Fiction — May 6, 2014 10:22 — 1 Comment

The Marauders (part 3 of 3) – David Armand

(This is the third installment of this short story, for part 1 click here, for part 2 here

 

Darryl and Billy were only about fifty yards away from Euwell’s house when Darryl stopped the truck. Darryl said: We got to do somethin.

Billy was quiet and looking out of the window at the dark wall of pines that seemed to almost lean in on them now.

Open that glove box, Darryl said.

Then Billy, as if mechanically, looked ahead and then he reached forward and opened the glove box. It fell forward on its hinges and the small light inside of it limned atop a stack of yellowed papers an old Colt revolver and the gunmetal looked dark gray under the light sputtering forth from the glove box now.

Darryl reached over and picked up the gun and let the cylinder out to make sure it was loaded. It was. So he pulled the truck over and off to the side of the road and told Billy to stay where he was. The overhead light came on and then clicked off as Darryl opened the door and climbed out of the truck and then pushed the door closed behind him. He put the revolver in his pants and walked beside the gravelroad and then down toward the overgrown yard around Euwell’s house.

There were no sounds here save for the crickets in the woods and in the grass and no sound issued forth from the house above so Darryl walked up the stairs and onto the porch. But now he could hear Rachel and she was sobbing and saying: Stop it stop it stop it, over and over and over.

Darryl tried to open the door but something was jammed up against it and he couldnt push it far enough open to get in. Rachel was still crying inside the house but Darryl couldnt see where exactly she was: he couldnt see Euwell either.

Then suddenly there was a bright flash of white light and the room lit up with it for a moment and Darryl could see Euwell’s face as if frozen in a cameraflash and Euwell was standing before him in the room on the other side of the partially opened door and he was holding the gun out in front of him and pointing it at Darryl and then in that split second it had all registered: he had been shot. He had heard the noise when he saw the flash of light and he had felt the sharp pain above his chest but none of the sensations culminated at once. Instead it hit him separately: the flash of light, the sound, then the pain and then the smell of cordite and his own flesh burning under his burning shirt. It was a shoulder shot and Darryl fell down onto the porch and clutched himself with his left hand and when he looked up he could see Euwell’s halfmad face looking out through the door now.

I thought I done told you to leave, he said.

Darryl didnt say anything. He just looked at Euwell through the halfopened door. And then Euwell shot him again and turned around to go back inside: he closed the door coldly behind him as if he had just stomped on a roach.

When he got back into the dark bedroom where Rachel lay tied up on the mattress and nearly unclothed Euwell put the gun back in his jeans and then he picked up his flashlight from the floor and clicked it on again and ran its beam around the room before settling it on the girl and jerking it over her body now. He held the light over her flat stomach and then her underwear and then her legs which reflected the light back at him and the girl was still sobbing and telling Euwell to stop but he kept tracing over her with the light until finally the light started to flicker and then dim out and so Euwell cursed and flicked the light off and then all was again cast in darkness.

*          *          *

 

Billy had heard the gunshots from where he sat in the truck on the side of the road: First one, then silence, then another shot. He slid across the benchseat and behind the steering wheel and he started the truck and turned it around on the gravelroad and headed back toward Euwell’s house. He kept the headlights turned off and used the white of the gravelroad which was dully reflecting the moonlight to keep his course and then he eased the truck into the yard and he could hear his own heart in his chest as he looked up at the house and then the porch. And there cast in the subtle light from the stars and the moon overhead coming in through the clearing Billy could see his older brother lying on the porch. He wasnt moving.

No, Billy said. No. Please no.

Then he backed up the truck and turned onto the gravelroad and sped on down toward the highway, the dustcloud behind him pluming white and gray and then red as Billy finally turned on the truck’s lights and then pressed his quivering foot to the brake pedal and suddenly stopped short just before Highway 25 where he turned north and headed back home toward Franklinton.

