Litkicks Message Board Archive
GRADUAL CURVES WERE IT'S SINGING EASE
The old Cadillac veered onto the shoulder and rumbled to a stop amidst pinging gravel and swirling dust. The engine issued an exhaustive hiss then belched. The driver stepped out, yawned and stretched. He was a tall, gangly man dressed in bellbottoms and a tank top with the word ‘BUTTERCUP’ embroidered across the front. His hair, fashioned in a neo-60’s beehive, towered above his head like a two-foot monolith. He did a hasty appraisal in the side mirror, patting and tweaking all the loose strands back into place. But even after his best effort, a number of stubborn clumps still jutted from his head. What a hopeless friggin’ mess, he concluded. Nothing rankled the perfectionist in him more than unruly hair. He reached into the Cadillac and pulled out a can of hairspray but it was empty. Frustrated, he chucked the empty can into a nearby ditch, did an about face and pissed underneath a giant billboard that proclaimed:
WELCOME TO THE VILLAGE OF BAREFOOT TROUT
HOME OF REVEREND JIMMY FUGATE
Balancing on one leg, he shook urine from his boot as he snatched an unfolded map from a protruding spring in the Cadillac’s seat. He studied a circled area on the map and the Appalachian foothills lying up ahead. Wherever he was, this place, this Barefoot Trout, wasn’t on the map. He wadded the map into a ball and fired up the Cadillac. It shuddered and broke wind like an impacted elephant, then rumbled off, leaving a viscous puddle in the settling smoke and dust.
On a ridge overlooking the Cadillac, two men peered through telescopic sights mounted on scarred and pitted WW II vintage rifles. Each man wore a bright orange vest with a hunting license pinned to the back.
“Did you see that, Sutter?” said the shorter of the two men, lowering his rifle to rest on his muddied boot.
“Yep, Virgil, that’s called indecent exposure,” replied the taller man.
“Damn straight it is. And did you get a look at that boy’s hair? He looked queerer than a preacher-fuck at a baptism.”
“You got that right, Virgil. Don’t like the looks of him. Not one bit.” Sutter sank a hand into his pocket, pulled out a comb and raked it across his head. There couldn’t have been more than a dozen white hairs stretched taut across that shiny scalp. But that didn’t matter. It wasn’t so much a ritual of grooming, as it was an exercise in meditation. Something about the steady prickle of the comb’s teeth relaxed him, helped him to focus. Virgil was quick to notice the pensive gesture.
“Whatcha’ thinking, Sutter? Huh? You figure that homo got something to do with them missing Anderson girls?”
Sutter cringed at the mention of this and stuffed the comb back into his pocket. His inability to locate the Anderson girls had been gnawing away at him since they were first reported missing twelve days ago. How does two grown-up women, identical twins for that matter, just vanish? Poof! Gone without a trace. No evidence. No witnesses. No leads. Nothing. In all his twenty years as constable of Barefoot Trout he’d never seen anything like it. “I reckon we better get back to the vehicle and radio Jake. We’ll have him stop this strange fella’ as he hits town.”
The pair scrambled through a dense thicket of trees and down the side of the ridge. Sutter reached the vehicle thirty yards ahead of the chubby, panting Virgil, then stood at the door and hurried him in. “C’mon, c’mon! I’ll drive, you radio.”
The vehicle, as Sutter called it, wasn’t a real patrol car, not like the ones the state boys drove out on the main highways, but it was well equipped. Sutter saw to that. With money out of his own pocket he had installed the red flasher, the siren and the CB radio. And Virgil had helped stencil the blocked lettering on the doors, declaring: CONSTABLE, BAREFOOT TROUT VILLAGE, GOD LIVES. Sutter was proud of the vehicle. After all, they just didn’t make Pontiacs like that anymore, not since 1971.
Still breathless, Virgil reached two grimy fingers into his mouth and plopped out a slimy wad of tobacco. He laid it on the dash, juicing the CB radio in the process. Looking at Sutter sheepishly, he wiped the radio with his shirttail, then called in the report: “Jake…this is Virge. Listen up…we got a real dandy fixin’ to rumble into town.”
