Chapter One

                   They Kingdom of Roaches

“Oh, it’s remarkable story sir, it’s all about Dagmar. Ole Dag, he was the greatest man they ever was, maybe even greater than Kris Kringle. I think you’ll like this one.” Adjusting hisself, sitting cross-legged on they floor en holding his hands up to his face. They old man his voice rasping fawns as he begins to speak, becoming they story like them old times. Talking like them old voices was once talked.

They attending group is alert but unsure of what this curiosity is about to do next. They mills round him some unsure. For them, this was a new sperience. So, they old man he begun by peering down inta his lap like he’s thinking about somethin real hard. Then comes a voice from down inside of em.

“It were a hot night, hot en sticky. Just like always, laboring through a long court session. That judge, he sits attired in his boxers b’neath they dignity of his robes. White ringlets of sweat all round that bailiff’s armpits showing they high water marks of his evening. That sweat stain’s weariness forces his eyes to they clock. Hanging like a scythe over a gallery of them…not yet convicted. Wore down by heat fatigued by they hour, that bailiff he calls out in a nasal whine. Shouting over they noise clutter. “Johansen! Dagmar Johansen! Front and center Johansen, be heard or shut they fuck up!”

A roughhewn character in homespun he pushes his way through them inmates reaching they cage door. That bailiff, he cranks on them keys some releasing this burly bearded man inta that judge’s mercies. That roughhewn hulk stood prideful quiet. To him, she weren’t nothing. Nothing but a corp rat judge nothing special; one same as a other. Overworked without no nonsense nor no  pretense. That judge, he fiddles some with them papers looking up almost surprised asking cynically, “Dagmar Johansen? What kind of stupid fucking name is that?”  

With a gravelly, guttural intransigence that hulk he answers back in a sort of a punctuated staccato way saying, “She’s-they-Only-Fucking-Name-I-got. Sos, I reckon, we’s both-fucking-stuck-with-her!”

That judge he thunders pounding his palm on his desk. Shouting “bailiff, where’s the fucking file on this asshole!” That sweat stain he scurries, searching from them stacks a his. Energetically looking, en looking back nervously. Before giving that judge a double take testing of his temper before splainin sheepish, “I’m afraid, I can’t find it your honor”  

That judge, he returns to they Outlander assuming a sorta business-like confidence, en he sneers. “Then what the hell is this road trash charged with?” That sweat stain, he sorta squeaks back humble. “Selling water tokens.”  

They judge, he cuts his eye on they clock fingering of his gavel fer a mint b’fore clearing his throat, dispensing corp rat justice. “Due to the early hour and legal technicality. I cannot pronounce a full sentence upon you Johansen.

Therefore, on your general appearance and attitude. I find you guilty. But will suspend a voltage sentencing. You’re guilty of something… Johansen!

You have twelve hours to leave the city. Any further Corporate Contact and I won’t hesitate to throw a hundred mega-watt sentence at you.” That judge asks him real serious, “you feel me outlander?”

Dag, he only grunts at what passed fer justice. That judge makin noises en banging on his gavel. That gallery they letting out a low groan. Readying theyselves fer another long hot day in a corp rat cell…waitin. Jess killing time, waiting on that treadmill. That sweat stain’s a pushing on Dag towards they door. Once outside he snaps, “money outlander or back in the box!”

Grunting Dag, he reaches into they recesses of his jailhouse wallet. Retrieving two, tightly folded hundred-dollar bills shoving em into that sweat-stained rat’s dirty hand.

Dagmar walks away out of tune. Far off a clear frequency, for he’s a “for real” man while they whole of this Sinsin city is of ghosts. They’s, they ghosts of our future’s past.  They ghosts of our grandchildren’s grandchildren living inside a corpse. No longer, a society of’s they new or they improved. No longer, “under new management.” This is a society of cockroaches and them cockroaches must scurry from they light.

They eastern sky she begun to glow orange when Dag, he first sought shade, fore they heat of they day cooked him like a worm to they pavement. Back b’hind a boarded up ole derelic building he finds a stairwell leading to a basement.

 Reaching they bottom of them stairs. Dag yanks at they door jess once, more outta habit than anythin. Picking out they cleanest corner he sits hisself, taking off his straw hat. Inhaling, en huffing out a sigh after his long night. Then he closes his eyes to they shadows.

She were good full bright daylight when Dag hears that voice askin him. “Who give you permission to sleep in my stairwell?”

Without no noticeable motion a tall. They Outlander, he answers back calm. “Oh, I reckon she’s they same fella what toll ya she was real good idea to go waking me up.”

“That’s a easy idea,” they voice blusters. “I don’t give a Bush what a fella thinks, what owes me money.”

Dag, he looks back with a coy smile, sheepishly answerin. “Ya knows; I love it when you talk Bush.”

“I ain’t Bushing you mister,” he answers with a steady return.

“Oh sure, en I can see that!” Dag, he snarks sarcastically his head cocked sideways makin his eyes wide in an animated stare. “But… I done had a long night, en jess got out a jail boy. You hear me? Do ya understand what I’m saying to ya? So’s, I juss ain’t really in no good mood fer any of yer foolishness or nonsense. So’s, she’s about how much money you’s a looking fer, is she? Now member what I jess done toll ya. I jess got out a jail. So, don’t specting no fortune or nothin.”

Dag’s attacker, he sorta tells on his self; too old to be a amateur. En too clumsy to be anythin but. Pointing his knife menacingly from a top of them stairs cooing, “how much is it you got then?”

