Friday, February 20, 2009

Kentuckytown

By Bub

Jeff Jackley looked up at the stars and the moon and he thought they looked pretty cool. They made him feel large enough to grasp Something even though he wasn’t. He was hangin’ out at the Park with his buds like he did every weekend night. The more he thought about it though, the more he came to realize that it was one of the most awesome sights he had seen since the first time he saw a girl without underwear. Then he began to feel guilty for feeling this way. You weren’t supposed to feel that way about stuff like this. Or at least Ryder Stronge never did. And he was the toughest son-of-a-bitch Jeff knew. Ryder was the kind of guy that would stand there all quiet when a fight would break out and just watch things, and wait, like he knew something nobody else knew, and when a few guys had gotten their asses kicked and it was just the ass-kickers left standing, Ryder would jump in and kick the asses of the ass-kickers. Now that was awesome. That’s how Ryder told it anyway. And Jeff knew that’s what he was supposed to think. But he couldn’t help but feel the possibilities under all those stars and how big life felt under the un-light-polluted sky of Kentuckytown.

“Stupid stoner fucks!” Jeff heard somebody yell from a car as he was hit in the chest with a milkshake.

“I’ll fucking kill you, motherfuckers! I’ll cut off your heads and shove my dick down your fucking esophaguses!” Ryder screamed as he strongly but cautiously paced into the road behind the car with both arms and middle fingers extended.

“Faggot…” could faintly be heard before gravel being consumed by tires drowned out any other sound coming from the fleeing car.

“Dude!” Harris Beaver exclaimed gleefully, “You got milkshake all over you!”

“Shut the fuck up, Beav-Dick” Ryder admonished.

“Fuck.” Jeff said to himself, unbuttoning and removing the blue and black vest he had made by cutting the sleeves and collar off of an old flannel shirt, revealing a Pantera t-shirt with a skull inhabited by a snake on the front and the words ‘Great Southern Trendkill’ emblazoned across the bottom.

“Those fuckers have had it,” Ryder commanded, “we will suffer those pricks no longer,” he added unnaturally.

“Forget about it man, those guys are just assholes. Lyle Meade’s dad’s a cop, and Rick Rutherford’s dad owns a huge farm and they would just fuck us over if we ever did anything. Let them live out their miserable existence, fucking with people they consider smaller than them because they didn’t grow up with a swimming pool in their yard, or they didn’t have a dad that coached football, or whatever, in order to feel good about what fuck ups they are in their parents’ eyes” Jeff insisted, surprised at himself.

“What the fuck is this Oprah or some shit? Those fuckers just sail through life because of who their families are and fuck with people like us whose families’ aint shit. That’s why we need to fuck their shit up!” Ryder yelled in the direction of the milkshake thrower, now long gone.

“Well, what’re we supposed to do about it?”

Ryder ignored Jeff’s question and grinned at Harris, Harris noticed and tried to think of something to say.

“Those fuckers throw milkshakes, and their dad is a cop, and they got swimming pools and shit!” Harris recapitulated as if they were all his observations.

“Well, let’s fuckin’ do something about it Harris.” Ryder said through his grin.

Harris’ grandfather owned a large gun collection. This is what Ryder was getting at, though Harris had no idea, and Jeff only vaguely followed. Ryder thought it would be a good idea to steal the guns. He hadn’t thought any further than that, but rather thought that once the guns were in their hands something would just feel right. Harris thought this was a great idea. Jeff protested at first. Ryder assured them they wouldn’t shoot anybody, and that they would just ‘fuck some shit up’. That won Jeff over as well. Usually it would not have swayed him, but he still had the hope of the moon and stars in him and thought that the universe would forgive whatever sin he was about to commit in the name of Living. They stole the guns - all semi-automatic rifles, guns that should never be in the hands of teenagers. They drove into the country in Harris’ Econoline van. They rounded the curve at Old Grange Road and turned at Highway 865. They passed the old Church of God with the demonic red light emanating from behind the stained glass window. They slowed down to let deer cross in front of them. Finally they were in front of Rutherford’s Farm, almost by accident. But, it was clear something had to be done, and it had to be done here. The three piled out of the van. Ryder handed an assault rifle to Harris and said, “Alright, now shoot them cows.”

