by The Milkman
This story is in work. Lacking a direction to take it. Any suggestions
“Hey! What are you kids doing in my pasture?”
Jimmy and his two younger friends stopped dead in their tracks, their hands still on the sleeping cow. They looked toward the house and barn and saw a man standing with a gun in his hands. A couple of dogs were running in their direction. It was too dark for the teenagers to see the dogs’ jagged teeth and the salvia that dripped from the side of their mouths, but the kids knew that these dogs weren’t coming after them for a happy greeting. The boys ran through the pasture towards the car as fast as they could.
“And don’t come back here”
The coonhounds gave a good chase, they closed in on Jimmy, Sam and Randy pretty quickly, but the three boys had a head start. They made it to the car without being made the main course. Jimmy fished in his jean pockets looking for the car keys. After a couple of tense seconds he found them, pulled them out and put them in the ignition. The car started. Jimmy put it in gear and they were on their way home. They had more than enough fun for one night.
Or so they thought...
It was the darkest night of the summer, thick clouds covered the moon, and a slight fog had moved in. The teenagers were on a dark, tree lined country road; the road that time forgot. Their headlights illuminated only a short distance in front of them. Jimmy had almost driven onto the split rail fence before they saw the silhouette and the glowing eyes. The car came to an abrupt stop. The eyes looked forward into the car without showing signs of fear of being a hood ornament. They were several miles from the farmer with the dogs and the shotgun, but were still relieved when the eyes turned out to be a cow.
When Jimmy realized that this was a dead end road, he put the car in reverse. The car hesitated and then stalled. He turned the key, the engine sputtered, another turn of the key same result. A glance at the fuel gauge showed that the car was out of gas. Jimmy, Sam, and Randy got out of the car and started to walk back to the main road when they saw a house with a light on. They decided to walk up to the house and knocked on the door.
They stood on the dark, wooden porch for a few moments. Jimmy almost knocked again when the outside light came on. All three of them were startled as a little old lady opened the door. Her silver hair was shining in the amber glow of the porch light. She was a frail lady wearing a pink, terry cloth bathrobe that she probably could wrap around her tiny frame twice.
In a coarse, low voice she asked, “Yes?”
“We were wondering,” said Jimmy, “if we could use your phone?”
“Sorry,” she said, “I don’t have much use for a phone”.
The three boys made glanced at one another. It was clear that none of them knew what to do, so Randy stepped forward and held onto the screen door and said, “Ma’am we were maybe wondering if you could spare a gallon of gas because...”
“I don’t have much use for gas either” she said.
Sam looked at each of his friends in a more desperate attempt to figure something out so they could get home. The woman saw his hollow look and uncomfortable stance mirrored in the other two boys and was about to say something when a flash of lightning lit up the air around the house. If the boys saw something that looked unnatural in the bright light of the oncoming storm, none of them said anything. The old lady’s eyes began to sparkle, no they began to glow, and she looked at her uninvited guests and realized the predicament they were in.
“Well,” she says, “I could give you some blankets and you can sleep in the barn.”
The three friends exchanged nervous glances but agreed to sleep in the barn. The old lady disappeared into the house and the boys listened to her shuffle from room to room. Fifteen minutes later she returned with three handmade quilts, a thermos of milk, and half a cake. The boys thanked her and headed for the barn, as it began to rain.
Randy fumbled with the latch on the barn door for a few seconds and opened the door. The door was hard to open and squeaked from lack of use. They stepped inside and took a look around before closing the door. There were bales of hay stacked along the right side of the barn. On the left side there were two stalls with horses and further down, a pen for a cow. The animals, curious as to the disturbance to their peaceful surroundings, looked toward the boys.
More flashes of light illuminated the barn while thunder rumbled in the distance. The wind picked up speed lowering the temperature in the barn. Rain fell on the shingles, the animals paced in their stalls as the wind whistled through the cracks in the barn boards. Lightning flashed through the slats on the barn strobe light.
“Well!” said Sam, “This is going to be an experience.”
“Sam, would you relax. It is for one night. I am sure you can survive one night.” said Jimmy.