Dag, he stands up placing his straw hat casually comically, carelessly sideways. Fiddling clumsily through his pockets while staring off somewheres, some where’s far away. He says, “let’s see here, I got five ten, twenty-five bucks, will that settle ya down? I don’t mind given they landlord his due.”

His assailant, he suwanees on that bargain missing Dag’s meaning. Sayin, “reckon she’ll have to.”

“Well thin,” Dag smiles. “Come git her…I got her right here for ya. Come on, I’m waiting!”

Hesitant, his attacker’s confidence sorta begins to fail on him. “I reckon not. You bring her up here to me mister.”

“Ha! Wait just a Bush, damned minute!” Dag barks laughing. “You was ready to come down here all Billy bad ass en throw me out a here jiss a second ago! Now I done promised you fair money mister… now you come on en git her. I got her right here for ya.”

Looking up at they furious sky they attacker he prophesies. “Reckon for long you gonna want out. En thin… you gonna have to come see me.”

Sighing, Dag relents saying. “Boy, I don’t want to see you! I jess wants you gone, so’s I kin get a damn day’s sleep. Aright thin hard ass. I’ll do her yer way.”

Straightening his hat that Outlander he began climbing up on them stairs. Slow like methodically rising, gitting closer en closer. A tradesman goin bout his business. Reaching that top step. Dag, he jess drops them bills. His size en proximity raises they attacker’s anxiety some. His heart begun to pump full squish; en his eyes begun to bulge. En his blade begun to tremble juss a mite.

Dag, he leans over casual, retrieving them bills coming with a knife from his boot. Opening that boy’s belly in a merciless single swift slash. Then lifting him over his head en pile-driving him to a tumble at they bottom a them steps.

Then, real casual. Dag, he stoops… picking up his money again. Like they weren’t nothing goin on a tall. B’ fore he turns on that corpse. Checking of her boots en pockets en such, en making a animal reckoning of profit or loss. “Twelve fucking dollars en a pocketknife,” he grouses. “Mister you weren’t worth killing! En, you done took my fucking shade! Bleeding all over the place and shit.”

They unobstructed fire ball she climbs, reaching for they apogee of Sinsin city’s, cloudless pale blue skyline. Already she were over a hundred en ten. That mid-morning pavement she shimmered to they eye. Them heat thermals was rising up, en simmering with they smell of melting asphalt.

 They air she were hot to they touch, thick like soup she was. Surrounding you, suffocating you en enveloping you. That Outlander, he spent they rest of his day in a ole storm culvert. Leaving they iron lid ajar drawing in them fresh hot breezes carbureted by sewer’s rank dampness. His own fart reminding him of his gnawing hunger. But all must wait for they mercy of night. When them roaches owned they landscape, building they empires in they dark.

Twilight found Dag ready whenever they world, she were ready to meet him. He’d move with they world, agin her or whichever way made for him to profit from her.

Dag, he’s a prototype of they new old man. They primal man of a postmodern desert world. En ready to kiss, kill, fuck or fight about her. She dint make no damn difference. Dag, he wanders through them ruins of they old city. South of they corp rat zone. He moves his self-down towards that river gitting his ass out they Hio. En back to they safety a his own Tuck.

 Sinsin city she come to life in they monochrome coolness of they night. She blossomed under they night sun. Them empty streets begun showing signs of life wherever they darkness reigned. Them barricades on them tenements come down as they low candle lights flickered, eerily forlorn.

Contrasting with they oppressive nocturnal glow from them lectric lights of they corp rat zone of Sinsin city proper.

Them poor, heat-stressed roaches en they youngins, sought out them streets as they sole relief. Some pretending…she were still as she once were. Pouring out from them tenements them roaches was half-starved, half-hearted, en all but lost. Just weren’t no hope in em. So, they jess ain’t no hope for them. En ain’t no sense in trying with em.

Dag moves with certainty through that crowd. Cause that were they only way Dag ever moved. Any lack of certainty were a sure sign of weakness, en a weakness would be exploited. In they kingdom of they roaches, weakness was bout they only thin akin to opportunity.

Human life was worth only what were in her pockets. In this place no law applied, cept when them rats… they said she did. It were a place where no innocent folks ever got arrested. A place where justice was a commodity… you know what I mean? Bought and sold like water, shine, weed or dog jerky.

Them merchants sold they junk en they home-brew whiskey, dog jerky er what have you. Most anything you could want were available outside they corp rat zone, cept in maybe prosperity.

See, they were this thing going on tween em. They corp rat zone she needed they Hio to give em all them things Sinsin city said they weren’t allowed to have. Sinsin city, she needed they corp rat zone they way them roaches has always needed corp rat zones. Cause, Sinsin city she weren’t much, but she’s all they is. Sinsin city, she were they furthest outpost in they Southern Corp rat zone. Crossing that river into they Tuck, made you a outlander beyond any law or redemption.

Dag, he were a king in they Tuck! He were they leader of his own tribe, but they dint never call theyselves no tribe. They dint never call theyselves no pack, nor clan, nor family or nothing; she were just a group, Dag’s group.

Dag, he suwanees on finding that river for to make his way home. Escaping they shit smell of a broke down rotting city. His life were in them pine forests, en he thrived neath they shadow of they night sun. Becoming a part of them sandy palms and pines. But all depended on finding that river.

When they night sun she finally begun to show. Dag catches sight of a overpass. A overpass meant they Corp rat toll road! En from there he might could find hisself a way.

Approaching a ole rusted steel bridge, Dag watches as some of them roaches scurry up into her skeleton. Still simmering in anger, Dag he begins to talking ta hisself, pondering on they outrageousness of it.

