H+h) no thank yo$)H Wes ans'ers H"his,ll) ah) o it.H :re bobs his hea in agree&ent. H+lright then) i# yo$ change yo$r &in ) yo$ let &e kno'. (,ll be back there)H an she no s to'ar the o##ice) <closing $p.=
She sets the check o'n on the table an 'alks slo'ly) tire ly back to the o##ice. :re an Wes eat h$rrie ly) la$ghing nervo$sly as they eat. When they #inish eating they leave pay&ent #or the &eal an a large tip on the table an leave h$rrie ly.
Chapter #" - Conversation :re an Wes sit at the kitchen table. "hey rink co##ee an pass a %oint. <What are yo$ going to be 'hen yo$ gro' $p@= Wes asks :re as he takes the %oint. Co$ghin, o$t the s&oke in his l$ngs :re asks) <What@= Wes speaks very slo'ly) <What are yo$ going to be 'hen yo$ gro' $p@= 7e takes a rag o## the %oint an passes it back to :re . <7ell) ( on,t kno')= :re ans'ers then p$lls a clip o$t o# his pocket an cla&ps it on the en on the %oint. Wes e5hales) <Well i# yo$ on,t kno') then 'ho oes@ Sho$l ( call yo$r 8o&@= <:$ck yo$)= :re la$ghs an ra's on the %oint. <No) really. What o yo$ 'ant to be 'hen yo$ gro' $p@= Wes repeats. <>ike ( sai I hell ( on,t kno'.= 7e han s the clip to Wes. <8o& an 4a 'ant &e to be a octor an &ake lots o# &oney.= Wes la$ghs. <See) ( kne' yo$r &o& kne'. "he roach is o$t. Where, the &atches go@= <7ere,s a &atch. What are yo$ gonna be@= :re asks.= <(,& gonna be an engineer. Saving $p &y &oney #or college right no'.= Wes lights the &atch an takes a hit o## the roach an passes it B$ickly to :re . :re takes the last hit. "hey both hol their breaths #or a 'hile be#ore e5halin,.
<Why engineerin,@= <What else can a poor boy o@ ( 'ant to &ake st$##)= Wes ans'ers. <!ngineers create h$&an progress. ( 'ant to o that. ( 'ant to be part o# progress.= <!ngineers create progress is a pretty bol state&ent)= says :re . <Well i# they on,t create the things that progress is b$ilt on 'ho oes@= Wes asks. <Well anyone can)= ans'ers :re . <>ike 'ho@ Give &e an e5a&ple.= <Well) :at o'n at the gas station. 7e co$l co&e $p 'ith so&e i ea abo$t better gasoline.= <"hen he,s an engineer)= Wes says. <Well go a&n. "hat,s kin a o# cheatin, i n,t it@= Wes la$ghs) <9# co$rse it is. Na&e &e another.= :re grins) <+ny in ivi $al.= <9h no) hell no)= says Wes. <(n ivi $als on,t co$nt #or anythin,.= <"hey s$re as hell o)= :re ans'ers. 7e p$lls another %oint o$t o# his shirt pocket an lights it $p. <No they on,t. +n (,ll prove it)= Wes says takin, the %oint #ro& :re . :re is hol in, his breath. <Who invente the 'heel@= Wes asks an takes a long p$ll on the %oint. :re e5hales) <So&e in ivi $al.= 7e grins at Wes. <!5actly)= Wes says in a clo$ o# s&oke. <+n i# he ha n,t) so&eone else 'o$l have. (t,s not i&portant 'ho i it) it,s only i&portant that it got one. B$t 'hoever it 'as) he 'as an engineer.= Wes an :re la$gh. <Sa&e thing #or a bo' an arro'. 9r bronEe. 7o' in the hell i so&eone #ig$re o$t ho' to &ake bronEe@ "hey 'ere %$st stan in, aro$n &elting a pot o# copper an sai ) ,( think (,ll toss so&e tin in here %$st #or the hell o# it.,= "hey both la$gh.
