Poetry & Stories

An Extra Kid

I grew up in south Arkansas, down a long gravel road. Our home and small farm were one-half mile from the Arkansas/Louisiana state line. The closest Arkansas community was named Extra. It consisted of the Extra Methodist Church and Cemetery unless you included the deer camp that was about a hundred yards down another gravel road from it. Several families lived about a half mile away, but not next door to the church. As the old cliche goes - if you blinked while going through Extra, you missed it.

My sister and I often walked or skipped into Louisiana to a small community grocery store. It was a trip we'd make at least once a week during the summer. We would pick up soda bottles on the way to scrape up enough money from the return deposits to buy another soda before walking back home. This was the country kid's version of going to the corner store. That store was located in a Louisiana community called Tillou. My sister and I would look forward to our trips, they were the highlight of our slow summer days. We crossed the state line every Sunday to attend the Tillou Baptist Church or to visit my grandparents, but our trips to the store were special. If we were lucky, we found enough bottles to buy a bag of peanuts to go with the soda.

When I grew older, I learned I lived out in the boondocks. I didn't care. The boondocks had a nicer sound than nowhere. We were seventeen miles from the closest town and we were closer to nowhere. Most of the land around us belonged to the lumber giant Georgia Pacific. You could drive for hours down the company roads and never see another human being. That was as close to nowhere, and our spectacular natural state as a person could get.

My family lived south of Extra and north of Tillou. Therefore, I was just an Extra kid who would skip to Tillou to get a soda.

The Angel of No Mercy

Earl sat on a barstool at Dudley's, flirting with the female bartender. He remembered the blue-eyed blonde’s name was Tiffany. She was married to the owner, Dudley, but he didn't care. The fun was in the flirting. Even if he got her into bed, that was as far as it would go. A little sex now and he would move on. He wasn't interested in the baggage of a real relationship.

He regretted starting this flirtatious conversation because he was making surprising progress with Tiffany. At some point, she unbuttoned a button on her blouse, giving him an excellent view of the cleavage of her bountiful bosom. It also revealed her golden-brown skin and the fact she wasn't wearing a bra. He had flirted with her before, but her rules seemed to be - we flirt, tease a little, have fun, and go home. Separately.

Today, the rules seemed to have changed, and unfortunately; he had some place to be. The joke in his line of business was - I got someplace to be, and someone to do. And in Earl's case, someone to do meant someone to kill.

Earl wasn't a hitman or a hired killer. He was just a killer. If anyone knew how many men and women he had killed, they would label him a serial killer. He didn’t see himself that way though. He considered himself an angel of No mercy because the people he killed deserved No mercy.

The man he planned to kill today was Dudley, Tiffany’s husband. Not only did Dudley own the bar he was also a drug dealer. Earl owed a favor to Dudley’s competitor, so Earl took the job to make Dudley go bye-bye.

When the only other customer in the bar left, Tiffany stopped in front of Earl. Now there was another button unbuttoned on the blouse. She leaned on the bar and the blouse lost the battle and exposed the melons it was hiding.

“Sweetie, let’s quit flirting. You go lock the front door, and meet me in the stock room.”

She leaned across the bar and kissed him long and hard. “Just a tiny taste of what’s to come,” she said and started walking to the end of the bar toward the stockroom door. Earl leaned across the bar and watched the swaying hips in denim shorts walk away. He decided the Angel of No Mercy would show a little mercy. Dudley could live one more day. He slid off the barstool, walked to the front door, and locked it.

He stepped into the stockroom and stopped when the floor crinkled under his feet. But Tiffany distracted him. She stood topless ten feet in front of him. He felt something hit his back and felt his shirt pocket flutter. He looked down at his shirt to see the tip of a knife poking through the pocket. There was red liquid filling his pocket. Blood. His blood. He stepped toward Tiffany. Lovely Tiffany. The floor crinkled under his feet again and he looked down. There was plastic sheeting on the floor. Who put that there? That was a trip hazard. And Earl fell to his knees.

He felt, rather than saw, someone kneel beside him.

“Hello, Earl. I’m not sorry that you won’t be having sex with my wife today, nor will you be killing me.”

"How?" Earl asked without continuing.

"Oh, this was never about you killing me, Earl. This was about us completing a hit on you."

Earl looked at his shirt pocket, it was full of blood now. He looked at Tiffany one more time. She had her blouse back on now.

“Bye, bye, sweetie,” he heard Tiffany say before he fell on his face and they wrapped him up in the plastic sheeting.

man sitting on bar stools
man sitting on bar stools

Where I Grew Up

Where I grew up

We liked barbeques and fish fries

At the end of the dirt road

Or at your buddy's place

Where I grew up

We didn't wear jackets or ties

Whiskey, beer, and sweet tea flowed

We didn't question your taste

Where I grew up

It was about family and friends

Memories were made and stories told

Nobody drove home wasted

Where I grew up

We learned to fight and defend

Our girls, our families, and friends of old

We knew our friendships waited

I wish I could go home

But friends and family are gone

They've grown old or moved on

Where I grew up

bonfire surrounded by people
bonfire surrounded by people