Fiction — April 28, 2014 12:30 — 3 Comments

The Marauders (part 1 of 3) – David Armand

But the reckless one – I warn the marauder dragging plunder, chaotic, rich beyond all rights: he’ll strike his sails, harried at long last, stunned when the squalls of torment break his spars to bits.

-Aeschylus, “The Eumenides”

The house had been vacant for months and it was dark inside and quiet too. Billy took out his flashlight and walked up the wooden steps and onto the front porch. He knocked on the door and after no one answered Billy waited a few minutes and then knocked again: still nothing so he turned on the flashlight and trained its long white cylinder of light down to where Travis and Clint and the two girls were standing in the overgrown and waisthigh grass in the yard. The small house sat on eighteen foot high wooden pilings and so by the time the bar of light reached the group of kids below where Billy was standing it was really only just a smudge of light leaning over them now.

Yall come up, Billy said. No one’s here.

They had been casing the house for the past three weeks and they had seen nary a light or any people going in or coming out nor had they heard any sounds. The other night Billy had thrown a large rock into the window which was facing the gravelroad where they all sat on their bikes in the dark and in the noise of the crickets and the mosquitoes in the woods. The rock hit the window and shattered one of the cornerpanes yet still no light came on and no one came to the window.

Night after tomorrow we’ll go in, Billy had said.

And they did. At least that’s what they were doing now as Travis, Clint and the two girls stood back on the small porch as Billy pried at the frontdoor with a crowbar. After a couple of tries Billy got the crowbar between the door and the doorframe and then he leaned forward and pushed his weight against the long end of the crowbar until he felt the frame split and could hear it too: the door came open squeaking on its hinges and Billy looked inside for a minute before turning on the flashlight and aiming it into the front room. He flicked on the lightswitch on the wall.

But nothing stirred in the corbeled dark: it was hot inside and Billy could smell rotting food and trash. There were dirtyclothes and paper spread about the floor and on the counters. Roaches skittered about. You could hear them itching across the walls and the countertops. The place appeared abandoned and so Billy told the others to come in. So they walked into the stagnant dark which reeked of mold and dirt and Billy rifled through cabinets and drawers while the others went through the rest of the house holding out lights before them and not talking as if someone might be there hiding and listening to them and watching them too.

The house inside was small: about twelve feet wide by thirty feet long. It had two small bedrooms on either end, a bathroom, a laundryroom and the frontroom with a corner kitchen: just a counter with a sink and a refrigerator and microwave. Nothing else.

This place sucks, Travis said. There’s nothin in here but trash.

Well look anyway, said Billy. There might be somethin hidden away. Plus we can take everything that’s metal and sell it.

Like this? Clint said. He was holding up an eight foot ladder that he had found in the laundryroom.

Fuck yeah we can take that. You find anything else back there?

They have a washer and dryer. Looks brand new.

Good. We can come back for that. We’ll have to borrow my brother’s truck.

Just then the two girls started screaming and both of them ran out from the back bedroom where they had been rooting around.

What the hell, Billy said.

We just seen a rat, Rachel said.


No. It was dead.

Then what the hell yall screamin for?

You go back there, said Nevaeh. I aint touchin no rat.

Whatever, Billy said. Why dont yall go look in the other room then.

Their flashlights’ long beams jerked across the walls and over the scant pieces of furniture as they worked over the drawers and cabinets and in the closets. They piled what all they wanted to take inside by the frontdoor so no one passing by on the road outside would see it. Clint took the metal light sconces from the bathroom and Travis took a portable radio and Nevaeh found thirty dollars in a boot in one of the closets. Billy found a rusted toolbox outside on their way out and so he took that too.

They left the house inside wrecked and you couldnt see the floor for all the trash but still Rachel and Billy went back in after the others had gone.

They have a pretty decent mattress in there, Billy had said.


So it’s better than in the woods.

I guess.

Then Billy said to Travis: help them carry that stuff out to the road and we’ll come back in Darryl’s truck later and get it. Maybe get that washer and dryer too.

Okay, Travis said. What are you goin to do?

Take Rachel back in there for a minute.

Oh, Travis said.


The house since stirred smelled worse and the air inside was still and dead so Rachel went over and opened the one small window in the frontroom which faced out onto the dark woods and the black night air. She could hear the buzz of the crickets and the general hum of the insects in the woods and the air felt as if it were vibrating with sound.

Billy was already in the room now and Rachel could hear him pushing paper grocery bags and clothes off of the mattress and onto the floor.

You comin? he said.


Rachel walked into the room now and the moonlight was coming in through the cracked window and it leaned in on the naked mattress and Rachel could see the places where it was stained or torn but she lay down on it anyway and then Billy got down beside her and took down his jeans and then Rachel’s shorts and the moonlight was jagged and nacreous on their partially clothed bodies amidst a roomful of debris. Nothing stirred save the paper bags rustling in the breeze and the old and rusted springs of the mattress.