“A piece of shit corp rat Bush fucker. That fucker, why he weren’t even one part a man. A tiny little speck, that fucker wouldn’t last a night without them rats! Shit, he wouldn’t last a night even with em. It’s all Bush shit; I’d snap his damn neck like a scrawny damn dog! I would if in, he didn’t have them rats round him. Why, he ain’t even got the balls to live as a man. En got no more sense than them damn roaches. A right thin, road trash I am? So, road trash I be!”

“Hey!” Dag, he shouts pointedly up into they darkness of that bridge skeleton. “How many are ya up there?”

One of them roaches, he answers back meek. Sliding down on they concrete embankment. Protectively an quick with his answer. “Don’t hurt us mister; we don’t want no trouble.”

Tired en hungry, Dag, he barks. “I didn’t fucking ask what you wanted! I asked, how many are ya? Now lookee here! Yer chances of getting hurt here in this exchange, she depends a lot on not pissing me off, suwanee? So’s when I asks ya a question. You answer her or ya answer for her, suwanee? So’s you’s best listen up en try ta follow along. And we’ll try this agin. Now, how many are ya?”  

“Four sir,” come his humble reply.

“What are ya… men, women …what?”

“Me, my wife and two kids’ sir.”

“Two kids!” Dag howls, slapping at his thigh shaking his head slowly in disbelief. “Two kids in a corp rat zone? No fucking wonder yous hiding out! Them rats catch you with them damn youngins. En no support; they’d end up a demos, working on a corp rat farm sure.” Asking that roach, “You tryin fer they outlands?”

“Don’t know nobody over there mister,” they roach answers back cautious. Casting his eyes downward, “couldn’t chence it.”

 “Sounds to me, like yer Bushed buddy,” Dag snarks. “Too scared to stay en too scared to git. Son…,” Dag asks sincere. “Don’t ya git tired of living like a damn roach?”

“I ain’t no roach,” he squeaks back.

“They hell ya ain’t! Yous living under a damn bridge! Hiding whenever you sees anybody coming. Son… don’t ya ever want to go home…just to visit your yer nuts?”

“What you want with me mister?” That roach he answers sort of defensive at Dag’s critique.

“What I wanna know is this be they corp rat road what leads to they river?”

“I reckon so mister.”

“Dag looks up asking offhandedly, “what’s yer name boy?”

“It’s Jimmy, Jimmy Ray.”

Pondering Dag asks smiling. “Wanna make some money Jimmy?”

“Doin what?” They roach replies cautiously.

That outlander, he pushes his hat back off his forehead. “Now, Jimmy does you want out of here or what? Ain’t ya tired of living like this? Toll ya what; I’ll take you outta here en git ya yer freedom! But you’ll owe me a obligation. Ya know what a obligation is, don’t ya? A obligation, she’s just a big ole thin en you’ll owe me one of em.

Now, a very, very small part,” Dag splains, using his hands to illustrate they proximate size. “Is ya can’t ask me shit about shit! You ain’t no slave or no demos or nothing. But you ain’t rightly no free man neither. As long as yer under this obligation, I’m telling ya about.”

They roach, he asks cautious. “Well, how long would I be under it for?”

Dag, he looks back spitting death serious with his eyes. Saying, “I just toll ya… you can’t ask me shit about shit. En I’ll take you ta they other side. En, I promise yous gonna have a fair fighting chance. Or… you, en yer kin can jess sit on yer ass here. Hiding like a …well, till they find ya… jail ya or kill ya.”

Without no hesitation, that roach he answers back affirmative. This were a opportunity knocking. She were en escape, en escape not possible or least not very damn likely fer one man alone. But a man with a woman en youngins in tow… in they Tuck? … They’d pick their bones clean.

 Dag, he barks at him. Energetically waving his arms. “Well thin, git yer dumb ass up en start looking for some shit to block up the road!”

“Block up the road?”

Dag shouts angrily, “shut up they fuck up you son of a Bush!”

“Yes sir.” They roach replies nodding furiously, nervously scurrying around trying to look effective. Searching in they darkness of they wiregrass. Finding a few old boards en construction barrels en two rolls of chain link fence. They drags they stuff up onto they roadway en commence to building a barricade.

“Now, Mr. Johansen sir.” That roach asks timidly. “I ain’t asking shit sir. I’m just a wondering bout what yer plan might be sir?”

“Now she’s a fair question Jimmy, I’ll answer that in.” Dag, he takes off his hat squeezing they sweat from his bushy black mane, running his fingers through it en making a face b’fore replacing his hat.

He begins ta scratching on his beard sayin, “and don’t you be calling me sir or mister or nothin anymore. I’m Dag, ya git me?” He dictates in his rhythmic drawl, “we’s gonna block up this here road en solicit passing travelers fer charitable donations, ya git me?”

Jim, he asks, “what if in them rats come?”

“Well thin, you bess run fer it.” Dag splains calmly.

“What if she’s a gang car Dag?”

“Well, thin…I reckon you best you run a little faster or ya gits kilt Jim. But she’s all yer choice! Don’t let me influence you none.”

Dag’s voice strains, “She’s really kind of fucking simple, ain’t she Jim? En, I reckon that she don’t need no more fuckin splainin either, does she Jim?”

Jim, he answers humble adjusting to his station, “Oh right, I git it.”

They weren’t much traffic on that toll road; few could afford they price of them fancy hand-builts cars. Or even they price of a  recycled one. Made from  mountains of rusting derelict cores. They cost of that toll road she was exorbitant; but they cost of that lectricity what to run her on, she were astounding! That corp rat toll road was mainly safe but safer still, if in you didn’t slow down.

