guns, ammo, bait and pizza
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
"I don't have my camera, Eddie." Just then a horrible
musty smell blanketed me. "Let's go, man, we have a long night
"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 wasnt 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
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
"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
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
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