the burn

by underswansea


Cash watched the Ford skid to a stop in the fresh snow. Rags bumped the door open with his shoulder. Got out and stretched for the sky.

Cash tossed a block of wood on the fire.

You look like a man who could use a drink

Rags smiled.

Do you have anything harder than beer?

How bout some Crown. I always keep a fresh supply.

Rags took the bottle and tipped it back. It burned the beer out of his throat. It helped. It always helped. The booze was part of him and always would be. He didn’t exist without it.

Cash took the bottle back and had a swig.

You didn’t follow me out here to drink whiskey did you?

You fucked up Cash. The guy’s a fuckin cop. You know what I’m saying. The kind a guy who can shoot you, plead self-defense and get a fuckin medal.

Cash laughed.

You worry too much. Nobody is going to shoot nobody. He’ll get over it.

No he won’t get fuckin over it.

Rags saw the lights first. They were twisting over the dips and hills. Shining skyward bouncing off the low cloud. They were coming fast following two sets of fresh tracks.

Fuck me.

Rags took a deep slug off the bottle.

He noticed he was down to the last third.

Cash tossed another piece of pine on the fire.

Looks like three trucks.

The trucks crested the last hill before the lake. Two Fords and a Dodge. All black. Lift kits, mud tires and loud mufflers. The only thing bald were the muscle heads driving them.

One got out quicker than the rest. There were six of them. Two were cops.

Cash figured he might as well start it.

You’re still not mad are you?

Rags knew them all. The cops were new to the area, but he’d had run ins. He also knew the cop had reason to be mad. He had to deal with Cash in the worst way imaginable.

I’m gonna fuck ya up you worthless piece of shit.

Cash put the bottle down. Rags noticed it was empty. Cash stepped back out of the heat of the fire.

Where is your cop outfit? Your wife doesn’t like a man in uniform anymore.

At that the man rushed. Cash didn’t move. The man knocked Cash with a right hook to the head. Rags saw Cash shift at the last minute absorbing the punch, but it was still enough to put him down. The man kicked him. Rags saw Cash absorb it.

The five bystanders were pretty happy and started to cheer. Cash spit blood into the snow. Another kick but this time the man slipped. Cash was up. Wiping his mouth. Rags saw the look. The same look the old man had. Rags knew what was going to happen.

Cash’s fists were hard as lake ice. The man slipped again. Cash caught him going down. It was a crack. It was bone breaking. The bystanders knew it. Cash laid in a boot before he hit the ground.

The bystanders rushed in. Their man was out. Rags had seen it before. He had the 30 30 out of the truck and fired it in the air. The shot slammed off the low clouds and brought them all back to the fire by the lake.

I’d like to shot you all. No Fuckin shit. Dare me to put holes in all ya cunts. Pick up your guy and go back the way you come.

They watched the headlight disappear out of the burn back into the fir and spruce.

It isn’t the end

Cash twisted the cap off another bottle.

Maybe not but it is for tonight.

Rags laughed.

It’s still not the end.

Ya I know.

They let the fire die down. The bottle went back and forth. Cash fell asleep. The rifle stayed rested against the drunken leg of Rags.