hetro

It had been two hours since the last time Big Mike opened his eyes; rolling over he re-discovered the spilled beer and cold, wet mattress that shocked him into full wakefulness. Sitting up and looking about the place, he saw Skeeter’s pretty hair was everywhere, but Skeeter was gone. Soon enough he began to remember the events of last night: and his discovery this morning that he had been rolled by his wife. Skeeter had taken his money, his truck, and the food stamp card, which had almost a hundred bucks on it.



Anger began to build within him, but Big Mike didn’t have the booze working against him today, and he was able to force himself to think about other things until he calmed a bit. Running his hand through his head of untamed red hair, he stepped out of the trailer and walked barefoot, his boots in his hand, across the backyard to his dad’s house to use the phone, not wanting to use the last few minutes he had left on his cell. When he found that bitch, she was going to pay for this.



Even as he thought the thought he knew he was lying to himself. He couldn’t hurt Skeeter, every time he tried it, he hurt himself more then he hurt her. He loved her too much, and he knew he would never be lucky enough to find another Skeeter. While Big Mike would never win any scholarships, he was not stupid. He was wise enough to know, he wasn’t very smart. Knowing this allowed him to learn how to take things slow, so his mind could keep up. And he divided everything into three groups, things he knew, things he thought he knew and the things he knew he didn’t know. At the very top of the list of the things he knew, was that he needed Skeeter. He had to get her back.



Nobody was home at his dad’s house, which was a relief; he had hoped they would have left for work by now. There was coffee, he poured a cup and sat down.



He picked up a pencil and started to make a list, his writing shaky and unsure, looking like something a second grader might do. He made a list of the people she could run to, he then went back down the list putting a check beside each name that Skeeter had fucked over lately, that shortened the list considerably.



Big Mike stared at the list of names, there were a lot of things that Big Mike couldn’t do but there were a lot of things he could do very fucking well. One of those things was hunt and another was trap, when it came to understanding the swamps and woodlands that surrounded him, few could match him. Skeeter was like a lion in the desert, all he had to do to find her was watch the water holes.



Big Mike tore up the first list and made another one of everybody she got drugs from, and like on the first list he checked off the names of people she had fucked over lately. He had three names left, he picked up the phone, Reek’s was the first number he called. The phone rang twice before it was picked up. “Yeah?” a bored voice asked.



Big Mike hated to call around hunting for Skeeter. It made him feel ashamed to show how little control he held over her. A husband shouldn’t have to be hunting his wife all the time, but he had to find her. “Hey, Reek, have you seen Skeeter today?”



Reek knew who it was when he heard the ‘Andy Devine’ tone of voice, like he was trying to talk and take a hard shit at the same time, giving Big Mike’s voice a high pitched, straining quality. Reek put him on speaker and motioned to his two friends to listen.



“Yeah, you calling about the truck, ain’t you cracker? Your wife done come and gone several times last night, she left your truck on the last trip for four hundred worth of rock”



Big Mike thought for a long moment, the silence hanging heavy like a wet veil, as Big Mike wondered if his Skeeter would sell his truck. Would she do that to him? He remembered the pile of red hair on the bed when he got up, he thought that maybe he remembered cutting it with his knife; if he had done that to her, she might’ve done this to him.



Reek’s voice on the phone interrupted his thoughts as he asked, “You still there white boy?”



“Yeah I’m here,” Big Mike mumbled and then he had a thought. “She can’t sell my truck, it’s my truck, in my name not hers.” Then Mike put it together, Reek was trying to fuck him. “Why would you buy a truck that wasn’t hers to sell? You’re smarter than that ain’t you?”



Reek had all he could do not to laugh as he said. “I didn’t buy the truck, I just loaned some money on it until you could pay me back. After the way you had treated her I thought that somebody should help her out and you know how helpful I can be.”



Mike knew what he had to do, but he didn’t know what to say. After a moment he asked “So, you’re telling me that I owe you four hundred dollars, and you have my truck?” Then Mike had a smart thought, he could make Reek think everything was okay and maybe he wouldn’t be looking when Mike got to his house. Big Mike’s face was split by a smile; it was not often that he felt that he was smarter than the person he was talking to, but he enjoyed that feeling today when he asked, “I owe you any interest?”



