F e b r u a r y   2 0 0 6

Guest Writer

part two
guns, ammo, bait and pizza
by Troy Eggleston

[Here's part one.]

n old defeated man sitting behind the cash register wore a crooked hat that read "Deadbeat Grandpa."

He stared ahead at a television screen watching what looked like an older rerun of "Star Search." A young Sinbad was telling jokes about his dysfunctional family as Ed McMahon's jowls banged back and forth in a fit of laughter. A huge Styrofoam display of Jupiter and its seven moons was hanging from the wall directly adjacent to the front door. It was eerily detailed, contoured with tiny alien colonies dispersed throughout.

Each separate colony had its own flag and looked as if there was a planetary war brewing. The store had no merchandise except for a cardboard box containing VHS tapes that were labeled with random dates along with a few stained Hustler magazines. Beside the box was a rolled up rug with a tag that read: "hand-woven antique Persian wool, $300.00 o/b/o."

"You got your camera on ya?"

I turned around and Eddie had his arm around a life-size poster of Garth Brooks. It startled me and wasted some precious adrenaline.

"Lookit, it's even signed. Says, 'Thanks for the rifle and pie – Garth.'"

"I don't have my camera, Eddie." Just then a horrible musty smell blanketed me. "Let's go, man, we have a long night ahead."

"Check this out: Hustler, baby." Eddie began fingering through the cardboard box.

I walked over to the elderly man who was, in a very faint attempt, singing along to a commercial about bologna.

"Excuse me, sir." There was no response.

"Sir. Excuse me, is there a bathroom I can use?"

"Star Search" came back on. I wasn’t quite sure what jaundice looked like, but I was convinced that he had it. The man's face was sunken in and dry. His lower lip concealed the top as he vanished into the television. I was getting annoyed, moments away from pissing on the floor.

"Bathroom," I stressed less than a foot from his hairy ear.

Slowly he snapped out of his hypnotic state, turned ever so gingerly and pointed toward a dark hallway without ever making eye contact. There was no "thank you" involved.

The hall was thinner than a broad pair of shoulders, so I shimmied sideways until arriving at a door that had a poster of Charlton Heston, smiling and leaning on a rifle that said, "the Second Amendment is worth dying for." The bathroom was a claustrophobic box, with what seemed to be blood stains splashed on the wall next to misspelled quotes in the tradition of all that is stereotypical of the South.

I tried not to touch anything. I tried not to breathe.

It was in the middle of holding a deep breath that I heard a crash. A large, disruptive crash that I knew had horrible consequences. I ran out of the bathroom, still in the process of zipping up and, as soon as I saw Eddie lying unconscious on the floor, I felt a stinging sensation on my head and a white flash appeared.

When I came to, I was tied to a chair in what looked like an open barn. There was a small man, midget-size, pulling from a bottle of whiskey and leaning on a rifle just like Mr. Heston. He spit the whiskey in my face. When he noticed that I awoke, he smiled without showing any teeth and pushed the hair out of my face.

"You're the pretty one," he said with a strange accent. "Him over there ain't as pretty."

I glanced beside me and saw Eddie, slumped over in a chair, obviously beaten down. He never once attempted to look back at me, although I could tell that he knew I was awake. There was a camera set up just before me and the old man watching television earlier was standing behind it.

"You already met Zan. Zan does good work with this here camera. Gonna win an Academy one day, I bet."

"Eddie! What's going on?" I yelled, trying to shake myself free.

He just kept his head down.

"Fuckin' bastard, what the fuck is going on?"

"Pretty one has some kick in him," said the midget.

"We already took the kick out of your friend. I reckon he didn't have as much as you, though. Kick makes a good film, though, don't it Zan."

Zan nodded and turned on the camera light. It was then that the midget began to lead a large horse over toward me.

"We'll start ya off slow, unlike your friend here, who just dived in."

The horse began to get nervous and started kicking everywhere. It nearly killed me swiftly with a hoof to the skull that turned into a glancing blow. I realized then that my life was going to be abused in a very strange manner and that I could eventually die at the fate of a horse or a sawed-off shotgun.

I screamed as loud as I could, trying to provoke the horse's erratic behavior and further hoping that the midget would be crushed in the process. It worked.

Not only was the midget trampled, but the horse kicked my chair, shattering it and enabling me to set myself free. Zan, who was frail and frightened by all the chaos, immediately ran away.

I quickly walked over to Eddie and untied him.

– return next month for part 3 –

E-mail Troy at tolstilts@earthlink.net, and find his previous efforts in our archives.

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