Randy said, “Well, I for one am going to make the most of it.” He rearranged some hay bales in the form of a crude bed. “I am going to fix up this bed and of hay and I am going to go to sleep“. Sam and Jim began to grab some bales and also formed beds. The three makeshift hay beds made a half circle on the barn floor.
Just as the three of them start placing the bales of hay down, the barn door opened which created a lot of noise. In the darkness they saw a silhouette of a person holding something waist height and parallel to the ground. The person stepped into the barn and a woman’s voice said, “Boys, you... you might need this tonight!” Then she smiled as a demonic laugh escaped her mouth. “Rats, you might want to shoot the rats... if you see any.” Then she gives off another fit of laughter.
Sam who sat in the arc between Jimmy and Randy looked at both of his friends and then swallowed. He was scared to the point of running the twenty or so miles to get home. Randy walked up to the lady and reached for the shotgun. He noticed the lady was wearing the same ragged bathrobe and holey slippers, but this woman looked about forty years younger and in this shadowy barn, her eyes seemed to glow an evil shade of crimson. He grabbed the gun out of her hands and also noticed that she had a pretty good grip for the frail woman that they first encountered.
“Good night boys...,” she said as she laughed again, “See you in the morning.“ As she walked away she spoke under her breath, “ If you make it through the night.
“Well that is it, I guess. I’m tired and hungry.” says Randy, “Tomorrow is a new day. We’ll find another house and I’ll call my brother to bring us some gas.” He went to his makeshift bed, put down the gun, and then he remembered the cake. “Jim, why don’t you divide up that cake?”
The cake was chocolate-layered cake with double chocolate fudge icing. Jimmy broke it apart as evenly as he could and gave everyone a piece. “Hey!” said Sam, “Does this taste ok to you?”
“Don’t start, Sam” said Randy, “just eat it”
There was not another thought on the taste of the cake, they were all pretty hungry and the snack disappeared rather quickly. After eating, they took off their windbreakers, bunched them up and used them as pillows. It wasn’t long before all of them were asleep.
The thunder, lightning, and the rain continued on. The wind howled through the slats of the barn, the door banged against itself. The cow made a noise every so often which resembled snoring. The horse’s lips fluttered as they breathed. It was the sound you get when you put a baseball card in your bicycle wheels. There was some scurrying around from little feet, but the boys didn’t hear the rats.
They slept for about forty-five minutes when they were awoken by the noisy barn door being opened. Randy looked over to the opening and he saw a man who carried a lantern with a large dog on his right side. The man looked directly at the boys, lifted his arm and said, “Get ‘em Jigs”
The three teens sat right up, they all swallowed down their fear. A huge cat appeared from the side of the door. The cat ran at full speed and leapt into the air about three feet from the boys. Jigs, a black and silver Tabby cat, cleared the beds of hay and continued into the corner. The boys watched as the cat jumped on this huge rat. The cat carried the dead rat in its mouth to the opposite side of the barn. After a few moments everything quieted back down. Then Sam turned around, toward the barn door and there was no one there. The barn door is closed; it closed without them hearing the rusty hinges being moved. Sam went to the door and opened it. It creaked, groaned and the door also continued to be hard to open. He looked in the direction of the house. The lights were off. He looked to the right and saw nothing, and a look to the left got him the same result.
“Guys,” says Sam, “there are no footprints of any kind over here.”
“Sam, would you relax, said Jimmy. “It is raining out and the tracks could have been washed away.”
“That’s another thing, Jimmy,” said Sam, “it isn’t raining.”
There was silence amongst the friends. There were looks of concern on their faces or maybe it was fright. It was definitely fright, but they didn’t want each other to know that they were scared. The boys gathered their senses and headed back to the bales of hay. They sat there in silence. Randy began to lay back down as the other two just sat there and watched him. Jimmy looked at Sam, stood up and pulled a quarter out of his pocket.
“Heads or tails?”
“What for?” says Sam
“To see who will stay awake to watch over the other two.”
