Issue 2, Summer 2007
Psycho Redneck Pick-Up Truck Killing Spree
by Anthony Neil Smith
Monica can rot in hell.
She can go fuck herself.
She can kiss my ass.
Her and Jorge both. Just kiss my motherfucking sweaty ass.
All this rolling through my mind as I’m burning rubber on the curb outside Monica’s duplex, spinning wheels to make my point and then shooting off like fireworks towards the interstate so I can head west out of Sioux Falls and drink at every bar through to the Badlands on my way to Mount Rushmore. I’m going to jump off Teddy Roosevelt’s head and shout “Fuck you Monica Davies!” all the way down.
I’ve got Gretchen Wilson playing way too loud, shredding my factory speakers. Got them angry man tears streaming down my cheeks while I pound the steering wheel and yell out fucking bitch fucking whore fucking bitch. I’d just come over to apologize for the fight the night before, and there I find Monica and Jorge in the kitchen eating strawberries. Off each other. Naked. I rant and rave. I plead. I tell her I love her and I think she’s the one, so how could she?
What’s this bitch do? All hundred-and-sixty pounds of dyed-red-hair and too-much-rouge love-of-my-everlovin’-life?
She’s flat as cardboard emotionally. She’s stone cold. Like, like, like, I ain’t meant a thing to her.
When I’m done giving her my best eye to eye meaningful look, she laughs. Laughs hard. Says, “That’s a good act. You must’ve watched some Tom Cruise last night.”
“I came to say I’m sorry.”
“There’s no sorry. We’re through. I’m not going to put up with some man telling me I can’t do what I want, can’t go out when I want. You don’t want to go dancing, that’s fine, but I’m sure as hell going to.” She can’t even take her hands off Jorge while talking to me, rubbing his thigh, all sticky with strawberry juice.
Jorge, my friend since junior high who had even taught me some Spanish and let me come along with his family on a trip to Mexico City, where we bonded like brothers. Jorge (It’s “George” here. Don’t call him “Whore Hey”) can’t even look at me. He knows he’s wrong and shit. He knows this ain’t right.
But they’re back there in town and I’m on my way to a burn out that’ll make the national news, at least for a little while.
When I hit the first beast, I’m thinking it’s just another part of my shitty-ass day. I’m drunk, too, having slammed tequila shots and honey weisses at a chain-store bar-and-grill off an interstate exit, where I fed dollars into the digital jukebox—tired of Gretchen, turning to Motley Crue for support.
Monica hated Crue. Or maybe I did. I forgot which one of us hated that Tommy Lee fucker.
I sang along to “Too Young to Fall in Love” until the bartender asked me to stop. I flipped her off hard, man, the one where your fist is all shaky. Then I made it to my truck and laughed and sang more but I only knew the chorus. Back on the interstate, westward ho.
Then I hit a goddamn bear. No, not a bear. It’s big, though. I think it might have fucked up a tire, this blur darting out of the fields and thumping my truck. I swerve over the line, back again, making for the shoulder because even if things were okay, I don’t need to grab the attention of the State Troopers while blotto and suicidal. All jail will do is calm me down. What the hell good is that?
So I pull off the shoulder and wait for a semi to pass before I get out and check, having to cover my mouth and nose with my shirt because of the dust kicked up by road crew in the opposite lanes, filling cracks and potholes with gravel. The tires are fine. Bumper is plastic, so it’s good. The headlight cover has a crack in it, but I don’t know if that’s from the bear-creature or not.
What was that, anyway? I walk back to check, see the blood trail leading to a giant furry thing, golden brown all over. Split open at the belly and making an awful whine. Shit, it’s a dog. A good dog, too. Like a hunting dog, looks like my uncle’s. A retriever, maybe. Poor goddamn thing.
I won’t think he’s poor til later, though. Right now, I yell at it, “Can’t you keep of the fucking road? You think we’re made of air, all these things whizzing by? You can’t figure out the basics here?”
And I kick him. Blame the booze. I kick him hard, but the whine’s gone. He’s gone. I’m a dog killer and it feels bad for a minute before it starts to feel good. I picture Monica on the ground there, only a little less furry, with her flab ripped out, looking at me with "Oh, if only I’d stayed faithful" eyes.
“Go on,” I say and I nod like a gangsta. “That’s right. You know it.”
Strut back to the cab of the truck and get in, crank up, still on track. The dog isn’t enough revenge. It only makes me feel better. It’s Monica that should feel something, and it ain’t good.
Right as I’m starting to pull back into onto the highway, something else hits the truck. Can’t be me hitting it cause I’m barely off the brakes. Big, heavy, orange, bouncing off the driver’s window. I think it’s a flying pumpkin at first. Turn left, look down. A traffic cone. Right behind that are the two road crew guys jogging over quickly, not happy looking. It doesn’t concern me at first—don’t all road crew workers look miserable?
The one looks like a drill sergeant pounds on my window, smudging it up. His partner crosses his arms, thin guy with a mustache heavier than his whole face.
I roll down the window. What else can I do? “Help you gentlemen with something?”
“That your dog?”
“Not mine. Just ran out of the trees. Nothing I could do.”
“Well, he’s got to be somebody’s dog. Hey, Mick, go check his collar.”
Mick’s the one with the ‘stache. He lopes over, kneels down, shakes his head. “Nothing.”
I start to roll my window back up. “Like I said—”
The tough guy curls his fingers over the top of the glass. It stops rising. I hit the button a couple more times. Nothing.
The tough guy says, “Listen, you think it’s someone else’s problem, but it ain’t. It’s a helluva a lot of other peoples’ problem when you leave him here to stink up the air and have his blood and guts smeared all over the concrete.”
“I didn’t hit him on purpose.”
“I didn’t question your motives, boy. I’m talking about your response. Shows what sort of man you are. Right, Mick?”
Mick nods. “Telling. Yes it is.”
I think about throwing it into drive and zooming. They’re cooling my heat, and that ain’t cool. I want to get to the monument when it’s daylight so there’ll be good footage.
“I’m really running late.”
The tough guy reaches across me and switches the engine off. Takes my keys. That’s when I start fearing a beating, torture, rape. This beefy son of a bitch has too much twinkle in his eye. I can’t take on both these guys. I feel like I’m going to wet myself.
“Give me my keys.”
“Soon as you do the right thing. There’s nothing in the bed of this truck except some soda cans and rum bottles. I’ll need you to take him with you, give him a proper burial on down the road.”
I don’t move for a half-a-minute, listening to cars zipping and roaring past, feeling the drafts. “You’re serious?”
He opens my door. “Hop to it.”
So I do. Lift up the bleeding, sticky, dead dog while these guys stand there and watch. I’ll give them this—they don’t crack a smile. Serious to the hilt.
I lay the dog’s corpse in the bed and look down to see blood striping my shirt, bits of fur sticking to the wet.
“There. Done. My keys?”
The tough one dangles them over my palm, pulling them back when I reach. “Now, what did we say you’ll do with him?”
“I’ll bury him, no problem.”
“A nice burial. Say a prayer.”
“Yeah, I will.”
The tough one looks at Mick, who solemnly closes his eyes and nods, a grimy meth-addicted monk, it looks like. I give them all exasperation and eye-rolling while climbing in the cab, cranking, rolling out, and sneaking a peek in the rearview because I’m scared shitless of these fruits.
That’s when I hit the second one. Or when it hit me. A crow. Big ass crow smacks into the windshield hard enough to crack its neck even though I swear I haven’t got the damn thing up to twenty mph yet.
Another look back. Here come the Cavalry boys. The crow is spread out on my hood.
I jump out of the cab. “That doesn’t count! It was suicide.”
“In the bed.”
“Smacked right into me. A death wish!”
Another shared glance. Mick raising his fingers like the Pope, then shrugging. The tough guy pulls a hammer out of his work belt and swings it above his head and I think it’s coming down on me. Need to pee twice as bad.
Instead of on my skull, the hammer falls on the sideview mirror and takes it off just like that.
I grab the tough guy’s arm, fueled by instinct is all. “Hey! Fucking up my truck!”
“The bird.” He says it all quietly.
“I’m going to find out who you are and you’re going to pay—”
“The. Bird.” Only a little louder but much more meaningful. What a talent. Must’ve been in witness protection, a mob guy in his former life. It works.