Dag, he found a spot jess beyond they crest of they overpass where his barricade couldn’t hardly be seen till, she were prit near too late. Then, he took ta schooling at that roach. “Now, you stand here with this chunk of concrete over yer head like yer gonna bash em with it, see?”

They roach asking, “What are you gonna do?”

“I’m gonna watch yer ass from over here hind that guardrail Jim. En sees how you does, but no pressure!”

After a car escapes they roach. Dag, he starts to chuckling, “Ya knows Jim… our chances of gittin kilt here. Mostly depends on you being able to stop a damn car in they prit near future!

Give her over here.” Taking that concrete Dag jumps menacingly at the next car as it tops they hill. Heaving they chunk as she shatters they windshield. That car she swerves; its single front wheel catching on that barricade flipping them boards en chain links over on to they hood and windscreen blinding em, en crashing em into they rusted guardrail.

 Stealth quick, Dag’s on that car screaming. “Out! Out! Last motherfucker out gits kilt!” Knife drawn; Dag pulls they driver from they shattered windshield by his hair. Dragging him along they pavement never allowing him to catch his feet. His victim, squirms answering each of Dag’s screams with his own pitiful cries as he pleads for his life, “Please don’t hurt us! You can have anything you want, please don’t kill us!”

Dag’s hot breath were in his face nearly nose to nose, screaming manically. “Empty yer pockets dip shit! Dump her on they street! Faster Bush wipe, faster! They faster I’m happy they faster you gits away!” Them coins went a jingle jangle hitting on that pavement as they Outlander he nods fer Jim to pick em up.

Once that were done, Dag gives that roach a tip of his hat fore vanishing into they darkness. Jimmy, he follows hot b’hind on his heels. “We gotta split up,” Dag says jogging, “they’s gonna be looking fer two of us.”

Jim, he whines some nervous. “But you said, you’d take us across.”

“En I will!” Dag answers, bowing up at em en giving him a hard look fer even asking. “Member, shit about shit? We gonna go, we juss ain’t gonna go together. I’m gonna go en thin you en them brats yearn are gonna follow.”

“You want me to just hang around here and take a chence of getting busted Dag?”

“Yeah, she’s pretty much they size of her Jim. She’s a part of that obligation of yern.”

“You wouldn’t Bush me, would ya Dag?”

Angered by they question, they Outlander grabs that roach by his shirt. “I work with my hands Bush-fucker; I kills for a living! I kills for me and mine! Cause I do folks believes what I tells em, ya hear me? Cause if in they don’t hear me, they might not hear nothin else! Cause, I don’t jess talk it’s so. I makes her so! So, gather up them brats of yourn en make yer way down to they river. En I’ll signal fer ya.” With that, they outlander he disappears again into that ebony night.

Jimmy, he nervously darts back towards his kin under they overpass. Motioning for his ragged family to follow. Gathering them together en hurrying along, moving em down towards they river. His wife asking excitedly, “We’re we going?”

“Ta they other side.” Jim splains, without stopping.

“How’s that?” she queries.

“Now Helen,” Jim says, buffering her anticipated complaint.

“Don’t you, “now Helen” me Jimmy. What they fuck is goin on?”

“I met a man, en he’s got a group over to they Tuck. En he’s gonna take us in.”

“Yeah, and what did you have to give him fer it? He ain’t do nothin fer ya fer free, ya know.”

“I’m under a obligation,” Jimmy admits.

Hollering, “A what! You done sold out en join onto to a man ya don’t even know, without asking me?”

“It’s a chence Helen. A chence,” his voice trailing off. Whispering, “away from here, away from them rats. En, they rat laws; they say a fella can drink water anytime they likes over to they Tuck. So, don’t you say nary a word en piss him off or he might jess kill us!”

Startled, Helen asks, “kill us? You mean like really kill us? Or jess fuck us up?”

“He’s a bad Helen, big and tough. But we need him to help us make it in the Tuck. I’m under a obligation sure. But I’m under it fer all a us. So just you don’t go making it no harder on me or you kin jess stay here!”

Spying on that river, Dag, he watches careful from behind some brush. One eye set looking behind him. They other looking on en listening fer them rats. Of course, he’d seen them warning signs; hell, everyone had. En had em splained to em too, cause mostly folks couldn’t read.


           By Order of Corporate Military Governor – Southern Region

           Lethal Force Authorized!

En even if you didn’t know nothing bout no lethal force; a silhouette pitcher of a rat shooting his gun were easy enough to understand. But this were a good time to cross; them river rats weren’t particular ambitious. En didn’t much begin looking fer swimmers till dayfall.

Cause see, if in you ain’t never been in water b’fore. Chences are, you ain’t much good at her. Them swimmers they sought they cover of dark fer making their try. En them river rats, well… they picked up they unsuccessful ones. They river she creped along slow. So, slow them bodies wouldn’t bob er dint drift off too much.

In they kingdom of they roaches, they fears everythin. Even they own freedom. There she was a jess waiting for em. Waiting in they humid darkness of them pine forests. But she weren’t no water what made em scared. She was they own fear. They own fear what was bread into em.

Escaping they Hio she weren’t no test of strength. She were a test in yer mind. They was weighted down by a lifetime of iron shackles in they minds. In a world ruled by fear. Them roaches gains they freedom by overcoming her.

Once they heat crime, thirst en hunger. Done took your fear from you… you’s free. Then they weren’t scared of no water no more. Then she dint mean nothin; either way they made it. Either way she comes out they’s free.

