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Bill O. farmer Bill O. farmer
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Carnage Came Along! - HH Anthology


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She had a friend.

“When you accommodate someone, know that, that person’s troubles become yours, and your troubles become that person’s. It’s only a matter of time before your patience runs out either way, who will be the first.”


The brewing of a Storm
I wasn’t asking for trouble that sunny morning way back in June of 1985. On my back I had a rucksack, bearing my earthly possessions; two more pairs of faded denims, three shirts and a pair of sneakers. I had rolled up my sleeping bag and headed north out of Arcadia via SW 6th Street. There were two options for me, northbound, swing eastwards onto North Brevad avenue which would land me in Brownville or continue in my present direction on to Brewster and beyond. I also had a road map, neatly folded in polythene to beat the weather, tucked into one of the rucksack's zippered pockets.


Mom had died giving birth to me, Pop had vanished when my mother had told him she was expecting his child, grandma had done everything she could to ensure I had something; a roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep. Cancer came, unrelenting and she succumbed to it six months back. At sixteen I was my own man, and fending for myself.
I had been apprenticing at Marco’s Auto Shop. He was a Mexican of mixed blood, smoked like a chimney people worried he would set the auto shop on fire, what with the gasoline and all.
I had been with Marco since fourteen, passing him spanners and bolts screwdrivers. I was his spanner boy. The helping hand. He always said I could make it big without a black board, long as I had interest in the mechanics of automobiles.


At sixteen, something was tugging me northward. The death of grandma had seemed like I had lost everything. I got restless and impatient with everybody at the shop. Marco called it the shock waves of the loss behind my back.


The morning I dropped by to say I was leaving, He drove up in his ‘79 model MC concord in cream colors. Six years down the road it was well managed and a hot piece still in pristine condition. One look at me and he kind of knew.
‘Long as you come back, son,’ was what he’d said when I told him. He knew he couldn’t hold me back. Not for now. Not for the world.
‘Doesn’t it scare you going out there all by your self?’ He’d asked just to be sure I was in my rockers.
‘I’ll manage,’ I had replied.
Marco sat me down; ‘There is one thing I got to tell you.’ He had started pensive. ‘The world is one big classroom. It is one learning place with something new everyday for every one. All you got to do is look out and learn it.
‘The wrong company, elements and circumstances and your …’ he flung open the fingers of both hands like he was use to, ‘…poof! In each one of those things, good or bad, there is something to glean, know what am saying?’
I nodded, though I could hardly make head or tail of it.
‘I hope you are going to be the smart kid grandma wanted you to be. Don’t let me down; don’t let the old lady down.’ He wagged a finger at me.
I sat in silence trying to digest the words. Not letting grandma down was more binding. He kind of knew it that is why he mentioned it. Marco and grandma had been close. She baked him a pie every first Sunday.
I walked along the edge of the road lost in thought. Marco had given me fifty dollars spending money from his office at the back of the shop. Said I would need it for basics. I was to use it sparingly ‘coz it wouldn’t last. The best deal he said was to work for meals along the way and save money for other things. He didn’t specify on the other things though.


As I bade him farewell, ‘you are going to need a number to call,’ he said. ‘just in case.’
Looking back over the years, I probably shouldn’t have left. The Mexican cared much for my well being and tried in more than one way to let me know. He could see all the leaks in the plumbing of my decision to leave. But like the wise men say, some things you just have to go practical on them.

*****


Out over the Atlantic Ocean, a storm was brewing, getting stronger. in weeks it would turn out to be a hurricane. Three hundred miles south of Arcadia, another storm had reached its peak. It wouldn’t be long before it became a matter of life and death.
Julian Osborne swung a fist at Nancy Jacobs missing her by a whisker. The fist took most of the fibre board with it as Nancy staggered backwards tumbling over a settee.
‘I hate you!’ she yelled getting back to her feet and making a beeline for the door. He blocked her path.
‘You survived that one, the next blow, I swear to God will not miss,’ He was calm and collected, but one look at Julian and you would know he was juiced up.
‘Why don’t you leave me alone?’
‘Because … you … are mine.’ Julian pushes aside stray strands of hair from his face all blazed. ‘I would rather die before I see you leave me.’
Nancy runs back around the settee. They eye each other like mismatched wrestlers in a ring of their making.
‘The more you keep this going, the more you are going to piss me off, clear?’
‘I’ve had enough… of you! Enough!’
‘No you don’t.’ Julian cocks his head to one side to stress the point.
They each take a portion of the settee from either side. Julian tries to shove it out of the way; Nancy clings on to it with all the might her four feet five inch frame can muster. She manages to keep it between them, only because Julian doesn’t seem so much into it. She knows her strength can’t last against his.
‘Ha ha,’ Julian chuckles, ‘you think you can keep this going?’ He cocks his head to one side, ‘Let’s see.’
He jumps to the right whirls around and shoves a heel in a kick at the top end of the settee tipping it over, away from him. For Nancy this happens so fast that she can’t run around to the side of the tumbling settee for fear of getting trapped under it. She lurches back frightened scrambling for the side board. Julian manages a grab at her dress and jerks her backwards, towards him.
Nancy twists around, a beer bottle in her hand. She has managed somehow to get hold of its neck and brings it down upon Julian’s head.
The bottle bursts under pressure upon contact. The beer and shards of glass spray in every direction. The effect and explosion is scary knocking Julian backwards. Nancy scuttles to the far side of the bed-sitter more alarmed than she had been before. Julian sinks to the ground in a heap and does not move at all.