)= Wes la$ghs. <What oes that cave art in :rance a to o$r lives@= <:irst o##) it sho's yo$ that people have al'ays create art. <( on.re 'atching.s a 'in o' into the past.t think they a anything to li#e@= Wes passes back to :re .= Wes an :re both la$gh an pass the %oint.= <?oll on b$ y)= Wes ans'ers.t engineers. (t epen s on 'hat sho' yo$. What he oes is i&portant. When yo$ look at those paintings yo$ think abo$t the people 'ho i the& an all the people 'ho have looke at the&. Who he is not i&portant to civiliEation.:re says) <Probably so&eone trippe an split the tin into the pot.= Wes la$ghs) <Ao$.= 7e s&iles) <Which proves &y point abo$t the . +n 'hy in the hell 'as he hol ing so&e tin@ B$t then they beca&e engineers beca$se they &a e soðin.. 7e e5hales an says) <What abo$t art@= <What abo$t it)= Wes sB$eaks back 'itho$t losing &$ch s&oke.+n engineer i n.. >ooking at a "6 oesn. o$t o# the &ess. "hey &ake yo$ think better things abo$t people. <?ight) they.t give yo$ that &o ern art is. <20)000 years #ro& no' people &ight think i##erent)= :re says.= <( see ho' this goes)= :re s&iles.= <?ight)= Wes no s.= "hey la$gh. <Well) artist aren.= :re takes the %oint #ro& Wes an lights it back $p.ll give yo$ that art is i&portant. <+n secon ly an &ost i&portantly it. :re lights $p) inhales eeply an passes to Wes. <Ao$ on. <(.t kno' abo$t that.= :re says. B$t) ( 'on.t o that.t o that to yo$.re probably right.ll say) .in ivi $al. <>et &e get the li an roll another one an then ( have a B$estion. .
<B$t like &y engineer)= Wes contin$es as he takes the clip)= 'e have no i ea 'ho i the painting.= :re says. B$t it co$l n. Wes steps o$t o# the trailer an hea s to his car. <( nee so&e co##ee.Death Wes sets his co##ee c$p o'n an asks) <(s there any place close 'here ( can get so&e gas@ (. <Ao$ think it.:re rags on the %oint an then p$ts it on a clip an passes to Wes.s.t &atter 'ho. <( never sai i##erent. "he sky is overcast an a &ist is #alling.& a&n near o$t.= <+n 'here is :at.ll have to go back to 'ork so&eti&e this 'eek. <Ao$ can get gas there at :at.= :re stan s $p #ro& the table an takes the co##ee c$p to the sink.= <Ao$ can say the sa&e thing abo$t &y engineer)= Wes says. <S$e is probably asleep or at least in be )= :re ans'ers. ( nee to get ho&e an o so&e la$n ry. We. "hey both la$gh.s)= Wes asks. 7e b$ys a Coke an a can y bar. <"hen ( nee to get the hell o$t o# here. 7e sets the e&pty clip o'n on the table.= <8e to)= Wes agrees. (t co$l have been anyone. .re rightI 'e on. Chapter ## .s he gets o$t o# his car an looks over at the 9asis.= <Ao$. +n it oesn.ll be open no'.t have been anyone.s there by the 9asis)= :re ans'ers.t kno' 'ho. +t :at.s sa#e to get close to that place@= Wes la$ghs. 7e. 7e s&iles an goes insi e the station 'hile 4ennis #ills $p the tank. (t co$l only have been the one person 'ho sa' the things he sa'. <(t.
"he car strikes the corner o# the bri ge an cart'heels $p an over into the river. Part 3 .s an starts to open the can y bar 'ith his right han an teeth) hol ing the Coke an steering 'ith his le#t. (# anyone 'as #ollo'ing &e ( co$l n.s not right. "he . "he 'in 'as so po'er#$l ( ha tro$ble staying on &y #eet as ( ran. 7e #in s a notebook.Civilization Chapter #' . <Shit. "he car sli es on the 'et pave&ent. Wes looks $p. "he river is o$t o# its banks. No &oon. B$t ( ran. :re opens the closet oor. No stars. Wes is riving at a goo clip thro$gh the S-c$rve lea ing to the bri ge near Pat. ( kno' it. :ro& ark place to arker place ( kept &oving) hoping #or sa#ety. + piece o# chocolate #alls #ro& the can y bar onto his lap. (n a #antastic set o# black colors set against blacker colors it ance in an #o$ght against the 'in ) acting an reacting to every change o# press$re.Caves "he night 'as pitch black. >ighting #lashe above.= Wes looks o'n 'here the chocolate #ell. "he #lora to'ere above &e. ( ran on."he &ist t$rns to rain. Wes is ea be#ore the car hits the 'ater. (t covers all the gro$n $p close to the high'ay.s ho$se. :or a split secon the 'orl stoo o$t in stark contrast) %$ngle s$rro$n ing &e. Wes p$lls o$t #ro& :at.t see the& an 'ith all the 'in noise ( ha no chance o# hearing the&. "here sho$l be &ore than this. D$st keep r$nning ( tol &ysel#. 7e r$&&ages aro$n .