Dag, he could a been acrossed that river three times a ready. Cept in for his promise. Now Dag, he didn’t  rightly have no conscience to speak of. But he did have his reputation. His whole life she were balanced on they knife edge a his reputation. If in he said he’d hep ya, he’d hep ya. En if in, he said he’d kill ya. Brother you best git gone! So, they just weren’t no good reason Dag, he’d ever leave them roaches behind. Only, he weren’t no damn fool bout her neither. She were Dag’s first rule. Dag, he looks out fer everybody, but he mostly looks out fer Dag first.

Dag he’d told Jimmy ten minutes. But he didn’t have no watch er nothin; it were just a espression anyway. Dag, he were on cat time. He knowd ten minutes’ same way a cat knowd it. When she felt jess right when he were jess ready. En he was about to git there too, when he heard them roaches making all kinds of noise off in they brush.

“Holy Fucking Bush Shit!” Dag whispers coarsely to hisself. “Bring them rats down on us fer sure, why don’t ya?” Pulling back, he listens fer a spell  locating em in they darkness. B’fore setting off after them in they direction.

As they approached, Dag he stood tall in they faint light of they night sun. En despite his heavy beard. A scowl of displeasure in them shadows were clearly obvious. He pointed his ole finger out jess like that there Jesus fella from they Bible, I think. Thin he says with a deep baritone authority, “Shut-they-fuck up!”

Thin using hand signs, they Outlander he moves them roaches ’tween they ruins down towards they river. Whispering, “find somethin fer them brats a yern to hold on to so’s you don’t lose em.” Dag, he found hisself a pine log to lay across whispering, “follow me.”

Jimmy whines, “we ain’t ready, cain’t you wait?

“Nope,” Dag splains, “I’m showing you how. How long she takes ya’ll to figure her out she’s yer problem. I’ll wait a spell cross they river where she’s safe. Till thin Jim, you is on yer own.

Frantically, they family they scour on that riverbank searching for anythin offering em buoyancy. Jimmy, he spies a pair of red plastic floats laced to a couple of them ole gator traps hidden amongst them reeds. With his pocketknife, Jim he liberates em. Giddy, almost giggling he announces jubilantly. “Come on! Let’s go!”

 But right there Jim he’d done, done it! He’d done stole property what belonged to they corporation. Making hisself en his whole family criminals. Criminal’s’ jess fer swimming in they water, en criminals fer stealing. Criminals,  by actual fact. Them roaches kicked en struggled fer a good long time gittin cross that river havin never been in they water b’fore. Washing up on they far bank of they river exhausted. They finds theyselves at they feet of they great Dagmar.

“You done good Jimmy!” Dag says nodding in approval. “Stole them from a gator trap, dint ya? They ain’t no fuckin gators, just some ole corp rat Bush shit they feed them roaches. Yer learning son.”

“Dag,” Jimmy offers up humbly. “This here is my wife Helen and my kids…” but they Outlander, he cuts him off bruptly.

 “I don’t much care Jim; they’s jess women en kids to me. They eat, they shit, en ain’t no good it a fight. She’s all I need to know.

When we gits to camp Jim. You can make yer friends, play with yer dicks, en fuck each other’s wives all you want. But yer under a obligation. You do what I say when I say. You do as yer told, en try to get along with they folks. En things will probably work out alright for ya.”

Jimmy, he understands flush with exhilaration bout his new surroundings asking, “how far we gotta go, Dag sir?”

Acknowledging his subservience, Dag, he answers benevolently, “She’s a fer piece cross a couple a them ridges. En through they altars of heaven. En, I done toll ya,” he scolds. “Don’t you be calling me sir no more. I ain’t no sir, corp rats is sirs!” Dag spits.

Jim, he knowd enough en dared not ask no more. After they’d dried fer out a spell, Dag he announces gruffly. “Let’s go,” moving inland on trails only he kin see, navigating by glimpses of they night sun filtering through they pine forest. Finally stopping as he come to a paved asphalt street on they edge of a forested landscape. They sand floor she were littered with blankets of them ferns en piles of dead palm fronds.  

After a while; Dag, he holds up his fist signaling fer em to stop. “Listen up,” he says. “We’s gonna take us a break fer a mint. So, whatever you needs ta do, do it! Once we git out this forest we gonna be in them altars of heaven. Don’t you go touching nothing, don’t talk jess walk quick. This is a damned religious place; en I don’t want to bring no shit down on us fucking round with dead folks! After me Jim!”

Venturing into a clearing, they night sun she made them altars come to life. Bunches of concrete altars, personal altars standing bout waist high. With graduated ledges runnin up one side every foot or so denoting importance of a sacrifice.

On top of them altars was a space big enough for near any size sacrifice. Adorned as they was with rusted iron stubs running down they sides. Framing em in and situating em from each other in carefully measured distances. It had somethin to do with they religion, I reckon.

Them altars was ranged cisely long straight lines. Following with they religiosity of they asphalt. Jimmy, he whispers in reverence. “They must be tens and tens of em, maybe a hundred.”

“It jess gives me the creeps thinking about all them dead folks,” Helen answers, whispering. “What do you reckon they all could a been praying bout?”

Jim he says, “I reckon giving thanks fer being so rich! Rich enough to build such fine altars as these! And they sure is a bunch of em!”

Dag, he looks back repeating his structions with his eyebrows. Giving em hard looks. En ending they theological discussion bout em. As they trudged through that humid night they held all they questions. Rusted iron poles rose up from they ground at measured distances. Before no great while, they come to a sand berm what had spilt over. Covering up they street en covering over them altars, as well.

Dag, he scampers up sideways climbing up they bank, till he makes they tree line. Jim en his family they struggle some with that hill. Trying to keep up, fearing they’d git lost. Unfamiliar with a world of foliage and trees. They couldn’t see nothin in them woods. Nothin but darkness, en shadows en undergrowth. But Dag, he sorta sensed at them things.

