Bird’s Lament. Louis Hardin
The adrenaline from almost suffocating had woken me the fuck up. I barred the door to the old cowboy’s cabin and ran to the table upon where my buddy Sean lied. He was lying there with his smashed head all bandaged up over a poultice, which is French for: “a bag of herbal medicine for a fucked up head, yo.”
The door to the cabin shook with a loud bang. The old bastard was mad because I’d just done the Swan Kick on his bony ass in front of his horse, and his horse had laughed at him.
Never let someone make fun of you in front of your horse. He will laugh and lose all respect for you. You’ll be riding under low tree branches, next thing you know.
Time to get the fuck out.
I shook Sean and he did not respond.
The door banged again, and then I heard the old bastard ghost say, “I’m gonna huff, and I’m gonna puff.”
I slapped Sean’s face, but he didn’t give a damn.
Glinty the old bastard went around to the other window by the door. He looked in, and his eyes were full of the fire from brimstone, which is a biblical reference to sulfur. Sulfur is a component of gunpowder, and this old fucker had gunpowder for blood in his veins. If you cut him, a cloud of dust would spray out. If you lit that up, he would shoot you with his teeth.
He said, “I’m gonna blow thith place up!”
Dude had no teeth.
I leaned down close to Sean’s bloody head and got right up close to his ear.
“Sean! TIME TO WAKE THE FUCK UP!”
Sean’s eyes fluttered opened, and I could have cried. In fact, I felt a single tear creep down my cheek, like that Indian in the old anti-pollution ad.
I kid you.
Sean looked up at me and he said, “Willie Boy, why you all dusty? You look like you been to the moon and back.” Then his eyes drifted off inside his lids again.
+ + + + + + +
Joey got to the first intersection that had a traffic light over it, and that was a good thing.
Lighted traffic signals are indications of active civilization. Old, rusty stop signs simply remark upon a time in the distant past when folks were around, but those folks might not be anywhere anymore.
Stop signs do not signal anything at all. All of the folks everywhere could be gone for decades and you would not know.
This solitary traffic signal was a blinking yellow light. It did not indicate that anyone might be left on the Earth at the time, but the sudden end of all humanity was reduced from years to mere hours. Electricity takes constant up keep and maintenance, of course.
Joey looked off to the left and right as he approached the intersection in the black desert. The only rain in existence was thrumming on his roof, and blurring his headlight beams.
Nothing existed anywhere else at all, except for the yellow traffic signal up ahead, blinking in and out of the universe like a pulsar star.
He was floating in space.
“They need to take the hearse.” Katheena’s voice was sotto voce, which is an Italianish phrase that means, “Quiet the hell down so I can hear this song better.”
Joey sped through the intersection and then there was nothing at all again.
+ + + + + + +
No One was alive by the side of the road. He groaned and dug the desert mud from his eyes. Headlights loomed closer from off in the distance. He pulled the mud from his chest and tried to roll over.
He couldn’t. His legs would not move.
= = = = = = =
Glinty smashed the window open with his handgun and the oil lamp on the table in front of it fell over and smashed on the floor near the bear rug, in the classic cliche-style of an old western movie.
The smell of burnt hair filled the cabin as the rug caught fire.
I wrenched that heavy bastard Sean up from the table and his head lolled off to the other side of his wide shoulders.
I yelled at him. I screamed at him.
His body stiffened, but not from rigor mortis. Instead of his joints, it was his muscles that began to tense up.
He frowned. “Shut the fuck up, mom. I ain’t cleaning up his puke again.”
I punched him in the side with my free hand and he turned and growled at me. His eyes glared. “Fuck you dad!”
I let him go. He tottered backwards, but his meaty fists grabbed the tables sides and he steadied himself. He swung his legs off the table and sneered at me.
Great. Now I had two angry bastards who were after me.
But I only needed one.
+ + + + + + +
Joey sped up. Katheena had stopped making sense. She was at death’s door…
…he didn’t know how many times that night…
…and now it appeared that her brain must be suffering damage.
He felt tears in his eyes.
He wiped his tears off with the red spray-painted arm of his leather jacket. He and Katheena were both half red, if you recall.
She whispered, “The fat man done blowed up everything.”
Joey’s eyebrows went up. Katheena was never one to speak in such a manner. She controlled her use of diction, at every utterance. Say anything you might about her, but she enjoyed good diction.
He whispered back to her, “Why do they need the hearse?”
She smiled in the faint light refracted back from the headlights in the furious rain.
“They gonna go for a ride.”
Joey got the willies all over again.
+ + + + + + +
Tellesco tugged and pulled and wrenched his legs from the ton of desert muck over them until he could raise a knee. Then he raised the other one, and as he pulled his legs up, the mud made a “Sshhluck” noise.
He rolled over and staggered onto his knees.
He looked up.
The bright pair of headlights closest to him were creeping away in reverse.
That fucker was trying to kill him, and he had felt the spark of rage, that ion of a spark from years of some sort of abuse.
It was why he smashed his Jeep into the back end of the long, heavy, black car.
There was nothing left anymore, except that vehicle, and the fucker inside, who meant nothing to No One.
Nothing stood between No One and everything else.
Sean was everything to him.
He was gonna go and make that fucker pay.
He stood up and steadied himself.
He instinctively went to pull up his shorts, but they were gone.
They were in the desert muck.
He had been reborn in the desert mud, and came out of the hole naked as a new born baby.
God Help You.
God Help Us All.