"he #resh air B$ickly cleanse the earthy s&ell #ro& &e. ( nee e to eat. Soon ( ha eno$gh roo& to lay o'n. ( co$l n. ( care#$lly &a e &y 'ay to the top o# the hole an peere o$t. With a #$ll sto&ach the hot s$nshine began to &ake &e sleepy. ( looke aro$n . ( i n. (n the ark last night ( 'o$l have 'alke right past it. ( cli&be o$t o# the hole.night pl$nge back into black. ( #laile aro$n 'ith &y ar&s) trying to cli&b $p. Nothing) nothing b$t %$ngle as #ar as ( co$l see. +t least it 'as ry an o$t o# the 'in . (t 'as sa#er there) than o$t here in plain sight) o$t o# sight o$t o# &in . ( ha seen it be#ore) eaten it be#ore. ( #ell asleep. Pressing the irt back a'ay #ro& &e ( 'as able to &ake &y 'ay back to the s$r#ace 'here ( poke &y hea o$t care#$lly. "here 'as 'ater near by. ( p$lle back insi e the hole. ( p$she against the so#t irt to create &ore space. No telling ho' long ( ha slept. "he #antastic #or&s #ro& last night 'ere si&ple plants in the aylight. "he s$nshine #ille &y hole. ( stoo an stretche . "he 'in nearly rippe &y hea o##. ( ate all ( co$l hol . ( str$ggle to breathe. ( looke back at the hole. ( 'alke . 8y sto&ach r$&ble . ( #o$n so&e #r$it. "he 'in ha #allen to a gentle breeEe. "he earth gave 'ay belo' &e an ( #ell into a shallo' crevice. ( steppe into so#t gro$n ) trippe an #ell. "he so#t earth co&pacte as ( 'orke &y ar&s) creating so&e space #or &e to &ove. ( ran. 8aybe it 'as sa#e eno$gh to rest here.t see any pre ators.t so ba . "he so#t earth #ro& above #ollo'e &e o'n #illing $p the space aro$n &e. ( rank &y #ill an 'ashe . (t 'asn. ( &ove a'ay #ro& the hole b$t kept it in sight) %$st in case. + #e' scattere rops o# rain #ell.t see anything) &y eyes trying to rea %$st "he roar o# th$n er s'ept over &e.
( cra'le over to &y 'ater reserve an rank eeply.back an cli&be o'n into &y hole. +s they got bigger ( p$t the& to . ( 'as going to ie. When the 'aves o# pain stoppe ( ha si5 babies to care #or. (t is a goo thing ( store #oo an 'ater in the cave. ( crie . ( screa&e . 9#ten ( ha to leave the& $natten e #or long perio s o# ti&e as ( h$nte #oo an carrie 'ater #or the&. "his see&e to be a goo place) #oo an 'ater ab$n ant an apparently evoi o# pre ators. "he pain in &y ab o&en has beco&e ebilitating. "he spas&ing pain in &y ab o&en 'oke &e. "here 'ere stars visible in the sky. ( &ove over to the entrance an pa$se ) listening to the o$tsi e 'orl . ( B$ickly #ell asleep again. "he chil ren gre' #ast. ( hope so&e #oo 'o$l help. "he chil ren nee e &y attention. ( 'rithe in pain. Nothing stoppe it. ( cra'le back to the&. + aily pattern began to e&ergeN eat an rink) gather an store #oo an 'ater) enlarge &y living area) patrol the territory aro$n &y cave 'atching #or signs o# inc$rsion. "here 'as a pain in &y ab o&en. Night ha #allen by the ti&e ( a'oke.s r$bbish o$t the entrance an ( #ollo'e ) epositing it goo istance a'ay. 7$ge spas&s conv$lse &y bo y. When ( stoppe to rink) the 'ater 'as cool an s'eet. ( raise &y hea o$t ca$tio$sly an looke aro$n . "ossing the r$bbish o$t the entrance is al&ost the only thing ( o. (t 'as $nbearable. (t looke sa#e. 8y eyes having been a %$ste to the arkness in the gro$n the terrain 'as 'ell e#ine by star light. No so$n s o# anything $n$s$al. ( have tro$ble cli&bing o$t o# the cave an 'alking the slightest istance is e5ha$sting. ( 'as being rippe apart. ( p$she the ay.
So&e o# the chil ren trie to cli&b o$t. We nee e #resh #oo . (t 'as i&possible to help the chil ren. ( str$ggle $p'ar . When the rain starte it 'as a bit o# a blessing. "he 'ater s'irle aro$n the cave in a torrent. We ca$ght #resh 'ater at the cave opening as 'e nee e it an blocke the entrance o## 'hen 'e i n. We panicke . ( ha an ar& o$tsi e 'hen the entire opening cave in. Working by to$ch in the ark 'e began igging at the rear o# the s&all shel#) p$shing the irt o## into the #loo e cave. Casting abo$t in the arkness ( happene $pon it. ( p$lle &ysel# $p o$t o# the &aelstro& an collapse . "hey cla&bere $p the 'all to the entrance hole 'hich 'as triple its previo$s siEe. "he rain contin$e to #all.t. We $nblocke the entrance an ( starte $p thro$gh the in#lo' o# 'ater. "he r$bbish B$ickly began to pile $p. We 'ere a gro'ing #a&ily. "here 'as no nee to go o$t. +s long as 'e ha . 9$r e ibles beca&e scarce. :ar in the back corner o# the cave there 'as a s&all) high le ge 'here the ki s ha been igging. ( crashe to the cave #loor) &$ an 'ater p$tting in thro$gh the enlarge opening. ( lost the other #o$r. "hey crashe back o'n on top o# $s. ( hear chil ren calling #or help an p$lle t'o o# the ki s to sa#ety besi e &e. +ll ( co$l o 'as #lail abo$t trying to catch hol o# the ki s. "he in-poring rain an collapsing earth &ake escape i&possible. ( #o$ght to stay alive. "he ki s 'ante to ig $p p$t ( lea $s level on the shel#) to the si e) a'ay #ro& the #loo . "he 'alls o# the entrance 'ere slick. Part o# the ceiling collapse blocking o## the #loo . "he 'ater 'as in &y #ace. "he cave 'as #ille 'ith 'ater an pitch black.'ork) initially oing ho&e chores like enlarging o$r living an storage area.
:inally ( p$she an ar& $p thro$gh the earth into the air. ( $cke back insi e an calle the ki s. We 'ere not going to repeat o$r #irst error. No s$nlight sho'n. "he pains in &y ab o&en have ret$rne . ( enlarge the opening eno$gh to poke &y hea o$tsi e. +#ter e5pan ing the shel# back a #e' lengths ( starte 'orking o'n'ar passing the earth back to the ki s 'ho then &ove it o## into the 'ater. ( kept he ki s back in the area an 'ent to 'ork in the ol cave. (nsi e the caves it has beco&e be la&) 'e are eating. "he $psi e o# 'orking together closely like that) 'e gre' to kno' each other 'ell an 'e each i o$r part. +t one en o# the #o$rth roo& 'e $g a s&all vestib$le #or o$r secon ary entrance. Soon 'e ha eno$gh ry space #or all o# $s to rest in. Both girls are gro'ing so #ast. We nee e air.t nee to chance the s$r#ace an another #loo ing. We &ake all o$r i&prove&ents 'orking in the ark) sho$l er to sho$l er. We 'orke har enlarging the ne' area an $se the ol area as an entrance'ay only. With the high shel# as ca$se'ayOentrance to o$r ne' living area 'e #elt sa#e #ro& the rains.air 'e i n. sleeping) ten ing babies) having babies) 'orking ay an . +ll the roo&s 'ere connecte by the high shel# entrance. "he 'ater in the #loo e cha&ber ha gone o'n. (ts 'alls an #loor 'ere tacky to the to$ch. "he rain ha stoppe . With &ore &o$ths to #ee an &ore han s to help aro$n the ho$se 'e B$ickly e5pan e the ne' area an opene $p a thir an #o$rth roo&. "he central thir roo& 'e $se e5cl$sively #or storage. We co$l not #in any'ay to light the interior. Working in the sticky earth 'as tiring) even &ore so kno'ing ( ha #o$r silent chil ren o$t there. "hey are al&ost as big as &e. "he air 'as getting #o$l. "he #resh 'as e5hilarating.
