Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Excerpt - Birch Hills at World's End

Birch Hills at World’s End
Geoff Hyatt
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I’d never thought Kenzie was a psychopath. An accident waiting to happen, sure, but not a time bomb. Now, watching him and a French drug dealer drag a tarp-wrapped body out of a pickup, I wondered how I could have been so wrong.

“This little man,” René said with a laugh, “he is somewhat heavy.”

“Dead weight,” Kenzie grunted as he struggled to keep his end of the load up. “We need to go to the door around the other side, before the little high schoolers see this. They’ll freak—whoa!” Kenzie burst into jackal-like laughter and said, “His arm, dude!”

I could see it, hanging out from under the tarp, its stiff fingers dragging in the snow. I swallowed the scream quaking in my throat. I had no idea what these guys would do if they discovered me but was positive I didn’t want to find out.

“This is—errrmmmmm—morbid,” René grumbled. “I am not needing this.”

Snowflakes flitted in the moonlit air, like glitter on glass. Kenzie and René, rendered in a palate of grey and blue, lugged their dark cargo around the corner of the pole barn. The door creaked open then slammed shut, loud as a shotgun in the winter stillness. The December wind sliced through me.

I’d fled a dead dog only to encounter a dead man. I only came to this awful party because of Lindsay, who Erik was probably fingering in a coat closet by now. A sour taste washed into my mouth. Hyperventilating and dizzy, I staggered out of the bushes.

“Josh, don’t worry. He’s not dead,” said a girl-voice behind me.

“What?” I shouted as I spun around.

Lindsay stood there in her cloak, smoking a black cigarette from a long, brass holder. She looked like a thrift-store version of a thirties crime dame, afflicted with vampirism. A big army-surplus ammunition bag hung on her hip, on which she’d stenciled the words “KILL YOURSELF, NOW.” I appreciated her use of a comma. She wore one of those furry hats, the kind that usually make people look like puppy dogs, but it worked on her. The smoke she exhaled smelled like my mom’s Easter ham.

“The dog that Jason hit with the beer can,” she said. “He got up and ran off. I think he was just knocked out for a bit. No big deal.”

“It’s still mean,” I said, shuffling in place. I made a tiny white wall between my feet.

Lindsay laughed, lovely and quiet. “Everybody’s mean,” she said. “C’mon. I got to get inside or Amanda’s going to get drunk and take off her shirt or something.”

“Yeah.” I took another deep breath. “Yeah, okay.”

As we began to walk, I considered telling her about the crime I’d just witnessed but thought it might be a bad idea. After all, maybe it was just a passed-out friend they were playing a prank on. Maybe.

***