October 9th
190 Acres: Part 2
by jessica morgan

The dust flies up first. That is how Hunter knew Pappa was driving home. If the dust from the gravel road billowed up over the hill he knew to get scarce fast. No dust today and it was nearing sundown. Pappa must have have gone straight to Lucky Linda’s. He’d probably sleep at the bar or in his work truck. Pappa was a drunk, but he never drove that way.

Lacie was spending the weekend at Grandannie’s out in Gallatin so it was just Hunter in the farm house for the night. The thrill of being alone on the farm wasn’t entirely lost, but dulled by the frequency with which it happened in his nine years. Best to get back to working on the fort, nothing better to do.

Hunter was well acquainted with the junk yard on the north 40 of his property. Abandoned coolers and deep freezes collapsed on their side looked like screaming ghosts with their hinges rusted and doors swung open. Old tillers, air conditioners, and rusted out box spring mattresses created a hotbed for cuts and infections. Hunter tried to be careful navigating barefoot, he’d already had tetanus scare this summer when he went swimming in the Grand River downstream from a rotting doe carcass.

He’d been eyeing the front seats of the crushed up Dodge Challenger, the centerpiece of the junkyard, for months now. They would make do as a couch for the fort. The accident was five years ago, but Hunter’s stomach acid still roiled at the memory of running out the front door in the middle of the night to see that car twisted around the apricot tree in the front. The steering wheel was crushed up into the boy’s ribs and his whole sternum was collapsed in like a pop can. And her, a matte of metallic smelling blood and beautiful brown curls. It was the prettiest hair he’d ever seen. Hunter smelled that heavy blood and radiator heat looking at the car still.

No sense in letting perfectly good seats go to waste. Although it was coming up on eight at night the sun was still hot on heavy green car. He had thought to bring Pappa’s work gloves and they covered up most of his arms as he jimmied the seats out of the front. Hunter avoided looking at it all. Summer storms and nature at it’s best must have worked out whatever blood and human touches remained after they extracted the bodies. But if he looked, he would surely see those two beautiful teen’s bodies covered in pus and maggots and flies-as if they had been crushed up in the car these five years instead of pulled out, cleaned up, and buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.

It was a tough haul out to the fort by the river, but he’d managed to get the work done before there was no more light left in the day. He closed the scrap metal door on the lean-to fort and lit the lantern that sat on the old Coleman. The seats were a bad idea. They were too big for the little fort space, but he wasn’t going to do much about it now. Hunter stood, avoiding sitting where the two kids bled to death when he heard Pappa up at the house singing Paul McCartney. That meant he was happy drunk which always lead to a nasty mean hangover. Red sky at morning and all that. No need to fuss with him tonight. Hunter would sleep in the fort. He eased himself on the ground next to the car seats.

The dirt floor was a comfort and Hunter allowed himself to think about gravity pushing him into the lumpy ground. If he was going to sleep out here he would have to face what he’d brought into is hideaway. Hunter rolled over and opened his eyes toward the car seats, and just like many times before in his life, what he saw was worse than what he imagined, an unfortunate reality for any nine year old boy.

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