Fiction Drama

Content warning: Frequent cussing.

“Billy it’s Polly.”

“My oh my. Polly I never expected to hear from you, been sixteen years. Everything okay?”

“Your sister gave me your number. Pike is mistreating your son Billy, and me. I don’t know what to do. I can’t talk much before I start crying. Can you help?"

“Polly, if you haven’t already, assemble a go bag for the both of you. I’ll come soon. Pack those bags with important documents and what you will need in the short term. Hide them where they are easy to access.”

”Okay Billy. Come soon.”

* * *

    “Seems like I been working myself to death at that noisy sawmill all my damn life. Never so glad to hear them blow the beer whistle. Best blow in town. Keep, looks like the Kerby ghost town in here. Your Chit Chat tavern quiet like those folks down at the morgue, oh well, more suds for me. I’ll flip you for a round of music on the jukebox, little music to wake folks up.”

“Pike, rock n roll will wake them, how about I slap a couple quarters on this empty counter and you play some rock n roll. You been wearing out the country, Reba and Kenny and Dolly. You get the point? Want a Blitz?”

“You’re paying, I like rock. Yeah, Blitz, amber and cold. Wash the sawdust outa my cavities, even hidden ones that ain’t got nothing to do with rotting my teeth. Okay, rock n roll then. How about I start off with Motley Crue and Girls, Girls, Girls. You like them, right Keep. You want all them girls, right? Me too. I put extra quarters, so songs play in a loop. I hear incoming.”

 “Yes sir, what can I get you young man?

“I’ll take a Corona.”

“What! I know that voice. Keep, look what the cat drug in, my old friend Billy damn Smith. I’ll be go to hell. Billy boy, goddamn buddy, what cat drug you in and from where? Back East? You snuck out the valley in a hurry, after our graduation, sixteen years ago. You sneaky little shit, you didn’t even say good-bye. Just slithered outa here like a snake. Leaving everybody wondering including your Mom and Dad not to mention me. You come to stay in the valley or visit? Damn you, why haven’t you ever called?”

      “Why don’t we sit Pike and play catch up. Geez, I smell sawdust and, you know, maybe oil?”

“Well sure. That’s some hair you got buddy. Damn if you don’t look like one of them fucking hippies. They all look the same. Long hair and beards and the hippie chicks growing hair on their legs or under their arms. Got to scan the hitchhikers for ta tas before you pick one up. Not that I would.”

“I bet beneath that grimy hat your still slicking back fenders of a flattop Pike. A style running short on longevity.”

“Sides greased back, and you could land a helicopter on top. You ain't one of them, are you? I recognize you but damn you look sissy. You had a bath? Just kidding Billy my buddy, just kidding. Hell, I ain’t seen your raggedy ass in fifteen, sixteen years. Don’t want to start off with insults.”

“Well, I’m me, like I always been. Nothing changed except for longer hair and about sixteen years older. Using up the years a nobody like I got plenty more to use. You still have the orange fifty-five Chevy? The car is classic, the hair not so much.”

“I’m married. For a mill worker that’s the kiss of death for fast cars or fast anything for sure. Chevy went bye bye.”


“Yes sir, Polly. And we made a boy, Matthew. She finally let me in her pants about the time you disappeared and look what happened. I expect you will drink a beer or two with me, won’t you. To celebrate whatever we can think of to celebrate.”

“Love to Pike.”

“Keep, bring us another beer. I need to talk Billy into cutting that long hair. You sure you ain’t one of them tree hugging hippies? Those asses gonna shut logging down over a damn spotted owl, then what? No logs, no lumber.”

 “Well, you know Pike, I’m not sure I want”--

“Oh now, don’t worry none. You running back with them eastern folk. I know. Your daddy said you ended up back east. What in hell caused you to land back there for Christ's sake? Ain’t it icy and cold? They’re highbrow back there too. Rainbows, know what I mean? Out west we men are men. Put them beers on my tab Keep. When did you get here? Love this one, Pour Some Sugar On Me.