Harris had cow-tipped before, in fact he had done so at Ryder’s insistence, but he was reluctant to actually execute a living cow. Ryder reminded him that he was not a pussy, or at least he thought he wasn’t and that was enough to goad Harris into action.

The shots were surprisingly quiet. They weren’t actually quiet, but quieter than you’d think they’d be. The ‘thud, thud’ sound they’d made when entering the bovine flesh was like the noise of a billiard ball being thrown into a bean bag chair amplified with the mournful ‘moo’s’ of cows whose lives were flashing before their eyes. Ryder chuckled giddily as Harris let out his pent up frustration. He must have killed at least ten of old Rutherford’s cows by the time it was over. Jeff cringed, but felt like he was taking part in something momentous.

The whole thing lasted only about forty-five seconds. Still, that was long enough for old Mr. Rutherford to wake, understand what was happening and call the police. He described the van to the police, and they knew just who he was talking about.

The cops pulled into the Hardee’s parking lot around 1:40 a.m. Jeff, Ryder and Harris were all inside the van taking stock of the guns and their actions that night. There must have been at least five squad cars with their sirens blowing. They surrounded the van. Inside the van panic took over.

“Fuck man, Five-Oh Man! Everybody get down!” Ryder instructed, Jeff obliged. Harris was frozen. These were his family’s guns, stolen, and it was him that killed all those cows – all those cows. He was going to be in trouble. Big Trouble.

“I aint going down for murder! I wont!” Harris growled with a certainty Jeff and Ryder had never heard from him. He then pointed an assault rifle to his temple and fired.

It must’ve spooked the cops because they returned fire, for about a minute straight. Luckily, Jeff and Ryder were already on the floor-board taking cover and they survived with only minor wounds. Harris on the other hand died, but due to the over-enthusiastic police response it could not conclusively be ruled a suicide. This helped Jeff and Ryan earn a lesser sentence. All they got was a felony trespassing charge each which got them 360 days in the county jail. Any longer sentence and they would’ve been shipped down state to Statesville and been out in three months under prison good-behavior guidelines. But in the county jail they can keep you as long as they want, up to a year. And they did. They served their year in different cell-blocks and had little more communication than passing glances when Jeff was on his way to the kitchen as a trustee to help prepare the jail meal.

When they got out a year later Jeff got a job working in his uncle’s garage. He was going to offer Ryder a job there too once he got ahold of him. Finally, he ran into him at The Corner Tap. Ryder was already drunk.

“Heyyyy! FFucker! You’re the motherfucker that got me behind bars for a year. Fucking getting milkshake all over you and shit, how you been man?”

“I’ve been alright, you know, working at my uncle’s garage, we’re detailing an El Camino with Harris’ face on it man, with his ‘years lived’ dates on it and shit, it’s gonna be awesome, you’d really like it.”

“Fucking Harris, what an IDIOT, neither one of us would’ve been in the Can if that dumb fuck hadn’t been around. Thank God they don’t let retards into heaven.”

“You don’t mean that? I mean, you’re the one that asked Harris to shoot the cows in the first place. You’re the one who thought we should steal his grandpa’s guns. You’re the fucking one that thought it was necessary to seek revenge over a fucking milkshake on a flannel vest!” Jeff was uncharacteristically agitated and he seemed as big as the stars.

“Aw man, I just meant that I plan on riding a motorized grey stallion down to the gates of Hell to meet old Beaver and we’ll be rockin’ and raping with Dimebag Darrel for eternity.”

Ryder seemed as small to Jeff as Lyle or Rick had ever seemed. In this moment Jeff thought of his friend Harris, his innocence, and decided not to offer Ryder the job.

“Ok, cool man. Well, it was nice seeing you.” Jeff said.

“Rright, Buuudddy, Takkare!”

Jeff stepped outside The Corner, looked up and thought that the sky was even bigger than he remembered.


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