The next night when he came back in Darryl’s truck for the washer and dryer it was only Billy and Darryl: the two girls and Clint and Travis stayed back at Billy’s house to wait.

Is this it? Darryl said.

Yeah that’s it. Right there.

Darryl flicked off the headlights and cast the gravelroad that was slowly spooling out before them into darkness but he could still see the dusty white rocks reflected in the moonlight that was coming down from an otherwise clear black sky.

He pulled the truck into the rutted drive next to the raised house and killed the engine. They got out.

You sure aint nobody here? said Darryl.

Yeah. We was here the other night.

Okay. Let’s go then.

They walked up the steps and onto the porch and Billy pushed open the door and they went inside.

The washer and that’s down here, Billy said. In the laundryroom.

Billy flicked on the flashlight and they went down the hall and pointed their beams into the room. The washer and dryer sat as they had the other day: two white and bulking squares in the darkened room.

Those are nice, Darryl said.

I told you. Which one you want to get first?

It dont matter. The dryer will be lighter.

Okay. Let’s get it.

They put down their flashlights on the washer and then uncoupled the hoses in the back to let the excess water drain out while they moved the dryer. Then Darryl unplugged the dryer and pulled the dryerhose from the airvent in the wall and he and Billy started to walk out of the room and then the house.

But when they were halfway down the steps someone came out of the front door and said: Hey, what the hell you think yall doin?

Darryl was walking backwards down the stairs and so could see the man standing before them thin and bedraggled and eyes halfmad in the dark. He dropped his end of the dryer and it chipped a large splinter of wood off of one of the stairs and then he started running back toward the truck.

Billy still held to his end of the dryer but then he let it down but couldnt get around it or over it quick enough to get away. He turned to face the man who had come out of the house.

What the hell you doin? the man said.

Billy didnt say anything but looked down as his brother started the truck and backed out of the yard. The gravel crunched under the tires.

We didnt think no one lived here, Billy said.

So you just come in here and take a man’s things?

I can put it back.

What about the stuff you done took already?

What stuff?

Dont play stupid, boy. I’ll wreck you up.

That wasnt us, Billy said. But I know where it is. I can get it.

I think you’d be wise to.

Billy looked around. He started to go over the side railing but it was just too high and the small trees and the weeds on the other side of it would likely scrape him up good.

I wouldnt do that if I was you, the man said. Billy looked back up and saw that the man was pointing a gun at him now.

Well I cant get this dryer up by myself, Billy said.

I reckon not, the man said. Get on the back end and I’ll pull from this side.

Billy climbed over the dryer as carefully as he could and then he waited for the man to come down. Once he got down to where the dryer was the man put his gun in the waist of his jeans and then he grabbed the sides of the dryer.

You ready? he said.

Yessir, said Billy.

They both lifted: Billy pushed up from his end and the man backstepped until they were up the stairs now and on the porch and then inside the front door.

The two of them went inside and then into the laundryroom where they put the dryer back next to the washer.

Dont worry about pluggin it back in, the man said. I aint got no lights hooked up in here anyway so I cant even use it.

Billy started out of the room.

You want your flashlights?

Oh, said Billy. Thanks.

The man handed the flashlights to Billy and then he grabbed the boy’s wrist as Billy took the flashlights.

I’m Euwell, he said. Dont forget that I’m the one you was stealin from.

I wont, the boy said.

Turn on one of them flashlights and look at my face.

Billy did this.

In the white oblong of light Billy could now see this man’s face: it was gaunt and contorted. His cheekbones seemed to gouge through his flesh and cast dark shadows on his jaw and under his bulging dark eyes. The scant teeth he had were gray in the beam of light that Billy held on him as if in chiaroscuro now.

Remember this face, Euwell said. And remember it good.

Yessir. I will.

This will be the face that will come lookin for you if you dont bring back the rest of my things.

Okay, Billy said. Then he clicked off the flashlight. They were cast in darkness now.

The boy walked out of the room and then the house. Then he ran down the stairs and into the dark until he was far enough to see his brother’s truck idling at the end of the road.

Are you all right? Darryl said when Billy got in the truck.

Yeah. Thanks for runnin out on me.

You said no one was there.

There wasnt. I dont know who that guy was.

What did he want?

Nothin. He just wants his stuff back.

What stuff?

The things me and Travis and them took the other night.



This is just some shit to be into, that’s what.

Well I’ll just give it back to him. It’s just some tools and shit.

Where is it?

At Rachel’s house. In her garage.

Let’s get it then.


(For part 2 click here, for part 3 here)


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.


  1. Dixon Hearne says:

    This first installment piques my interest immensely. When will the next part be available to read? Excellent writing.

  2. Found the sample chapter so engaging, I believe I’m going to download the kindle version of the book. Thanks for sharing,

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The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney