The Dead Effect by Terry Lloyd Vinson

EXTRACT FOR
The Dead Effect

(Terry Lloyd Vinson)


BOOK 1 - WORM DIRT

Bakerstown,West Virginia (Population 596)
Circa 1968

Part One: Unnatural Happenstance

“Come on back, Margie. That last transmission was a mite garbled. Over,” Sheriff Masterson had said, holdin’ that radio mike tight up to his lips. We was ridin’ back from Knotts Valley, where he’d just picked me up for transportin’ several hundred liters of JW Dant’s finest Kentucky rot-gut to the Watts brothers. I’d been slumped over in the back seat’ a his Ford Galaxy, sweatin’ like a rented mule an’ tryin’ to figure out how many nights I’d be hold up in the county lock up this time. I’d just got out on a similar charge a few months past, havin’ spent almost six weeks as a guest of Lauders County, but had the feelin’ that Judge ‘Iron Balls’ Wilkes wasn’t gonna be near as easy on me this time around. Besides which, the wife was gonna be beside herself. She’d laid down the law just a few weeks prior about my secret ‘side job’ activities, sayin’ she’d have nothin’ more to do with it if’n I got caught again. Figured she’d already stashed away a packed bag or three just in case, and would be headin’ off to her mama’s in Wheeling once this latest case of bad news came down.
Little did I know at the time, but such matters was gonna be the least of my troubles once early morning gave way to late afternoon.
Masterson had trailed me down Little Bear Creek Road ‘til I’d ditched my pick-up, then chased me through Dickerson’s woods on foot. Man ain’t a thing if not persistent…I’ll give ‘im that much. Caught up with me whilst I was hidin’ inside the old barn next to the Forrester’s abandoned farm, but not ‘fore a couple’a stray dogs had caught up with me first. Damned knee finally stopped bleedin’ from the fall I took outta that hayloft, but it ain’t quit smartin’. Wasn’t real sure of my bearings after that pop on the noggin, least not ‘til I was already takin’ up space in the back of the patrol unit.
“Ya need to get back here lickitty split, sheriff. We got some serious going’s on…plum crazy going’s on…a-all over…all around town, I mean to say…over,” came the woman’s reply from the other end of that talk box, soundin’ like someone had just goosed her titty.
“Could ya be a mite more specific, Marge? What kinda trouble? Bane McBride beatin’ up on his wife and kids again? Over.”
“No…no…nothing like that, Sheriff. You…it’s just…you’ll have to see for yourself. I’ve been hearin’ about all kinds of strangeness. Phone ain’t stopped ringin’ since nigh on seven AM…from Pearl Jacks down atLake Meyers to Merle Dean up at Dry Creek Manor Over.”
Masterson steered the vehicle (pronounced ‘vee-hick-ul’) through a steep series of curves that leads into Mill’s Valley, then turned about and shot me a grave look, still holdin’ that mike to his mouth. Wyatt Masterson had been the law in and around Bakerstownsince I was knee-high to a Blue Tick pup, a genuine straight arrow who didn’t take bribes nor lip from no man. Big as an ox and twice as ornery, old ‘WEarp’, as everyone called ‘im, had no patience for my kind, and in truth, I can’t say I really blame ’im. No doubt if I had to spend most’a my day runnin’ down no count bootleggers, cow thieves and wife beaters, I reckon I’d have a similar disposition.
“I’m a good eleven miles out, Marge. Got Pete Van Zant in tow for haulin’ fire water. I’ll petal her down and be there as quick as I can. Have ya heard from Perry? Over.”
“Not since ‘bout ten AM. I’d got a call of a break-in down at Childer’s Seed ‘n Feed. Can’t reach ‘im on the radio and I can’t get no answer at Childers. That’s been pert near an hour ago, Wyatt. Over.”
“Tell ya what, Marge…I’ll head on over to the seed ‘n feed from here and radio in once I get there. Over.” Perry Finch was Masterson’s only deputy As tall as a valley pine but built like a bean pole, Finch was one sour, stone-faced SOB that took his job way too serious. Man wasn’t much on brains but damned high on cockiness. Rumor had it he’d only got the deputy job ’cause he’d married Masterson’s sister, and couldn’t hold down a job doin’ nothin’ else.
The sheriff turned back to me just as we’d drove out of the western edge of Mills Valley, passin’ the Wilbery farm on the left hand side. The man was sweatin’ more bullets than his gunbelt could’a ever held Even that thick, gray mustache of his was soppin’ wet. Thinkin’ back, I don’t believe it was just the boilin’ heat inside that patrol unit causin’ such a meltdown. Can’t help but recall my own gut was rollin’ a bit from a spell of nerves. Didn’t know why at the time, just had a bad feelin’ somethin’ wasn’t right.
“We gotta take a little detour, Pete. You just hang tight. I’ll get ya to the lockup soon enough,” he’d said, his breathin’ kinda huffy, like he’d just got done sprintin’ up a steep grade in his stockin’ feet.
“I’m in no particular hurry, Sheriff, By all means, take yore time.”
It took us another fifteen minutes or so to wind our way down Old Hickory road towards Childers feed store. Funny thing was, I don’t recall meetin’ or even seein’ a single vehicle along the way, despite the fact that farms littered Old Hickory like ants on a picnic trail.
“Unit B, you copy?” The sheriff had yakked into that mike as we’d got ‘bout halfway. “Perry, are you hearin’ me, boy? Come back, over…”
“Maybe his battery petered out, Sheriff. That unit ain’t near as slick as this one. I’ll bet th-”
“Shut your pie-hole, Van Zant. When I need the opinion of a two-bit bootleggin’ rat bastard like yourself, I’ll pound it outta you,” he’d growled in response, tossin’ that mike into the passenger seat and cursin’ under his breath. I’d decided to heed the man’s words, havin’ seen up close and personal he wasn’t one to mince ‘em when dolin’ out physical threats.
He’d parked out front of the seed ‘n feed, which was deserted ‘cept for old man Childer’s delivery van, Lloyd Gordon’s rusted old Chrysler and Deputy Perry Finch’s patrol unit.
“Unit A to dispatch Marge, you receiving? Over” he’d asked, standing with a boot still propped inside the unit and that mike cord pulled taunt.
“I…Wyatt? Y-yes, I’m still here. But…I’ve had t-to…this is…this ain’t…things ain’t right here, Wyatt…not right at’tal…o-o-over,” Marge had replied, soundin’ more scart than ever. The conversation that followed ’tween those two sent cold chills up my back despite the swelterin’ heat inside the tin box I was occupyin’.
“Marge, what’s goin’ on? What’s happenin’ there?”
“I’ve had to…barricade the courthouse door, Sheriff. Locked it…t-tight and then managed to…push two of the filin’ cabinets and Deputy Perry’s desk be-behind her. Otherwise…th-they would’a got to me already. O-over…”
“Bar…barricade? Marge, what in blue blazes is goin…”
“Waitaminnit, Sheriff. I…somebody’s poundin’ on the door (loud crashing noise).Can…can’t you hear that? Oh Lawd…oh lawdy…Wyatt, the-they breakin’ through (another loud crash, followed by the sound of multiple footsteps)!
They...oh dear GAAAAWDDDD!! (radio squelches, then goes silent)” “Marge? MARGIE??”
Quick as a flash, the sheriff leaned into the front seat then reached back and slapped cuffs over both my wrists.
“Back in a wink. You stay glued to that seat, boy.”
I don’t mind confessin’ that at that point and time, I’d swallowed a heapin’ helping of panic, and wasn’t ashamed to show it.
“But sheriff, wh-…don’cha think we outta get back to town? Is it a joke or somethin’? I mean, what was them noises in the courthouse? Shouldn’t ya get ba-”
“I said, back in a wink. Just settle down, Van Zant. I’ll get to the bottom of all of it. Just…settle…down.”
I watched ‘im climb the wooden steps leadin’ up into the feed n’ seed’s loadin’ dock, then vanish inside. It was about that time that the morning sun fell behind some fierce cloud cover. I’m talkin’ some real low-hangin’ thunder- bummers, and it didn’t take no time for things to grow real dark over the valley. Tragedy was, things were about to grow a helluva lot bleaker.


Part Two: Reality Takes A Powder

Now, I ain’t gonna lie. I’d smoked some real fine rabbit tobacco in my day, not to mention made a bad habit outta suckin’ down a sample of my main transport from time to time, that bein’ Evan Williams, Jack Black or JW Dant brand hooch. Hell, I’d even munched on a wild ‘shroom every moon or three when I wanted a different sorta buzz. That said, I was never one to get so gassed or stoned that I startin’ seein’ things that simply weren’t there. Had a buddy or two who’d see flyin’ saucers or bats with human faces sailin’ about after a few choice swigs of my Uncle Gerard’s homemade ‘shine. Not me. No siree. I was always what’cha might call ‘grounded into reality’ at all times, no matter the quantity or quality of consumption on any particular evening. The old lady’s influence had a lot to do with that, I reckon. She kept me on the straight and narrow more oft than not.
Yep, it was always said that ol’ Pete Van Z could manage to keep a cool head, no matter the level of hell breakin’ loose. Like the old sayin’ goes, I guess all things do come to an end, ‘cause at around eleven AM on that fine West Virginny morn, the head in question was anything but cool.
First off, I heard a single shot go off inside the store. Duckin’ down into the seat ‘til my head was propped agin one window and my feet pushin’ hard agin the other, I then heard two more ring out, followed by a pair of screams timed ‘bout three seconds apart The wailin’ had come from the same mouth, no doubt about it, though I’d have never bet a silver dollar on Sheriff Wyatt ‘Earp’ Masterson bein’ capable of soundin’ so damn…lady-like under any circumstance.
Secondly, the sheriff leapt off’n the edge of that dock like a cliff-diver, twistin’ his body around and firin’ off another round just ‘fore hittin’ that hard- graveled drive in a balled up roll.
Thirdly, well…this is when things really got squirrelly. The next couple’a minutes was kinda hazy, I mean, at that time it was only natural to doubt what I thought I’d seen. Lookin’ back, and sad as it might sound, it just don’t seem so all-fired strange anymore.
After he jumped back behind the wheel, the sheriff had spun outta there so fast it was like we was ridin’ through a dust cloud. I did manage to get in one clear look at the seed store dock through a break in that murky funnel just as he’d spun the vehicle back onto black top. I saw two figures amble their way to the edge. I believe the first had been old man Childers, though I couldn’t swear to it. He wore an apron that looked like it’d been dipped in fresh barn paint. Couldn’t really make out the face, ‘cause it was similarly splattered in dark red…I mean, even the man’s hairwas matted up into the shape of an arrow tip.
The second figure was one Deputy Perry Finch, minus his left arm past the elbow and with a mangled pile of his innards hangin’ free from his gut like a freshly gutted sow. Man had been holdin’ what looked like the slashin’ end of a sling blade in the only hand he still owned, and his face and head were just as drenched as old man Childers’.
“Jesus…Jesus…Jesus…” the sheriff kept mutterin’, pullin’ the mike to his mouth but not really sayin’ nothing, like the words just wouldn’t come. After the glimpse I’d gotten from the backseat, I couldn’t rightly say I could’a performed any better.
“Ma-…(clears throat)…Marge, this is Wyatt. You there, Marge? Come in, over. MARGE! Come IN! Damn you, woman…”
I’d straightened up a bit by then, havin’ crawled up from the floorboard where I’d been scrunched like a stink bug in a pea patch.
“This is Sheriff Wyatt Masterson of Lauders County, am I reaching anyone (clears throat)? Repeatin’, this is Sheriff Masterson of Lauders County…is anyone there?”
We took the steep curve in front of Bellwood bridge doin’ about sixty, and I recall feelin’ my sweet meats crawlin’ up inside my belly for temporary refuge. Looked down and noticed my left knee was seepin’ again. Figured I’d opened it back up rollin’ around in the floorboard. By the time we crossed that rickety pile of loose boards and hit Highway Six headin’ towards main street Bakerstown, the sheriff had discarded the mike and was diggin’ on the radio like a teenager searchin’ for just the right rock ‘n roll tune to cruise by.
Despite my better judgment screamin’ otherwise, I was about to inquire about the madness we’d just left at the Feed ‘n Seed when he stumbled upon AM one-oh-seven in Jonesboro Flats. For the next several minutes, we both sat back and listened to a Halloween spook story come to life.
The announcer was spoutin’ some nonsense bout reports in Marion and Jelks counties of people attackin’ one another for no concrete reason other than to spill blood. Said the governor hisself had called on National Guard units to set up shop as near as West Bayonet, which sits just eight or nine miles from the Bakerstown city limits. Another report said all the trouble had started inSouthern Pennsylvania, and was just now spreadin’ to the east and south like a wind-blown flu virus. Accordin’ to official (pronounced ‘o-fi-shal’) reports outta Washington (pronounced ‘Warsh-in-ton’) DC, everythin’ from contaminated water to a meteor from outer space was bein’ blamed for all the craziness.
“Lord…help us. Gotta get to a phone, that’s all. Make a couple’a calls and find out what the real story is. The true story,” the sheriff had whispered more to hisself than to me, I reckon.
“Was…was that deputy Finch back there, Sheriff?” I finally found the courage to ask once we’d ridden to within a few miles of the Stratford Boardin’ House and the north entrance to main street. He didn’t answer for a few seconds, and I figured I was in for still another butt-chewin’ Meanwhile, a light rain had started to fall, and the clouds overhead seemed to be growin’ blacker the closer we got to town.
“Y-yeah. Him and old man Childers. When I walked in, they was…was…fightin’ over a slab of…rib meat…r-raw…it was bloody raw…they were like…rabid animals they was. I ain’t never…I thought for a minute I’d blown a fuse ’til…Holy MOSES!” he yelped, causing me to flinch back like he’d nailed me in the forehead with his billy-club. The unit swerved, and I ain’t talkin’ a harmless little skid neither. By the time he’d straightened her out, my front end was jammed into the floorboard with my feet mashed up against the back glass.
I’d heard ‘im cursin’ and raisin’ Cain as we’d left the pavement for dirt and rock, but was too busy rollin’ around to really understand any of his wild jammerin’. By the time I’d pushed myself upright, we’d just passed Hoyt Vincent’s Lumberyard, only a hop, skip an’ jump to the courthouse.
“Did ya…did ya see that, Van Zant?” Masterson had asked, starin’ at me through the rear view.
“Naw…didn’t see a damn thing, Sheriff,” I’d shot back, and not in the best of moods,“I was a too busy floppin’ about like a banked catfish. Got the knots on my noggin’ to prove it.
“What happened anyhow? Thought I heard ya cussin’ up a storm.”
“It…it was Larry and Dot Romero. Just standin’ in the middle of the blamed road, hand in hand like school kids playin’ ring around the blessed rosey. I only saw ‘em for a flash and had to jerk the wheel to keep from pancakin’ ‘em, but they both looked kinda glassy eyed. Perr-…deputy Finch and old man Childers had that same exact look, like they was in some kind’a trance.”
The man’s voice had turned all gravelly and low, like a chunk of stale bread stuck in his throat.
“Plus which, both of ‘em were shirtless. Dot’s tit-…breasts were all smeared an’ bloodied. Looked…like one of ‘em had even been…torn off…just…just like P-Perry’s arm.
“I could’a swore Larry grinned at me just ‘fore we swerved around ‘em. The man had…stuff hangin’ from his teeth. I dunno, m-might explain the hole in Dot’s chest.”
“What in hell’s goin’ on, Sheriff? How’s about let-…uh…releasin’ me on good faith? I…I’m kinda worried ‘bout the wife…” I finally asked, no longer able to hide the fact that I was basically scared shitless, and not just for yours truly. Sad to admit, but Pete Van Z looks out for number one on a regular basis, as priority one normally, but this day wasn’t normal. Couldn’t help but think ‘bout Trudy all alone in our cabin. A cabin so far back in the sticks we might well be hard to find, but damn far from impossible if somebody puts forth the effort.
Truly, it was like livin’ a daytime nightmare…one of them real freaky corkers that wakes you in the middle of a hot, humid summer night. Ya bellow like a whipped dog and sit up, soaked to the marrow and your chest poundin’ like a jackhammer. My wounded knee was screamin’ with all the sweat pourin’ into her. Felt like somebody was curin’ my upper leg with bacon salt.
“I…can’t say I know any more than you, Van Zant. Just…we gotta stay calm, that’s all. Stay calm and get to town. We’ll find some answers there, by god. By hook or crook, we’ll get us some answers.”
Have to admit, at that point I really didn’t give a god damn ‘bout answers. Fact is, if I’d been behind the wheel of that black and white Galaxy, Bakerstown would’a been pretty damned low in terms of priorities for this kid. More than likely I would’a turned that bad boy around, retrieved the wife and a suitcase or two, then drove straight past the Florida line, not stopping ’lessen the tank was drained dry or I saw ocean waves dead ahead.
Can’t say for sure, but I do know for a cold hard fact that the yellow streak up my back was surely glowin’ bright.

The Dead Effect by Terry Lloyd Vinson

EXTRACT FOR
The Dead Effect

(Terry Lloyd Vinson)


BOOK 1 - WORM DIRT

Bakerstown,West Virginia (Population 596)
Circa 1968

Part One: Unnatural Happenstance

“Come on back, Margie. That last transmission was a mite garbled. Over,” Sheriff Masterson had said, holdin’ that radio mike tight up to his lips. We was ridin’ back from Knotts Valley, where he’d just picked me up for transportin’ several hundred liters of JW Dant’s finest Kentucky rot-gut to the Watts brothers. I’d been slumped over in the back seat’ a his Ford Galaxy, sweatin’ like a rented mule an’ tryin’ to figure out how many nights I’d be hold up in the county lock up this time. I’d just got out on a similar charge a few months past, havin’ spent almost six weeks as a guest of Lauders County, but had the feelin’ that Judge ‘Iron Balls’ Wilkes wasn’t gonna be near as easy on me this time around. Besides which, the wife was gonna be beside herself. She’d laid down the law just a few weeks prior about my secret ‘side job’ activities, sayin’ she’d have nothin’ more to do with it if’n I got caught again. Figured she’d already stashed away a packed bag or three just in case, and would be headin’ off to her mama’s in Wheeling once this latest case of bad news came down.
Little did I know at the time, but such matters was gonna be the least of my troubles once early morning gave way to late afternoon.
Masterson had trailed me down Little Bear Creek Road ‘til I’d ditched my pick-up, then chased me through Dickerson’s woods on foot. Man ain’t a thing if not persistent…I’ll give ‘im that much. Caught up with me whilst I was hidin’ inside the old barn next to the Forrester’s abandoned farm, but not ‘fore a couple’a stray dogs had caught up with me first. Damned knee finally stopped bleedin’ from the fall I took outta that hayloft, but it ain’t quit smartin’. Wasn’t real sure of my bearings after that pop on the noggin, least not ‘til I was already takin’ up space in the back of the patrol unit.
“Ya need to get back here lickitty split, sheriff. We got some serious going’s on…plum crazy going’s on…a-all over…all around town, I mean to say…over,” came the woman’s reply from the other end of that talk box, soundin’ like someone had just goosed her titty.
“Could ya be a mite more specific, Marge? What kinda trouble? Bane McBride beatin’ up on his wife and kids again? Over.”
“No…no…nothing like that, Sheriff. You…it’s just…you’ll have to see for yourself. I’ve been hearin’ about all kinds of strangeness. Phone ain’t stopped ringin’ since nigh on seven AM…from Pearl Jacks down atLake Meyers to Merle Dean up at Dry Creek Manor Over.”
Masterson steered the vehicle (pronounced ‘vee-hick-ul’) through a steep series of curves that leads into Mill’s Valley, then turned about and shot me a grave look, still holdin’ that mike to his mouth. Wyatt Masterson had been the law in and around Bakerstownsince I was knee-high to a Blue Tick pup, a genuine straight arrow who didn’t take bribes nor lip from no man. Big as an ox and twice as ornery, old ‘WEarp’, as everyone called ‘im, had no patience for my kind, and in truth, I can’t say I really blame ’im. No doubt if I had to spend most’a my day runnin’ down no count bootleggers, cow thieves and wife beaters, I reckon I’d have a similar disposition.
“I’m a good eleven miles out, Marge. Got Pete Van Zant in tow for haulin’ fire water. I’ll petal her down and be there as quick as I can. Have ya heard from Perry? Over.”
“Not since ‘bout ten AM. I’d got a call of a break-in down at Childer’s Seed ‘n Feed. Can’t reach ‘im on the radio and I can’t get no answer at Childers. That’s been pert near an hour ago, Wyatt. Over.”
“Tell ya what, Marge…I’ll head on over to the seed ‘n feed from here and radio in once I get there. Over.” Perry Finch was Masterson’s only deputy As tall as a valley pine but built like a bean pole, Finch was one sour, stone-faced SOB that took his job way too serious. Man wasn’t much on brains but damned high on cockiness. Rumor had it he’d only got the deputy job ’cause he’d married Masterson’s sister, and couldn’t hold down a job doin’ nothin’ else.
The sheriff turned back to me just as we’d drove out of the western edge of Mills Valley, passin’ the Wilbery farm on the left hand side. The man was sweatin’ more bullets than his gunbelt could’a ever held Even that thick, gray mustache of his was soppin’ wet. Thinkin’ back, I don’t believe it was just the boilin’ heat inside that patrol unit causin’ such a meltdown. Can’t help but recall my own gut was rollin’ a bit from a spell of nerves. Didn’t know why at the time, just had a bad feelin’ somethin’ wasn’t right.
“We gotta take a little detour, Pete. You just hang tight. I’ll get ya to the lockup soon enough,” he’d said, his breathin’ kinda huffy, like he’d just got done sprintin’ up a steep grade in his stockin’ feet.
“I’m in no particular hurry, Sheriff, By all means, take yore time.”
It took us another fifteen minutes or so to wind our way down Old Hickory road towards Childers feed store. Funny thing was, I don’t recall meetin’ or even seein’ a single vehicle along the way, despite the fact that farms littered Old Hickory like ants on a picnic trail.
“Unit B, you copy?” The sheriff had yakked into that mike as we’d got ‘bout halfway. “Perry, are you hearin’ me, boy? Come back, over…”
“Maybe his battery petered out, Sheriff. That unit ain’t near as slick as this one. I’ll bet th-”
“Shut your pie-hole, Van Zant. When I need the opinion of a two-bit bootleggin’ rat bastard like yourself, I’ll pound it outta you,” he’d growled in response, tossin’ that mike into the passenger seat and cursin’ under his breath. I’d decided to heed the man’s words, havin’ seen up close and personal he wasn’t one to mince ‘em when dolin’ out physical threats.
He’d parked out front of the seed ‘n feed, which was deserted ‘cept for old man Childer’s delivery van, Lloyd Gordon’s rusted old Chrysler and Deputy Perry Finch’s patrol unit.
“Unit A to dispatch Marge, you receiving? Over” he’d asked, standing with a boot still propped inside the unit and that mike cord pulled taunt.
“I…Wyatt? Y-yes, I’m still here. But…I’ve had t-to…this is…this ain’t…things ain’t right here, Wyatt…not right at’tal…o-o-over,” Marge had replied, soundin’ more scart than ever. The conversation that followed ’tween those two sent cold chills up my back despite the swelterin’ heat inside the tin box I was occupyin’.
“Marge, what’s goin’ on? What’s happenin’ there?”
“I’ve had to…barricade the courthouse door, Sheriff. Locked it…t-tight and then managed to…push two of the filin’ cabinets and Deputy Perry’s desk be-behind her. Otherwise…th-they would’a got to me already. O-over…”
“Bar…barricade? Marge, what in blue blazes is goin…”
“Waitaminnit, Sheriff. I…somebody’s poundin’ on the door (loud crashing noise).Can…can’t you hear that? Oh Lawd…oh lawdy…Wyatt, the-they breakin’ through (another loud crash, followed by the sound of multiple footsteps)!
They...oh dear GAAAAWDDDD!! (radio squelches, then goes silent)” “Marge? MARGIE??”
Quick as a flash, the sheriff leaned into the front seat then reached back and slapped cuffs over both my wrists.
“Back in a wink. You stay glued to that seat, boy.”
I don’t mind confessin’ that at that point and time, I’d swallowed a heapin’ helping of panic, and wasn’t ashamed to show it.
“But sheriff, wh-…don’cha think we outta get back to town? Is it a joke or somethin’? I mean, what was them noises in the courthouse? Shouldn’t ya get ba-”
“I said, back in a wink. Just settle down, Van Zant. I’ll get to the bottom of all of it. Just…settle…down.”
I watched ‘im climb the wooden steps leadin’ up into the feed n’ seed’s loadin’ dock, then vanish inside. It was about that time that the morning sun fell behind some fierce cloud cover. I’m talkin’ some real low-hangin’ thunder- bummers, and it didn’t take no time for things to grow real dark over the valley. Tragedy was, things were about to grow a helluva lot bleaker.