( calle &y ol er a$ghters together. (t is bitterly col o$tsi e. So&e re#$se to accept the ne' plan. "his #$n a&ental change allo'e $s to o$ble o$r pop$lation an pro $ctivity. (# soðing like that #loo 'as to happen no' none o# $s 'o$l s$rvive the panic. ( 'as very close to each one. We aren.Levels We tho$ght 'e 'ere prepare #or anything. (t 'as a sa &o&ent #or &e. !veryone ha to change.t. "he entrances are #roEen over. (t took a long ti&e to #$lly i&ple&ent this ne' esign. We contin$e to e5pan o$r ho&e. "he ne5t thing 'as &ore i##ic$lt. ( calle together a &eeting o# those a$ghters) sisters) ( kne' 'o$l have #resh i eas. (t a##ecte everyone. "hey all $n erstoo . So&e aske to leave 'ith their i&&e iate #a&ily &e&bers others eci e to leave alone. We create sleeping roo&s) eating areas) n$rseries) an separate 'ater an #oo storage areas. We ha too &any baby bearing &others #or o$r o'n goo . We have been #roEen in #or t'o ays. 8y consolation 'as that 'e live in a goo area) ab$n ant #oo an 'ater. We split the #a&ily $p into ay 'orkers an night 'orkers) insi e an o$tsi e 'orkers.night to keep the place clean an to keep everyone #e . Chapter #) . "hey event$ally le#t the #a&ily an the rest o# $s kept 'orking) kept i&proving. "hey 'o$l not have to &ove #ar to start their ne' lives. . We nee e to be better organiEe . We nee e to slo' o'n o$r pop$lation gro'th. We eci e to esignate roo&s by #$nctionality.
= <4o nothing. 7ave ( 'aite too long to o soðing@ "he one i ea ( on. <Break o$t the ice at the c$rrent entrances. "he 'ork 'as terrible. !veryone is #reeEing to eath. . "he chil ren have been hit e5tre&ely har .s start in one o# the inner roo&s.s been seven ays no'.= 7o' can that help@ <"he #ather a'ay #ro& the s$r#ace the 'ar&er it 'ill be. <9pen $p ne' e5its an hope 'e #in an opening in the ice.t $n erstan is) < ig eeper. +ll b$t a han #$l o# the babies have s$cc$&be to the col .s conserve air) #oo an energy. We nee to #in a plan. (t. We create short rotating shi#ts. "he ol er chil ren are hol ing $p better b$t none o# $s are oing 'ell. 8aybe 'e can 'ait o$t the 'eather. <:or no' let. !ven this close to the s$r#ace yo$ tell that the #loors are 'ar&er than the 'alls.= ( cli&be $p) #elt the ceiling) #elt the 'alls an the #loor. We nee to conserve #oo ) air an energy. >et.t last #or ever.t like any o# the options. We &ove everything to the center o# the roo&s an h$ le together trying to stay 'ar& an alive. We. Not &$ch) b$t it is 'ar&er. "hey are a'ay #ro& any irect contact 'ith the e5terior ice.ll ig straight o'n) &ove the irt into the anteroo&s) an as 'e create a 'ar&er area 'e. ( calle a &eeting o# the el er a$ghters.= <4ig eeper.ll bring the babies into it #irst. "his 'on. +nything to$ching the 'alls #reeEe.= ( on."he ceilings are ice col .= ( eci e to try it. "he #loor is 'ar&er. 9ne gro$p igging) another re&oving the irt) a thir ten ing the 'eak) an the #o$rth resting. !veryone 'as 'eak #ro& the col . No one laste long igging. :oo an air are hol ing $p 'ell. We can enlarge the holes $ntil 'e #in the e ges o# the ice.