Reek did laugh out loud now as he said, “No man, she paid the interest up front with a fine ass blow job.” Reek’s friends joined in the laughter when he told Big Mike, “She gonna owe me another one in two hours and another after that for every six hours I keep this truck. So if you don’t want your old lady getting spoiled by all this black cock over here you better come give me my money and get your truck.” Reek hung up.



Reek would’ve choked on his laughter if he could have felt the heat and strength of hate and bloodlust that washed through Big Mike’s soul at the thought of his sweet Skeeter on her knees before a nigger, sucking on his cock. Mike slammed the phone down so hard that the lid came off the battery compartment and the batteries were thrown across the room, one of them rolling down the hall. He sank into a chair and held his head in his hands. A low pitiful moan came from his mouth as he held his head in his hands, a sound more mournful than anything found in the wild, because only man can love that deep.



Big Mike let himself remember what life had been like before Skeeter, how empty and lonely his life had been. He knew he was just a big dumb redneck, he knew that everyone said that he was retarded, and too dumb to learn. But Skeeter had read books to him and helped him to be smarter, Skeeter had taught him how to look out for himself. Skeeter loved him, she had told him so. He tried to remember the things that she had told him, he remembered her saying that his emotions were so strong because his heart was bigger than his brain. He remembered her saying that he had to try harder to let his brain have time to work before he let those strong heart feelings get him into trouble.



“Get a grip, I need to get a grip, I need time to get a grip.” He said the mantra that Skeeter had taught him to himself, and felt it take effect. Mike felt himself relax. “Get a grip, I need to get a grip, I need time to get a grip.” He got up and found the pieces of the phone and put it back together again. Putting the phone back together gave him something to do with his hands while his mind chanted the mantra until he felt better.



Big Mike settled into his chair and sipped his coffee, forcing himself to calm down. Skeeter always told him he was smart but he couldn’t do a lot of shit at one time. So big Mike sat there and sipped his coffee while his slow moving mind figured out what he needed to focus on. He couldn’t find Skeeter without his truck and Reek had his truck. He didn’t have any money so he was going to have to take the truck by force or find a way to steal it back from Reek.



Once he understood the problem he was okay and he understood the problem he faced now. He pictured Reek’s little shack at the end of that dirt road, the kids up front, the woods all around, Reek and his two or three friends. Once he had hunted in that area it seemed to Mike that there was an old logging trail that came within quarter of a mile of Reek’s place. Mike had drained the pot of coffee and wasted over an hour before he came up with his plan. He would ride over there and make his plan then, but he would take some stuff with him when he went.



Years ago his grandfather, an avid bird hunter, had sawn off the barrels on his double-barrel twelve gauge shotgun, he was half blind and couldn’t shoot birds any longer. He was gone on overnight trips sometimes and wanted something for home protection, something he or his wife could point in the general direction of whatever you wanted to shoot and feel sure to hit something. After the old man had died they had kept the gun in a trunk in his father’s room, where he also found a box of double 0 buckshot shotgun shells. Mike took a pocket full of shells and then loaded both barrels of the gun. Close up, both barrels would be like a canon’s blast, across a yard or large room it would be more like a claymore mine. Either way it was something that might change the minds of most men about wanting to fight.



The gun’s barrels were only ten inches long and the stock had been cut to look like an old dueling pistol grip. The total length from tip of stock to tip of barrel was only twenty inches. Just the risk of carrying the sawed off shotgun was enough to make most people avoid the use of such a weapon, just having the sawed off shotgun was a federal crime punishable by ten years in jail. But if you did take that risk, and showed up at any kind of fight with such a weapon and a willingness to use it, you were going to win.



Mike tied a leather boot lace to the gun and slung it over his head letting the gun hang under his arm. He buckled his belt with his knife’s scabbard attached and hung it over his head letting the knife hang under his other arm. Slipping a large short sleeve shirt on over his armory, he checked the mirror, satisfying himself that the weapons couldn’t be seen. With the air of a man who knew exactly what he was doing, Big Mike went into the garage and straddled his dad’s four wheeler, the machine roared as he left the garage, all four tires kicking gravel and grass into the air when he hit the power company’s right-of-way headed toward Reek’s place. It was only about six miles to where he would leave the four wheeler on the R.O.W. and walk to Reeks. He felt that he would have his truck in an hour, and then he could find Skeeter.