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


You need wings for flight.
I was kicking stones along SW 6th street in Arcadia feeling a bit low. What ever it was for, I couldn’t lay a hand upon. Folks rode by in their automobiles about there businesses. Most didn’t stop, a few just to say they weren’t going far just around the bend to the next home. My grandma used to say, when you want something that is when you don’t get it. When you don’t need it that is when you find it.
An old lady carrying a basket full of fruit had suggested the bus stop for me. Said it would be faster and less tiresome.
I had said I would.
‘You running away from home?’ she had looked at me weird.
‘No.’ I frowned at the accusation.
‘Mh,’ she nodded and moved on. But there must have been something not convincing about my reply because she kept looking back at me.


I decided to while away the time while legging it. Either side of SW 6th street were orange groves. It wasn’t orange season and the trees were a deep green. The tiny white flowery buds were attracting the bees. Farm hands moved from tree to tree spraying the trees against the pests. The air was tainted in that muskiness of the drug.


I went passed Boulders Care takers Citrus farm veering off 6th on 72nd heading North east.


*****


Nancy sinks to the floor. The strength seeped away from her legs. The pounding in her chest was enormous it shook her entire frame. She knelt down and started to weep. From time to time she looked up to see if Julian had moved. nothing.
Getting groggily from her position on the floor, she steps towards the window, in the process taking a shard of glass in the foot. She pried it loose and gingerly made her way to the nearest settee near the window.
Pulling the curtain aside a bit, she peered thought the crack at the darkness. The crickets continued their chirping. A dog barked far off. A car drove by along the road beyond the trees. A light is turned off in the house across the street.
Nancy whirls around in fright thinking she’d heard Julian stirring, instead a lamp shed tumbles over and rolls on the floor coming to rest at her feet.
Her foot is bleeding. The blood has formed a pool where the lampshade is now lying. Nancy walks to the next room and rummages through the drawer for the first aid box. Out of the bottom drawer she drags it out and sits on the floor. With the gauze she makes a tourniquet to stem the flow having wiped it with a iodine. She quickly wraps a bandage around her leg, stuffs the foot into a sneaker. She uses a broomstick to coax the other from under the bed.


Folding the six in spring mattress upon itself, she reaches up and lifts aside a ceiling tile. She slides down a duffel bag dumping it on the bed. It is weighted. She rips back the zipper to reveal a stack of cash in used notes. She turns around to listen. She dashes to the door to make sure Julian hasn’t move. He certainly hasn’t.
The pounding in her heart starts to rise again. She runs to the wardrobe, snatches clothes off hangers and stuffs them into another bag. Her jewelry she overturns into a smaller bag. Grabbing a hair band, she quickly goes before a mirror, tosses her hair back and secures it in a pony tail.  She wipes the streaks of tears with the back of her hand before grabbing the bags and limping towards the door. A gun tumbles from the open ceiling, bouncing off the mattress onto the floor. It’s a browning 9mm handgun. Nancy turns around and looks at it. She doesn’t like the look of it and the thought of carrying along does not cross her mind. Good thing it wasn’t in the bag.


At the front door, Nancy gives one last look. One she hopes will be the last one at the man who had dominated her life and tried to ruin it. It had started with love, it had ended with this.
Julian lies immobile as Nancy shoulders her way through the door and lugs the bags to the ford mustang parked out front. To her, by the time the police find the body, she will be millions of miles away, north ward bound.


Tossing the bags in the back seat, she put the one with the money between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat. She wanted it out of site. Cranking the engine, for a moment she feared it would bring Julian scuttling out of the house. The engine came to life at the first spin of the motor. In her nervousness, Nancy guns it a coupling of times above the normal rpms. She leans to watch the front door through the side mirror and she manhandles the handbrake.
She pulls to the edge of the road away from the house, here she stops confused, looking to the left or right, undecided.
*****************


In the house across the street from where Julian and Nancy lived, a curtain is parted a crack. The occupant watches as the driver of the mustang switches on the headlights and hugs the left, driving away into the night.