En Dag were at one with em. Stopping periodically listening to them forest voices talk. Dag made a fist en thin, he’d stand still as a stone for a mint fore moving on. Dag, he threw his palms out a mint later motioning for them to lay in they sand b’fore letting out a high-pitched whistle.

A voice in they darkness calls out asking, “who kilt they man?”

Dag answers, “don’t know! He was dead when I got here.”

The voice asks agin, “then who kilt they man?”

The outlander he jess smirks. “Don’t reckon she matters none… if in she’s already dead.”

They edge of that dark forest which had seemed so empty. Suddenly she woke. They brush appearing to come down as a heavy wood gate swung open. A voice answering familiarly through they dark. “Welcome home Dag.”

“Yeah Harley, I got ya some folks here to help you.” Dag splains, motioning for they family to stand.

“Free or demos,” Harley asks excitedly?

“They’s free; but Jim here is under a obligation.”

Disappointed, Harley answers only, “Oh.”

“See Jimmy,” Dag splains. “Harley here is our head demos. He ain’t free en you is. En, she means he cain’t tell you what to do. Now, since he’s they head demos; he can crawl ass on them other demos, but not you.”

“How can I tell if they’s a demos then?” The roach asks naively. A small crowd gathers listenin’. Dag, he strokes on his beard some suwaneeing on that roaches ‘question b’fore answering. “Well, if in you call em a son of a Bush… en they don’t try ta kill ya… they’s probably a demos.”

 They crowd she breaks into laughter half out of respect. En they other half out of admiration, cause see Dag. He were jess bout everything to them people.

He shouts, “Harley, take them roaches en find em a place to sleep. Be dayfall soon. I bet them brats a thern is tired.”

“Yes Dag,” he answers obediently. Leading they family of into they glowing circle of low, dying camps fires.  

A tall man with long blond hair approaches, greeting Dag warmly.

 “Bobby!” Dag answers.

“Good to have you back Dag, where ya been?”

“I got busted over to they Hio. En I had to buy my way out.”

“What in they Bush was ya in the Hio fer?”

“She’s like this here,” Dag splains, “living this close to a corp rat zone, ya gotta go smell they shit sometimes… jess ta see what they’s been up to!”

“En what cha ya think Dag?”

“I think she’s terrible!” Dag says, shaking his head. “Them folks living like roaches, feeding off in they crumbs of Sinsin city. Doin shit work; pushing on tur – bines night en day, juss so somebody else kin have a lectric light. They ain’t got nothing for theyselves! They ain’t rightly living like no human beans. She ain’t no fit place to be. But as long as they keep her over there. She don’t confront me none.”

Confused, Bobby asks. “Why don’t they jess run off?”

“They’s scared son. That’s all they teaches em is to be scared of everythin. En she’s all they ever tell them about.

Scared of they Tuck. Scared of them rats. En scared they won’t give em no more food. They’s so scared of living and juss so scared that theys hidin in they house. Paying em jess enough to keep em around.” Changing they subject Dag asks casual. “How’s my stills been putting out Bob?”

“Well Dag, we was doing real good.” He stutters, as a shrill note of nervousness infects his voice. “But we seen some spotters out long they bank. So’s, we had to shut em down en put they fire out fer a couple a days.”

Without no comment or paying no notice but more direct this time. Dag, he asks agin. “How’s my stills been putting out Bob?”

“We’s was doin good, bout six jugs a day Dag!”

“Don’t you Bush me none, Bobby. Where’s they water been goin?”

“Dag, I wouldn’t Bush you! Better safe thin sorry, I always say.”

“But Bobby… you ain’t neither safe nor sorry… yet!”

“Now Dag,” Bobby answers nervous. “I’m telling you they was spotters out!”

“Ya know what Bobby? You better hope some a them spotters come back! I better see me some spotters too! In they damn prit near future Bob or we’ll have this little talk agin.”

Dag, he moves on with they affairs of state. Walking at leisure through they forest compound making his presence felt, as much as seen. As he completes his circuit. He approaches a steel trailer body laying flush in they sand. He stops taking her all in before entering.

“Dag!” A women’s voice cries out excitedly, “Yer home!”

“I reckon,” he answers slow in a road weary monotone. Johanna, she runs to kiss him. But he stops her handing off his knife en shoulder bag fer her to put away. Cause, she were his first wife. En it were her responsibility, en her responsibility alone.

At twenty-six Johanna she weren’t no raving beauty no more, not like she once were. In they world’s old age; youth en beauty ere they short seasons. It were questionable if in she could still bear children. ‘Cause she ain’t had none so far. Everybody knows how hard it was to get pregnant. Everybody knowd that.

Bethy juss turned fourteen, en she were Dag’s second wife. She waits for Dag in they bedroom. Where her position as a second wife dictates she wait, until she were called for.  

“Ere ya hungry?” Johanna asks.

“What we got?” Dag says, rubbing they weariness from his face tryin to unwind.

“We got some left-over cat,” she answers excitedly hoping to please him.

“That’s right,” he snarks half-joking; “live her up while I’m out there bustin my ass!”

“Dag,” she cries defensively. “We gotta eat.” Answering sheepishly.

“That’s right!” he announces, as if coming to some instant realization. “I got me another wife too, don’t I? Come on out here Bethy.”

Bethy, she runs jumping into his lap as he reinforces his power dynamic. Dag, he always demands a little more from them wives thin he gives back. He’s jess living up to his status as a alpha male.

Living like few in they Tuck. Them women they lived well, but not free. Meshed in a web of power, status en position based upon what one could bring to the table immediately. Long passed instant gratification en more of an instant satisfaction society.