******************



Skeeter stepped from the shower stall, wet and shiny, and ran naked to jump into the bed beside Silas. But the bed was empty; she rolled across it to lay on her back, looking up at the mirrored ceiling. She spread herself open on the bed, spread-eagled as though tied to the four bedposts, and pretended to be waiting on her lover’s return. The door opened, flooding the dark room with extreme brightness. Silas stood in partial silhouette, the light playing up the angles on his face, she watched his expressions change as his eyes adjusted to the light in the room and he saw Skeeter.



He stepped inside and closed the door. Silas held a cold can of coke in each hand as he came over and sat on the bed. He was an old man in years but he had spent them with a very modest wife, a woman who would never reveal her nakedness in broad daylight, not even to her husband. Consequently, he had not had the opportunity to see a naked woman very often. It was obvious what the naked youngster was offering to him, but he knew he wasn’t up to a second round, he felt drained. Hell she had almost given him a heart attack less than ten minutes ago, and she was ready to go again. The whole situation made him realize what an old fool he had been to think his tired old body could keep up with her, that he could sexually satisfy her. Silas just wanted to get away now without any hurt feelings. “Baby, I wish I could but I’m afraid that I’m a one trick pony. Oh, I could try, but half way through I would lose my starch and it would just embarrass both of us.” He offered her the cold coke can.



Skeeter took the offered drink and let her other hand trace the outline of Silas’s dick in his pants. “Silas, folks tell me that I’m pretty good at what I do. I can get you off again.” Skeeter grinned and said, “if I can’t get you off again then you ain’t out nothing because I won’t charge you a cent but if I can get you off then will you get us a fifty?”



Silas had sold three calves at the sale today and got better then he had expected, he had the money, but did he want to spend it like this? He had already spend fifty bucks on the way to the room, Silas didn’t do drugs so Skeeter did the whole fifty by herself, but by god the woman was fun to be with, she made a man feel like a boy again, and like that boy he used to be, Silas felt a stirring in his loins. ‘No fool like an old fool,’ he thought as he said, “Well, I don’t hardly see how I could lose on a proposition like that. Have at it.”



Skeeter pulled him toward the bed, “Silas we have to start slow and give this tired old dick of yours time to get recharged again. Lay right down here and let me see what I can do to help you out here.” As she talked she was removing the man’s pants, pushing him back onto the bed, crawling up his legs to put her face above his crotch, enjoying her power over the man. Her control of his body and to a certain extent his mind was enough to turn Skeeter on a little too.



Silas was amazed to feel the reactions of his body to the young lady’s efforts as she ran her lips along the side of his dick, her voice a tiny vibration against his most sensitive parts. When Skeeter climbed onto the bed with him and slid herself down until her crotch lay on the bed at Silas’s face level, while her face was directly above his hardening dick.



“Wet your finger and play with my clit for me,” Skeeter said as her lips grazed along his dick. “Silas play with me, make me cum while I suck your cock. Do me, I need you to do me Silas.” Skeeter slipped her mouth over his average cock and took him all inside, tickling her nose in his pubic hair. She felt his finger, wet and tender, as he stroked over the general area of where her clit was. He was very awkward, but he was trying; Skeeter gave him a moan as a reward for his labors.



“Damn, girl, you are good at what you do.” He let his finger slide along her slit, not entering it just skimming along its length, lightly stroking up and down. She felt dry, He wet his finger again and let it slip up and down the slit, he could watch her lips seem to swell. She was still dry though, he wet his finger again tasting her on his finger when he did. His finger found its way back to her pussy, the thing was opening like a flower.



He had never seen a pussy from this angle; he had never cheated on his wife and he had only had a few sexual experiences before his marriage. It was an incredibly beautiful sight and it had a strange effect on him. He wet his finger again, this time he sucked his finger enjoying the taste, he took his dripping wet finger and let it slip inside her to the first knuckle, no further and worked it around until it was wet and juicy.



