Small Town & Rural

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Savage Gerry


Orville, you in there? the barrel-shaped man called out.

Through the dust and the flicker of flies, his flashlight found Jules coughing into his arm.

You ain’t Orville.

No, Jules choked out. I’m—

But he was cut off by the man before he could continue.

God, don’t it reek in here!

Gerald could see that the barrel-shaped man was short, shorter even than his own five foot eight, and wore a beard a shade longer, its brackish curls straggling over a belly so big and round it’d be a miracle if he could touch the pads of his fingers together in front of him. He had one arm crooked over his mouth to guard against the stench and all Gerald could see of his face were his eyes, black pits winking against the dust.

Smells like something died, the barrel-shaped man was saying and that snapped Gerald out of his daze.

That’d be Orville, he said.

The moment he spoke the flashlight searched him out, striking upon what must have appeared to the other a strange and gnomic cave-dwelling creature cowering on the top bunk and squinting against its glower.

What’d you say?

I said, That’d be Orville.

He’s dead?

Five days now.

You kill him?

There was a hint of accusation in his voice and that and the way his free hand had searched out the stock of the automatic pistol slung on a strap over his shoulder had Gerald vigorously shaking his head.

No, he said. They never came by with his shot.

The flashlight had taken to darting about the cell, chasing the dark out of its corners. Finding no evidence of Orville’s remains, it again sought out Gerald.

What’d you do, eat him?

Last I saw he was lying on the floor, about where you’re standing now.

The barrel-shaped man looked down to his feet. The flashlight lit over a stain the colour of motor oil. He seemed to get the point and turned back to the gaping hole in the wall. The beam scanned over the pile of rubble just beyond and the man was just moving after it when Jules finally found the will to speak again.

You want to tell us what the fuck’s going on? he asked.

Well, what do you think? the barrel-shaped man said, turning back and flashing them an impish sort of grin.

It’s a goddamn jail break!


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