“Got here about an hour ago. Heard the mill whistle coming through Kerby. ”

“Really, wish I knew you was coming. How long you gonna be in town? We might catch some fishing time. Can’t get anyone else to go with me. Even the kid. A mama’s boy. Hell yeah Billy, you’d fit right into that pot smoking commune. They use Dunne Creek to bath and spoil the fishing. Ain’t no wonder you can’t catch a trout out of that creek. If you caught one you couldn’t eat the damn thing unless you enjoy the taste of hippie.”

“Really? Maybe find a nice creek not by the commune? Did you go to work at the mill after we graduated Pike?”

“Right after. I’ve done about all the jobs they got. Started pulling green chain, did some pond monkeying and now I unload the log trucks. Fly around in a Caterpillar 988 like a maniac. That’s one giant machine. I can lift a whole load of logs. They’re trying to wear me out at that damn sawmill. Anyway, I knocked Polly up back then. A graduation present. You know how that goes; a man has to work when he’s got mouths to feed. That’s what the old timers say. You married Billy?”

“No Pike, I’m not. Too busy to be married?”

“We ain’t had another. Don’t get many chances. Too late now and that’s probably a good thing. I ain’t getting rich working at that damn mill but it’s the only decent work in the valley, besides logging, and that’s what killed my dad. So I do the mill. I got my parent’s house. Dad got killed and shortly after, mom died. Their dying gave me some relief like the morphine did for them.”

“I’m sorry to hear Pike. How is Polly? She work or a stay at home?”

“Never better, probably nursing the fifteen-year-old or writing poetry about God and nature or her delicate feelings or the goddamn spotted owl. Nobody ever going to read that crap. Hey, listen, maybe I can talk her into flopping some back strap on the grill. Got me a nice buck this year and just missed bagging a hippie. You’re supposed to laugh Billy, that was a joke. Ought to have a season on them critters though, they are a type of wildlife. How about you come to dinner?”

“Well, I uh, I don’t eat meat Pike. I’m a vegetarian.”

“A what?

“A vegetarian.”

 No, no, not really, you’re kidding me, a vegetarian. That’s painful to hear, unbelievable Billy. Fucking unbelievable. That’s hippie, that’s what that is. Country upbringing went to waste. Did country drift up and away in a big ole smelly marijuana smoke cloud or what?”

“No meat. Sometimes fish. But I sure would like to see Polly and meet your son. What grade is he in?”

“He’s in high school, a sophomore and I’m trying to get him to man up a little. Can’t pry his ass away from mommy to fish or hunt. Wants to read books. Heard no mention of girls either and I tell you that is some damn scary. Ah hell, come on let’s have another brew and talk about old times. We did some tall times, didn’t we.”

“Ahh, Duran Duran’s Hungry Like a Wolf. You remember pushing wee Wilma down in the snow carrying home her groceries and all the damn brown paper grocery bags broke. Thought they might put us in damn jail for that one. She sure was screaming and crying wasn’t she?”

“ She was. I sure as hell cried when my dad gave me a whipping for that and a good one too.”

“Crying? Girl’s cry Billy boy. And hippies. A tree crushes my timber falling old man flat as a flounder on a rainy day up House Creek. Cry? Hell no. Got kicked in the nuts playing football, remember that nose guard from Phoenix, the mean fucker laughed? Did I cry. Hell no I didn’t, ripped his helmet off and broke his fucking nose. Got kicked out of that game. You cried over daddy’s whupping? What a sad damn mess you are.”

“I did. I need to visit the washroom.”

“Washroom? Jesus, what is a fucking washroom? Isn’t that where women do laundry? Some crank doctor do some Robin Hood bloodletting on you back East? Tell me Billy, how long it take to drain you of country, how long?” 

“Country pulled from me by sailing the sea, so I’m going to the head.” 

* * *

“Well, well, well, my woman coming to drag me home. I been having me a few.”

“Pike, you should come home after work? You smell like hydraulic fluid again. Worse than cow manure. Come home and clean up. We have something we need to do?”

 “I ain’t going nowhere.”

“Pike please.”

“Did you come to preach to me, dear?”