Skeeter had got him started playing with her pussy just to get him involved; the more involved in the sexual act he was, the quicker he would cum. but as he worked his fingers on her sex so lovingly she began to respond. She came up off his dick and told him. “Just lightly stroke it, don’t fuck it with your fingers just stroke along it. That’s where the feelings are.”



Silas was becoming a lover, after sixty eight years, he was going to get a woman off. Sex was something his wife did for him when he needed it, but she had made it clear that she took no enjoyment from it. She submitted to his animal desires because the Lord said she should, it was a duty she had to perform, nothing more. But now he finally had found a woman who would tell him what she wanted, and he wanted to make it good for her. His wife would never have done something like this, not in a million years. Her rigid beliefs forced the two of them to pay a high price in missed pleasures, but she was gone now, safe with her Lord the past four years and Silas was on his own.



He watched his fingers as they teased her slit, running up and down so slick and smooth on her soft lips. He wet his fingers again, she tasted so clean and she looked pink and clean. Her clean shaven pussy so different from his wife’s dark and hairy nest; it seemed to be inviting him to play with it. Suddenly he was overcome with a desire to put his mouth on her to taste her without the finger. He wanted to push his tongue as deep into her as he could, wanted to breathe her in and breathe out into her. It would be the first time he had ever kissed a woman there, but he had never felt the desire to before.



Skeeter felt his hands on her thighs as he picked her up and set her down with his mouth pressed tight against her pussy, their lips meshed as his tongue explored inside her. This did not happen to working girls very often, and it was kinda sweet of the old guy to want to get her off too. And she could tell by the dick in her mouth that he was getting into it as much as she was. She applied herself to getting him to cum before something burst his bubble.



The taste of a woman was a new treat for Silas and he discovered that he liked it very much. It excited him and made him want more, while Skeeter’s mouth made his dick feel so fucking fine. He was as hot as he had been in years and knew he was about to blow, he wanted to get her off first if he could. But alas that was not to be as he shot his hot load deep into her throat as she went deep on him.



Skeeter sucked gently until his dick was softening, then she rose up on her elbows on the bed and caught his eye. “For an old guy you do pretty damn good at sucking pussy.” Skeeter watched the old man as he struggled to catch his breath. “Are you okay?” she asked, worried by the color of his face.



“Yeah, I’m okay,” it took him a moment before he could talk, “I’m feeling pretty damn good really.” He gave the pretty little naked lady a smile. “Feeling better than I have in a long time, and I learned not to bet with the likes of you.”



Skeeter laughed with him, she liked the old guy and hoped that he would become a regular. She had a group of old guys like Silas and Doug who kept her going. They were easily satisfied, didn’t get out much so there was small risk of disease, and they had regular checks, so she knew when they had money. And best of all, she was the best thing they were ever going to be able to get. No other woman would give them the time of day.



They talked and joked as they got dressed and in a few minutes Silas was letting her out with his apologies for not wanting to share the fifty with her. But he did give her the money before she got out across the street from the wall where he had picked her up. As she was crossing the street a guy in a white caddy started to blow his horn until he caught her attention. Silas watched in dismay as Skeeter never made it back to her seat on the retaining wall before some other guy had picked her up. Wondering how many dicks had been where his mouth had just been gave Silas a disturbing sense of excitement mixed with shame. Watching in his rearview mirror Silas saw Skeeter get into the Caddy and drive away.



Big Mike tried to ignore the buzz and whine of the mosquitoes as he sat in the shade of the underbrush and watched Reek’s house. There was no sign of his truck, but there were two newer cars, Mike knew most of Reek’s customers but he didn’t recognize either one of cars. He had been feeding the insects for ten minutes while he waited for two cars to leave. What the hell was going on in there? Generally someone runs in gets their shit and out the door they go.



While he waited Big Mike studied the house and surrounding area. Built in a low lying area the house sat on top of nine concrete block towers, two blocks thick and four blocks tall. They raised the house some thirty inches above the ground leaving a cool dark space beneath. The tall uncut grass was nearly as tall as ripe wheat and would help conceal somebody under the house. He could listen then and find out how many were inside with Reek, but then he had another idea and the more the thought on it, the better he liked it. It took another thirty minutes before the group of men and women walked out, all excited and laughing, climbed into their cars and left together in a cloud of dust down the dirt lane. Mike eased out from the brush and crouching low, made his way to the back of the house.

