Sunday, May 1, 2016
The Ghosts of Truitt's Crossing (2016)
Lori was going to go to Wal-Mart to sell her food stamp card and then go to her mama’s to get the kids fed and give’em a bath. The bathroom is the only place a meth lab can be set up so we’d told them young’uns that it was broke. The power company done cut us off so we had to run a extension from the trailer next to ours, but that was were old man Barker lived and he barely knew he was alive. I figured Lori would take a few hours to go there and get back so I had time to cook up enough meth to sell at Daytona next week. Bike Week was always a good time to try to sell some meth but we got busted last year when Lori flashed a bike cop. I had to toss most of our stash and even if they couldn’t prove it was ours they still took it. We had just enough money to cook up another couple of batches but sudafed was getting harder and harder to come by. Lori got her brother to lift a carton of it out of the store where he worked but they done got some cameras and fired him.
You live in a trailer park long enough and every car or truck that comes in makes its own noise. I could tell when the landlady was coming and we could turn everything off and get them young’uns quiet so she couldn’t tell we was here. We could tell when the trash man came so we could go out and throw the bad meth out into somebody else’s dumpster. Bobob, the truck driver, had a 150 that made a growling sound and we knew he was hot for Lori so we could go over and drink his beer when he got back from a long haul. He was a old man, nearly forty, but he still thought he could score some young stuff. He drank that weird tasting brown beer but after a six pack or so there was no difference anyway. Jimmy was a guy who always cut his car off when he came in so nobody would know he had gone to the store. We wasn’t as bad as some but we’d have to send the kids out asking for food once or twice a week. Jimmy was good for some taters when he would give anything at all. But the El Camino that Lanky drove made a noise like something dying and falling out of the sky. I heard it comin’ in and about half wanted to close up and not answer the door.
Bout four years ago I went to Daytona by myself and left Lori with the little Lori, and she wasn’t but bout two then. There was no way we could go with a toddler like that so I told her we was going to stay home. The night before I slipped out and took the stash with me and by the time she knew what I had done I was halfway there. When I got back I was sunburned and broke, and I blew the stash instead of selling it, but she wasn’t near as mad as I thought she’d be. Lori came up late in a couple of weeks and the last thing we needed was another little one. She swore she’s stop cigarettes and beer but that didn’t last long at all. I woke up one night and it occurred to me that we hadn’t seen Lanky in a while, not since… Not since I went down to Daytona. He was bad to come around when he needed some weed and couldn’t find any, and he was worse about showing up when we was eatin’. But sudden like he quit coming around at all. I sat up and thought about it but Lori wasn’t bad about screwing around and if a woman does something like that to piss a man off she’ll tell him about it. When BJ was born Lori kept telling me he look exactly like me but all I saw was a bald and wrinkled baby, just like all of them. Lanky did come over when we got the baby home and he looked nervous holding the kid. Still, I always wondered, and I knew Lori knew I wondered. Lanky knew too, and nothing was the same between us after that.
But this was Lanky coming in the door with his eyes as wide as a new trailer on blocks. I half thought he gotten some bad meth or something but he sat down and said, “Bob, you gotta help me, man, I done went and shot Billy George.”
Maybe that name don’t mean nothing to you but everybody round here knew who Billy George was. He was the guy that made a ton of money off a bale of pot he found floating around near Panacea. He was selling the weed at about half of what everybody else was selling and he gave away a bunch too. Law picked him up and tore his place apart but didn’t find so much as a roach. Month went by and Billy went back to selling and the law came down on him again, and went away just as empty. Well, about three months went by and sure enough, Billy was back selling and this time the law went after him with the GBI and a bunch of dogs, but they got nothing. Guy down in Panama City claimed Billy sold him ten pounds but the law couldn’t find any weed or any money on Billy. The guy in PC was found floating in the water near Panacea and most everybody thought Bill George had killed him, but again, the law got nothing on Billy. People got to talking like Billy had some connections down in Florida and I believed it.
“You shot Billy?” I could feel my heart beating. “What’d you go and do something like that for? He..is he dead?”
“I wasn’t like you think,” Lanky told me, “I went over there to get some weed, you know, and Cari was there doing some coke, and you know what coke does to that woman, and we weren’t doin’ nothin’ and she starts talking about what’s going to happen after she dies and that kind of stuff, and I was really freaked out. So she pulls out this damn Ouija board and wants me to play with it with her, and then we was naked and Billy walked in…” Lanky took a deep breath, “…and then Cari starts laughing at him, telling him she’s going to leave him. Billy grabs me and threw me down on the floor like I was nothin’ and there’s this gun under the bed.” Lanky stopped talking and I could almost hear the sweat runnin’ down my back. “I just meant to scare him a bit but the gun went off and he fell on top of me. He was still moving around and moaning and I tried to get out from under him and somehow the gun went off again and it hit Cari. They’s both dead.”
“You gotta get the hell on away from this town, Bro.” I told him and the sooner he left the better I’d feel about everything.”
“I had my cell phone with me.” Lanky had this strange look on his face. “The law would know I was there.”
“Best be moving, Lank” I told him.
“Bob, I kinda set fire to the place before I left, to hide what I did.” Lanky started sobbing like a kid. “I didn’t know what else to do.”
“They’ll find the bodies and know they been shot, Lank.” I could feel the wrongness now I knew what was coming next.
“I took’em with me. I got the bodies in the El Camino.” Lank told me and I knew I was screwed. “But I done turned my cell phone off.”