I get the bird and fling it into the rear. Thud. Echo. Looks like Sarge wants to complain that I didn’t do it right, but he keeps his mouth shut. Without a word, I climb into the cab and take off, give those two some burning rubber and squealing—my second time today—before heading further west. It’ll be an even better story for the papers: SPECTACULAR SUICIDE AT MT. RUSHMORE—HIS TRUCK WAS A HEARSE FOR CRITTERS. I run with it in my head while getting up to speed, the radio spun to Sean Hannity, smug bastard. I don’t need to hear his words to get how wrong he is. My thoughts are on the gory National Enquirer shots, me in freefall (I’ll give the paparazzi time to get there. I’m not stupid), the crow and the dog in the bed, Monica’s puffy sad-eyed face. Then what? I hope she lives a long guilt-filled motherfucking life of whoring around, never able to replace what it was I gave her so well.
In the rearview, at a distance, the road crew duo is following me. That’s when my stomach cramps up and I choke back bile. Maybe it’s not me. They’re done with the day’s work and we’re all just happening to drive in the same direction.
Sure. That’s all it is.
Then my are my balls shriveling up?
Hannity shouts at a caller, “Don’t give me that liberal feel-good baloney!”
Here comes number three. I see him, the deer starting his sprint and time slows down and what the hell can anyone do except tap the brakes even though you’re supposed to speed up and deflect the fucker.
Hoping he’ll get past me first. Hoping we really are in slo-mo rather than this being a trick of the brain.
I can see individual tufts of fur. I can smell the gaminess. All the math adds up.
I’m hitting him.
At the last second, I punch the gas. The corner bangs his rear flank in midair and there’s a moment of relief when it looks like he’ll go swinging off to the left and be someone else’s problem. The next moment, his ass is heading for my windshield and I flinch, cover my eyes with my arms, hear the crunch and then there’s pinpricks on my face, and I can’t breathe—like a punch to the face with a boxing glove, like the old Mike Tyson, holding it there against my smushing nose and sucking mouth. My first airbag.
Foot on the brake! Foot on the brake hard! Hope I haven’t flipped over. Hope I haven’t crossed lanes and am about to be slammed by a semi.
When the bag deflates, there is a hole in the windshield, little pebbles of glass everywhere. The frame of the truck up near the oil change sticker looks like crumpled aluminum foil. Huge dent in the roof that the top of my head nearly touches. But the truck seems otherwise fine. I throw it into park and step out. I’m straddling the shoulder and the lane.
In the middle of the road, a dead deer. Big buck, nine points. His back end dark and wet and mangled.
I stare at the sky and ask, “Is this some sort of sign?”
It doesn’t answer. I wipe my face but my palm stings. I pull it away.
Streaks of blood and shiny slivers. I pick up the sideview from the floorboard—skin dotted with red, glittery green. At least my eyes were okay. Should heal up in a week.
Stretch my arms, my neck, and I don’t notice until just then that the road crew truck is about a hundred yards back, sitting on the shoulder, waiting. The two guys like stones. The headlights blink at me.
I point at the buck. “How the hell am I supposed to lift that into the truck?”
The headlights blink again.
Like they’re telling me I have to figure it out. Shit, maybe they are angels without me knowing. Or maybe I died when I hit the dog and this is the afterlife, my punishment for all eternity. Either way, I have to find a way to get this monster into the truck.
Pulling it by the antlers is hard enough, but I get it done. The traffic has died down to nothing, which is weird enough. If just one person would stop to help, maybe I’ll still make it to the mountain early enough. Why aren’t the road guys helping? Where’s the helpful trucker?
It takes me struggling with the tire jack to lift the rear of the deer even with the front, which I drape across the tailgate. When he’s more or less even, I strain every muscle in my body to push him aboard. I’ll never get the shit and piss smell off, the blood and guts of the deer mixing with the blood and fur of the dog and I’m becoming a vegan without even realizing or wanting to—retching at venison. It’s a sin.
He’s in. I slam the tailgate. I’ve got a zoo in the bed. I turn to my traveling companions. The lights blink twice. I don’t know Morse code, so fuck those guys. I climb in and start off again. The wind’s in my face. I put on shades. It’s too dark. I take them off. It takes a good ten, fifteen miles before I see actually traffic again—couple SUVs, station wagons, semis carrying foreign pick-ups to a dealer.
I’ve had enough Hannity and punch buttons until I get Big and Rich. They’re usually spot on, but I’m not in the mood for bawdy cowboys anymore.