Reek not cutting his lawn was a big break for Mike, he felt very proud of himself for remembering to do the things that Skeeter had told him. He had used the magic mantra words to control his temper, he had sat down and thought about his problem and figured out what to focus on, and now he had looked at a problem and made a plan. Listening to Skeeter was making him smarter. The grass stood nearly a foot tall, yellow and dry from the lack of rain, it stood tall enough to make waves when the wind blew it almost like it was a pond of golden water. The tall grass surrounded the house except for the front yard, where the traffic kept it down. Mike crawled through the grass until he was fifty feet from the big propane tank, checking the wind with a wet finger, he started to pull up the grass by the handful until he had enough to light. He set the pile of dry grass ablaze and scooted over to the house, laid down and rolled underneath it, shotgun in his hands.



It was cool and dark under the house and Mike lay there and let that coolness soak in for a moment. He could hear Reek talking, they were in the front room, laughing and cutting up, happy as they could be. A hard smile flickered across Mike’s face, he knew that would end soon enough. He rolled over onto his back with the gun on his chest letting the breeze dry the sweat from his body as he waited for the boys above him to realize what was happening.



The fire had built itself into a wildfire, racing toward the propane tank with the wind behind it, blowing the smoke ahead of the wall of flame. Mike watched in silence hoping the niggers inside would see it. No, Skeeter had told him that he shouldn’t call black men niggers anymore; his Skeeter said that his daddy had washed his brain and made him think some stuff that was not true. Big Mike corrected himself, he hoped the black men inside would look outside before the fire got too big to put out.



He heard an angry shout and than a startled yell followed by hard pounding running feet as the three black men ran out of the house to put out the fire. The flames were jumping three feet into the air and were racing toward the propane tank at a frightening speed. Reek ran back inside the house while his men kicked and tried to stomp the fire. Reek ran back out and gave the others wet towels. Armed with the big wet towels they began to make some headway against the fire. It was hot busy work and none of them noticed when Mike stood up and eased up behind Reek. Pointing the gun straight up, Mike fired a round with the barrel six inches behind Reeks head.



Reek yelled and would have dropped to his knees if Big Mike hadn’t grabbed him by his neck, his big hand reaching around the slim man’s neck like it was a chicken’s. Lifting him high as he swung the man around, Mike slammed the shocked and stunned man against the wall of his house. With his other hand he pointed the gun at Reeks friends. “You boys just keep both hands on your towels, hold them high over your heads and you’ll get through this, if not … well … you know, I will shoot your black ass.” Mike didn’t think these boys had much fight in them after seeing that he was willing to fire the gun. Glancing at Reek who was still unable to hear a thing above the loud roaring in his ears, he said, “Me and Reek have some business to talk over.”



Big Mike walked around to the other side of Reek, so all three men were in front of him, he let the barrel of the gun come against the neck of Reek. The barrel, still warm from being fired, pressed hard against his skin. “Stand up on your toes Reek,” Mike urged him to stretch higher with the gun barrel, forcing him to stand on his tippy toes, leaning against the dark unpainted wooden wall of his house. While Reek’s attention was focused on the gun in his neck, Mike stabbed his big hunting knife, cutting edge up, deep into the thick boards, between the frightened man’s legs. The razor sharp blade passing through Reeks low-rider pants, less than an inch below Reeks balls, and into the wall of the house.



Big Mike kept the gun pointed in the general direction of the three men. Reek was a bit unsteady as he tried to stay on his toes over the knife, the other two seemed to be reconsidering their choice of leaders, as they stood there in the heat with the fire starting to get big again.



Mike motioned with the gun at the men. “You boys put out the fire before it blows that tank and Reek’s house to hell.” They started to swing their towels with a frantic sense of urgency. Mike turned his attention back to Reek, just the thought of his Skeeter sucking his dick sent unwanted waves of rage pounding against his fragile self-control. “Reek you better get somebody to bring my truck over here to me before you hurt yourself on that knife. I sharpened that sucker last night and shaved the hair on my arm with it.” Mike watched the eyes of the man to see which way this was going to go.



