Davis sought revenge on an old deaf man who’d embarrassed him greatly. Fueled by amphetamines and ill-conceived notions of pride, revenge, and the word of Jesus. Wore that strung out Dallas County poverty; sunken cheeks, a few missing teeth, and a tightly clenched jaw chomping at the bit for meaning. The type of look that takes a mission seriously but never has the means to act. That’s where I entered the picture. Manipulated friend weighed down by loyalty and a sense of responsibility for the situation. So. There we were, careening down rural Missouri back roads, searching through darkness, rain and Davis’s clouded memory for the old man’s house.
“Take the fork to the right,” Davis said. Flick of a lighter. A flash of Davis’s seriousness in the orange and blue glow.
“Why didn’t you pay better attention?” I asked.
“Ask me again and the repercussions will be serious.”
“Too busy trying to cover your dick to discern from whence you came?”
“Quit it with the old-timey shit.”
“Dear brother, are we not the modern serfs?” I asked. “Men enslaved by debt, doomed to waste away behind infernos hot and slick with dead meat. But tonight. Tonight, we seek out and unfurl our anger upon those we serve. Revenge upon the unending parade of mandibles, upon the teeming complaint-ridden mouths that haunt our daily trade. Where once we cowered before the mighty whip, we now tremble like frightened curs every time a round giant complains of getting one disc of cow instead of two. Tonight, we exact glorious revenge upon our feudal lords!”
“I never know how seriously to take you,” he said.
“Don’t worry about me,” I said. “Try to remember where the fuck we’re going.”
Davis turned off the stereo. Windshield wipers squeaked against rain. Hurled drops of water smacked glass at amazing speeds. The repetitive crunch and slush of tires rolled through slurry gravel. Tall grass behind barbed-wire fencing, like two-dimensional Indian chiefs. Each blade and tip a head dress and spear. I took a deep breath and thought, does he know?
“How far are we from K?” Davis asked.
“Which part of K? 32 or 64? Windyville or Long Lane?” I asked.
“You know where this started, what do you think?”
I stopped asking questions and drove.
How this started: Paper bags, cans of spray paint, after-work boredom and isolation at a place called William’s Ford. Gravel bar next to a river. The type of spot one would expect to find a gaggle of man-boys ingesting whatever stimulants they could afford while leaning up against a car and listening to recycled Black Sabbath songs from an off-brand boom box.
There was a group of us, surely. I liked an audience, and Davis had no car, but who they were I couldn’t tell you. One of the forgotten names ranted about an ex-girlfriend who’d made him a laughing stock by sleeping with a cripple at a party we’d all attended.
“What I couldn’t figure out was his face.”
“Oh god, that crippled’s face.”
“Was it palsy or just a sex face?”