“You need to find that light yourself Pike. They expelled Matthew from school today for fighting. Who are you visiting with?” 

“ He’s right behind you. Matthew was fighting? Was it one of those hippie kids? Did he win?”

 “My god Polly, you look fantastic.”

“Well, well, Billy Smith. They should make a realty TV show about you lost on some tropical island. How nice to see you and thank you. That’s generous.”

“What was the fight about?”       

“He was fighting with the judge’s boy. The judge called and wants to talk with you.” 

“Probably just a little scuffle. Toughens them up, did he win? The judge’s boy? One weakling against another. Some fight. Woody Allen boxing Barney Fife.”

“The judge sounded angry Pike, that’s all I know.”

“Yes. I’ll handle it. Did he win or lose?”

“What difference does it make at this point? I don’t know, Pike. This is so crazy. Your stubbornness rubs off on Matthew. He doesn’t want to go to church as it is. He needs his father. And where is he Pike? Drinking himself to death?”

 “Maybe J.C. is his old man. J.C. don’t fill the bread box or stock the cupboards or cut firewood. I ain’t seen him dress a deer. I ain’t seen him handle a plunger either. Now, who is Matthew’s old man?”

“I’m glad he has Jesus to turn to.”

“Oh shit, you’re kidding! I’m sitting in the Kiss Nowhere to Run seat. I think little Billy boy looks like a fucking hippie. A disgrace to his upbringing.” 


“We haven’t seen you in sixteen years Billy, there’s so much to talk about. You live back east I heard.”

“Part of the agreement Polly.”

“What agreement?”

 “For me to go away so she wouldn’t have to share you with me. We was always hanging together back then. Let’s have another round, what will you have Polly?”

“Now there’s a raw cut of bullshit. Boy’s a vegetarian. Polly perfect, she ain’t a drinker. A vegetarian and a teetotaler for dinner. Oh fucking boy, lucky me.”

“How's your son? I want to hear about him.”

“You know our son got in a fight today and Pike and I need to go. He is suspended from school. Come for dinner tonight or tomorrow night. Will either work for you?”

“Sounds like Matthew may need some parenting and it’s better not to have an audience for that.”

“He is fifteen this spring.”

“I don’t know if he’s gonna amount to anything. Bet the judge’s sissy bookworm kicked his bookworm butt.

 “Why would you say that Pike? He struggles a bit with social skill. He’s so handsome. I’m excited for you to meet him Billy. You’ll come meet him won’t you and have dinner and tell us about you?”

“Sure, I will, it will be an honor. Tomorrow night.”

“Come Pike, we need to see the judge. Tomorrow night then, we live on Robinson Corner. About six. See you then?”

“I’ll be there.”

“Hey candy ass Billy boy, I’m gonna whisper right in your ear so she don’t hear. Tomorrow night you better bring your own bottle and be ready to answer my fucking question. Toodle-oo Billy boy.

* * *

“Hippie boy, come in. We are ready for you.”

 “Hi Billy, dinner is about ready so please sit here, don’t mind the black eye I’m wearing. Tripped over some books and nearly knocked myself out.”

“No worries about that facial damage you see there Billy boy, she’s clumsy. Always been.”

“Matthew, get over here boy. This here is Matthew. Matthew, shake hands with Billy, an old friend of mine, and your mothers too. Did you hear me boy, shake his hand.”

“Yes sir.”

“Now let’s all sit down. Polly, come on honey and serve that buck’s venison backstrap and bring us a beer.”

“I’ll be right there. Going to come through the swinging door with my hands full. I love the sound of the morphine tablets fizzing, don’t you? Sounds like wheezing.”

 “What did you say?”

 “Talking to myself, I’m coming.”

“Ah honey, just put a slab on our plates and let’s get to eating. Thanks for coming Billy. Don’t you just love back strap from a big ole buck. Killing and skinning and butchering a deer and preparing to eat sets on me a special mood and even better, to serve a guest. Uhmmm, when I chew and swallow I feel that flavor from tongue to belly." 

“You know I don’t eat meat Pike.”

