The Madness of a Tweeker Fourth of July
a short story by Josh Sheets
with many thanks to The Bold Mom
Hey all –
Jack here. Same dude from Blood Night and The Follower. I actually get to sit down and write for once without something fucked up happening. And I’m writing in first person, the dude I write for fucking hates first person narration, so this will be fun.
So, I’m riding back from the compound in my old ‘93 Pathfinder. It’s the fourth, not May the fourth, July the Fourth. The big time fucking holiday. My family, the way I was raised, there were only three really important holidays, Christmas, Halloween and The Fourth of July. And so, I’d been out to the compound. The cars, the hall with animal trophies around every corner, roaring lions, gigantic elk with watching eyes in the dim light of night and the cold gray of morning. I’d been swimming with Laird and his kids down at the back/front pond. Jim called the back the front, and no one really questioned him or argued. We played chase under the dock for about two hours. I had to swim down one of my nephews across the pond because the little fucker thought he was faster than I am. We would dip under the water holding onto the posts under the dock, sinking hand under hand in the green as fish watched for a moment and then swam away, all of them gone in a flash. They would bite our backs if we sat still for too long.
“Ah god damn it!”
Anyway, I was on my way home with no real plans for the fourth, because I never have any real plans, much like the leaf. I’d gone out of Jefferson and down the long highway. Pines standing straight for a hundred feet on either side of the road. Where you have to watch out for deer running across the highway on top of a hill or just below it.
I drove around a long curve watching for State Troopers, and slowed to the four way stop outside of one of the small towns. Once, I’d gone into the gas station there with my older brother Rick and our mom. It was cold, and a black night of December. We were on our way to the compound for Christmas. Rick beat me to the bathroom, striding straight away across the store like a bastard. I grabbed a drink and headed back to the counter so mom would pay for it. I wanted to keep my five dollars. The girl behind the counter took our drinks and said a few small words in a sweet voice, and then looked up at us and smiled with the blackest shards of teeth anyone could ever see in a horror movie. Something in the water where she had been raised. She was a sweet woman, and pretty.
So I’m driving up through town, not knowing what I’m going to do when all of the sudden there is this bouncing floosey making her way down the sidewalk. Hay colored hair pulled back in a messy bun. The body of a gymnast. She wore a tight red tank top and very short shorts. She looked brave. I pulled over and then hit a u-turn. The u-joints groaned and squawked under me. I pulled down to her. She was heading out of town.
“Hey,” I said, “you need a ride?”
“No thanks,” she said.
“Alright,” I said out of the window, slipping the stick in second and letting off the clutch.
“Wait are you going toward Daingerfield?” She asked, her head whipping around on her slender neck.
She bounced over without looking up and down the street and hopped in.
“Can you take me to Avinger and then drop me off in D-field?”
“Yeah sure,” I said and rolled down the street.
We introduced ourselves, but I can’t remember her name, Daisy.
So Daisy says to pull over and go around back behind a gas station. I pull in and drive up the back drive to pull around the store. She hopped out and trotted over to the back door of the place and grabs up a bag from the back entrance way to bring over to the Pathfinder and sling in the back. Then she ran over and checked around for something near the door. People were looking at her. She trotted back over to the car and slammed the door, lighting a cigarette butt as she sat back.
I pulled forward and said, “Seat belt.”
She smiled and said, “Look at you, all gentlemanly and shit.”
She sat back and took a drag from her smoke.
“Nosey motherfuckers,” she said and flicked her butt out of the window at the women watching us leave.
We talked some as we went down the road. She told me she was a junky who had quit the needle, but still partied.
“It was easy,” she said, and then dug around in a Super-1 back filled with cigarette butts and lit another.
“I’ll get you some cigarettes if you want to hang out, what are you doing for the fourth?” I asked.
I liked her, I liked her honesty of life. Aside from looking like she was wrecking out on drugs, she had spirit, and was tough, and would fight, and I took all of that in listening to her speak from the passenger seat, a ghost to this world. The afternoon wind blew her straw hair around. Her cheeks were sort of sunken in, and her eyes peered out from hallows in her skull. We rolled on, out of town and down through the deeps pines, that gave us wind and shade. She relaxed in the passenger seat, a deep feeling that settled across her.
“You gonna get cigarettes if we hang out?” She asked over the wind.
“Yeah, ain’t no biggy,” I shrugged.
“Can we stop by a place in Daingerfield? I need to get some things, my other bag, it isn’t big, I’ll just hang out with you tonight. I know a place we can go to, I camp there all the time,” she said from the passenger seat, her head lolling over while she leaned back and looked at me.
We rolled on.
Then, we came to where she wanted to go. A shack of a house just out of town, built in the old farm style for this area with a sweeping Gothic looking roof. The porch sagged and the windows were all black.
“There’s no electricity, he just runs a cord from somewhere, hang on, I’ll be right back,” she said.