There ain’t no secrets in a trailer park. I knew who came and went just by how their car sounded. I knew who was cooking what for supper and I knew who just got back in from the store. I knew when somebody was doin’ their old lady, and we all knew when it was done right. Now there was two bodies in the back of Lanky’s ride and it was just a matter of minutes before some kid came over to see what there was to see.
“Shit,” I said and that was all there was to be said.
“Get the hell out of here,” I tried not to yell but it was hard. Two bodies parked in front of my trailer? I didn’t make that kind of trouble and I didn’t need it either. I once knew a guy who had a party at his place and somebody got killed. He went to prison just for it happenin’ on his place and he on parole.
“Okay, look, there’s a problem,” Lanky told me and he started to pace, “Cari done told me this was goin’ to happen. While we was foolin’ around with that Ouija board she said that it done told her she was gonna die. She said if she was burned she’d come back just like she did last time but stronger. But she had to tell somebody about it or it didn’t count.”
My cell phone went off and both of us jumped hard. It was Lori,she and the kids was “detained” cause they got caught trying to sell her card and Little Lori kicked the cop in the leg. I hung up before she was done.
“Cops gonna come hear but soon, man, my old lady got busted for trying to sell her card.” I told him. “Do what you have to do but do it somewhere else. I gotta get some stuff out of here.”
“We have to bury the bodies at that church.” Lank blurted out.
“All I have to do is get the meth out of here before the cops arrive.” I said. “You gots to go.”
“We have to bury them at a church. That one you worked at, when you was in construction, you said it was historical, and that nobody ever went out there anymore. All we have to do is bury’em there and maybe she won’t come back.” Lank seemed to mean it but it still didn’t have anything to do with me.
“Look, the cops are comin’ here anyway. Your old lady took your ride. We can get rid of your stuff and the bodies, too, but I ain’t go nowhere I can think of where there’s a church so I’m, screwed.”
We broke down the lab, did a line a peice, and damn, was it some good stuff. We put it in boxes and then tossed everything in the back; meth labs and murder. We were going to spend an incredible amount of time in jail but it didn’t matter. When I was in Iraq they would give us legal meth, stuff that came in a pill, and you’d go out at night ready to kill everything. Our meth wasn’t quite like that but it did give us both the feeling we couldn’t be stopped. We even went to Wal Mart and just walked out with two shovels and no one said a damn thing about it. We drove down to Woodpecker Trail Primitive Baptist Church, and we did another line to keep things going.
I think Lank said it, or maybe I heard it in my mind. You’ll hear things when meth has you and you’ll see things. But at any rate we dug a grave right quick in the cemetery,rolled Billy into quicker still, and all of a sudden I heard Lank say something and I asked him about it, and he said hell no, I ain’t said that shit. But I heard him. I heard him say we needed to get the board out to find out where to bury her. I never put any stock in them thangs because if they didn’t work there was no point in using them. But if they did work then why play with something that nobody understood how it worked. But we set it up on a gravestone and Lanky wanted to move it. Has to be the grave of a woman, was all he said, and I wondered why he said it that way. We put the pointer down on the board and Lank, who suddenly was a Ouija board genius, told me to go stand on the grave that was at the north end of the cemetery. We would ask it “East or West” and he would tell me which way to move. He finally moved me just outside the cemetery and the board said that was were we were supposed to dig. We did another line of meth and it tore through the both of us, down we went, three feet, four, five and then six. We hit a coffin that was made of stone, not wood, and I climbed out of the hole.
“BJ is your young’un, ain’t he?” I asked. And Lank stopped trying to climb out of the grave.
“You left her lonely, Bob.” Lank said but I can tell he was scared.
“You knew were to go when we came out here.” I said. “You knew already which grave to dig first and where to dig this one, too, didn’t you?”
He jumped up on the side of the grave and tried to grab my foot. I came down as hard as I could with the flat end of the shovel and he fell back into the grave with his feet kicking but he wasn’t running anywhere else anytime soon.
“I’m surprised.” Cari stood up out from the tarp we had rolled her in. “I thought he was smart enough to kill you. I underestimated you.”
“Who are you?” I asked her. I thought if I could take down a grown man with a shovel she ought not be that hard.
“I am a witch.” She said,”But don’t worry, I’m looking for someone to help me. Billy George was quite useful but he attracted the wrong attention to himself. Lankford was a useful idiot. He was my conduit to find someone with more brains and a little better sense. You need educating, but you’ll have a lot of time for that.”
“My former pet bled all over your driveway. Lankford forgot to relieve Billy of his cell phone. This area has terrible reception but they can still put two and two together, and you’re still going to prison for a while, but you’ll do well, if you listen to me.”
So I buried two bodies, one in the cemetery and one out side of it, and on top of a stone coffin. I went back into town and told the cops that Lank had killed Billy then come after me and since I was on meth, I dumped both bodies in the water at the beach. Of course, they never found the bodies and they never found a weapon. I still wound up getting sentenced for hiding the bodies, and the gun, so I got five and was out in three. While I was in nobody messed with me at all. I kept my head down and kept my mouth shut, but a lot of new guys did that and somebody would get to them sooner or later. The lawyer the state gave me ran some tests and found out neither of those young’uns were mine. And somebody sent me books to read, so I did. One day they came and got me and told me it was done. I walked out a free man.
“Get in,” She said as she pulled up.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“Truitt’s Crossing.” She told me. “Buckle up.”
“Where is that?” I asked.
“Home.” And we drove for hours before she spoke again.