Part Two: Reality Takes A Powder

Now, I ain’t gonna lie. I’d smoked some real fine rabbit tobacco in my day, not to mention made a bad habit outta suckin’ down a sample of my main transport from time to time, that bein’ Evan Williams, Jack Black or JW Dant brand hooch. Hell, I’d even munched on a wild ‘shroom every moon or three when I wanted a different sorta buzz. That said, I was never one to get so gassed or stoned that I startin’ seein’ things that simply weren’t there. Had a buddy or two who’d see flyin’ saucers or bats with human faces sailin’ about after a few choice swigs of my Uncle Gerard’s homemade ‘shine. Not me. No siree. I was always what’cha might call ‘grounded into reality’ at all times, no matter the quantity or quality of consumption on any particular evening. The old lady’s influence had a lot to do with that, I reckon. She kept me on the straight and narrow more oft than not.
Yep, it was always said that ol’ Pete Van Z could manage to keep a cool head, no matter the level of hell breakin’ loose. Like the old sayin’ goes, I guess all things do come to an end, ‘cause at around eleven AM on that fine West Virginny morn, the head in question was anything but cool.
First off, I heard a single shot go off inside the store. Duckin’ down into the seat ‘til my head was propped agin one window and my feet pushin’ hard agin the other, I then heard two more ring out, followed by a pair of screams timed ‘bout three seconds apart The wailin’ had come from the same mouth, no doubt about it, though I’d have never bet a silver dollar on Sheriff Wyatt ‘Earp’ Masterson bein’ capable of soundin’ so damn…lady-like under any circumstance.
Secondly, the sheriff leapt off’n the edge of that dock like a cliff-diver, twistin’ his body around and firin’ off another round just ‘fore hittin’ that hard- graveled drive in a balled up roll.
Thirdly, well…this is when things really got squirrelly. The next couple’a minutes was kinda hazy, I mean, at that time it was only natural to doubt what I thought I’d seen. Lookin’ back, and sad as it might sound, it just don’t seem so all-fired strange anymore.
After he jumped back behind the wheel, the sheriff had spun outta there so fast it was like we was ridin’ through a dust cloud. I did manage to get in one clear look at the seed store dock through a break in that murky funnel just as he’d spun the vehicle back onto black top. I saw two figures amble their way to the edge. I believe the first had been old man Childers, though I couldn’t swear to it. He wore an apron that looked like it’d been dipped in fresh barn paint. Couldn’t really make out the face, ‘cause it was similarly splattered in dark red…I mean, even the man’s hairwas matted up into the shape of an arrow tip.
The second figure was one Deputy Perry Finch, minus his left arm past the elbow and with a mangled pile of his innards hangin’ free from his gut like a freshly gutted sow. Man had been holdin’ what looked like the slashin’ end of a sling blade in the only hand he still owned, and his face and head were just as drenched as old man Childers’.
“Jesus…Jesus…Jesus…” the sheriff kept mutterin’, pullin’ the mike to his mouth but not really sayin’ nothing, like the words just wouldn’t come. After the glimpse I’d gotten from the backseat, I couldn’t rightly say I could’a performed any better.
“Ma-…(clears throat)…Marge, this is Wyatt. You there, Marge? Come in, over. MARGE! Come IN! Damn you, woman…”
I’d straightened up a bit by then, havin’ crawled up from the floorboard where I’d been scrunched like a stink bug in a pea patch.
“This is Sheriff Wyatt Masterson of Lauders County, am I reaching anyone (clears throat)? Repeatin’, this is Sheriff Masterson of Lauders County…is anyone there?”
We took the steep curve in front of Bellwood bridge doin’ about sixty, and I recall feelin’ my sweet meats crawlin’ up inside my belly for temporary refuge. Looked down and noticed my left knee was seepin’ again. Figured I’d opened it back up rollin’ around in the floorboard. By the time we crossed that rickety pile of loose boards and hit Highway Six headin’ towards main street Bakerstown, the sheriff had discarded the mike and was diggin’ on the radio like a teenager searchin’ for just the right rock ‘n roll tune to cruise by.
Despite my better judgment screamin’ otherwise, I was about to inquire about the madness we’d just left at the Feed ‘n Seed when he stumbled upon AM one-oh-seven in Jonesboro Flats. For the next several minutes, we both sat back and listened to a Halloween spook story come to life.