She slammed the door and I watched her bounce and flounce up to the house. A person moved on the porch. He was thinnish with no shirt on and black jeans and a belt, he looked sallow. He never eyed me, just her. She flounced passed him and went inside. I just sat, too jazzed to give a shit about this fucking guy on the porch, if he was looking in my direction or not, if he was crying or holding a gun, I cared not.
She went around the front corner of the house off of the porch, dancing past him, he not moving. “Daisy” hopped off the porch and was gone. Somehow though, I could still feel her, feel her movements as she went along the side of the house to the back and out into the yard a little way. She did something and then came back, bouncing down the drive way toward my car and making me shake my head at the way she moved, slap my mouth closed from underneath.
We kept moving, after a brief stop on the side of the highway where she saw that her uncle was broken down and flounced over to talk to them, her low cut tank top front and center as she bounced up to the car and leaned in the window. I remember thinking about how hot she was on the side of the road with her ass riding out of the bottoms of those small shorts while she talked to whoever was in the car. I waited for her to jump in the car with them and take off. I waited, thinking I would just toss her bag to the side of the road and leave if she did, no skin off my teeth.
She flounced back, looking for a moment like a dead doll on a string and her head kicked over to the side while she smiled at me, beautiful and terrifying for just one moment. The car door slammed shut and she was back in the passenger seat, feeling for all to me as if she weighed as much as a feather and would float over to me and straddle me in the driver’s seat.
“That’s my uncle,” she said.
“Yeah? You need to go with them?”
“What, nah hell no, I ain’t goin with him, that motherfucker….” She said.
“Alright,” I said and turned the car around to keep heading west.
We had decided while talking that we would go see the fireworks show in P-town, it was supposed to be good. At first we had talked about going to the lake and watching the show there, it wasn’t far from the P-town show, but I knew people who were at the lake so I avoided it, besides, P-town was closer to D-field where I was going to drop her. P-town rose up out of the pines and we passed the loop going out north and rolled into town.
“We need some beer,” I said.
I pulled into a gas station and went in and bought some, and some smokes for her, menthols, gross. As we pulled out a Mexican girl was walking across the parking lot toward the store.
“Fuck, she’s sexy,” Daisy said, “baby you ever been in a threesome? I’d eat that bitches pussy.”
I laughed, “Actually yeah, I have, and I would too, she’s fine as fuck.”
Daisy laughed and looked at me, “Yeah, I could do that. You’d be cool.”
We stopped at a red light. Daisy hallared at the Mexican girl as we passed, making her turn and look.
“Sexy!” She yelled from the window at her.
We went to a pasture outside of the ball fields over at the park in P-town, they were supposed to shoot the fireworks from the ball field, so the pasture we were in was the best place to watch. There were cars starting to pull and pile in. Mexican families were everywhere. Cowboys and simply dressed wives, little kids running around, ghetto gangsters in low truck and SUV’s with bumping music.
“Turn that fucking shit off,” I muttered.
“No shit,” my girl, my homie, Daisy said.
She kept getting text messages.
“Shit, my ex-boyfriend is around, he done sent a text saying ‘Why you tryin’ to make me all jealous’ and shit. Fuck that motherfucker. We split,” Daisy said and kicked a looked over and me with a little grin, “we broke up right now anyway, I’m hangin’ with you tonight.”
We ended up going over to a liquor store for her, because the store I bought my beer from didn’t have what she liked to drink. When I came back to the car she was talking about a girl in one of the cars down from us being all up in her feelings because Daisy was checking out her man.
“Shit, we’ll swap out, it ain’t no thing,” Daisy said.
I looked over at her shoulder at the girl in the big jacked up silver truck, “Shit, fuck yeah we will, I’d fuck the shit out of her.”
Daisy, my girl, laughed.
We left P-town after that, not waiting to see the fireworks, we instead were heading back over to H-Springs to a spot she knew out a small lake dug out in a sand and gravel pit. We could camp there, she did all the time. So that where we headed. Along the way, with the sun going down to dark and the wind blowing in all around, the Pathfinder doesn’t have AC, the fan belt for it broke and I’ve just never replaced it, something began to stink. It was out in the wind. Chicken houses. It smelled fucking awful, but I’m used to the smell.
“Can we roll a window up please that shit fucking stinks,” Daisy said and covered her nose.
“No AC, I mean we can roll it up for a little bit but we’re just going to get hot,” I told her.
“Fuck it, fuck!” There was viscous heat in her throat and mouth when she spoke.
For a moment, in the corner of my eye, she was a corpse in the passenger seat. I looked. Her head lolled over and she smiled. Pale blue eyes. Something creased within them and she looked out of the darkening window.
As we drove into H-Springs up and out and over a hill from the dark pines we saw fireworks sparkling over the line of high black tree tops. Then there were more, and we looked up and out of the brand new windshield of the old Pathfinder.
“See? We had our fireworks after all,” Daisy said, and her voice was something spoken in wonder at the moment we were in, wondering for just an instant what might happen, taking along with it the beauty of the falling light and coming night.