Jimmy flipped the quarter into the air, as the coin spun; something brushed up against Sam’s arm and landed between them. The cat then took off towards the partially opened barn door. The coin hit the ground and was hidden from view. They looked at each other and figured out what happened. They realized it was the cat; they laughed and felt stupid for being scared by the feline. Both look over at Randy and he was already asleep.
Jimmy said, “I guess if he can sleep so peacefully we’ll be alright.”
The two boys lay back on their hay bed and closed their eyes. Jimmy fell back to sleep almost immediately. Sam tossed and turned, his stomach rumbled and he sat back up and tried to find the thermos of milk. He found it without too much difficulty; he picked it up, unscrewed the lid and quenched his thirst. This too didn’t taste like it should. He felt funny, a little light-headed and very sleepy. His vision blurred. The barn was revolving out of control but he was too tired to care. Sam closed his eyes and fell into a deep sleep.
When the humans closed their eyes, the rodents came out of hiding. They traveled from corner to corner, looking for grain that the bigger animals didn’t eat. Some of the larger rats stopped in the middle of the barn to sniff the air around them. The rats ventured closer to the sleeping teenagers, but only close enough to see them and then scurry back to a hiding spots. As the rat population began to grow so did the overall bravery of the rodents. Closer and closer they got, until one ran across Sam’s muscular chest. The boy did not notice the added weight of the rat on his stomach and he made no movement that would make the rats retreat to their dark homes. The large rat is continuing to walk on Sam‘s chest. The other rats watched his progress. The rat has proceeded to his sternum; it stopped and lifted his brown head. He looked around, sniffed the air with his whiskers and nose twitched. The sleeping Sam did not detect his presence. The rat climbed closer to the boy’s face, the rodent’s bravery is rewarded with no spooking movement from either of the boys. The rat grabbed onto Sam’s ear and clamped down with his yellowed teeth. The blood trickled down on to the hay like a silent battle cry. The rats began to form a tighter circle around Jimmy, Randy and Sam. More rats came out of the walls and got ready to join in on the feast. Within minutes the rat population tripled, and were walking on each other’s back to get even closer.
The rats began to take advantage of Sam’s prone body. They nibbled at his exposed flesh, some began to gnaw through the quilt and his flannel shirt. Either way he was a bloody mess and fertile ground for a rat riot. The rats began to fight over his fresh skin. Still he continued his drug induced sleep.
Meanwhile, Jimmy and Randy had become targets for the other rats. The vermin are merely climbing on them and Randy felt the sharp toenails on his arm and he awoke screaming. He stood up as fast as he could, not knowing how many rats there were he tripped over them and fell. On his way down to the rat infested ground he woke up Jimmy.
“What the... Oh my God, RATS!”
Jimmy sat up, swung his legs over the hay bale and stood up and grabbed for the gun. Randy is on his hands and knees and he scrambled for the gun. He got there a brief second before Jimmy. Randy pulled the gun quickly towards him but, Jimmy’s momentum carried him into Randy and he fell over onto the ground next to him. All this movement, all this noise didn’t discourage the rats. It stopped a few in their tracks briefly but then they continued on with what they were doing. Randy hurriedly got to his feet with shotgun in hand, and then realized that his friend still hadn’t gotten up. Then they both, as if they read each other’s thoughts, looked towards Sam’s body. They saw hundreds of rats as they climbed over his body, through the scurry and the fight they saw Sam's body covered in blood and fresh wounds covered his limp body.
Randy pulled the lever down on the shotgun, brought it back up and pulled the trigger...CLICK...He repeated the process of priming the gun...CLICK...The gun is empty. In desperation to save their friend they began to yell, to no avail. Sam wasn’t going to wake from the dead; even if he could the rats weren’t going to give up on their meal.
“We need to save ourselves, Jimmy”
They both ran for the door, which is now completely closed. Randy pushed on it and it wouldn’t budge. He took a step backward and threw all of his weight into it. Still the door didn’t move. They both leaned on the door with the same effect.
“There has got to be another way out!”
“Up there in the hay loft. A window” said Randy.