s spirits even 'ith the &erciless col increasing its heavy toll. "he anteroo&s #ille 'ith r$bble an the ea . "he inva ers still haven.. We began &oving the ea o$t si e. Chapter #* .Soon it 'as evi ent to everyone that the gro$n eeper o'n 'as 'ar&er. "hey see&e &ore intereste in capt$ring $s than h$rting $s this ti&e. "here %$st 'ere not that &any o# $s a#ter the har 'inter. "hose o# $s in the secon level 'ere sa#e.t e#eat the& in a irect #ight. 7e %$st ca&e r$nning in #ro& no'here) crashe into $s an starting killing any o# $s he co$l reach. We sel o& go o$tsi e an never stay in the $pper roo&. When they #o$n $s o$t in the open 'e ha no option b$t to r$n. "hey see&e to &iss seeing the connecting t$nnel entrances. "hose o# $se 'ho co$l &ove into the secon level. "hey #ollo'e $s back to o$r ho&e. "he rai s contin$e. We h$ le together #or 'ar&th) ten e the chil ren an the ying) an 'aite . (t 'as 'ar& eno$gh to 'ork in the anteroo&s. "hey tore thro$gh the oor an grabbe everyone they co$l reach. !veryone 'orke har er.eprod0ction "he #irst giant ant attacke $s o$tsi e in the heat o# the ay. !arly in the thir 'eek one o# the girls reporte that the ice ha le#t. We co$l n. What 'ith the 'inter an these rai s the chil ren have not eaten 'ell an the .t kill they 'o$l try to capt$re. "he chil ren are terribly s&all. (t raise everyone. 7e 'as at least t'ice as big as anyone o# $s. (t tool a h$ge gro$p o# $s to stop hi& Be#ore long there 'ere gro$ps o# the& attacking. "hose o# $s that they i n. We have no i ea 'hat they o 'ith the prisoners.t #o$n the lo'er level roo&. Carrie the& a'ay screa&ing.
( kno' the rai ers 'ill ret$rn. 9ne o# the 'alls collapse killing nearly #i#ty. 4igging it has taken &ore lives than the rai s. ( ha a &eeting 'ith one o# the yo$ng sisters to ay. P$tting the s&all ones in a angero$s environ&ent 'orries &e.t nee the lo'er level. 7istorically 'e have al'ays one this 'hen o$r pop$lation 'as gro'ing too #ast. We keep the& insi e an have the& 'ork in the lo'er level. So&e o# the sister have e5presse their #ear o# staying in o$r ho&e. She presente a ne' plan #or res$&ing 'ork on level three. She has a liB$i she 'ants to try $sing on the 'alls to increase their tensile strength. "hose 'ho on. We have stoppe 'ork $ntil 'e have a real sol$tion or least a goo plan. !ven tho$gh 'e are &aking goo progress on the thir level so&e o# the sisters #eel like they sho$l leave. +n $ring a har 'inter like the last one the eeper 'e live the 'ar&er 'e 'ill be. (t is only a &atter o# ti&e. We have to #in a 'ay to hi e #ro& the&. "o ay 'as the thir cave-in on the thir level. (t is spring ti&e an they o 'ant to leave. We all 'ish the& 'ell. . "hey 'eight less an 'ill p$t less stress on the str$ct$re as they 'ork on it. (t has been s$ch a terrible year #or $s. We are clearing the roo& o$t an trying a ne' ðo o# sti##ening the 'alls. (# they 'ill have a better chance in a ne' ho&e 'ho a& ( to stop the&. 8ost everyone #eels like 'e on.$n er no$rish&ent has taken a toll on all o# $s. With all the loss $ring the 'inter ( ha not tho$ght 'e 'o$l o it this year. "he &ain thir level roo& 'as al&ost rea y #or $s to &ove in. +lso she 'ants to $se the s&aller chil ren. 7o' can 'e be sa#e here@ We are going to ig eeper.t believe it are only #ooling the&selves. "he s$&&er is 'ith $s an there have been no rai s.
