Country Boys Might Survive

by Brett Lewis


It was around that same time, in 2011, that rumors started circulating across town that Papaw had killed one of them White Iron boys in a bar fight and buried him somewhere out in the woods. Course, I never believed it, thought it was gossip they start about newcomers or something not dissimilar. Newcomers of course, meaning those who had arrived in the past two decades or so, as it was a shit, nothin’ town, where nobody came or went from, ‘cept to hunt or fish in the Shawnee. Besides, Papaw was an 81-year-old man at that point and hardly seemed to me like the renegade type anymore. If he ever was at all. There was that short stint of runnin’ shine in the 20’s, but God caught up with him, sooner than later. What’s more is the White Iron was a local biker gang with Klan ties that peddled dope around rural Illinois and generally caused a ruckus damn near everywhere they went. I surely couldn’t see him killin’ one of them fellas, or even imagine how he would’ve come into contact with one. Then again, I never imagined him killin’ anyone. He did prove me wrong one night. That he most certainly did.

Like I said, I was out smoking ajoint behind the house, late of one night. The weed had gotten better over the years, for which I was grateful and attributed to all that stuff going on out in California. But I digress. This night in particular, A full moon hung in the sky, a perfect silver orb, whose light made the lawn and its contents just visible. Well, I was standin’ there and I started hearing little pings, and they kept getting louder. Sounded like those guns in the movies with silencers on ’em and I swore togod I heard breaking glass. Well, no sooner than I turned the corner to go up front, somethin’ whizzed right by my ear. It was so close that I could feel the wind off of it. I about shit my pants, but I kept on walking. As I got to the front of the house, the screen door swung wide open and Papaw emerged with a pistol that I had never seen. He took an unbothered, sideways look at me and kept on a walking. He braced himself against a porch column and shut one eye and no sooner than he had fired into the darkness, did we hear a yelp across the way.

He hit that boy square between the eyes, now. He was layin’ all sideways on the gravel driveway, gun in hand, just lookin’ up at the stars. I never knew Papaw to be much of a marksman, but he sure as shit was. Least he was that night. Now, we hardly spoke the rest of the night but somehow we knew just what needed to be done. I started digging a trench about ten foot from the riverbank with dad’s old rusted, round point shovel and that settled that. Half of that at least. Before I could even ask about the car, I saw Papaw drive it around the house, dust just a swirlin’. In one fell swoop, he got out with it still in drive, grabbed a cinderblock from by the barn and threw it in the floorboard. That car flew through the yard, now, and I swear to god it got five foot of air as it ramped the final embankment before the river. It came to an abrupt, hovering halt and then just slowly disappeared beneath the mud-dark water, deep gray bubbles in tow. No one ever came to ask about it. No one asked about that old skinhead boy neither. Things just seemed to go back to normal after that for a while. We were never the type to linger on things or hold grudges, so we just kept on enjoying each other’s company. Hell, he hardly ever brought it up for the rest of his days, ‘cept to laugh about how high that car flew through the air.


Brett Lewis is a lifelong lover and more recent writer of fiction. He is currently beginning the final year of a PhD in English, focusing on Literary and Cultural Studies. He is a huge fan of Southern Gothic literature and Revisionist Westerns, the latter of which he will be writing his PhD dissertation on. He currently teaches composition courses at the University of Memphis and hopes to move into literature courses in the near future.


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