The rats have surrounded them around the door. It was a standoff between the humans and the rodents. Jimmy started to swing the shotgun to clear them a path to the hay mound to climb up to the window. They were able to make some progress up the mound, but the hay is loosely stacked and it kept falling. The rats used their great numbers to make their way up the hay mound.
Finally they got to the loft and moved towards the window. They crawled their way over to the casement. They pushed on the window but it was blocked from the outside. They began to kick at it and the boards began to splinter. The rats started to reach the loft as well, they wasted no time in approaching the two teens. One of the boards broke in half and they frantically reached their arms through and freed the obstruction. The rats moved within ten feet of them, swinging the shotgun no longer kept them at bay. Jimmy couldn’t quite get his arm through the opening made by the broken board. He kept kicking while Randy tried to keep the rats away from them. It was a losing battle and both sides knew it. Some of the larger rats lunged at Randy and Jimmy. Jimmy finally got another board to break. He reached both of his arms through the hole and discovered the blockage was a board nailed across the opening and the window.
Hysterically Randy screamed, “Jimmy, don’t give up. I can’t hold them off much longer.”
Jimmy grabbed the gun from Randy and started hitting the window, on the third blow, the plank broke and Jimmy, who was unprepared for it, was carried out through the opening. He landed on the ground below with a thud. Randy turned around to see what happened to his friend. The rats jumped forward, many had gotten purchase on his clothes and hair. He crawled closer to the opening; he swung around and lowered his feet out the window and then hung down and jumped. Meanwhile, the rats got nasty with their sharp teeth and pointy claws. Randy didn’t know how much more of this he could take. He accelerated his efforts to get out of the hayloft.
He got his body turned around and he stared into the eyes of his four legged tormenters. By the time he got his legs out the opening, several more rats jumped on him and hung on to either his hair, shirt, or flesh and was committed to going along for the ride. Undaunted and fighting for his life, he jumped down and landed on his feet. Sam took a few moments to pick the rats off of him and checked on his friend.
Jimmy was slow to get up and, like Randy, is rid himself of the rodents and brushed the excess mud off his clothes. The two remaining teenagers looked at each other. Jimmy viewed at all the cuts and scrapes on Randy’s physique and thought that he probably looked about the same. The rats chattered overhead but none of them have dared to jump down. The boys began to walk around to the front of the barn.
“What about Sam?” said Randy.
Jimmy replied, “You saw him. He’s dead. Let’s save ourselves and come back with the sheriff to get Sam's body “. It pained Jimmy greatly to say this because Sam and Randy were closer to him then his own brother. The three of them were friends almost from the time that they all began to take in a breath. Sam was truly going to be missed and both of the boys knew this.
“You’re right. He would have wanted that” Randy said while he tried to clear the lump in his throat.
The early morning air was brisk but the two were determined to get out of there with what remained of their lives. Around the front of the barn they found that someone had put a bolt in the clasp, preventing the door from being opened. They didn’t stop long enough to look for footprints. The two walked away from the barn and what was left of their friend.
They walked for twenty-five minutes when they saw another farm house. This house, in the early morning sun, looked peaceful with its light blue color and white shutters. A porch covered the front and left side of the house. They walked up to this house, climbed the steps that lead to the porch. There hung a porch swing from large hooks screwed into the porch roof, two wicker rockers and a little metal table. On the table was two half empty glasses, one had a fly floating in the pink liquid. Next to the glasses was a plate of four cookies and one of them had a bite taken out of it.
Randy knocked on the door, while they both listened for oncoming footsteps. They heard none, and after a few minutes of waiting, Jimmy knocked. Still there was no sound of movement in the house. The boys looked at each other, once again, as if they read each other’s thoughts, they both knocked on the door. They never heard the footsteps but they both jumped when they heard a voice behind them.
“What do you want?” said the man.
They turned around and saw a man wearing a ball cap that hid the man’s baldhead. He had on a pair of overalls, a flannel shirt, and a pair of green rubber boots. His boots and pant legs were covered in fresh mud. In his dirty hands, he carried a pointed shovel, and that too had mud on it. The man was tall and built like a Mack truck, he spat tobacco on the ground, took his hat off and wiped his sweated brow with his arm, and spoke again, “I said, ‘What do you want?”