“You don’t eat meat but I tell you what. I drink beer. Listen, you can hear it gurgle, like my throat is a creek. Tonight Billy I have a question. You have the answer. Eat now, don’t think of stalling. What’s the agreement Billy? Last night you and my wife had an exchange about an agreement on why you left. Then you fucking lied. You remember that Willy Billy? I asked what the agreement was and you spit out nonsense. You think I’m dumb Billy boy? I was drunk but not that goddamn drunk. I saw you two press button eyeballing like a couple busted code breakers. I asked Polly and you can tell she didn’t answer because see that danged face. You suppose that was my knuckles and not them books, you suppose that might be what happened? I got cuckolded, she got fucking thoroughly clobbered. Is that what happened?”

“Could be.”

“You know what I’m holding up Billy old friend. A Beretta 92 and a fucking headache. I’m gonna set it right here beside my plate while you eat that strap. I’m eating, just do as I do. Now Willy, the agreement with my lovely wife. Tell me. Don’t waste that strap city boy. That would offend me so maybe I scratch my trigger itch. I’m talking slow so you understand? I love sinking my teeth into rare meat and feeling warm juices sliding down my throat. Like drinking blood.” 

“Put the gun away friend, I’ll tell you about that agreement.”

“I ain’t putting it away because if I don’t get the answer….I expect it’ll be time to kill with no regrets, no harm in killing a hippie. And girls, lift them goddamn drooping heads. You pay attention to Billy’s story.”

     “Stay awake Pike. You falling asleep? Graduation night happened. Up on Kelly Hill. You got yourself so drunk on McHenry, you removed yourself from the fun, passed out. You were drinking whiskey like it was root beer. The moon hung like a golden jewel in the night sky and glowed mushy pale light into graduation euphoria. Fornication happened like trouble does. The feel-good turns to wishing you didn’t do what you did. Polly was fertile and I threw in fertilizer and there, right there, sits the result, Matthew. Polly didn’t want to consider aborting so we made an agreement. Who would know? So, the agreement meant I would disappear, never come back. Whoops, Billy came back. I’m your dad Matthew, for real. I came to get you if you want out. Pike you are looking sick. You okay?”

     “I figure a true telling. Sinful. I calculate you owe me about twenty eight thousand dollars for child support. You pay up and the three of you can head candy ass east. Come around here again and you’ll pay up and get no receipt.

“Tell you what I have to give you. My ankle holster is empty because the gun that lives there is in my country right hand and points right at your crotch. Be careful how you move.”

“For these two if they want to escape an abusive sawmill worker like you they will get their go bags and go out and get in my car.”

“Yes, we do. We’re ready. Come Matthew.”

“Billy, I’m gonna kill you. You’re a dead man Billy boy. How about a toast before you die. I’m picking up my beer.”

“And I’m picking up mine. Here’s to you and a long life of loneliness. Let’s not clink, but drink. You can keep your privates. Looks like you have a long night ahead. Your face fell in the backstrap Pike. I’ll leave a zip tie challenge for when you wake.”

* * *

“What did you give him?”

“Couple morphine tablets in his beer. Where we going Billy?”

“New Orleans.”

The End

February 23, 2023 16:47

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23:42 Mar 02, 2023

My favorite of your stories thus far! You did an amazing job of meeting the challenge - it was a fast, fun read and left me wanting to hear more!


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04:52 Mar 02, 2023

Man, you packed a lot in under 3K words! Good pace, reads fast when it should. The one thing I’d have liked was more motive for Billy’s rescue of the 2. I can see intervening, but he’s full on bringing them into his life after 16 years of nothing. Looking forward to reading more from you!


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Andrew Hedgecock
09:43 Mar 01, 2023

I'm all for some nicely turned and contextually appropriate cussing! This works well and - as Wendy says - the voices are well differentiated!


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Wendy Kaminski
03:14 Feb 24, 2023

Well-played by Billy and Polly! I was wondering how they'd get away from the brute, good thing they planned ahead. I really enjoyed your dialogue response to this prompt this week, Bread - nicely done and great plot with very distinct voices!


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