"hey have to share their portion o# the anger as 'ell as the rest o# $s. "he col 'eather is back. "hat is $ntil they are organiEe into $nits an sent to the #ront lines. !ven tho$gh 'e lost a lot o# co&ra es this year 'e have eci e to raise #e'er chil ren. +n 'e are &aking test t$nnels #or level #o$r. 8y pre ecessors plan has gone 'ell. Chapter #. "he 'arrior gro'th progra& &y pre ecessors i&ple&ente has 'orke 'ell. (t co&es at the price o# #e'er .t even kno' there is a 'ar going on. We hope by $tiliEing o$r #oo better) by #ee ing each o# the& &ore) 'e can &a5i&iEe their gro'th an raise so&eone better able to co&bat the rai ers.s. We have s&aller roo&s ra iating o## the &ain thir level. . We are 'orking on increasing their pop$lation. 9$r #oo s$pply is goo ) the pop$lation is hol ing $p 'ell an the chil ren on. We have close o## &ost o# the entrances #or the 'inter an are stan ing heavy g$ar at the others.(ar "he 'ar never en s. We co$l never have co&pacte the 'alls eno$gh to &ake the& as strong as they are no'. "he ne' liB$i is 'orking. (t is i##ic$lt to see the& &arch o## b$t it has to be one. +s a city 'e are either gro'ing or ying. We are #ighting on three #ronts an c$rrently hol ing o$r o'n in the territories. 9$r #ront line 'arriors are as strong an vicio$s as the ene&y.( have eci e that the s&all ones 'ill 'ork on level three. "he o$t lying settle&ents nee 'orkers an o$t best e##ort here is helping s$pply the&. ( have a e t'o &ore tea&s to its &an$#act$re. We are &oving the n$rsery an #oo storage o'n into the&. "hose o# $s not active in the g$ar ing have all &ove to level three an #o$r.
t kille 'ere capt$re an taken as slaves. (t 'as a &ost $npleasant %ob. We co$l n. ?e#$gees i not #ill the roa s. When the #ront cracke ) it collapse . "he pop$lation is close behin the&. "here 'ere &ore o# o$r 'arriors #ighting on the other si e than as sol iers on o$r si e. . (t 'as inco&prehensible that o$r people co$l change si es like that. We 'ere overr$n. When ( &et the nee #or &ore e##ort at the #ront) in#rastr$ct$re s$##ere .s s$rvival) not o$rselves. (n ti&es like these 'e have to think o# o$r city. B$t s$rvival 'ill o that.t s$pport the broa #ront. +#ter generations 'e are back to o$r starting point) one s&all city 'ith ene&ies s$rro$n ing $s. "hose 'ho i not co&ply 'ere re&ove #ro& the city. "hey have not #o$n a link to o$r hi ing space belo' the&. ( take #$ll responsibility. "hose that 'eren. ( have not been able to balance o$r econo&y e##ectively. ( sho$l have p$lle troops back. When the hoar hit the lines o# the g$ar it cr$&ble . ( #aile to have eno$gh 'orkers.general 'orkers 'hich oes ecrease o$r ability to provi e #or the #ront. We can hear the inva ers in the $pper levels. "heir chil ren have not sho'n the necessary #le5ibility to beco&e 'orkers or #ighters epen ing on early #ee ing. 9$r only chance at s$rvival 'as to b$ry o$rselves eep in the gro$n . ( ha everyone b$t the royal g$ar igging as eep as possible. We ha no 'arriors an no reso$rces. ( #aile to get #oo an 'arriors to the #ront. 9$r lea e5cavators opene the tenth level hall. We are &oving the earth $p to the higher levels an #illing roo&s 'ith it to hi e o$r presence. "he B$ality o# o$r chil ren is &ore i&portant than the B$antity. ( have ha to re&ove so&e sisters #ro& the repro $ctive pool. :e' &a e it back to the city. "here 'as no re-establishing the #ront.
"he air sha#ts are a go sen ."he te&perat$re has cli&be $n&erci#$lly in the levels 'e control. 9ver the past several generations 'e have &aintaine &ore territory than 'e. 9$r pop$lation is gro'ing #ast an 'e have #o$n soðing ne' to eat. +t the sa&e ti&e a secon tea& 'ill ig a sha#t #ro& the lo'est level to the s$r#ace. "he e5pecte res$lt is the $pper sha#t 'ill blee o## the heat an the lo'er sha#t 'ill p$ll in #resh air. We eter&ine that the $ppers levels are &$ch hotter than the lo'er levels. We are able to &aintain a te&perat$re eB$ilibri$& an have re-establishe the n$rseries.ve lost.. Lsing one o# the col air sha#ts as a passage one o# the sisters bro$ght in so&e plants that are very n$tritio$s. We have establish a ne' level #or e5peri&ents in gro'ing the& here in the sa#ety o# the t$nnels. We can not be iscovere . 7$nting #or #oo has beco&e a thing o# o$r past. "he air is beco&ing p$tri .Pop0lation "he 'ar 'a5es an 'anes. . !veryone has been instr$cte to be silent 'hile the 'ork goes on. "he &ost i&portant one 'as to re&ain hi en. ( attrib$te that to t'o changes 'e have &a e. Chapter '. ( have a$thoriEe a tea& to ig a s&all air sha#t #ro& o$r $pper &ost level to the s$r#ace. (t has t$rne into a never en ing cycle #or $s. :ar&ing in the lo'er levels has been a great s$ccess. 9$r s&aller 'orkers spen &ost o# their ti&e tilling an harvesting 'hich leaves the 'arriors an settlers &ore #ree o& o# action at the boar ers. (t has allo'e $s to plan pop$lation an o$t p$t &$ch &ore acc$rately. ( gathere the re&aining sisters an 'e isc$sse the steps 'e co$l take.
