Candy and Cigarettes By CS DeWildt In the face of revenge, innocence is meaningless. Death is omnipresent to small-town loner Lloyd Bizbang. Today proves no exception. After being attacked yet again by a pair of sociopaths who have targeted him since childhood, Lloyd stumbles upon a sight he wishes he could unsee in the town junkyard. Now as he just tries to live through another day, the bodies are stacking up in the town of Horton, and Lloyd finds himself connected to each of them via the drug-and-drink-addled, unhinging police chief, yet another person who has an old score to settle with Lloyd. A game of revenge and survival is underway, but will there be a winner at the dayâ€™s end?
Chapter 1 His cadence was truth as he walked backward into the wind, his right thumb stuck out for a ride. It was the last night of the Horton Fair, and the fair signaled the end of summer more than a calendar or even the planet’s position in space relative to the sun. He didn’t take much notice of the clouds or rain threat as he walked the grass and gravel shoulder of the highway. The summer-bleached grasses beyond the pavement and rocky earth bowed in the wind. His feet continued to kick dust, and he leaned back into the wind. He let it hold him, but he would not bend to it, though the wind tried. Instead, it cushioned him before splitting into separate paths around him, meeting again beyond the obstacle. To the wind, he was no different than an ancient hardwood tree with deep-sunk roots and thick canopy. The wind, for now, conceded to form and function, but the wind knew of eternity, knew the power hidden away in time and in lifetimes. It knew of wars and battles, that each was not the same and never were they to be confused. A dot appeared in the distance, giving premonition, growing. “They’ll stop,” it said. Thirty yards ahead, the ’83 Hurst/Olds grumbled over the gravel shoulder. He jogged to the car, reached it, puffing. The vehicle was silver, trimmed with black, and the Ttops were open despite the falling temperature of the day. The V8 shook the dirt beneath it, raising a plume of dust that pillowed rich brown before diffusing into the gray backdrop of everything else. He wiped clear snot with the back of his hand as he saw the passenger, then the driver. Their smiles rose as Lloyd Bizbang’s fell. “Jesus,” Lloyd said. Cutter was the family name. Sun-browned Terry was driving with dirty blonde, scar-cheeked Zeke sitting shotgun. Lloyd should have taken notice of the car. He may have just as well chased a pair of vipers down for a ride. “Fuck you, Bizbang! Fucking baby killing faggot!”
Lloyd watched Zeke raise the piece, and the shots began to pop before he could thaw. He felt the burning hornet stings all over his torso, then a shot in the face that caved his nose. He felt the warm spray in his eyes, and he dropped, hands to face, blinded. Cackling laughter and a dozen more shots found Lloyd as he rolled and curled on the side of the road like a piece of frying bacon. The tires spun in the gravel, spraying Lloyd with the rocks and dirt. Dust clung to his wet face. Lloyd laid in the silence in his place on the edge of the highway, on the county side of the birdshotpocked city limits sign. The silence was the death of the town. All within would perish, eventually. The able-bodied and mobile had already fled. A few survivors continued to do so. The unskilled tried to maintain a semblance of the life they knew before the town busted. Lloyd killed that silence as he began to think that maybe he wasn’t going to die just yet. He touched his face and found it all there. His nose hurt and didn’t seem to be the right shape, but he rubbed his eyes and found he could see again. The shirt was splattered pink and blue. Lloyd felt his torso. He was whole, not porous. He heard the rumble as the same shining point in the distance appeared again, now from the opposite direction. Lloyd pulled himself to his feet quickly and started walking. He hugged his throbbing trunk and stumbled down the slope from the road, knocking the dry brush away and collecting tag-along thistles with each step. He scrambled up and over a narrow slope, atop of which the east/west train track ran more or less parallel with State Road 45. Lloyd skirted the highway side of the tracks, walking below the peak of the opposite slope, hidden by the mound. The rumbling engine peaked and then sustained and then slowed. The subtle undertones of the motor, pistons and fan blades, belts, all could be teased apart from the steady, airy, orange explosion of combustion. “Bizbang? Where you at?” Zeke called out in his watered-down, Yankeefied drawl.