The sun is slipping lower. I need to hurry.
Number four: a possum. Nasty. I scoop him up.
Number five: another crow.
Number six: baby mountain lion. Hey, I wasn’t trying to hit the thing.
Number seven: a bigger mountain lion. I think of it as the older brother.
Number eight: a panda. I shit you not.
The panda stops me cold. It’s lying there, breathing final breaths, and all I can wonder is Where in the fuck did you come from? And also What’s black and white and red all over? Either escaped from a zoo (in South Dakota?) or some rich guy’s illegal collection. But it’s a real goddamn panda. After a few tries on my own, I give up and shrug at the road crew truck, which blinks at me.
“I’m telling you it weighs a billion pounds. You do it! Come give it a shot!”
For the first time in many miles, they catch up. The tough one gets out to help, barely says anything. Mick the Zen Master stays in the truck, fingers steepled. The tough one is as strong as he looks, plus he’s got a reserve. I help him with the panda, but it feels like he’s shouldering most of the weight. Not even a grunt. He’s a robot. When we’re done, he slaps his palms together and climbs back into his driver’s seat. I shake my head at him and stand my ground for a few more minutes. It’s really gotten ridiculous, hasn’t it? No more of this. Time for a confrontation.
Before I can say the words, these guys rev the engine, shoot forward and stop an inch from my chest. They blink the lights four times.
Lousy timing on my part. Besides, I justify it by thinking I’ll be dead soon anyway. Then it’ll be these two cleaning up my body.
Not a comforting thought.
I’m exhausted and I stink, but I drag myself back into my cab and slowly pull away. The road crew truck waits until I’m half a mile ahead before pulling out and following at a distance again.
Now’s my chance. I speed up to ninety-five, thinking I might lose them with the surprise jolt. And it seems to work, the truck fading to a dot as I come to an exit. Not mine, but I need gas and I’ve got a head start, need time alone to get my thoughts together, continue daydreaming about Monica’s reaction to my suicide—all those accusing eyes at the funeral, making her feel worse and worse. It’s sweet! It’s enough to rededicate my convictions! The bitch must pay, so I must die.
Maybe I lost the guys. I don’t see them as I turn left on a two-lane road, the sign telling me to expect a gas station in 2.6 miles. Telling me they have ethanol, too. Yeah, I’m sure I lost them. Weird fuckers probably laughing at me the whole time, getting their rocks off every time I hit another creature. They probably poured some animal scent on my truck when I wasn’t looking the first time. No clue. Probably hadn’t hit one animal in over a decade, so today was some sort of make-up exam?
The truck starts bouncing a little, swaying side to side. Squeaking, squeaking. Just what I need, something going out on me in the middle of nowhere with two creeps hot on my tail. Stupid truck. Been so good til now.
I glance in the rearview and find what’s making the noise easy enough. Scares the living shit out of me—big brother mountain lion is alive, and he’s fucking the panda.
Maybe he’s delirious, doesn’t know he shouldn’t be having cross-species sex, or maybe that panda’s too cute to ignore. Whatever. He’s humping and humping the little Asian honey, I tell you that.
I slam the brakes and throw it into park and stumble out. Not sure why. The cab’s the safer place to be when facing a mountain lion, but he’s obsessed and doesn’t notice. Intense on fucking this dead panda like she’s never been fucked before. My truck’s shocks hold up, and the whole shebang is bouncing like it’s in a rap video.
I’m in awe. What can I say? Reminds me of a line I read in a lousy cop novel once: They’re fighting off death with life.
Yes, go ahead and hump her! I cheer him on. Whistle and clap my hands. I don’t even notice when the road crew boys pull up behind me. They get out of the truck and come stand with me and stare, amazed, mouths gaping, until the tough one says, “Well, I didn’t expect that.”
Mick says, “Just goes to show what I told you.”
The other nods, lifts his eyebrows. “Yeah, you were right all along.”
I don’t ask what Mick was right about or what this little episode meant in the larger universal sense. All I know is that standing there watching this mountain lion fuck a dead panda, I don’t really want to kill myself anymore. I’m not even that concerned with Monica, the cheating slut, or Jorge, my former friend, or how I’ll deal with them when I get back home tomorrow. Instead I know for certain that on this particular night I want a margarita and a whore.