Jimmy started to speak when he saw the lady in the pink bathrobe and pink slippers; she walked towards the man from the barn. When she arrived by the man’s side, she whispered something to him. The whole time they were looking at the boys. Their red eyes continued to look right at them. The boys hoped for a distraction so they could get out of the evil glare, even for a split second.
A dog barked somewhere in the distance and the evil eyes diverted from them and the boys used the split second and fled. They jumped over the wooden railing, cleared the hedges and were on their way down the road. The dog’s barking had gotten closer, as if it was following them. They kept on running, they didn’t even dare to look over their shoulders to see where the red-eyed people were. They heard soft rhythmic thuds, heavy breathing, and the loudest bark yet. Randy turned around and saw a St. Bernard giving them chase.
“Jimmy, that dog is after us” said Randy with panic in his voice.
Both boys made a concentrated effort to run faster but their youthful energy was nearly sapped. Their adrenaline was slowly waned from them. The dog was getting closer and closer. Randy turned around; saw the distance between the dog and them. He stepped into a pothole, twisted his ankle, and fell. The dog jumped on him almost immediately but Randy got his arm up in time to keep the dog away from his neck and head. The dog seemed satisfied with this bone, got a grip that he wasn’t letting go of soon. Jimmy stumbled, in his forward motion, and happened to see a big limb from a tree. This branch was about four inches in diameter and about six foot long.
Jimmy quickly picked it up, held it like a club over his back. He walked back to his struggling friend who is still trying to get free from the dogs grip. He brought that crude club down onto the dogs back, again and again. The dog was unaffected by the blows and continued his grasp on Randy’s arm. Jimmy kept up his barrage of blows to the dogs back. In a spur of the moment decision, he decided to hit the St. Bernard on the head. The blow strikes the dog on the crown of his head. The brown, white and bloody dog dropped his death grip, the eyes roll up into his head, and the dog falls on Randy.
Randy pushed the dog away from him, stood up, and rolled up his sleeve on his sweatshirt. He looked at the damage caused by the dog. His arm is sore, black and blue, with only one puncture wound from the dog’s teeth. He rolled his sleeve back down and brushed the dirt off his clothing. The two of them are once again head for the main road. They both, silently, decided not to stop at another house on this dead end road. On the way to the main road they passed four normal looking houses but no thought was ever given to stop there. It took them about thirty-five minutes to walk the mile and a half to the main road.
They walked in a southerly direction, when a man in a pick-up truck stopped and offered them a ride. The boys made sure to see the color of the man’s eyes, since they weren’t any shade of red they got in. “You kids been walking for long?” the gray haired man asked.
“Yes,” said Randy, “we ran out of gas.”
“You should have said something earlier,” started the old man, “I have a can of gas in the back. I also carry a can or two with me.”
Randy and Jimmy looked at each other and wondered if it is worth going back to get the car. They both thought it was worth it before they lost their best friend. The old man saw them exchange their looks at one another, and sensed their apprehension and this made him more curios.
“So tell me boys, where did you leave the car? I can turn around and take you to it if you like.”
Jimmy was the first to agree, because he knew that he wouldn’t have to walk down the long dead end road again. It was also his car and he could drive him and his friend out again at a high rate of speed. The man found a driveway, turned in and backed up. Fifteen minutes later they drove down the tree lined road. They saw no sign of trouble, no dead animal lying on the road, not even a sign of their struggle. The drive down the road looked like any other road on any other American farming community. They drove to the car without even the slightest reminder of the horror they spent the night before.