The announcer was spoutin’ some nonsense bout reports in Marion and Jelks counties of people attackin’ one another for no concrete reason other than to spill blood. Said the governor hisself had called on National Guard units to set up shop as near as West Bayonet, which sits just eight or nine miles from the Bakerstown city limits. Another report said all the trouble had started inSouthern Pennsylvania, and was just now spreadin’ to the east and south like a wind-blown flu virus. Accordin’ to official (pronounced ‘o-fi-shal’) reports outta Washington (pronounced ‘Warsh-in-ton’) DC, everythin’ from contaminated water to a meteor from outer space was bein’ blamed for all the craziness.
“Lord…help us. Gotta get to a phone, that’s all. Make a couple’a calls and find out what the real story is. The true story,” the sheriff had whispered more to hisself than to me, I reckon.
“Was…was that deputy Finch back there, Sheriff?” I finally found the courage to ask once we’d ridden to within a few miles of the Stratford Boardin’ House and the north entrance to main street. He didn’t answer for a few seconds, and I figured I was in for still another butt-chewin’ Meanwhile, a light rain had started to fall, and the clouds overhead seemed to be growin’ blacker the closer we got to town.
“Y-yeah. Him and old man Childers. When I walked in, they was…was…fightin’ over a slab of…rib meat…r-raw…it was bloody raw…they were like…rabid animals they was. I ain’t never…I thought for a minute I’d blown a fuse ’til…Holy MOSES!” he yelped, causing me to flinch back like he’d nailed me in the forehead with his billy-club. The unit swerved, and I ain’t talkin’ a harmless little skid neither. By the time he’d straightened her out, my front end was jammed into the floorboard with my feet mashed up against the back glass.
I’d heard ‘im cursin’ and raisin’ Cain as we’d left the pavement for dirt and rock, but was too busy rollin’ around to really understand any of his wild jammerin’. By the time I’d pushed myself upright, we’d just passed Hoyt Vincent’s Lumberyard, only a hop, skip an’ jump to the courthouse.
“Did ya…did ya see that, Van Zant?” Masterson had asked, starin’ at me through the rear view.
“Naw…didn’t see a damn thing, Sheriff,” I’d shot back, and not in the best of moods,“I was a too busy floppin’ about like a banked catfish. Got the knots on my noggin’ to prove it.
“What happened anyhow? Thought I heard ya cussin’ up a storm.”
“It…it was Larry and Dot Romero. Just standin’ in the middle of the blamed road, hand in hand like school kids playin’ ring around the blessed rosey. I only saw ‘em for a flash and had to jerk the wheel to keep from pancakin’ ‘em, but they both looked kinda glassy eyed. Perr-…deputy Finch and old man Childers had that same exact look, like they was in some kind’a trance.”
The man’s voice had turned all gravelly and low, like a chunk of stale bread stuck in his throat.
“Plus which, both of ‘em were shirtless. Dot’s tit-…breasts were all smeared an’ bloodied. Looked…like one of ‘em had even been…torn off…just…just like P-Perry’s arm.
“I could’a swore Larry grinned at me just ‘fore we swerved around ‘em. The man had…stuff hangin’ from his teeth. I dunno, m-might explain the hole in Dot’s chest.”
“What in hell’s goin’ on, Sheriff? How’s about let-…uh…releasin’ me on good faith? I…I’m kinda worried ‘bout the wife…” I finally asked, no longer able to hide the fact that I was basically scared shitless, and not just for yours truly. Sad to admit, but Pete Van Z looks out for number one on a regular basis, as priority one normally, but this day wasn’t normal. Couldn’t help but think ‘bout Trudy all alone in our cabin. A cabin so far back in the sticks we might well be hard to find, but damn far from impossible if somebody puts forth the effort.
Truly, it was like livin’ a daytime nightmare…one of them real freaky corkers that wakes you in the middle of a hot, humid summer night. Ya bellow like a whipped dog and sit up, soaked to the marrow and your chest poundin’ like a jackhammer. My wounded knee was screamin’ with all the sweat pourin’ into her. Felt like somebody was curin’ my upper leg with bacon salt.
“I…can’t say I know any more than you, Van Zant. Just…we gotta stay calm, that’s all. Stay calm and get to town. We’ll find some answers there, by god. By hook or crook, we’ll get us some answers.”
Have to admit, at that point I really didn’t give a god damn ‘bout answers. Fact is, if I’d been behind the wheel of that black and white Galaxy, Bakerstown would’a been pretty damned low in terms of priorities for this kid. More than likely I would’a turned that bad boy around, retrieved the wife and a suitcase or two, then drove straight past the Florida line, not stopping ’lessen the tank was drained dry or I saw ocean waves dead ahead.
Can’t say for sure, but I do know for a cold hard fact that the yellow streak up my back was surely glowin’ bright.

