screaming and Hardy was probably working out in his head why he didn’t stop and get that kid up off the ground, maybe cause the kid was all MY DAD’S GONNA JOHN DEERE YOUR PRIVATES WHEN I TELL HIM WHAT YOU DONE, and what that meant I still don’t know, there was blood on the kid’s mouth that was fake-looking, like he’d stopped for a Mountain Dew Code Red on his way to getting fucked up by our ’96 Sentra, and Hardy twisting an eyebrow tween his thumb and forefinger like he do when he’s stressed, and then Hardy put on the blinker, signaling to who I don’t know, there was no one around, it was past 9:30 in the p.m. and dark as a denim quilt out, but it seemed to give Hardy purpose, that blinker, and we veered careful around the kid and made a right and Hardy kept to the speed limit and we drove calmly on like we was on our way to the market for apples and milk. The kid had pounded our car as we passed, and it made me feel better, I don’t know about Hardy, but what kind of kid but a thug would pound on a car like that, no matter what the circumstances?
But anyway, that right turn took us off course, is the point. That’s how we come to find ourselves driving through Acres Landing.
At the entrance to Acres Landing we saw a baby in a wagon next to a sign that said WAGON $2, BABY $5, OR 2 FOR $6. We drove on past that. Sometimes in life you have to just tell yourself something is a prank being played on someone else, and you can’t worry about every baby in a wagon, I’m sure you get me.
Then we came to a Gas-n-Go that was the only source of light in a long while, and we stopped there so Hardy could fill er up and I could squeegee the fingerprints and blood off the car from the thug kid, and then I went in to use the ladies’ and stared at my face cause I didn’t have to pee but I didn’t want to come out just yet, then when I did come out there was Hardy grappling with a fat woman in a tank top, over what I couldn’t tell, the fat woman had him with one arm and Hardy’s face was like a blood-colored, disappointed pumpkin, and when I crept up close I could see the woman’s eyebrows was glittering, pierced from end to end I guess, there was a diamondy crust lining her nostrils, her ears was all metal, she had a jeweled sunburst on each cheek, glinty rings hung from her lips, and all in all she was jangling like a street whore’s purse at sunup. Hardy was mouthing something at me, and finally I got it, and I reached into the glove compartment and come up with his blade and I jammed it in the woman’s bready shuddering armfat, and Hardy broke free and kicked her in the bosom and she lost her purchase, that finally toppled her, and we broke out from that Gas-n-Go like I don’t know what.
(Before the drive Hardy and I had mixed the last of his daddy’s dried mushroom pellets into our bottle of Lipton iced tea that was more Aftershock than tea usually. I’m just telling you not cause you need to know our business but cause I can tell you wondering why we didn’t start freaking our shit. The thug and the baby and the fatty and all. When you on psychedelics and liquor and no sleep you do your best not to freak your shit. Is what I’m saying.)
We drove for a while, Hardy got his breath and color back and the night hurtled by us like a train. Then the gravel started hitting the windshield and curving around into the car and stinging our arms and we rolled up the windows. It got worse, it got to where Hardy made to turn on the wipers till he realized that was stupid. Then we seen this glinting in the distance, getting brighter, then brighter, then we was right upon it, a bonfire with a stretcher hoisted up above it, and something black and writhing on the stretcher, and a cur dog hunched next to it, shitting at the stretcher’s base, watching our car pass by with the slow turn of its mangy head, and then I threw up into my purse, that’ll happen with mushrooms, or maybe it was the smell,