* * *
Sitting in his pickup, Jake spotted the Cadillac as it rounded the last curve and entered Barefoot Trout. “Just like a Bluetic Hound sniffing out cunt,” he giggled, watching the Cadillac hop-stop in front of the 7-11. “Old Jake’s gonna’ bust him a glitter fairy.” He started the truck, then realized he was wearing his bloody apron and paper hat from the butcher shop. Quickly he removed the apron and checked out his new trooper’s hat in the rearview mirror. He smiled, his red-rimmed eyes twinkling. Perfect, he thought, tweaking the brim of his hat, just like the state boys.
Jake parked next to the Cadillac, hopped out, and quickly wedged himself between the stranger and the entrance to the 7-11. Jake gave him the once-over and smiled when he noticed the “BUTTERCUP” scrawled across the tank top.
“Well, that’s quite a fancy hairdo you got there, buttercup” Jake smirked. “Mind telling me what brings you to town?”
The stranger tensed and glared down at the pencil-necked Jake, who at a mere 5’6” barely reached his chin. After a long pause, he replied, “Hairspray.”
Jake snickered. “Is that right? Why don’t you just lean up against the car there and spread ‘em for me, hotshot.”
The stranger stood there and continued glaring. Jake prodded him with his baton but he didn’t budge. “Awww…come on now buttercup, just relax. Ain’t no need to get your panties in a bunch. Jake ain’t gonna’ hurt you.” As he was saying this, Jake had adopted the cautious, slow motion demeanor one acquires when in the presence of a vicious dog. Very slowly, he brought up a pair of cuffs from behind his back and dangled them in the stranger’s face. And that’s when things got messy.
* * *
Wheeling the Pontiac wildly, Sutter fishtailed into the parking lot of the 7-11. From a block away he had seen Jake being hoisted into the air. The frantic constable hadn’t expected a commotion, least of all a full-blown knockdown brawl. God damn that Jake, he thought. Couldn’t trust that weasely little shit for one second. He always had a way of fucking things up but royally. There was going to be hell to pay when Reverend Fugate caught word of this.
Jake clawed and spat at this savage, bellbottom-clad Buttercup who was holding him in the air by the throat and the groin. But with each frenzied movement, an unbearable pain paralyzed him with the threat of emasculation. He could barely breath and nausea began to well.
His adrenaline surging, Sutter barreled from the car and jammed the muzzle of the M-1 rifle to the back of Buttercup's head. “Put him down!”
Buttercup didn’t respond.
“Put him down!” Sutter screamed hysterically, jabbing with the rifle.
“Assholes,” Buttercup muttered through clenched teeth. He stepped back like a weightlifter dispatching barbells and let Jake plummet.
Jake kissed the pavement face first. His mouth and nose a mass of spurting blood, he curled himself into a ball and lay there for a moment, whimpering and dabbing blood with his sleeve, then struggled to get up. As he maneuvered to his knees, he spotted his new hat crumpled beneath the Cadillac and he began to scream. “Shoot him, Sutter! He fucked up my hat! Shoot him!”
Sutter, his mind screaming in confusion, jerked the butt of the rifle up and hammered Buttercup’s temple, knocking him to the ground, unconscious. Like a frothing hyena to carrion, Jake scrambled on all fours to where Buttercup lay and sunk his teeth into his thigh. Again Sutter swung the rifle, and Jake also lay unconscious.
* * *
After dumping Buttercup onto a wooden cot and padlocking the cell, Virgil ransacked his wallet. “Dumb fucker ain’t got but five dollars,” he said, tossing the wallet over to Sutter.
Sutter pulled cards and pictures from the wallet and spread them on the desk. He picked up and examined each item under the table lamp, then stuffed it into a little Ziploc labeled “EVIDENCE.”
“Bingo!” Sutter held up a plastic, laminated card. “According to his license here, it appears our little Buttercup’s name is William Ackerman. He’s nineteen years old, has brown hair, brown eyes, and he’s six-feet two inches tall. Weight: one-eighty.”
Just then, a bruised and battered Jake staggered in. “Wanna’ know what I found in the trunk of that crazy homo’s car?” He paused for a moment for dramatic effect, then held up an inflatable sex doll in one hand and a 7” dildo in the other. “And that ain’t even the half of it. His entire trunk is filled to the brim with this filthy shit.”