After a few moments of playing grab ass. Dag he gives a knowing nod to Johanna. “Go git me something to eat, will ya?” Johanna she knowd what he meant en she didn’t much care; she were his first wife en held sway.

She returned with a bowl of stew from they communal pot. Finding herself alone, listening patiently to they animal sounds of copulation coming from they next room. Sitting at they table staring vacantly; she pulls his knife from his sheath examining it carefully. Looking fer fresh blood on they gudgeon!

Finding it she squeals with girlish delight. Taking a wet rag she wipes on that blade carefully. To collect they blood stain on a corner of they rag.

As his first wife it were her right to clean his weapons, en her’s alone. But sometimes she fantasized bout what it must feel like to kill somebody.

 Not for they feeling of power it gives in taking a human life. But for they feeling of power it gives in ending her own powerlessness. After a few moments, Dag emerges from they bedroom alone. Sitting quietly at the table as Johannah slides, they bowl in front of him. 

A voice calls from outside “Dag?” Without looking up he answers with a disgusted, “What?”

“Dag, we got folks at they gate, En says they’s Christians.”

“Christians? Ha! “Tell em that book ain’t no count! En done run out, en nobody showed. They’s jess out pissing folks off fer no good reason. You tell em, they got two hours to git gone from here; fore we hunt em down en kill em! Thin you wait a hour. En thin you hunt em down en kill em!”

They voice from outside were stunned fer a second asking, “really Dag?”

Dag, he turns from his stew, asking sarcastically into they darkness. “Does yer dumb ass even know what really means?

 It means, are they really en advance party fer some other group? Coming in here to scope out easy pickings from some dumb ass, asking really? Will they really come back en ambush us? En really sell our families into demoscrazy? Will they really come back en murder us, en steal all our shit?”

Dag, his voice it were sharp en he were a raising it a half-step, each time he said really. Till finally he had reached a falsetto tone. Then he growls with thunder. “Let me tell you something about stupid boy! Stupid she ain’t no defense, she’s a invitation!

Suppose I let them folks come en go. En they is an advance party. Just what are they going to think of us? They’d know our numbers, en our gate. We’d let em walk right in! En walk right back out again!”

With a philosopher’s finger in the air, Dag, he answers hisself rhetorically. “They’d think we was stupid! En they’d feel powered by that! They’d reckon we deserved whatever we got; cause we was stupid! I don’t know nobody, whatever felt all that sorry fer stupid!

So, now you go on en kill them fellas like I done told ya. Them advance men don’t return. Them folks begin to scratchen their heads and suwanee on her some. “I wonder whatever happened to em?” Maybe they’d risk a couple more folks, likely not. Maybe they don’t like they uncertain outcome. They won’t know our numbers or our gate. But what they does fer sure know is… we ain’t stupid!”

But what if they ain’t advance men, what if they are Christians?

Dag, he laughs bellowing so hard till he chokes on his stew. Coughing en heaving having trouble regaining his breath. He coughs again and spits still trying to clear his throat. “Son, son, look around you,” he says laughing. “Does this look like any kind of place to recruit psalm singers from? Does this look like they kind of world, what needs more Christians in it? No, now you go on now en do as you’re told, en go kill them folks.”

When he turns back, Johanna is watching him from they shadows. “What?” he asks, impatiently.

“We was just I mean, Beth en I was wondering if you was up fer some entertainment?

“No,” he answers, firmly shaking his head. “You en Beth was wondering, if in I’d tolerate some entertainment being dog ass tired like I am. You was wondering. If in, I’d trade some entertainment for you fer some peace en quiet for me.”

“En, will you?”

“Well yeah, within reason, I reckon.”

“Can I go get him then?”


“Silver!” They answer in unison.

“They old dude?” Dag asks knowingly, “he’s so damn old he eats mud en farts dust. Shit, that old bastard must be over forty!”

“But we like to hear his stories Dag.”

“All he’s doin is takes wishes en wanna be’s en strings em into stories. “When men went into space er when food was free!” They ain’t no truth to her. She’s all jess Bush shit!”

“But we like his stories,” they repeat in unison.

“Go on git him thin! I was promised peace. En you was promised a story. So, get on with yer part so’s we can gits to mine.” Bethy returns pulling on they old man by his withered hand a few moments later. Silver acknowledges Dag’s presence with a bow and respectful tone asking. “You requested me?”

Nodding to them women, Dag splains. “They wants ta hear a story.”

“Yes,” answers gently. “What kind of story would they like to hear? When white leaves fell from the sky? Or perhaps, a story about when men traveled in outer space or maybe about the railroad that went nowhere?”

They all laughed at that notion, even Dag snickering, “what sort of damn fool builds a railroad what don’t go no place?”

“Well sir,” the old man splains. “That is a very interesting story.”

Dag, he looks around for agreement, b’fore saying, “sit.”

That old man, he struggles sitting hisself-cross-legged trying to maintain his dignity as he arranges hisself. Straightening his halo of white hair round his dome as he begins.

Holding his face in his hands deep in contemplation. As if, straining to remember every lost detail. Eventually, lifting his head in a calmer spirit; becoming they storyteller. No longer the bedraggled old man living on a warlord’s charity, he becomes a vestige of theater.

With a measured pause he begins. “It happened long ago in the time of my Grandfather’s Grandfather. There was a weary traveler all alone moving on foot through the deep dark woods. He was very tired from his long journey. And it was nearly dayfall. So, he needed to hurry along.

