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Thirty-three

Pee Wee smelled corpse smell. He'd known that smell all his life. He knew it from the flood that took his brother and his dog when he was nine, and the tornado that flattened the barn and killed all the animals he'd tended. He knew it from ' Nam. He must have killed fifty people there. And he'd killed one or two more defending his territory since. Accidents.

He was sitting on the ground with his head in his hands, wondering what it was that he'd forgotten to do. Oh, that smell was strong. He shook himself, like a dog shaking off the hurt. Then he saw the girl and stumbled toward her. He'd lost track of time and thought it was the cop from the fight a while ago when everybody was yelling at him.

"Don't follow me," he raved angrily at the girl. "Why are you following me. I didn't hit nobody." We waved his arm, shooing her away. The scene spun out of control. Ants the size of fat caterpillars marched across his face. Other insects swarmed in front of his eyes, blurring his vision. A spider monkey swung down from the tree next to him and poked him in the chest, almost knocking him over.

"You're drunk, get away," the girl said.

The scene spun back into focus. Pee Wee remembered this wasn't the cop, this was the one who promised to give him that twenty to keep the secret about the guy they pushed into the cave. This one was here to give him that twenty so he could have a dog.

"I wan my tweny. Member my tweny?" he said hopefully.

"I said, get lost." She waved a tree branch at him.

The leaves on it looked like snakes, shaking their heads at him. Not so funny. He lumbered toward her. She smelled like a corpse. For a second he was back in ' Nam with the smell of the dead all around him.

The boy came up. He started talking to the girl. He told the girl to go for a walk. She wouldn't go away. He gave her a shake but she wouldn't leave.

"Don't do that… nice girl," Pee Wee mumbled.

"You scumbag!" The boy hissed at Pee Wee. He let go of the girl and came toward him.

"You gonna gimme that tweny?" Pee Wee said

"Yeah, sure I'll give it to you. Come over here."

Pee Wee moved toward him. The girl shook the branch at him, confusing him.

The boy told the girl to go away. She said she didn't want to. They started arguing. Pee Wee became confused again. He wanted to break up the fight. He put his hand up to protect the girl.

Suddenly the boy punched him. He fell to the ground groaning. "Wha-?"

He must have gone out for a moment. The next thing he felt was someone rolling him over. He saw blood on the sidewalk. He thought he was in the police station, having a shower. He didn't know what was happening. His sequences were all off. He felt drunk, but not good drunk. He pulled himself to his feet. The girl with the snakes was saying something. She wanted a trophy. He struggled to figure out what she was talking about.

The boy was trying to shut her up. He put his hand on her mouth. Pee Wee lunged to save the girl.

The girl shook the tree branch, hitting him with it. "Get out of here, you're drunk."

"Oh, no, ah'm not drunk. Yur drunk," he said angrily.

The big guy was coming after him, threatening him with a broken bottle. "No, you don't. No, no, no."

"No one needs scum like you."

The words galvanized Pee Wee. Nobody called him scum and lived to tell about it. "I'll fucking kill you," he cried at the tree branch full of snakes.

The girl swung at him with the branch. He plunged into the fight, grappling with three or four of them. He was fighting a whole army. A big guy came at him. Pee Wee felt all blurry and confused with all the screaming and yelling in his head and the smell of the dead. He thought he was in the war again. Hot liquid ran down into his eyes. It was blood. He was hit. He went down. Then, a second later he was up again, swinging. His hands were shaking. He fell over before he connected.

The big guy grabbed his hand to help him up. Pee Wee lunged at the girl. She hit him with the tree again. Then the guy was punching him hard. The last thing he saw was a knife.

"Whaaa?" He was confused by the knife.

He was caught between the guy hitting him, the tree branch with snakes, and the knife in his face. His vision failed and he went down. His eyes furred over for the last time. He never knew that the knife was there to cut off his finger.


Thirty-two | Tracking Time | Thirty-four