Wednesday, July 6, 2011

sour mash(short story)

he couldn't tear himself away from this spot lately.
the sun began its lazy, limbo-like descent as he
walked to the edge of the creek. his feet sank
slightly here and there within the soil, but not
enough to slow him down. Josh Crandall knew these
woods. in one hand, he carried a dull metal flask
filled with sour mash peach whiskey he brought from
home. as he got closer to the edge, he took a long
swig from its neck. sweat cropped up on his forehead
like fresh cotton. his maroon shirt was spotted with
perspiration. the water loomed before him, silent
save for the sound of the breeze licking at its surface.
Josh stood there, and looked out over the water, his
eyes darting from tree to tree on the opposite shore.
he shrugged and took a swig. it was no use in doing
that, he thought to himself. few folks, except for
the insane or the lost traipsed through these woods
a half mile from the highway. and he had nothing to

Josh knew these woods well when he was a boy. back
then, he would cut through with an uncle and fire
BB guns at possums as his uncle used buckshot on the
bigger stuff like alligators. he tugged at his collar.
'hotter'n usual.' he said out loud. a few birds answered
him with their own chatter. he ran a hand through his
sandy brown hair, and let his mind wander back to a month ago.
when he was last here. it was nightfall then, the
kind of night that would scare the brimstone out of
the devil. and Josh could hear the screams again. he
took another swig but they kept getting louder in his
ear. as he closed his eyes, his mind flashed snapshots.
young girl. 15. cute legs. wore a Jonas Bros. tee shirt.
her nose bled from his fist. braces were fresh. she kept
crying without a sound. Josh coughed, and he opened his
eyes to look at the water again but the pictures kept
coming. he remembered her. Madison. 15. Catholic, but
believed in nature's protection. she clutched her rosary
while he had his way. she had skin like the flesh of a
strawberry. she smelled like one too. he finished off the
flask. it was here. all of it, here. the whole thing
ate at Josh for the past two weeks. the TV news reports.
the posters up on trees and walls. the big notice with
her picture up at the Circle K he saw her by back then.
he thought he could get away by coming back to the spot.

Josh felt hollow inside. she wasn't the first girl he
violated. just the first who fought back. Madison. even
weak, she spat in his face and clawed at him. she even
jabbed him with the cross of her rosary. which he then
grabbed a hold of and choked the life out of her with.
then he let the water take her. it was deep enough at
this end for her to slip below the surface. no one would
know where she was. no one would find her. Josh let out
a belch. it wasn't safe here. the birds had stopped their
shouts. the sun was close enough to tuck itself under the
horizon now. only a few last points of sharp light were
at his feet. as he looked down, he saw a glint off of
the root off to his right. Josh bent over to look. 'what
are you doing, dummy?' he thought. but he had to look.
he was compelled to look. he leaned forward from the
waist. his eyes closed slightly. 'damn whisky, can't even
focus..' he muttered. the object had some mud on it. at
that moment, Josh heard Madison's screams again in his
ear. he stretched his left hand out to touch the object.
it was her rosary. he tugged at it slightly but it wouldn't
give. he yanked hard and at that moment, there was a loud
splash. a gator!! it shot out of the water so fast that
Josh couldn't move nor finish his scream. its jaws had
clamped down hard on his neck. with speed, it dragged
Josh, still thrashing, underneath the murky water. all that
was left on the shore by the tree root was Madison's
rosary, and Josh's flask right beside it.

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