EXTRACT FOR
The Dead Effect

(Terry Lloyd Vinson)


BOOK 1 - WORM DIRT

Bakerstown,West Virginia (Population 596)
Circa 1968

Part One: Unnatural Happenstance

“Come on back, Margie. That last transmission was a mite garbled. Over,” Sheriff Masterson had said, holdin’ that radio mike tight up to his lips. We was ridin’ back from Knotts Valley, where he’d just picked me up for transportin’ several hundred liters of JW Dant’s finest Kentucky rot-gut to the Watts brothers. I’d been slumped over in the back seat’ a his Ford Galaxy, sweatin’ like a rented mule an’ tryin’ to figure out how many nights I’d be hold up in the county lock up this time. I’d just got out on a similar charge a few months past, havin’ spent almost six weeks as a guest of Lauders County, but had the feelin’ that Judge ‘Iron Balls’ Wilkes wasn’t gonna be near as easy on me this time around. Besides which, the wife was gonna be beside herself. She’d laid down the law just a few weeks prior about my secret ‘side job’ activities, sayin’ she’d have nothin’ more to do with it if’n I got caught again. Figured she’d already stashed away a packed bag or three just in case, and would be headin’ off to her mama’s in Wheeling once this latest case of bad news came down.
Little did I know at the time, but such matters was gonna be the least of my troubles once early morning gave way to late afternoon.
Masterson had trailed me down Little Bear Creek Road ‘til I’d ditched my pick-up, then chased me through Dickerson’s woods on foot. Man ain’t a thing if not persistent…I’ll give ‘im that much. Caught up with me whilst I was hidin’ inside the old barn next to the Forrester’s abandoned farm, but not ‘fore a couple’a stray dogs had caught up with me first. Damned knee finally stopped bleedin’ from the fall I took outta that hayloft, but it ain’t quit smartin’. Wasn’t real sure of my bearings after that pop on the noggin, least not ‘til I was already takin’ up space in the back of the patrol unit.
“Ya need to get back here lickitty split, sheriff. We got some serious going’s on…plum crazy going’s on…a-all over…all around town, I mean to say…over,” came the woman’s reply from the other end of that talk box, soundin’ like someone had just goosed her titty.
“Could ya be a mite more specific, Marge? What kinda trouble? Bane McBride beatin’ up on his wife and kids again? Over.”
“No…no…nothing like that, Sheriff. You…it’s just…you’ll have to see for yourself. I’ve been hearin’ about all kinds of strangeness. Phone ain’t stopped ringin’ since nigh on seven AM…from Pearl Jacks down atLake Meyers to Merle Dean up at Dry Creek Manor Over.”
Masterson steered the vehicle (pronounced ‘vee-hick-ul’) through a steep series of curves that leads into Mill’s Valley, then turned about and shot me a grave look, still holdin’ that mike to his mouth. Wyatt Masterson had been the law in and around Bakerstownsince I was knee-high to a Blue Tick pup, a genuine straight arrow who didn’t take bribes nor lip from no man. Big as an ox and twice as ornery, old ‘WEarp’, as everyone called ‘im, had no patience for my kind, and in truth, I can’t say I really blame ’im. No doubt if I had to spend most’a my day runnin’ down no count bootleggers, cow thieves and wife beaters, I reckon I’d have a similar disposition.
“I’m a good eleven miles out, Marge. Got Pete Van Zant in tow for haulin’ fire water. I’ll petal her down and be there as quick as I can. Have ya heard from Perry? Over.”
“Not since ‘bout ten AM. I’d got a call of a break-in down at Childer’s Seed ‘n Feed. Can’t reach ‘im on the radio and I can’t get no answer at Childers. That’s been pert near an hour ago, Wyatt. Over.”
“Tell ya what, Marge…I’ll head on over to the seed ‘n feed from here and radio in once I get there. Over.” Perry Finch was Masterson’s only deputy As tall as a valley pine but built like a bean pole, Finch was one sour, stone-faced SOB that took his job way too serious. Man wasn’t much on brains but damned high on cockiness. Rumor had it he’d only got the deputy job ’cause he’d married Masterson’s sister, and couldn’t hold down a job doin’ nothin’ else.
The sheriff turned back to me just as we’d drove out of the western edge of Mills Valley, passin’ the Wilbery farm on the left hand side. The man was sweatin’ more bullets than his gunbelt could’a ever held Even that thick, gray mustache of his was soppin’ wet. Thinkin’ back, I don’t believe it was just the boilin’ heat inside that patrol unit causin’ such a meltdown. Can’t help but recall my own gut was rollin’ a bit from a spell of nerves. Didn’t know why at the time, just had a bad feelin’ somethin’ wasn’t right.
“We gotta take a little detour, Pete. You just hang tight. I’ll get ya to the lockup soon enough,” he’d said, his breathin’ kinda huffy, like he’d just got done sprintin’ up a steep grade in his stockin’ feet.
“I’m in no particular hurry, Sheriff, By all means, take yore time.”
It took us another fifteen minutes or so to wind our way down Old Hickory road towards Childers feed store. Funny thing was, I don’t recall meetin’ or even seein’ a single vehicle along the way, despite the fact that farms littered Old Hickory like ants on a picnic trail.
“Unit B, you copy?” The sheriff had yakked into that mike as we’d got ‘bout halfway. “Perry, are you hearin’ me, boy? Come back, over…”
“Maybe his battery petered out, Sheriff. That unit ain’t near as slick as this one. I’ll bet th-”
“Shut your pie-hole, Van Zant. When I need the opinion of a two-bit bootleggin’ rat bastard like yourself, I’ll pound it outta you,” he’d growled in response, tossin’ that mike into the passenger seat and cursin’ under his breath. I’d decided to heed the man’s words, havin’ seen up close and personal he wasn’t one to mince ‘em when dolin’ out physical threats.
He’d parked out front of the seed ‘n feed, which was deserted ‘cept for old man Childer’s delivery van, Lloyd Gordon’s rusted old Chrysler and Deputy Perry Finch’s patrol unit.
“Unit A to dispatch Marge, you receiving? Over” he’d asked, standing with a boot still propped inside the unit and that mike cord pulled taunt.
“I…Wyatt? Y-yes, I’m still here. But…I’ve had t-to…this is…this ain’t…things ain’t right here, Wyatt…not right at’tal…o-o-over,” Marge had replied, soundin’ more scart than ever. The conversation that followed ’tween those two sent cold chills up my back despite the swelterin’ heat inside the tin box I was occupyin’.
“Marge, what’s goin’ on? What’s happenin’ there?”
“I’ve had to…barricade the courthouse door, Sheriff. Locked it…t-tight and then managed to…push two of the filin’ cabinets and Deputy Perry’s desk be-behind her. Otherwise…th-they would’a got to me already. O-over…”
“Bar…barricade? Marge, what in blue blazes is goin…”
“Waitaminnit, Sheriff. I…somebody’s poundin’ on the door (loud crashing noise).Can…can’t you hear that? Oh Lawd…oh lawdy…Wyatt, the-they breakin’ through (another loud crash, followed by the sound of multiple footsteps)!
They...oh dear GAAAAWDDDD!! (radio squelches, then goes silent)” “Marge? MARGIE??”
Quick as a flash, the sheriff leaned into the front seat then reached back and slapped cuffs over both my wrists.
“Back in a wink. You stay glued to that seat, boy.”
I don’t mind confessin’ that at that point and time, I’d swallowed a heapin’ helping of panic, and wasn’t ashamed to show it.
“But sheriff, wh-…don’cha think we outta get back to town? Is it a joke or somethin’? I mean, what was them noises in the courthouse? Shouldn’t ya get ba-”
“I said, back in a wink. Just settle down, Van Zant. I’ll get to the bottom of all of it. Just…settle…down.”
I watched ‘im climb the wooden steps leadin’ up into the feed n’ seed’s loadin’ dock, then vanish inside. It was about that time that the morning sun fell behind some fierce cloud cover. I’m talkin’ some real low-hangin’ thunder- bummers, and it didn’t take no time for things to grow real dark over the valley. Tragedy was, things were about to grow a helluva lot bleaker.