Finally they got to the car. The man gave them the gas can and drove off. They noticed the car doors, hood, and trunk was opened. Jimmy got out of the truck and stood there just looking at his car, all opened. He walked up to it and looked around. The spare tire, the jack, amplifier and his speakers are all still there. Jimmy closed the trunk lid and walked around to the engine compartment. All the spark plug and coil wires were there. All the electrical wires and hoses were untouched. Nothing was out of place, so he closed the hood. He went to the driver’s door and stuck his head around. He saw that every compartment was opened, but his radio, equalizer, and CD collection was still there. Even the ashtrays that were built into the front seats were opened. He reached into the back seat and closed the one on the drivers seat and walked over to the other side of the car and looked in. As he reached behind the seat he heard noises that cane from the front, almost directly in front of the passenger seat. He closed the ashtray and gave this noise more attention. It was coming from the glove compartment. He brought his face closer to the opening in the dashboard, something moved and then there was this chattering noise.
Something jumped out of the box and attached itself to Jimmy’s face. Jimmy jumped up and back, hitting the back of his head on the doorframe, he just about lost consciousness. “Get it off, GET IT OFF!”
Randy who was filling the gas tank heard his friend scream. Jimmy tried hard to extricate the animal from his face, but the thing has a hold of his eyebrow and wouldn’t let go.
When Randy got over to Jimmy’s side he saw that there is a Chipmunk attached to his face. He reached down and grabbed a stick. Sam knew because of the location of the chipmunk that he couldn’t knock it off without doing more damage to his friend. He grabbed the rodent with one hand and tried to wedge the stick between its jaws. With luck the chipmunk was more interested with the stick than Jimmy’s eyebrow and was easily pulled off. Randy then throws the stick and the chipmunk into the pasture as hard and far as he could. The chipmunk died on impact of the ground, the rabies that it was infected with was going to kill it in a few hours anyways.
“Let me look at your eye, Jimmy”
“Oh! Ahh that has got to hurt,” said Randy, “we better get you to a hospital.”
Randy helped his friend to the car and sat him into the passenger seat. Then walked around to the back of the car and finished putting the gas into the tank. After completing this task he took the car keys and reopened the trunk and threw in the gas can. He climbed into the car, closed the door, stepped on the gas pedal a couple of times and turned the key in the ignition. The car spitted and sputtered a couple of times but then it started. He finished turning the car around, and drove down the road. After a half-mile or so saw the old man’s truck, the driver’s door opened. Parts of a shirt lay in the middle of the road, and the farmer they saw earlier walked towards the truck. Randy saw this man, and he stepped on the accelerator, the tires spun on the soft surface, and when the tires caught the car lurched forward. The farmer with the red eyes and overalls was directly in front of them, and there was no time for him to get out of the way. The man leapt into the air, the car drove under him without even taking his legs out from under him. Neither one of the boys looked into the rearview mirror to watch the guy land like an NBA star after making the basket.
Back on the main road, the only road between where they were at and where they needed to be, they began to think of their friend. For reasons unexplained they felt compelled to return and rescue what remained of their friend’s body. They were even uncomfortable about the motorist who gave them a hand. One last sane thought crossed their minds as they began to look for a gas station and a phone.
The road, an endless turnpike for dreams and nightmares, wasn’t as much comfort as Jimmy and Randy thought it should’ve offered. Thoughts of grief and the unknown fate of their friend caused Jimmy to stomp on the accelerator of his car. Instead of the neck braking speed of a stampede of horses the car hesitated and refused to go any faster. An unknown force was holding back the metal, glass and rubber of the red and white sports car.
Neither of the boys could find the words to express their thoughts. They just looked forward to the road ahead of them until the Mobil sign appeared on the horizon. There was no excitement expressed when they saw another car pull into the gas station, they’ve been down this road before with the motorists who was more than happy to take them to their car. Jimmy had thoughts of driving right on by this gas station and taking his chances of finding another one.
“There’s a phone over there,” said Randy.
“Do you…” started Jimmy, “do you think we are safe?”
“I don’t know,” answered Randy, “but.”
As if the car could read Jimmy’s mind it sputtered and then stalled. Jimmy and Randy rode the coast of the car to within several feet of the gas pumps. This will be the luckiest occurrence for these two boys for the rest of the day. Neither one of them had much more in their wallets than pictures of girlfriends and ghosts of money. There was the phone booth that even had the rare copy of a phonebook.
“Who should we call?” asked Jimmy.
“Let’s call my brother.”
Randy’s brother was nearly twenty-one, attended community college, and worked at a small local restaurant part-time. His family and friends respected him as a hard working, caring individual who you could always count on. Randy knew that his brother would bend over backwards to help his younger brother.
Randy picked up the phone and he felt a lump in his throat when he didn’t hear the dial tone. He pushed down the silver button where the hand piece went and listened to the hum of the phone. He nearly jumped up and down like a youngster jumps on a bed but thought otherwise. He ended dialing the phone number three times before he got it right. It wasn’t that he forgot his own number but the fear of the night before still hadn’t left his fingers yet.
The fifth ring brought a recorded message and then there was a sound of someone dropping the phone. Randy also heard a distant, “Awww shit” in his brother’s voice. Randy, knowing that his brother was home made a fist over his head and brought his whole arm down in a congratulatory motion.
It took Randy a few minutes to tell his brother where he’d been the night before and the more he talked, the more he realized how far-fetched his story sounded.
“Wow, Bro,” said Craig, “that is some story and if you weren’t my brother I would never believe this. So where did you say you were again?”
Randy shrugged his shoulders and placed a questioning look on his face. “Jim, where do you think we are?”
“Just keep your brother on the phone and I’ll go ask the attendant.”
Jim walked like a man who didn’t have a care in the world. He stepped lightly over a puddle in the middle of the parking lot and jumped up on the curb that surrounded the whole building. The bell on the glass door jingled as it was opened and the clerk looked up at his customer. There were no cautious glances exchanged between Jim and the man behind the counter. The man wiped his dirty hands on a dirty orange shop rag and looked up.
“Excuse me, sir” said Jimmy, “can you tell me where I’m at?”
“Well, son” said the man. He then smiled. His teeth were as black as the grease spots on his hands. “You aren’t in Hell and this place sure isn’t Heaven… I’d reckon you are somewhere in between.” This was followed by the evilest of laughs and a coughing fit.
“Can you be more specific?” asked Jimmy, “I’m trying to give someone directions.”
The man stopped coughing but the laugh came back as he answered, “Tell your friend you are fifteen minutes from Nowhere Ville on ol’ route 943.”
“Randy tell your brother we are on route 943.”
In everyone’s life there are times when we want the hands of the clock to break the sound barrier as they count off the seconds, minutes and hours of the day. For Jimmy and Randy this was one of those times. The night they just lived thru took more out of them then they had realized. Both of them felt the adrenalin wearing off and all they wanted to do was sleep. They climbed back in the car, turned the radio on and tried to get as comfortable as they could in the bucket seats.
The sandman carried their weary minds to a place far, far away. Randy dreamt of spending a night with his favorite actress; Drew Barrymore. Jimmy had visions of a checkered flag waving him the winner at the Indy 500.
With Jimmy and Randy’s history of getting themselves into trouble Craig was really in no hurry to once again rescue his brother and friend. He made a couple of stops before he ventured out to route 943. The first of those stops was to pick up his girlfriend. He’d been promising her a day in the country, although her intentions were a little different. She wanted the romantic picnic lunch, and Craig just wanted an open road to burn off the carbon that built up on his car’s engine.
The other stop was to pick up some munchies for the trip. He figured, correctly, that the boys would be hungry. Having the back seat of his car packed with several bags of groceries, a baseball bat, and a sawed off shotgun, Craig and his girlfriend took off in search of route 943.
“Colleen,” said Craig, “look in the glove compartment for that old map of the county and let’s see if we can pinpoint exactly where my brother and his friend are.”
“Craig?” she questioned. “What has your brother gone and done now?”
“I’m not really sure, but he and Jimmy are at some gas station with no money, no gas, and some story about Sam being eaten by rats.”
Colleen wrinkled her nose and curled her lips. This was the sign for Craig to keep quiet; his girlfriend hadn’t the steel stomach of a nurse. Most of the ride was done in silence; neither minded the solitude of their thoughts, which weren’t on finding the truth to that of Randy and Jimmy’s story.