Reek was unsteady on his toes as he tried to stay above the edge of the knife, he could feel the breeze blowing through the hole in his pants, the shotgun pressed against his cheek. “Goddamn it motherfucker, you done fucked up my ears.” Reek couldn’t hear what he was saying, this damn cracker had busted his eardrums, he was deaf. “I can’t hear,” he squalled as he stood over the knife with his hands over his head, straining with all his strength to stay on his toes. “I gotta get my phone, it’s in the house.” Reek said, or at least he thought that was what he said, it was weird not being able to hear yourself.



“Use mine.” Big Mike gave Reek his phone.



Reek almost lost his balance when he reached for the phone, but Big Mike steadied him with the shotgun pressing him back against the wall, while he punched in the number. The call didn’t take long, Mike took back his phone. While they waited for the truck, Reek’s friends finished putting out the fire, and Mike had them come and sit in front of Reek. There was no shade on this side of the house and they all were soon dripping sweat. Reek shifted his weight back and forth trying to rest his aching calves, he could feel the knife cutting his pants slicing ever upwards toward his cock and balls. On the bright side, Reek felt that maybe he wasn’t deaf after all, because he could hear a bit through the roar now. On the other hand he could see that he had lost all the respect of his two friends as they sat there and silently watched him do his disgraceful lap dance with the knife.



Big Mike was trying to put together a speech so he was concentrating on what he was going to say to Reek. The two guys on the ground just sat there in front of the dramatic fall of their boss. The silence was unbroken until it was shattered by the distant sounds of Big Mike’s truck’s exhaust as it turned in off the highway.



Mike could see the fear in Reek’s eyes when he leaned in close face to face with him and started to talk. “Reek, I think you were trying to do me wrong here today; I think you were trying to fuck me over.”



Reek looked into the green eyes glittering hard and shiny behind the black framed glasses Big Mike wore. A realization came to Reek as he looked at the shiny freckled face of Mike, and felt the barrel of the gun in his side. Stupidity could be a serious weapon sometimes. Big Mike had been too stupid to know that paying Reek the money was the best way to handle the situation. Goddamn rednecks, too dumb to know when they are outsmarted. How you gonna fight somebody that don’t know when they are out done, it would never be over until you killed him, he had just seen that killing Big Mike could be quite a project. He wished he had never seen that damn Skeeter, he wished he had kept his mouth shut instead of saying what he had on the phone to Big Mike.



“Reek I think that you owe me something, after what you said about my wife and all, what do you think? You feel like you owe me something?” Big Mike was smiling as he stared into Reek’s eyes, enjoying the fear he saw there. “I figure since I done come over here and helped put out the fire and save your house. After you used my truck last night and today, I figure you owe me a couple of hundred bucks, you think that’s a fair number?”



Reek felt the strength draining from his legs, he realized, that maybe he was the one too stupid to know when he was beat. Reek nodded his head, “I ain’t got the cash but I’ll give it to you in rock.” Standing over the knife trembling on his toes, Big Mike’s gun against his cheek, seeing his shame reflected in his friend’s eyes, Reek gave up. There would be another day, but today Big Mike had won.



The sound of Big Mike’s truck drowned out any further talk as it pulled up in front of the house. Mike retrieved his knife from between Reeks legs and herded the three men around the house with the gun. “You boys,” Big Mike used the word deliberately to insult the men, “take a seat on the ground there in the middle of the yard.” Mike prodded Reek with the gun, “Let’s get my rock and I’ll be on my way.” Reek walked with the shuffle of defeat and shame now as he went to his stash and took out several plastic envelopes, after a moment he offered five of the plastic bags to Mike. Stashing the bags in his shirt pocket, Mike asked, “Do you know where Skeeter is?”



“Some of the guys said that she was on the wall by the Seven Eleven.” Reek sounded like he was a long ways away in his own ears, he could barely hear. “If you don’t find her you might want to check over at the contest tonight, it’s at the River Rendezvous. That’s all I know.”



