I WAS GOING to tell you about why I killed Lewis Quad and how he’d had it coming to him. How he’d asked for it and deserved everything he got. Tell you what an evil bastard he was and how many lives he’d destroyed over the years. All the shitty little things he’d done just because he could. Justify my actions, and the like. But then I realised that, well, if you knew Lewis Quad you’d know all of that anyway and if you didn’t know Lewis there was no way in heaven, hell or purgatory that I was ever going to be able to explain the whole thing to you. So I thought I’d just tell you what happened next.
I wasn’t even close to Cyrus White’s farm when I realised I was running low on fuel. The last few hours had been a blur. I’d been so wrapped up in replaying the events of the last few days I’d been smothered by them, truth be told.
As I drove through the night, the streetlamps were yellow streaks across the pallet of darkness. I’d been listening to a phone-in talk show about ghosts, hauntings and such, and though I’d never been superstitious, I sure was glad when the dawn eventually broke on through.
I saw a sign for a gas station off of a side road and turned off the radio so that I could concentrate. I followed the directions until I reached a small disused general store with a dusty, rusted gas pump in front and a battered old station wagon parked beside it. I parked my Dodge, lay my head on the steering wheel and groaned.
After a moment or so, I switched on the radio to wake myself up but it was as dead as the corpse in my trunk. I lay back in the seat and pulled out a quarter bottle of Wild Turkey. Sipped. As I watched the sun rise like a gold doubloon, I started to relax.
Then I heard the bang.
She was old, in her eighties or something like that, carrying a sawn-off shotgun and wearing a ragged green-velvet ball gown. She staggered out of the store, tripping over her high heeled shoes and pulling a red beehive wig from her head as she raced toward the station wagon. I guessed she didn’t notice me at first because she threw the gun into the car and crawled in after it. She started up the station wagon with a struggle and reversed. Right into my car.
The sunny morning had hardened into a granite gray day and the non-stop drizzle failed to wash away the pain in my head. It wasn’t the impact of the cars so much or even the hangover that was kicking in. It was Mathilda and the way she talked. And how much she talked.
I pulled up outside White’s farmhouse just as Mathilda was telling some long and winding anecdote about unpaid alimony, jailbait whores and a pawn shop.
‘And, you know, what would you do, if you were unlucky enough to have found yourself in my situation?’ she said. She scratched her bald head. Glared at me.
‘I know what you mean,’ I said. ‘I know exactly what you mean.’
Although I most certainly did not.
Cyrus came out of the door cradling a crossbow that I knew he had made himself. He was tall and gaunt, with a long white beard and a bald head. He was wearing a frayed black suit. He swayed a little as he walked toward the car.
‘You took your time,’ he said. ‘My babies are getting hungry.’
I heard the pigs scream and a chill skewered my soul.
‘Don’t worry,’ I said, as I got out of the Dodge. ‘I have a little extra snack for them.’
‘Then come on in, ladies,’ said Cyrus. He opened up the passenger door and winked at Mathilda. ‘You’re just in time for tiffin.’
I picked up my purse and slammed the car door. Straightened my skirt.
Mathilda was already hobbling alongside Cyrus, arm in arm with him.
It was going to be a long day.