We pulled into the turning lane and waiting for cars to pass so we could drive down some road to a friend of her’s place to possibly score some weed, or meth, whichever, and then we’d go down to the lake and stay the night. Actually, I was going to stay until about two a.m., and then get the fuck out of there, she could come or stay, it was up to her. Now we sat out in a dark driveway with a chain link fence blocking an un-mowed yard with a gray brick house completely darkened out behind it. She slipped out of the door of the Pathfinder and slinked through the gate and up the sidewalk to the dark mouth foyer where someone waiting for her. I saw the tiny glow of a cigarette butt.
We stayed there a god damn hour, they standing in the shadows and me sitting in the Pathfinder and sweating my ass off, waiting to be held up by someone sneaking around the back. But it never happened, and just when I was ready to take off, pissed because now I was missing time at a bar for nothing, she appeared and hopped back in the seat. I didn’t trust her anymore.
“He tried to keep me on that porch,” Daisy scoffed.
“So where’s this lake, I may have to just drop you off,” I told her.
“Ah no, we’ll hang out a little bit, don’t worry, then yeah I’ll just stay there, maybe have somebody come pick me up, maybe a home boy,” she told me.
We go out to the lake. For a split second as we pulled down the road…..
I drove the Pathfinder up onto and embankment and stopped the car and turned off the headlights. Daisy was on the phone with someone, trying to talk them down from shooting dope. He was telling her he didn’t want to hurt her. She told him that he wasn’t anywhere near her, he couldn’t hurt her. She summoned me along with her finger to the edge of a small cliff that dropped away into the water below, picking up small white light at the top of each wavelet. She pointed down while she was on the phone.
I looked over the edge. There, down there in the dark water, hay colored hair rested at the edge of the black. I glanced at Daisy with her gray skin and dull yellow eyes as she listened to what the guy on the phone was saying. She did not change, her skin was cast gray and her eyes glowed a dull yellow.
“That’s where they left me,” she said to me while listening to the guy on the phone.
I looked down again and the hay hair was still there. I could just make out a red tank top with pale shoulders. I glanced back over at her and all around. It was pitch black. I could hear the roar of a suped up jacked up truck coming down the road hard. I ran for the Pathfinder and started it, backing slowly down the embankment. She’d just have to stay here. I turned and pulled out of the sand pit entrance back out onto the black top road leading out to it. A truck flew past me and drove straight into the sand pit entrance. I rolled along and stopped at the stop sign, then turned right.
Next I hit the dark house we had been too, I left my headlights on the front door and sat for a moment. The house was still and windows were dark. I backed out and made my way back to the highway, turning right and heading west, back to D-Field.
When I reached the red light in the center of town I turned left and headed back out away from town, back to the old style house with no lights on in the window. I drove up the inclined driveway and killed the Pathfinder, pulling hard on the e-brake and putting the stick in second to keep the old car from rolling backward down into the damn highway. I didn’t wait, I stepped out and went over to the house. It was dark in the windows, black, and it was black under the front porch awning. I went to the door, which was open. The man sitting on the front porch made me jump out of my skin when he spoke.
“She ain’t here man, she always runs off,” he said.
He seemed friendly enough. He didn’t look at me. I looked into the dark of the front door’s open space once more and then walked across the porch, stepping over his old shoes and skinny legs in baggy pants. I stepped off of the porch and went down the wall to the back part of the side yard. There it was, a dead man in old shoes and baggy dirty pants with a dirty white t-shirt draped across the skin and bones of his back. His arms were pale knobby sticks coming out of the sleeves and the back of his neck was drawn as tight as piano wire up into his skull. The skin would last long. The bloat had already come and gone. But the smell of death was thick, and crawled up your legs to take your face. I turned and ran back to the front of the house to get around it and back to the Pathfinder. The guy on the porch watched as I ran past him, not looking at him.
I jumped into the Pathfinder and tore out of the driveway backward, throwing dirt and rocks everywhere. I did not stop driving until I reached my house. When I looked down in the passenger seat I saw a glass meth pipe had ridden all the way with me and I had never seen it.
I stepped out of the Pathfinder, taking the pipe, and took a quilt out behind the shop in my big back yard. I flipped it out and laid it out flat. I stripped naked and sat down, lighting the bottom of the pipe and drawing a hit it. Then, my girl was there, as pale as a corpse with pale blue eyes like strange lamps from deep withing her skull, the laughing dancing corpse. She materialized out of the dark and sat down with me. I passed her the pipe and lay back. The stars expanded over me into a roof over the world and within tend seconds I counted twelve falling stars. Daisy never looked up, she just smoked. I sat up and took another hit and then we lay down, me naked and spooning her and holding her handful breasts in my hands through her damp tank top. Then we started kissing and I stripped away her clothes. Beautiful body of a gymnast, pale and cool in the star light. Our fingers interlocked, tongues slid around one another’s. The end was fast. There was heat. Then, she was gone, at first a dead body like a cold fish without life in her eyes and mouth slightly open. Then, after I stood up, gone.
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