“C’mon buddy. We’re just playing around!” The cackling returned and left quickly underneath the growling motor and its vector. Lloyd followed the bed of Rush Creek away from the road. The creek was mostly dry, save for a few deep puddles that had survived the summer. Lloyd didn’t hear the frogs. Too harsh a season? Too dry? Maybe just too cold. The foliage was thick with a spring promise that had been broken and browned by the reality of summer drought. Dead seed heads and densely spiked burrs sprung out of the dry dirt like sepia fireworks explosions, but the dull tones of the hearty survivors were only pale imitations of the vibrant hues of the past, a second-rate offering to be spat upon. Lloyd’s nose throbbed, dripped blood. He wiped a gray flannel sleeve under the spigot of his nostrils and explored his tender beak with tentative fingers. He poked at his nose to see how sensitive it was. Very. He examined the dusted blood on his fingertips and moved on. As the crow flies, Lloyd could be home in an hour. He labored over fences and waded through the high corn in a kind of vertical breaststroke, the top of the irrigated corn stalks blowing green above and giving him the look of flea on scalp. Crows launched themselves from hiding ahead of him, and Lloyd wondered if he might meet a scarecrow. He never had and wondered if he ever would. He was often in field cover of Horton, avoiding, hiding. Today, flannelled and bleeding. Lloyd reached the dump, the relic, crossing the open field with the poised ears and eyes of a piece of game. He scavenged in the pits and piles of junk. The county took over the trash pick-up years ago, and the chemically unstable had long ago vanished. What remained in the dump were your slow decayers: your automobile halves and discarded appliances and beaten men who just would not return to the earth. Old, rusted farm equipment was scattered, half buried, sometimes burying, completing a jigsaw-quality bucolic tableaux. The wood handles of the old hand plow were pitted and starting to
rot. Lloyd ran a hand over the weathered handle as he scanned the piles. He felt safe among the junk, hidden; though had it been dark, the area would have been avoided. High school kids and adults who wished high school hadn’t ended, the Cutters for instance, used the junkyard for bonfire parties. Lloyd didn’t fret a few hungover kids, should there be any, but when the alcohol flowed and the fire roared, his presence could only end in frenzy, the toll of living infamy. Lloyd grabbed the splintering window frame. One pane of four remained, and Lloyd tilted the glass in front of his face, in search of himself. He saw his mug, bare and beaten. The glass reflected the pinks and blues covering his face from mouth to hairline with subtle gray clarity. His crooked nose was caked with paint and blood and dirt. Lloyd’s reflection touched the nose again. The glass fell to the ground and cracked, complimenting the sound of Lloyd’s nose as he forced it straight. Warm blood flowed, pushed passed a long, wormlike clot that dangled from a nostril. He poked at his nose, still painful, swollen, unsure but straight on his face. Lloyd took in the cold air. He yanked the rusted metal handle, unlocking and opening the old, fallen icebox, hoping for an alcohol stash. He stared inside for a long time. He closed the refrigerator again and tried to wipe away stained knowledge. Lloyd fled the dump, through the field and into the wooded edge beyond. He picked up the creek again and continued following. He tried again to forget what he’d seen. The pink and blue furred opossum, dead and freezing in the fields, went unnoticed by him.
About the Author CS DeWildt lives and writes in Tucson, Arizona. He is currently working on a novel and a collection of shorts. His work has been showcased on sites like Bartleby Snopes, Word Riot, The Bicycle Review, Writerâ€™s Bloc and Mobius Magazine.
Death is omnipresent to small-town loner Lloyd Bizbang. Today proves no exception. After being attacked yet again by a pair of sociopaths wh...