Big Mike tried to remember what he wanted to say in his speech, and tried to avoid getting angry again by speaking in a low soft voice. “Reek I don’t like to be laughed at like you and your friends did this morning. It makes a man so mad that you just want to hurt somebody, but Skeeter tells me that I should slow down and think about shit before I do it. So I going to warn you, if you ever try to shame me like that again, I’m gonna kill you. I know where there are gator holes and sink holes that a man would disappear into never to be found again. Nobody is going to raise much of a stink over a missing crack dealer. As far as I’m concerned this is over, but you ever shame me like you tried to do today again, I’ll kill you without a second thought and nobody will ever be sure what happened to you. I hope you believe that so I won’t have to prove it to you.”



Reek just nodded his head, having no idea what the cracker was saying, he was still damn near deaf.



As soon as the teenager got his bike out of the back, Big Mike got in his truck and drove out of the yard. Gun under the seat, crack in his pocket and a smile on his face, all and all it had went better than he had expected it to go. Now he needed to get his dad’s four-wheeler and then he could go and find Skeeter. The crack in his pocket would make it easier for him to get her to come home, once he had found her. His last view of Reek’s house was in his rearview mirror and it looked like the fire had gotten started again when the wind picked up. He could just make out the shapes of three men as they were slinging their wet towels against the wall of smoke and bright orange and yellow flames inside a cloud of swirling smoke and shimmering heat waves.



*******************



Skeeter’s feet had hardly touched the pavement of the road before she heard a car horn blowing, looking down the street towards the noise, she saw a white Cadillac making a U-turn and coming back toward her as she neared the curb. The fifty bucks was burning a hole in her pocket and the payphone seemed to be beckoning for her to come to it, but for some reason she didn’t completely understand, she waited for the new Caddy to pull up beside her.



Sidney could not believe it when he first saw her, her hair was different but it was still that same dark red color he remembered. She was stepping down from a pick-up truck just as he drove past, closer enough to see her face, it was her. He hit the brake as he checked his mirror, saw a gap in traffic and took it, making the illegal U-turn across three lanes of traffic and pulling to the curb beside her, ignoring the cars blowing their horns as they passed by.



He slid down the passenger window and Skeeter leaned on the sill her head level with Sidney’s as each of them sized the other up. She had cash in hand and wanted to spend it, he had cash in hand and wanted to buy her. The common denominator was cash, as they eyed one another, they both realized it. He could buy her but she was not going to be as cheap as he had thought. He could see it in her eyes; she was ready to turn him down flat. She on the other hand saw a guy in a new car wearing a nice suit wanting a good time. She saw a fat goose ready for plucking; she just had other things she wanted to do first.



The duel had been started, the weapon chosen and that weapon was cash, Sidney had planned on this but he had hoped for a bit more desperation on her part, he would have to start on a higher level to get her to play. His mind made up on how he would proceed, Sidney opened the game with small talk, “I’ll bet yall don’t remember me?” He flashed his best smile, showing off his expensive dental implants to their best advantage. “I met you down here last fall during the festival, you came to my room with me and we partied together, you really don’t remember me at all?” He adopted the facial expression of a hurt puppy, big eyes and sad mouth, and waited.



Skeeter did remember him now, he wasn’t that bad of a guy and she seemed to remember he was a big spender. “I do seem to remember that, you stayed over at the Hampton didn’t you?”



“Yep, that was me and it seemed to me that you had a pretty good time too, I thought you might want to get something to eat and I have a proposition for you that I think you will be interested in.” Sidney could see the ‘no’ building on her face as he talked, he had to set the hook now or he might never get the chance again with this girl. “There is five hundred bucks in it for you if you are interested, and it will only take a few hours. Why don’t you get in the car and lets talk about it?”



Skeeter stood there in the air-conditioned breeze coming from inside the car, it smelled of leather and aftershave, it smelled like money and felt good on her face. She opened the door and got in the car, firmly slamming the door shut she turned to Sidney. “I’m not hungry, but if you will take me to a friend’s house, we can talk on the way.”



Sidney agreed and pulled back into traffic. “Which way do I go?” he asked as he approached the intersection ahead.