When he stepped on a mouse’s tail hiding under some leaves. That mouse, he let out a squeak as the man. He caught him up in his hands. “You’ll make a fine bait for my trap,” the traveler declared. But then, a strange noise come from inside of his cupped hands. A tiny voice cried out! “Don’t kill me and I shall make you rich!”

Dag, he begun to cat call shouting. “Bush! Bush! This all is some Bush shit here!” Them women they quieted him as they old man continued. “Looking back inta his cupped hands. The traveler he asks, cynically. “How can you make me rich little mouse?”

“I can talk and sing, and people will give you money to see me.”

So, the man, he put that mouse in his kit bag and took him home. The little mouse made good on his word. And made the man very rich. The man he built a store and folks had to pay money just to come inside and buy things. Just to see that little talking mouse. But after a while, the crowds grew tired of the little mouse and stopped coming around so much.

Then, the man became very angry. “What can you do for me now little mouse?” He said, “shall I kill you now?” The little mouse had also grown older offering, “you must find another mouse and a duck and a cow. And I shall teach them all to talk and sing.”

So, the man did as he was asked and once again the little mouse made good on his word. The crowds returned and the man grew richer still. He told the little mouse. “I am rich, and you have kept your word. But you can never be too rich. How can I become even richer still, little mouse?”

The aging mouse replied, “you must build a railroad that goes nowhere.”

“Bush! Bush! Bush shit!” Dag chants again, before being quieted.

They old man he eyes Dag carefully before he resumes. “The railroad,” the little mouse explained. “Must go round and round and go very fast. The people will come for miles around to ride on it.” With that, the little mouse died. And not knowing what else to do. The man built that railroad that went nowhere.

And the people did come in droves to ride on it. But this man, who’d grown so rich. Had also become very old and he soon also died. His fortune was divided among his three sons.

His sons had gained their wealth without effort. They were greedy and slothful. Working the little animals too hard. Trying to earn even more and more money from them. Until one day the waters began to rise and the land around them began to shrink into the ocean.

 The brothers took to their boat but could not agree to allow the cow in their boat, so it drowned and the other little mouse drown too. The brothers in their hunger turned on the talking duck. But because it had no lips, it spoke too poorly to explain how they were eating their future.

But they would not listen and so they consumed him! This man was called Dizzy sir. He’s the reason why today when someone is out of their head, we say they’re dizzy. In remembrance of this man.”

“Sounds like anyone who’d believe that damn story would have to be dizzy,” Dag shouts sarcastically.

“His son’s,” The old man continues softly, “we’re the three brothers Bush. The three incantations of evil: robbery, murder, and graft!

They room she fell silent as Dag he says.  “What? How the hell was I supposed to know it was a damn religious story!”

“But you defended them Dag. You spoke up for them,” Johanna answers, shaking her head disapprovingly.

Dag, he pleads. “Come on here Silver cut me a solid. “Tell em, tell em! She’s jess a story, en you made her all up. Go on now tell em! Tell em they ain’t no such place as dizzy land. Tell em, she’s jess a damn story what you made up!”

“It is as you wish sir. Perhaps they would rather hear another story. Perhaps when food was free?”

“Naw,” Dag carps, “they was promised one en we heard her. Now, I’m tired. En ready for a honest day’s sleep.”

The old man asks. “Then shall I depart?”

Dag nods, before getting up heading for bed without comment. Them women, they understands of Dag’s movements. En theybegun straightening up before extinguishing they candle. They evening sky she begun glowing gray en his sleep were cut short by a banging noise on they side of they trailer. Ford calling out, “Dag, we got folks at they gate!”

Dag, he leapt up from his bed looking suddenly at they headboard missing his knife. He found her on the table instead. En said out loud, “somebody gonna have tote a ass whooping fer that.” Grabbing of his knife, he snatches at they door asking harshly. “What?”

“Dag, we got folks at they gate. They says with Robert by they river. But Dag, asks for confirmation. “You say, Robert by they lake or they river?”

“Damn Dag, do I look like some new kind of dumb ass?” They was only a few folks who could answer back in such a tone. Ford Romeo was one… en, I cain’t rightly think of no other… right off.

Ford en Dag, they’d growd up together. Not as friends so much as compatriots. Each knowing they made other stronger. Someone to watch they back. En someone they could trust… mainly. It was as close to a brotherhood as this life would yield. Dag being Dag, admired Ford’s strength en ambition. But also wisely feared it. They was just like them two brothers…what kilt one another, Cain en Able, I think.

“How Bushed up would I have to be…to wake you for Robert by they fuckin lake? Them fuckers? Round them nucler waters? Shit, they couldn’t even find they way here… damn Dag!”

“Yeah, I know. I’s jess sleepful.”

“They say they got problems en wants our help.”

“What kind of problems?”

“They say, its harvesters,”

“Harvesters, shit!” Dag spits. “Tell em to jess kill a couple of em. En be done with her.”

“I know Dag,” Ford splains. “I’m just repeating what they says,” Ford offers. “They wants to talk to you bout her.”

“I ain’t talkin to em now,” Dag answers. “Find em some place to sleep, give em food en water. Make em comfortable en keep a eye on em. Git Harley to put one of his demos on it, I’m going back to bed.”

Ford, he answers, “It’s done Dag, good day.

3 Thoughts

  1. Mr David Glenn Cox, not a episode of Walter Brennan as The Real McCoys Grandpa! But…. “Ha! Wait just a Bush, damned minute!” Dag barks laughing. “You was ready to come down here all Billy bad ass en throw me out a here jiss a second ago! Now I done promised you fair money mister… now you come on en git her. I got her right here for ya.” Anyhow, as a true artist of character portrayal you do drum together the best reading entertainment there is being posted anywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s