‘Somebody just left the house across.’ The man whispers.
‘Did you see who it was?’ the wife asks leaning on an elbow.
‘No. It could be her or her deranged boyfriend,’ the man drops the curtain and moves back to the bed. ‘The light has been left on, though.’
‘That kid won’t listen,’ the wife replies. ‘That boy is going to be the death of her.’
‘I wonder when she going to get sensible,’ the man raises the covers and tucks himself back into bed.
‘She is too big headed to listen, just like him.’
‘The kids of these days.’
The couple lies there in the darkness, listening to each other’s breathing. Sleep is elusive.’


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


The Stirrings of the Devil.
Julian lets out a moan, almost a whimper. His breathing is laboured, short gasps that get stronger as he surfaces from the dark zones the beer bottle had sent him to. He lets out a cough that kicks him over onto his side. He pulls himself up into a foetal possition and lies there a while.
When he opens his eyes, its with a start. They are instantly as alert and bright as a centre light that has come on mysteriously by itself. His ears like feelers start taking in the environments,testing and deciphering each sound. the memory of the bottle coming down upon his head release the valves for adrenaline to leak into his blood. Under the influence of the drugs, Julian is a robot powering to life after a recharge in the power sockets.
Its not not long before he feels safe enough to roll over. The shards of glass strewn all over the floor are a discomfort.
Carefully he sits up, lifting a hand to feel the lump on his head. The blood is a brownish smudge its a miracle he didn't bleed to death.
He looks around taking in the environs; the front door left ajar, the bedroom door wide open, the lights are still on. Putting a hand behind him, he attempts to rise up exerting undue pressure on a shard of glass the buries itself deep into his palm. He curses aloud as he pulls the bits out of his flesh. Wiping the bleeding hand upon his side, he rises carefully keeping his hands on locations his body had covered as the glass fractured.



Julian throws open the front door and curses some more. The Ford Mustang is gone. He whirls around hands spread across the door like Nancy was suddenly behind him. He lurches for the bedroom a string of obscenities preceding him. A quick look around and his eyes lock on the gaping hole about the bed.
"You knew about it right?" Julian jumps on the bed and peers into the ceiling. "She knew about the stash all this time?" He yells in a rage stomping around the mattresse. The gun on the floor catches his attention. He gets off the bed and picks up the gun, tossing his hair back with flick of a hand. He ejects the clip and examins it. It is empty, just hte way he'd left it. Comfused by the presence of the gun, he jumps on the bed, bends the spring mattresse upon itself and pats around the dark ceiling. The box of cartridges is there and it comes tumbling down spewing its contents all over. Two clips and seven spare bullets.


He grabs the clips off the floor, at the window, he inserts one into the butt pulls back the loading mechanism and snaps the safety shut. He doesn't have time to look for all the seven bullets. He manages to locate five and burts out of the house, fuming.
"This is one day you are going to live to regret, Nancy," He mutters. "One day."


The street is silent. Dogs yak from some back yard. Cats hiss and spit from across. An owl hoots from the trees but the street is silent. The street is empty. Backpedling from the road, Julian tucks the gun into his belt turns and runs around to the back of the house.


*****


From the darkened room, the racket of panpipes rend te air. They are hardly muffled in the still night air.
"Oh, not again,' the old man kicks the covers and swings his legs off the bed.
"Will you stop making that kid bother you," his wife snatches his arm.
"That kid is a neighbourhood menace," the oldman turns to peer at his wife in the dark.
"I believe we would be askin' a lot of trouble if we got involved."
"some trouble," the old man coughs and snatches back the blinds.
"You want him to know you are up peering at him?"
"No way, he's hardly going to notice anything," the old man waves off her off.
Julian is astride a Hummer a crash helmet sitting smug upon his head. Like Nancy, he gazes up and down the abandoned street before taking the left. He takes it with a tight pull on the throttle hands held high on the raised handle bars like he has the whole world for a footstool.
"First the girl, now him," the old man sits back and grabs a wrist watch of the bedside table. "And it is three in the morning."
"which direction did he take?" His wife asks.
"Same direction as the girl. I need a leak."
The old man shuffles to the bathroom.
"Better watch the step."
"Hey, my eyes are still as bright as the morning."


**********


I should have turned back long before the hour of 4 pm if I had had any sense. My pride held me resolute and it would have been a shame for me to shuffle back into Marcos Auto shop. Thats what I thought anyway. My courage was ebbing and it wasn't at the same level as when I set out in the morning.
Dejected and head bowed, I stuck up a thumb at the sound of the approaching vehicle without turning. It was a wonder wehn the Ford Mustang came to a stop a few yards past me, the engine reving. Clutching at teh shoulder straps of the backpack, I run forward the pack bouncing upon my back.


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