In BURNT on January 27, 2011 at 8:10 pm


Critter is in the tractor’s cab.  He’ll probably spend the night there.  Earlier, he woke up in his cot, drenched in piss.  That’s been happening more and more lately, especially when he’s up late drinking.  It’s so damn cold.  That cot won’t dry for hours.  Better to sleep in the tractor.

He’s finishing the bottle when something moves over by the door.  He peers into the darkness of the barn.  There’s something stirring near the hay-loft now, something big.  He snaps on the headlights.

A man is standing there,  covered head to foot in mud.  He opens his fist.  “I need the keys to the pump.”

Critter stares.  It’s the owner’s son.  He looks like wet death.  Critter hands him all the keys.  Jay staggers outside.

He tries to stay awake but it’s too much.  The rhythmic glub glub of the pumps, the splash of gasoline in a bucket, Jay rustling off and returning to glub glub and splash again.  He drifts off.

When he wakes, Jay is standing there with a torch.  Critter decides to tell him a story.

“This land had a lot of different uses before your dad came along.  Indians used to make camp here.  I’ve seen pieces of their pots and such.  There was a pretty big silver mine not too far from here.  It’s long gone now.  Folks used to come up here to fish and hunt.   I’d show them around some, made my living that way for a long time.  It’s my home and I knew I’d see it change.  But I never thought I’d see anything like your father and his group of crazies.  It surprises the hell out me.  I betcha the land is pretty surprised too.”

Jay hands him a torch.  “Fix things.”

Critter opens a battered wooden box he keeps under the seat.  He hands Jay an old pistol.  “You too.”

The Story So Far

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