Part Two: Reality Takes A Powder

Now, I ain’t gonna lie. I’d smoked some real fine rabbit tobacco in my day, not to mention made a bad habit outta suckin’ down a sample of my main transport from time to time, that bein’ Evan Williams, Jack Black or JW Dant brand hooch. Hell, I’d even munched on a wild ‘shroom every moon or three when I wanted a different sorta buzz. That said, I was never one to get so gassed or stoned that I startin’ seein’ things that simply weren’t there. Had a buddy or two who’d see flyin’ saucers or bats with human faces sailin’ about after a few choice swigs of my Uncle Gerard’s homemade ‘shine. Not me. No siree. I was always what’cha might call ‘grounded into reality’ at all times, no matter the quantity or quality of consumption on any particular evening. The old lady’s influence had a lot to do with that, I reckon. She kept me on the straight and narrow more oft than not.
Yep, it was always said that ol’ Pete Van Z could manage to keep a cool head, no matter the level of hell breakin’ loose. Like the old sayin’ goes, I guess all things do come to an end, ‘cause at around eleven AM on that fine West Virginny morn, the head in question was anything but cool.
First off, I heard a single shot go off inside the store. Duckin’ down into the seat ‘til my head was propped agin one window and my feet pushin’ hard agin the other, I then heard two more ring out, followed by a pair of screams timed ‘bout three seconds apart The wailin’ had come from the same mouth, no doubt about it, though I’d have never bet a silver dollar on Sheriff Wyatt ‘Earp’ Masterson bein’ capable of soundin’ so damn…lady-like under any circumstance.
Secondly, the sheriff leapt off’n the edge of that dock like a cliff-diver, twistin’ his body around and firin’ off another round just ‘fore hittin’ that hard- graveled drive in a balled up roll.
Thirdly, well…this is when things really got squirrelly. The next couple’a minutes was kinda hazy, I mean, at that time it was only natural to doubt what I thought I’d seen. Lookin’ back, and sad as it might sound, it just don’t seem so all-fired strange anymore.
After he jumped back behind the wheel, the sheriff had spun outta there so fast it was like we was ridin’ through a dust cloud. I did manage to get in one clear look at the seed store dock through a break in that murky funnel just as he’d spun the vehicle back onto black top. I saw two figures amble their way to the edge. I believe the first had been old man Childers, though I couldn’t swear to it. He wore an apron that looked like it’d been dipped in fresh barn paint. Couldn’t really make out the face, ‘cause it was similarly splattered in dark red…I mean, even the man’s hairwas matted up into the shape of an arrow tip.
The second figure was one Deputy Perry Finch, minus his left arm past the elbow and with a mangled pile of his innards hangin’ free from his gut like a freshly gutted sow. Man had been holdin’ what looked like the slashin’ end of a sling blade in the only hand he still owned, and his face and head were just as drenched as old man Childers’.
“Jesus…Jesus…Jesus…” the sheriff kept mutterin’, pullin’ the mike to his mouth but not really sayin’ nothing, like the words just wouldn’t come. After the glimpse I’d gotten from the backseat, I couldn’t rightly say I could’a performed any better.
“Ma-…(clears throat)…Marge, this is Wyatt. You there, Marge? Come in, over. MARGE! Come IN! Damn you, woman…”
I’d straightened up a bit by then, havin’ crawled up from the floorboard where I’d been scrunched like a stink bug in a pea patch.
“This is Sheriff Wyatt Masterson of Lauders County, am I reaching anyone (clears throat)? Repeatin’, this is Sheriff Masterson of Lauders County…is anyone there?”
We took the steep curve in front of Bellwood bridge doin’ about sixty, and I recall feelin’ my sweet meats crawlin’ up inside my belly for temporary refuge. Looked down and noticed my left knee was seepin’ again. Figured I’d opened it back up rollin’ around in the floorboard. By the time we crossed that rickety pile of loose boards and hit Highway Six headin’ towards main street Bakerstown, the sheriff had discarded the mike and was diggin’ on the radio like a teenager searchin’ for just the right rock ‘n roll tune to cruise by.
Despite my better judgment screamin’ otherwise, I was about to inquire about the madness we’d just left at the Feed ‘n Seed when he stumbled upon AM one-oh-seven in Jonesboro Flats. For the next several minutes, we both sat back and listened to a Halloween spook story come to life.
The announcer was spoutin’ some nonsense bout reports in Marion and Jelks counties of people attackin’ one another for no concrete reason other than to spill blood. Said the governor hisself had called on National Guard units to set up shop as near as West Bayonet, which sits just eight or nine miles from the Bakerstown city limits. Another report said all the trouble had started inSouthern Pennsylvania, and was just now spreadin’ to the east and south like a wind-blown flu virus. Accordin’ to official (pronounced ‘o-fi-shal’) reports outta Washington (pronounced ‘Warsh-in-ton’) DC, everythin’ from contaminated water to a meteor from outer space was bein’ blamed for all the craziness.
“Lord…help us. Gotta get to a phone, that’s all. Make a couple’a calls and find out what the real story is. The true story,” the sheriff had whispered more to hisself than to me, I reckon.
“Was…was that deputy Finch back there, Sheriff?” I finally found the courage to ask once we’d ridden to within a few miles of the Stratford Boardin’ House and the north entrance to main street. He didn’t answer for a few seconds, and I figured I was in for still another butt-chewin’ Meanwhile, a light rain had started to fall, and the clouds overhead seemed to be growin’ blacker the closer we got to town.
“Y-yeah. Him and old man Childers. When I walked in, they was…was…fightin’ over a slab of…rib meat…r-raw…it was bloody raw…they were like…rabid animals they was. I ain’t never…I thought for a minute I’d blown a fuse ’til…Holy MOSES!” he yelped, causing me to flinch back like he’d nailed me in the forehead with his billy-club. The unit swerved, and I ain’t talkin’ a harmless little skid neither. By the time he’d straightened her out, my front end was jammed into the floorboard with my feet mashed up against the back glass.
I’d heard ‘im cursin’ and raisin’ Cain as we’d left the pavement for dirt and rock, but was too busy rollin’ around to really understand any of his wild jammerin’. By the time I’d pushed myself upright, we’d just passed Hoyt Vincent’s Lumberyard, only a hop, skip an’ jump to the courthouse.
“Did ya…did ya see that, Van Zant?” Masterson had asked, starin’ at me through the rear view.
“Naw…didn’t see a damn thing, Sheriff,” I’d shot back, and not in the best of moods,“I was a too busy floppin’ about like a banked catfish. Got the knots on my noggin’ to prove it.
“What happened anyhow? Thought I heard ya cussin’ up a storm.”
“It…it was Larry and Dot Romero. Just standin’ in the middle of the blamed road, hand in hand like school kids playin’ ring around the blessed rosey. I only saw ‘em for a flash and had to jerk the wheel to keep from pancakin’ ‘em, but they both looked kinda glassy eyed. Perr-…deputy Finch and old man Childers had that same exact look, like they was in some kind’a trance.”
The man’s voice had turned all gravelly and low, like a chunk of stale bread stuck in his throat.
“Plus which, both of ‘em were shirtless. Dot’s tit-…breasts were all smeared an’ bloodied. Looked…like one of ‘em had even been…torn off…just…just like P-Perry’s arm.
“I could’a swore Larry grinned at me just ‘fore we swerved around ‘em. The man had…stuff hangin’ from his teeth. I dunno, m-might explain the hole in Dot’s chest.”
“What in hell’s goin’ on, Sheriff? How’s about let-…uh…releasin’ me on good faith? I…I’m kinda worried ‘bout the wife…” I finally asked, no longer able to hide the fact that I was basically scared shitless, and not just for yours truly. Sad to admit, but Pete Van Z looks out for number one on a regular basis, as priority one normally, but this day wasn’t normal. Couldn’t help but think ‘bout Trudy all alone in our cabin. A cabin so far back in the sticks we might well be hard to find, but damn far from impossible if somebody puts forth the effort.
Truly, it was like livin’ a daytime nightmare…one of them real freaky corkers that wakes you in the middle of a hot, humid summer night. Ya bellow like a whipped dog and sit up, soaked to the marrow and your chest poundin’ like a jackhammer. My wounded knee was screamin’ with all the sweat pourin’ into her. Felt like somebody was curin’ my upper leg with bacon salt.
“I…can’t say I know any more than you, Van Zant. Just…we gotta stay calm, that’s all. Stay calm and get to town. We’ll find some answers there, by god. By hook or crook, we’ll get us some answers.”
Have to admit, at that point I really didn’t give a god damn ‘bout answers. Fact is, if I’d been behind the wheel of that black and white Galaxy, Bakerstown would’a been pretty damned low in terms of priorities for this kid. More than likely I would’a turned that bad boy around, retrieved the wife and a suitcase or two, then drove straight past the Florida line, not stopping ’lessen the tank was drained dry or I saw ocean waves dead ahead.
Can’t say for sure, but I do know for a cold hard fact that the yellow streak up my back was surely glowin’ bright.