9#ten %$st trial an error) it has been the i##erence bet'een s$rvival an eath. ( have h$n re s o# atten ants. (t 'asn. Planting an c$ltivation takes place thro$gho$t the city. ( a& the only sister bearing chil ren. (# nothing oes happen to &e they are escorte o$t o# the city at the proper ti&e. We eci e to contin$e to al'ays have a #e' eveloping chil bearers in the city. (# soðing 'ere to happen to &e one o# the& co$l be raise as &y replace&ent. B$il ing the pop$lation is constant. <Seeing= has beco&e &ore o# a to$ch) #eel) hear an s&ell action. "he sisters eci e that it 'o$l be easier to &anip$late pop$lation gro'th an changes i# only one &other 'as a #actor) the #ather being one 'e chose. 9$r ability to take any chil an evelop its siEe an caste has been evelope over generations.s epth an istance #ro& the entrances. "he sisters have taken over e##ective r$nning o# the city. We can . 4iversi#ication has allo'e $s to increase sec$rity. "here is no rest. 9ccasionally they &eet 'ith &e o'n here b$t ( see less an less o# the&.. "aking this nee into acco$nt let $s to o$r secon change. ( spen all &y ti&e in the n$rsery.anchin3 "here is not ti&e to recor anything.t a $nani&o$s ecision. (t is all they can to to keep pace. D$st as 'e have al'ays one. We have been able to stabiliEe the te&perat$re thro$gho$t the city regar less o# the roo&. 8any sisters are 'orrie abo$t propagation i# soðing happens to &e. Chapter '1 .+s 'e have b$ilt eeper $n er gro$n o$r ability to <see= has change .
co&part&entaliEe the city) sh$t o'n sections i# nee be) an the city still #$nctions e##iciently. We have set $p n$rseries thro$gho$t the city #or the sa&e reasons. . Chapter '2 . (t kills everything. Chapter '3 . "he sisters are organiEing t$nnel tea&s to reestablish contact 'ith the s$r#ace an ventilate the city. We have been s$##ering che&ical attacks) liB$i poisons #loo ing the city. ( o not leave &y roo&. !very bit o# gro$n has been t$rne $psi e o'n. "he earth 'as $g $p) #l$ng into the air) an scattere .s a nerve to5ic. 9n the s$r#ace the earth has been evastate . "he vegetation has been estroye . (ts a##ects are horrible. +ll o$r s$r#ace e5its have been blocke . Be#ore that there 'ere #ire bo&bings. (t reB$ires &ore atten ants to han le the babies.6ar4in3 "he top #ive levels o# the city have been estroye . We lost a lot o# pro $ction in the initial $pper levels isaster. 8y &others chose to take care o# the chil ren an the sisters chose to take care o# the city. We are l$cky 'e #ar& an ranch on n$&ero$s levels belo' gro$n . (t. We co$l only r$n an hi e #ro& that. We are reb$il ing an repop$lating as #ast as 'e can. ( have hea r$&ors that 'e have bro$ght in so&e ne' ani&als to raise insi e the city as a s$pple&ent to o$r #ar&s. + sister has not been to this roo& in $ntol generations. "ho$san s have perishe .Poison 8y atten ants are bringing so&e <#oo = o'n #ro& the s$r#ace.
"he !n .= (t has eci&ate everyone 'ho has eaten it.No' there is this ne' <#oo . 8y strategy is ingest a s&all a&o$nt) b$il $p an i&&$nity over ti&e an pass it on to the chil ren. (# ( #ail 'e have others rea y to contin$e.
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