click here for Part one
and here for Part two
“Won’t hear of it,” Sawney said with a gap-toothed grin. “There’s always room for a stranger at the table. Oh, hold ya horses there love,” he said, as she stepped towards the passenger door.
She stopped obediently and watched in surprise as he trotted briskly around to her side and held the door open for her.
“Why, thank you.” She beamed, feeling warmed and reassured by this unexpected display of good old fashioned manners.
The inside of the pick-up was warm and clean. The sickly sweet scent of vanilla wafted from an air freshener disk hanging from the rearview mirror. Holts farm supplies, the best in the country, the disk proclaimed in red and blue letters. Voila remembered those disks from her childhood, her Pappy must have had a box of them, because he always had one hanging in his battered old Chevy. A wave of sadness and longing swept over her and she felt the prickling threat of tears in her sinuses.
In middle school she had felt humiliated by that rusty farm truck, which once been a brilliant red, but was now a washed out shade of orange. Humiliated by the truck and by the shabby sun-wrinkled man who had driven it. In St Louis, that truck had stood out like teats on a bull among the shiney new BMW’S and the dodge and Chevy sedans. It hadn’t belonged there and despite her best efforts neither had she. Things would be different now that she was in the country, she would fit in here, make this place her home no matter what it took.
“Holts farm supplies?” she said reaching out and giving the scented disk a little tap which sent it swinging merrily.
“My Pappy always had one of these things hanging in his truck. He was from around these parts, grew up on a farm just outside of Claud, I’ve still got a bunch of cousins there and a few in Stockton too.”
“Is that so? What’s his name.” Sawney asked in a slow, uninterested way.
“Hochstetler, Ethan Hochstetler, he passed away four years back.” Voila answered, daring to hope that he might recognize the name.
“Common enough name round here I reckon,” He said laughing nastily, as if amused by some private joke, beyond the understanding of the likes of her.
Sawney made a sudden lunge in her direction and Viola shrank back in her seat, the stench of tobacco and decaying meat on his breath making her want to gag. For one sickening moment she thought that he was attempting to do something indecent to her, but instead he flipped open the glove box and pulled out a liquor bottle wrapped in a brown paper sack. He waved the bottle in her face, grinning sardonically, as he steered one handed down the dark bumpy drive.
“Sheesh,’ you're as jumpy as a cat in a room full a rocking chairs.” He laughed. Enjoying her discomfort a little too much. “Would you like a slug darlin,” he offered.
“Don’t mind if I do,” she answered, snatching the bottle out of his hand, quickly removing the lid and taking a large swig. Viola wasn’t much of drinker, watching Pappy slowly drink himself to death had been enough to put her off. He’d been a real son of bitch when he was drunk, but she didn’t want to think about that, not now, not ever.
The truck ratted over a pothole and liquor dribbled down her chin. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, grinning broadly at the startled look on Sawney’s face. Stick that in ya pipe and smoke it shit head, she thought bitterly.
Swaney might have good manners but his social skills left a lot to be desired. She gulped another mouthful of the foul tasting brew before handing the bottle back, reclining a little in her seat and enjoying the warm relaxing sensation of the alcohol spreading through her tense body.
They bumped along the rutted drive, to Violas dismay Sawney continued to drive one handed, sucking down the harsh liquor like a thirsty baby with a bottle of milk.
The bouncing headlights illuminated the autumn yellow corn stalks, their feathery tops waved in the breeze, while their elongated leaves pointed towards the dry ground like accusing fingers.
“Looks like it’s been a good season, corns nice and dry, guess you’ll be harvesting soon?” Voila commented, trying to break the awkward silence.
“Yup.” Sawhney replied, tossing the empty bottle at Violas feet without looking. The bottle hit her left ankle bone and she let out a small cry of hurt, a trickle of warm blood run down her leg and into her sock.
Sawhney, either unaware or unconcerned by her pain began to fiddle with the radio, filling the truck with loud staticky music, This is how we roll, This is how we do, We're burning down the night shooting bullets at the moon, baby, This is how we roll...
Son of a bitch! Volia bit her bottom lip, hot anger rose up in her like bile, the truck was suddenly too warm and the coying scent of vanilla was making her feel light headed.
A dark shadow sprang out of the cornfeld and darted onto the road.
“Look out,” Voila shrieked, involuntarily.
Sawhney only laughed, a deep sadistic cackle which made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up, and steered the truck toward the dark shape. Voila recognised the sound of madness when she heard it.
Thud! They hit it with wallop and Sawhney slammed on the brakes. Viola's body flew forward and then snapped back again. A terrible high pitched squealing split the night.
Shit, shit, shit! he’s hit a girl, her mind screamed desperately and suddenly she was out of the car and looking down at the broken creature on the side of road. No not a girl, not a girl at all, a huge wild hog, screaming with a sound that was all too human. It’s shiney black eyes seemed to look up her pleadingly and she watched with horror as it tried to raise it’s broken back legs off the ground.
She looked around for Sawhney and saw him coming around behind her with a rifle in his hands. She knew what was coming and had to swallow quickly as the sour taste alcohol and vomit rushed up in her throat, burning her esophagus.
“Mind if I do the honors?” she asked, her voice coming out shaker than she had intended.
For a moment he just looked at her. His head cocked to one side as he looked down his beaky nose at her, his dark beady eyes curious and calculating, an expression which reminded her of a bird of prey.
He spat out a large yellow gobber that landed on the tip of her white tennis shoe.
“Sure why not?” he said handing her the gun and flashing his crooked tobacco stained teeth at her.
It felt right in her hands and she aimed it steadily, carefully at the back of hogs hairy thrashing head.
A single blast and the horrible screaming stopped instantly. With one swift movement she swung the barrel upward and pulled the trigger a second time. Sawhney fell backwards, the top of his head gone. His thin scarecrow body bounced of the side of the truck before hitting the ground in a way that Violet found almost comical.
“Serves you right, you creepy little redneck leprechaun, these shoes were new!” Voila said, bending down and relieving him of his wallet and keys.