*          *          *

 

An owl had landed on one of the branches just outside of the window in the room where Rachel lay sobbing still and halfdressed. The large bird stared in at her. She looked around the room. In the semidark now she could hardly see the trash and the myriad piles of clothes that were strewn across the room but she could hear the rats skittering among them and she could hear the man Euwell too. Rachel tucked her knees into her chest and she lay fetally now as Euwell sauntered about as if he were looking for something. Rachel didnt know what. Then Euwell was standing over her again. She could hear him breathing and she could feel his breath now too hot and damp on her skin. The owl outside lifted from its branch and its gray and black feathers shone in the waning moon.

Then Euwell held the girl’s wrists against the mattress with his right hand and he whispered into her ear: you owe me thirty dollars little girl. I intend to get at least that much out of you.

He reached over to the side of the mattress and with his free hand picked up a warm can of beer and he raised the can to his mouth and with his jagged orange teeth pulled back the tab and sucked the white foam that erupted from the opening.

I’m a fair man, he said. And I know what thirty dollars buys these days. Barely a taste of a pretty thing like you. So that’s what I aim to have. A taste.

Rachel struggled under him and said for him to stop but stolidly this time and with less heat. She was tired. She closed her eyes and waited for whatever was going to happen to happen. Waited for when this would just be over.

Then Rachel could feel the warm beer trickling onto her neck and then down her chest and into the cave of her stomach now as Euwell emptied the contents of the can onto her body. The beer spilled over and rolled down her sides and onto the dirty mattress until the can was empty. Then Euwell tossed the can against the wall and like a dog began lapping up the beer from Rachel’s body and panting like a dog now too as he licked all the way down to her stomach where some of the beer had pooled and as he came back up, his hot breath on her neck again, he whispered into her ear: you taste good.

Rachel could feel him rubbing himself now against the inside of her naked thigh and she could feel his zipper and the clasp on his belt scratching her leg as he moved back and forth. He still held tight to her wrists—one with each hand now—but as he moved faster and his breathing became heavier Rachel could feel his grip loosen and when he finally let go of her and let out a final sour outblow of breath like a horse would have Rachel reached into the back of Euwell’s jeans and took his gun and put it to his temple and shot: you could hear the sorry contents of his skull and some of his skull now too hitting the wall and Rachel too and she could feel it now warm and viscous on her skin.

Euwell’s weight seemed to dump itself onto her now and so she tried to roll his body off of her and she was breathing fast and couldnt seem to catch her breath and then the body was on the floor and Rachel was breathing faster now and she couldnt move and then everything went into absolute darkness. In her unconsciousness she could still hear the rats snicking across the floor where Euwell’s body lay.

 

The next thing she remembered dawnlight was unshackling the dark from the room around her and she sat up on the mattress. She started to pull on her clothes and then she got up and ran out into the front room and then out the door and onto the porch where Darryl’s body lay but she ran past that too and then down the stairs into the yard. As she ran through the dewmoist grass toward the gravelroad—the orange disc of sun coming up lethargically behind her and over the black and crooked treeline now—her legs became even more wet with what the night had left behind.

 

*          *          *

Billy was driving up Highway 25 but turned around before he crossed the bridge going over the Bogue Chitto River and into Franklinton. He drove back down and turned onto the gravelroad and then stopped the truck and killed the headlights and then the engine. He waited there.

He watched dawn creep up over the black treeline and the rays of dust were coming through the branches now and Billy could see in the mist down the road Rachel coming toward him. She was bloody and wet and running now to the truck. Billy leaned over and across the seat and he opened the passenger door.

Go, Rachel said.

And so Billy drove away from there, leaving behind them all but the distant whicker of horses in the rising dawnlight.

Bio:

David Armand was born and raised in Louisiana. He has worked as a drywall hanger, a draftsman, and as a press operator in a flag printing factory. He now teaches at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he also serves as associate editor for Louisiana Literature Press. In 2010, he won the George Garrett Fiction Prize for his first novel, The Pugilist's Wife, which was published by Texas Review Press. His second novel, Harlow, is also published by Texas Review Press. David lives with his wife and two children and is at work on his third novel.

One Comment

  1. Dixon Hearne says:

    Heart-pounding conclusion to a moving story. Well-told! I felt as if I were right there in the story with the other characters, sharing their thoughts and emotions, contemplating what my own actions would be.

Leave a Reply to Dixon Hearne

The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney