2nd Place winner (September 2009 Short Shots Contest)
They say it's bunk, but I seen him with my own eyes.
Lemme start at the beginnin'. My name's Junior Young. My fifth-grade teacher said once that my name's redundant and that Momma must've been tipsy on the moonshine when she named me. I never did like that stupid cow. I'm not sure what redundant means, but I'm pretty sure Momma never drank any o'that ol' moonshine she made. She just sold it to the Tuppers down the way a bit so we all could eat like regular folk. Anyways, on October thirty-first, 2008 my life changed forever. Halloween, can you believe that shit? I s'pose if you're gonna see a ghost, Halloween's the night to see one.
I was sittin' on the porch swing mindin' my own business and all when ... well, okay--I wasn't really mindin' my own business. I was dressed up like a scarecrow and sittin' on the swing and all, and I was waitin' for some poor knucklehead to ring the doorbell for a treat and I was gonna give him the scare of his life. And as I'm sittin' there all still and scarecrow-like, all of a sudden this kid dressed in old clothes, like the kind them people wore on that Little House on the Prairie show, snuck up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. I tell ya, I pert near pissed myself!
And no, I whadn't drinkin'. And no, I didn't forget to take my meds that mornin'. I'm tellin' ya, he stood there as plain as you and me--just stood there lookin' at me and all, like he was waitin' for me to invite him inside or somethin', but alls I could do was stare at him.
"Whatcha doin'?" he ask me.
"Waitin' to scare the bejesus outta the next roundhead that rings the doorbell."
"Why?" he says.
"I dunno. Nothin' better to do, I guess," I says back. Then he ask me if I wanna do somethin' fun with him--somethin' that'd make everyone in town remember my name just like they remember his.
Now, that made me 'spicious. How could the town remember his name if he was just some goddamn kid? I was seventeen then--lived in Bixby my whole life. I ain't never seen him before. And believe you me, Bixby is a small town. The guy next door farts and everybody in town knows. If he was from 'round these parts, I'd've seen him. So I ask him what his name is, and that's when he tells me his name is Uriah Johnson.
I wasn't afraid, really. I thought it was a joke, ya know? Like this scrub was gettin' his rocks off by actin' like he's Uriah Johnson. "The Uriah Johnson?" I ask him. "Uriah Johnson, as in I'm-gonna-chop-y'all-up-inta-tiny-pieces-with-this-here-ax Uriah Johnson?"
He just smiles at me and says, "You wanna have some fun or not?"
Now I'm lookin' at him with his blonde hair and his beady green eyes and his creepy-ass Children of the Corn getup and I decide to play along, so I says, "Whatcha got in mind, kid?"
Now in case ya ain't never heard of Uriah Johnson 'cause you was raised under a rock or somethin', the story goes somethin' like this: back in the 1800s, there was this family, the Johnsons, who lived here in Bixby, Idaho, and they had five kids. They was poor, like real poor, and all their kids was always gettin' inta trouble on accounta they was always hungry and tryin' to steal things and all. The other kids in town made fun of 'em 'cause they wore old ratty clothes and never had nothin' new, and they was all stinky 'cause they never took baths. Everyone hated 'em, pretty much.
Anyways, Uriah was the oldest, and there was this bully in town, Henry Abbot, who picked on Uriah every chance he got. He'd push him down on the playground, steal his lunch if he brought one to school ... he even ganged up on him one time and had his fat friends hold ol' Uriah down while he beat the tar out of him--knocked a couple of his teeth out that time, I think.
So one day Uriah's out in the woods choppin' up some old felled trees for the winter when along comes Henry. Well, he starts pickin' at Uriah, shovin' him 'round and all, and Uriah twists off. I guess he swung that ax and hit ol' Henry in the guts with it--dropped him like a hot tater. He died right there in them woods. Later on that night, all the townsfolk walked up the Johnson's old dirt driveway with torches, and goddamn if they didn't light their house on fire! Killed every last one of 'em.
Ever since then, anytime some poor sap come up missin' 'round here or they find a dead person layin' in a ditch somewheres, they says it's the ghost of ol' Uriah Johnson come back from the dead to have his revenge.
Now, where was I? Oh yeah, so I ask him what he got in mind, and he ask me if I ever been pestered. "Hells, yes!" I says. "That bastard Rebel Schneider ... he always had a leg-smackin' good time poundin' on my ass. Has ever since we was in grade school."