“Good work, Jake.” Sutter plunked the license into the Ziploc and picked up another item, a photograph, old and tattered. Judging from it’s condition, it appeared to have been carried in the wallet for years. The scene depicted two young boys straddling the legs of a naked man who was gagged and bound to a chair. Sutter lingered over the picture. There was something familiar about the scene, something very familiar. He examined the photograph more closely, first turning it to the light, then shading it with his hand. He tried different angles. There was something there, but what? He continued intently, as if trying to extract more from the photograph than the sickening scene reflected. And then it hit him. He recognized the man on the chair. A sudden jolt of nausea radiated from the pit of his belly.
“Son-of-a-bitch,” he muttered, springing to his feet. “Virgil, keep an eye on Buttercup over there. I gotta’ go see Reverend Fugate about something.” He slipped the photo into his pocket and hustled out the door.
* * *
The Reverend Jimmy Fugate stood at his office window and watched the black storm clouds move eastward across the hills. He glanced at his watch. By his estimation the downpour would reach Barefoot Trout in approximately five minutes. About the weather, he was seldom wrong. In fact, he was gifted, endowed by God to prophecy. Even as a young child, he had sensed and certainly wanted this divine benefaction. So adept did he become at predicting the squalls and cloud bursts that his parents began presenting him to the congregation and friends as the “Gifted Son”. And indeed he was. His observations of his environment became second nature, instinctive, so much so that his conscious mind no longer registered them. To himself and the village of Barefoot Trout, he was truly gifted, a special Son of God.
“Reverend Fugate?” his secretary whispered, pushing her head through the open doorway. “Sutter Gibbs is here to see you. Want me to tell him you’re busy?”
“No, of course not. Send the constable in.” The reverend glanced at the raindrops beginning to pelt the windowpane and looked at his watch. He grinned smugly. Five minutes on the dot. Rain!
Removing his hat as he entered the office, Sutter looked anxiously around the room, but avoided the Reverend’s gaze. He positioned himself in front of the big oak desk in the middle of the room and waited, his tremulous, perspiring hands curling and uncurling the brim of his hat.
The Reverend leaned over his desk and smiled. “Sutter, my good friend, what brings you here today among all this dreary weather?”
Beads of sweat popped out on Sutter’s forehead. He eased his arm up and tried to wipe them away inconspicuously. “Does the name William Ackerman mean anything to you?”
“No, sir. Can’t say I’m familiar with anyone by that name”
“Are you certain?”
“Oh yes, I’m very certain.”
Without hesitation Sutter shoved the photograph across the desk. Reverend Fugate went sheet white at the sight of it. He flopped back into his swivel chair and gave Sutter a cold, blank stare. “Where did you get this?”
“From the William Ackerman boy. We have him in custody for indecent exposure and assault of an officer.”
“Sutter, do you realize what will happen if some rambunctious journalist gets hold of this? Well, do you?”
“Oh yeah, I sure do.”
“Well you’re justice of the peace in these parts. Clean this mess up! Just tell me what you want, and I’ll do it…anything you say.”
“Well Reverend, elections are coming up in November. If you can assure my re-election as constable, then I will do all in my power to sweep this little mess under the carpet.”
“Sure thing, Sutter. I can do that. Everything will be okay. You’ll see.”
“Thank you, Reverend, that’s all I needed to hear.” Sutter prepared to leave, easing backward toward the door.
“Aren’t you forgetting something, Sutter?” The Reverend nodded toward the floor. “We’ll have to pray this thing out, get the Lord’s blessing.” He came around to the front of the desk and placed his hand on Sutter’s shoulder. For a moment Sutter tried to beg off, his eyes pleading for a concession, then he eased to a kneeling position and bowed his head.
Solemnly, the Reverend laid a soft, manicured hand on Sutter’s head and extended the other to heaven as a beacon to God. He began to pray, first in a soft, slow monotone, then more quickly in a punctuated exhortation. Feeling the power, Fugate now implored God at a feverish pitch, deeply and thunderously. His hands began to quiver and his face flushed. The power was taking hold. He could feel the rush. Sweat streamed from his pudgy face and his eyes rolled back in their sockets. His knees quaked. “Oh, sweet Jesus!” he shrieked as his body stiffened. “Sweet, sweet Jesus!” he shuddered then collapsed to the floor in a breathless daze. “Praise God,” he muttered almost inaudibly. “Praise God.”
Feeling dirty and violated, Sutter quietly rose to his feet, slipped the photo back into his pocket and left.
© 2002/zygotenmycoffee Ink.