Letting Life Lead
“Hey, kid, now don’t fret. No one will miss ‘em. I can’t stand to see a little miss cry. You did good. Can you help out an old man? I’m not looking to hurt you. How about I tell you a story and you decide if you should untie me, alright? I had a sweet daughter about your age — just fourteen. She got tangled up with Dan’s boy. That’s Dan there. Mean bastard — his wife might just die from relief. His boy there’s his spittin’ image. He ruined my girl — took advantage of her nature. Around here a girl’s reputation is bait; folks get nasty when it’s on the hook. They put all their own wrongs in it and pretend their asses don’t shit.
“I said some things. Things you ought not say to your daughter, but I did dammit and I’ll regret it till my dying breath. I hope that ain’t today, kid. I was just mad, you see? But, we made amends my girl and I. I couldn’t take back what I said; I sure tried. I didn’t know Dan’s boy was following her, harassing, and sending filthy notes. I just found her hanging from the workshop rafters one morning. Women, you know, are polite not wanting to leave a mess. A man, though, will just blow his brains out all over the casserole at Sunday dinner. You’d think I’d have been mad crazy seeing that, but I cut her down calm and quick . Hurt just the same. No sense in upsetting my missus more. Can’t undo the dead.
“Yes, you sit right there. I do tell a long one don’t I? I’ll get to it; we just got to go round the barn first. We buried her out by this big hickory tree near the edge of our property. I tend the grave, but my wife she don’t leave the house. Not since the day we put our baby in the ground. Sometimes I talk to the birds because it’s crazy to talk to the dead. One day, I catch Dan’s boy and his friends using my girl’s tree as their personal piss pot! She’s dead cold and can’t hurt nobody. What kind of person does that? I roughed them up — handed them their asses — but I let them keep breathin’.
“You know what war is, kid? I’ve killed men I had no quarrel with; I’m no stranger to bloodshed. Saw a man get his limbs blown off. What you did here ain’t nothing to me. I’ve gone off the story again, haven’t I? Dan and I aren’t buddies and he didn’t like me knocking his boy around. I told him, ‘Dan, he pissed on my girl’s grave; he’s lucky he’s still got his pecker.’ He took a swing at me and I fed him his teeth. Hurt his pride, but I’m not an unreasonable guy. Told him to keep his boy off my property or I’d stick a bullet in him. I figure the matter’s done. Sonofabitch, cold-cocks me as I’m coming out the bar! I have one drink on my girl’s birthday. I made a vow to my wife not to drink except that one and I stick to it. I keep my promises.
“Anyway, they drag me here and tie me up. Who knows what they were up to. Those two couldn’t find a rock in a quarry with a map much less plan a murder. But, a little thing like you has to be smart. I’ve seen men do worse than what you’ve done for no reason at all. I’d like to keep breathing; maybe you’d like some help with the bodies? That makes me an accomplice. What would I say? ‘Why yessir, it was a little skinny girl that killed them.’ We got a mutual beneficial opportunity here. You saved my life. Twice if you count not ending me in this chair.
“Decided? Alright then. Name’s Gary. My buddies used to call me Gat — like the gun. A boat accident, right? I’ll do the lifting; don’t you worry. We’ll hammer out the details of you, me and the missus. You trust me; I trust you. Get in the boat, kid. A shame to spoil the fishin’, but drunken fools die all the time.”
“You talk a lot.”
“I was thinking you might be a mute. I figure if I keep talking my way out of dying it don’t make sense to stop.”
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