By Mattew J. McBride
Fancy walked Horace West deep into the snow covered woods with a shotgun pushed hard into the middle his back.
It was the winter of 1938 and the air was dry and thin. The country was pulling out of the most severe depression the western world had ever known. Hard times, when hard men were made and worlds collided.
Everyone still alive was desperate to survive. Families were committing suicide, men were off to War. There was no law in the backwoods. Only the law of man, in a time when organized crime took its first breathes of life.
Hard times, and harder men. A time when guys like Fancy drove across two state lines just to shoot a man in the back.
Horace began to beg.
“Please Fancy, don't shoot me.” Fancy's eyes were cold. He thought about baseball.
“Don't do it!” Horace screamed. His face wrinkled, eyes scrunched together. Streams of water ran over his cheeks and froze before they hit the ground.
“Faaancy,” he screamed.
When Horace stopped walking, Fancy drove the shotgun deeper into his spine. The breeze came on strong and Fancy grabbed his hat with his left hand. The wind picked up his tie.
Horace couldn't stop screaming. He turned to negotiate with Fancy, pleaded with his eyes.
Fancy cocked his head to one side. He didn't wanna lose his hat and he needed two hands to fire the 10 gauge. The only thing keeping Horace West alive was this stiff breeze.
Horace whispered, “Please, don't do it Fancy.” But he couldn't talk his way outta this.
Fancy felt the wind die down. He took his hand off his hat.
“Mister, I wouldn't do that if I’s you,” came a voice from behind them with a thick Irish accent.
Horace screamed for help, but Fancy never lowered the shotgun.
“Drop that fuckin’ gun, you big motherfucker,” the Irishman said.
His hair was a red mess of loose curls, his skin paper thin and tight. He was covered with scars and freckles.
Horace stepped away from the shotgun barrel, but the barrel followed him like a shadow.
The Irishman broke an ax handle across the back Fancy’s head; he went down to his knees in the snow. He finished him off with a chunk of ax handle. Struck him a few more times ‘til Fancy stopped moving.
They bound his hands with cheap rope.
Horace was frozen in fear at the group who stood before them. Two women and a man, the dirtiest people he'd ever seen. They were thin, gaunt savages. Crazy with the hunger.
“Kill 'em Daddy,” the dirty one said. She had dried snot on her face, a tooth that jutted out of her mouth at an angle. She licked her filthy lips.
“No...” Horace started backing up. He protested, waved his hands in front of him.
“You got the wrong...”
The man she called Daddy pulled the trigger on Fancy's shotgun and blew Horace in half. Daddy ended up on his back, his head found hard earth. The sound echoed through the empty woods and ice exploded off the trees, rained down like shards as glass.
“Goddamn that motherfuckers got some jump.” Daddy said.
“Aw, you done blowed 'em in half, you fuck,” said one of the bitches.
“Well, whud y'all expect with this here elephant gun?”
The women were on top of Horace West before the blood cooled. The youngest was chewing pink muscle from behind his ribcage. Peeling the fresh stringy meat from the bone with her teeth.
“Watch for them lead pellets,” Mama warned ‘er. Blood ran down her chin and mixed with the grime around her neck.
“Hey Goddammit, I done all the work you whores.”
He dropped the 10 gauge on the ground, pulled a bone handle knife from its sheath and sang, “Oh, Lord, we eatin' good tonight!”
He hurried to join the whores with a spring in his step.
Fancy woke up when the shotgun went off. He couldn't see, had blood in his eyes. He kept still, figured if they’s gonna kill him they'd already done it.
He looked up as the crazed Irishmen bent over, cut out a slab of meat from Horace West's thigh. The Irishmen was painfully thin. His skin stretched tight across muscle and bone. Even in the raw, penetrating coldness he wore no coat.
Fancy started moving his wrists. He went to town on that rope.
The clan sounded like animals, feasting on the flesh of a man who raped a little girl. They never heard Fancy approach them until it was too late. The skeleton man looked up, wide-eyed. The hinge on his jaw seemed broke, like the weight of his teeth was too great to bear. It fell open, exposing raw meat that hung from his lip.
Fancy raised the barrel to his bony chest, said, “Killing him was my job.”
He squeezed the trigger for the remaining barrel and the Irishman disappeared in a burst of fire and blood that knocked Daddy out of his boots.
Both women screamed, what was left of the body kicked around, his bare heel plowing crushed ice. The women seemed disoriented, but content. Now there was plenty of food.
Benny Tulips sat behind the wheel of the Mercury and watched snow float down from the sky. When he heard the first shotgun blast he assumed it was business. He heard the second shotgun blast about the time he saw a flat bed truck round the corner behind him. There were several men in back; one of them had a rifle.
Benny stayed where he was, he kept the gun close.
The flatbed pulled along side the Mercury and the guy in the passenger seat asked Benny how he was doing.
Benny said he was fine.
“You aint from round here is ya?” One of ‘em asked.
The kid holding the rifle didn't say much. Just stood there looking simple with his dirty face and scrawny neck.
“That's a real nice car, Mister.”
Benny said he knew it was. Told him that's why he bought it.
“You’s got a smart mouth on ya, boy. Specially for a guy ain’t from round here.”
Benny grinned and shook his head. He was movie star handsome and he knew it. His teeth were clean and strait, his jaw firm in it's structure. He had six bullets, there were five guys. Benny felt confident he could shoot them all from behind the wheel. He'd start with the boy holding the rifle.
The guys talked among themselves and contemplated their next move with caution.
“You ought’n be jus sit’n there boy? Got anybody with you?”
“Yeah,” Benny told them. “My partner just took a guy out in the woods and murdered him. When he comes back, we're gonna murder you boys too.”
There was a gasp, a few started laughing.
“Go head and laugh.” Benny raised the gun, pointed it at the simple looking kid with the rifle. Told the old man behind the wheel to put that son-of-a-bitch in gear or he'd shoot the dumb kid right in the dick.
The old man behind the wheel grinded gears as the truck lurched forward.
“That's what I thought,” Benny said.
Fancy walked out of the woods with the shotgun over his shoulder, he was covered in blood and two men were dead. He didn’t kill the whores because it was Christmas.
Matthew J. McBride lives on a farm & he writes with a shotgun within reach. He has a bull named Hemingway.