Ya know ... it's hard to fight back when someone's twice your size. That guy's so fat--he's like ten pounds o'taters in a five-pound sack, and all he gotta do is get me down and sit on me and I can't move. He can pretty much do whatever he wants to me once he sits on me. He even spit in my mouth once. Gawd, how I dreamed about givin' that fat fuck his comeuppance!
Then the kid, Uriah, I mean, up and walks away! "I know his like," he says to me. "Rebel thinks he's the biggest toad in the puddle. Well, I gots news for him," he says.
"Oh!" I says. I'm followin' him now and had to run to catch up. "Then there's that bitch Amberlee Swallows. Swallows. What kinda name is that? Anyways, she said no when I ask her to the dance at the grange hall last year. Then she had her cousins, Hick and Bubba, try and beat me up after school for askin'! Can you believe that shit?" I ask him. "And while we're at it, ya might as well throw them two pantywaists on the list. Sheesh! I swear, them guys don't have a full set o'teeth between 'em. Hey, them dipshits don't have two brain cells to rub together!" I laughed at myself 'cause I thought that was pretty clever.
So I start namin' names, ya see--tellin' him about all the people in Bixby who ever done me wrong, and that's when things start to get real interestin'.
At first we just did little stuff, like smearin' cow shit on the front seata Rebel's truck and tossin' gasoline on Hick and Bubba's lawn. Nothin' too serious. Then one day I seen Amberlee's diary fall outta her backpack when she's gettin' off the bus, so I scooped it up and took it home. You wouldn't believe some of the stuff in there! There's stuff in there that'd make a hooer blush. Found out she was all hot for Rebel--gawd, can you believe that shit?--so I made me some copies o'that diary and spread 'em 'round school. I kinda felt bad about it afterwards--like it was a pretty mean thing to do and all, but there's somethin' about hangin' with Uriah that makes ya do things ya ain't never even thought of before. Bad things.
I only seen him at night, usually after everone else was in bed. He'd throw rocks at my bedroom window or ... oh! There was this one time I woke up from a dead sleep and he was standin' over my bed lookin' down on me like some freak show from a Stephen King movie or somethin'. I pert near crapped myself!
I never told no one about him. I guess I was kinda possessive of him--didn't want to share him with nobody. I wanted to keep him to myself and all. I kinda felt ... I dunno, proud, I s'pose, that he picked me, ya know? And we was just havin' fun, really. Like that show Punk'd on MTV, only the ones we punk'd didn't know they was bein' punk'd. Anyways, I never wanted to hurt no one or nothin'.
Then them bastards started turnin' up dead.
Rebel wrecked that ol' truck o'his. Ran it right off Dead Man's Bluff. He went missin' and it took 'em pert near two weeks to find his fat ass down there at the bottom o'that hill. The cops says someone cut his brake line or somethin'. Then Hick and Bubba's house got burned down. The fire chief says someone set it--that it was arson. And Amberlee's folks found her hangin' in her closet. Her face was plumb purple I guess, and she was holdin' some o'them copies I made of her diary.
Well, it weren't long b'fore the cops come knockin' on my door. O'course they found my fingerprints on Rebel's truck and my footprints was in the mud 'round Hick and Bubba's house. They says they found one o'my hairs in Amberlee's diary, too. They 'rested me--charged me with murder for Rebel, Hick, and Bubba. Negligent homicide for Amberlee. Can ya believe that shit?
So now I'm holed up here in the crowbar motel waitin' for my trial. I was seventeen when this all happened, but I turned eighteen real quick like after, so they's chargin' me as an adult. The public defender says there ain't no gettin' out of it and that I oughta just admit I done it. He says that way I prob'ly won't get the death penalty--just life in prison. I s'pose he's right. I ain't got no proof it was Uriah that done it all. Shit, I ain't even seen his ass since everyone started dyin' and all.
I guess I just want y'all to know that I ain't crazy. I did do some stuff I prob'ly shouldn't've, but I didn't hurt no one. I swear to gawd I didn't kill nobody! Maybe that ol' newspaper down there in Boise--what's it called, the Idaho Statesman? Maybe them reporters'll hear about me and believe my story. No one here does. Them goddamn cops and the fire chief sure as hell don't.
Yeah, I told 'em all about Uriah and how he must've been the one done all them bad things. I told them bastards! They says it's bunk, but I seen him with my own eyes.
Word count minus title (according to Microsoft Word)--1,807
Written for September 2009