Big Picture: Stories

Big Picture: Stories by Percival Everett Page B

Book: Big Picture: Stories by Percival Everett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Percival Everett
think about the present situation, though, she spoke to him, “Mitch, what do you want to do with your life?”
    He was silent for a few seconds. “I don’t know.” Then he smiled. “Drink beer and get lucky.”
    “You know,” she said, “somewhere there’s a twit with half a brain and big tits who would think that’s funny. And between the two of you, you’d have half a brain.”
    “Fuck you.”
    “You wish.”
    “Hey, you know, this stuff ain’t my fault.”
    Laney shook her head. He was right; it wasn’t his fault. But that didn’t make him any less despicable and sad, it didn’t make him any less like the string of duds Laney had found herself with in recent years.
    “This is your fucking brother’s fault,” Mitch said.
    “Shut up.”
    “If the little asshole hadn’t run off and gotten drunk, then …”
    “And if your father hadn’t poked your mother,” Laney said and then was sorry she’d said it.
    “That’s the mouth I’m talking about,” Mitch whined.
    “Sorry,” Laney said.
    They walked on another forty or fifty yards.
    “It’s no big deal,” he said. “We just put that belt on and drive to town and tell the cops what we saw. That’s all there is to it.”
    “Okay.” A chill ran through her.
    Mitch reached for her hand.
    “Don’t touch me.”
    Laney heard the car coming up behind them, a loud engine in need of a muffler. It came from the direction of town and slowed as it approached. She was afraid to look back, but afraid not to look. If it was the police she didn’t want to appear guilty. She was confused by the fact that she felt guilty. She glanced back and saw a rusty yellow mid-seventies LeMans. A man with long blond hair was driving and a man with a shaved head was trying to lean out of the partially lowered rear window. She saw that Mitch was looking at them, too.
    “Don’t look at them,” Laney muttered.
    Mitch looked forward as they kept walking.
    The car was now beside them, matching their walking speed. Laney looked again.
    “Gotta problem?” the driver asked, leaning out of his window, his free arm hanging down loose, his hand seeming to be mere inches from the pavement.
    “No, no problem,” Mitch said.
    “Why you walking?” the driver asked.
    “Yeah, why you walking?” the bald man in the back seat echoed.
    Laney and Mitch kept walking. “Just walking,” Laney said. She tried to hide the pump belt against her side.
    “Just walking,” said the man in the back seat, laughing. Laney didn’t look, but imagined him bouncing up and down. Bouncing up and down just like her brother did when he was with his rowdy friends. Thinking of her brother in connection with these thugs made her feel bad, then more frightened.
    The car rolled a few yards ahead of them and Laney saw the man sitting beside the driver for the first time. His face was buried in a dirty red beard.
    “You married?” the driver asked.
    Laney stopped and looked right at them. “Just leave us the hell alone.” She remembered the belt and tried to conceal it.
    The men hooted.
    “Yeah, we’re married,” Mitch said.
    “You’re a lucky man,” the driver said. “Where you walking to? Want a ride? We’ll give you a ride.”
    “No, no, thanks,” Mitch said, “our truck is just down the road a ways.”
    “Okay, then.” The LeMans drove on, and the bald man kept looking at them through the back window.
    Laney watched the car disappear down the road and then hit Mitch with the pump belt as hard as she could across his back and shoulder. He ran away some steps.
    “If you had even a piece of a brain, you’d be dangerous,” Laney said.
    “I got rid of them,” he said.
    “Where do you think they’re going? They’re going to my truck.”
    “You don’t know that.”
    Laney walked away from the road out across the desert.
    “What are you doing?” Mitch asked.
    “You go on to the truck. Here, take the fucking belt.” She tossed it to him. “And here are the

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