“Take a left and then it will be about four miles before you need to turn left again, but I’ll tell you before you get to it.” Skeeter turned to face the man in the suit. Late forties to mid-fifties in age, seemed to be in fair shape, by that she meant that he wasn’t fat, good head of sandy red hair, and most apparent feature of all, he had money. “Now remind me what your name is, and then tell me about the five hundred dollars I’m going to make.” She said as the watched the countryside roll by wanting to give the guy plenty of time to make the turn at Reek’s road.



Sidney didn’t remember if he had used his real name last time or not, so he split the difference, “My name is Sidney, Sidney Compton, I’m a salesman.” Sidney was turning on the charm but he was getting less than good responses from her, she just leaned against the door and waited. “Anyway I am trying to put this show on the internet, I have some investors and I have a website set up already, what I need is something that people will subscribe to. Something that offers them enough sexual excitement for them to pay twenty bucks a month to watch it.”



Skeeter’s thoughts on the venture were in a deep dive by this point in his story; she was not doing anything on the internet. But she let him talk as the car rolled along toward Reek’s where she was going to spend her fifty bucks. “And what would my part be in this ‘show’?” she asked just to keep him talking.



“You wouldn’t be in the show,” he lied, “what I want you to do is set a mood during the interviews of the performers. I am going to be sitting at a desk interviewing the girls who are going to be in the show. I want you to be naked and sucking my cock during the interview. You know, kind of set the mood that this is wide open and anything goes.”



Sidney could see in the girl’s face and her body language that he was losing the sale, but he pushed on. “This evening at six pm I am going to start the interviews, by nine o’clock it will be over. I just want my dick to stay in your mouth those three hours, and I’m willing to pay you five hundred bucks to do it.”



“You must be crazy! You think I’m going to kneel naked and suck your dick for three hours while you talk to people over a desk?” Skeeter laughed out loud right in the man’s face. “Ain’t nobody going to do that, nobody; but for damn sure not me.”



“I’d like to know why not? Its not like these people are from your mother’s church or something, they are crack whores and pimps, just like you. They’re your people, they are the people who already know you are a street whore and that you are a crack head. They aren’t going to see anything that they haven’t probably seen before, or at least they know it happens. Either way it won’t hurt your reputation with the people that matter.” Sidney had really hoped that he could get Skeeter but it was beginning to look bad.



For her part, Skeeter had only seen Sidney as a convenient ride to Reek’s and back; she had never thought of him or his offer as a business opportunity, but now she demoted him to an unpleasant ride. “Can I borrow your phone?” she asked sweetly.



Sidney handed his phone to the girl and drove silently while Skeeter punched in her numbers, after a moment she handed the phone back to Sidney. “No answer” she explained. Sidney felt that he had said all he could say. Realizing that the next move was hers, he continued driving until Skeeter told him to turn left onto a narrow dirt road, leading back through a forest of tall pine trees planted in neatly spaced rows like corn.



Less than half a mile down the sandy trail they came into a clearing where a shack stood in the middle of a large circle of burnt grass. Smoke lingered in the air, fed by small flickering fires dotting the blackened circle. Three black men and two boys leaned against the shady side of the house drinking beers. They were hot and sweaty, covered with black smut. They did not look like they were in a good mood, and at least one of men had a pistol stuck in the waistband of his underwear, which rode four inches higher on his body than his pants. For the first time Sidney had a moment of doubt, realizing how dangerous the waters he swam in really were. He pulled the car to a stop in front of the house. Sidney had always been in favor of gun control but right now, he wished he had a gun.



Skeeter opened the door and was out in a flash, speed walking to where the three men stood watching her approach. “Hey, Reek, what happened?” Sidney had no trouble hearing what Skeeter said, and he heard what ‘Reek’ said in response.



The tall skinny guy called Reek stepped toward Skeeter. “Your redneck husband is what happened.” Sidney could see that the man was really upset, he hit the electric door lock, and listened to what the black man said, “Big Mike came up in here and set the grass on fire and when me and my boys came out here to fight it he damned near blew my head off with a shotgun. Then he made me give him four hundred in rock and stole his truck back.”



“When did this all happen?” Skeeter asked as she looked around the, still burning in spots, yard.



“Less than an hour ago,” Reek hated to think of what was going to happen when the big guy caught up to Skeeter. “He’s crazy as a bat you know; he’s going kill your ass, just as soon as he finds you.”

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