Buttermilk Junction
Lester L. Weil
“Now don' you sass me. Git.”

“Aw, Ma!”

“Git, now. An' don' blame me. I tole ya t'do it yestidy.”

I take the damn ol' coal oil jug and head off t' McNab's store. It's two miles by road, so I cut off crost country to save me a mile. If'n I'd done this yestidy like Mom tole me, I could be inna boat out on Greenwood Lake. How was I s'pose't' know that cousin Sam'd come by this mornin' t'see if I wanted t'go. I ain't got no luck 'tall.

It's hot today an' I try t' stay in tree shade much as I can. After my mile walk I finally git t' the ridge above McNab's. I'm hot an' my wet sock still sloshes in my shoe from where I slipt crossin' the crick an' stuck my foot in up'ta my knee. The two gallon coal oil jug bounces 'gainst my leg as I half run down the hill.

In front the store I see a muddy Model A Roadster and mean Ol' Man Duffy's buckboard, the mules standin' hipshot, their tails swishin' flies. I consider waitin' til he leaves, but he might be sittin' by the stove shootin' shit fora long time. The screendoor bangs shut when I go in, an' in the cool gloom I see Ol' Man Duffy, right where I knew he'd be, inna chair by the stove. He's shootin' shit with Deputy Johnson, who must havva day off 'cause he's not wearin' his uniform. Ol' Man Duffy has the stove door open an's knockin' out his pipe ashes. Deputy Johnson's setin' on t'other chair with his fedora pushed back on his head, his foot on the stove leg tiltin' his chair back. His jacket is open an' when I git past the stove I can see his big ol' Browning automatic in a shoulder holster peekin' out.

“Barrel's out back. You know where,” says McNab, not budgin' from his stool when I tell'm I need some lamp oil. He's strainin' t'hear what Ol' Man Duffy n' Deputy Johnson are talkin' 'bout.

I kick the rooster off'n the back porch an' open the barrel spigot t'fill my jug. I lookit the rustin' Model T truck out by the backhouse while the jug fills an' think could a guy git it goin'. Tires are shot an' soma the wood spokes look rotted but... The jug starts t' run over an' I grab for the spigot an' turn it off. Damn. Now I'd hav'ta smell oil all the way home, an' I'll git it on my overalls an' Ma'll yell at me. I jus' ain't got no luck.

I walk 'round front an' set the jug by the steps. If'n I take it inside ol' McNab'll know I runnit over. Up the road I see buncha dust an' here comes a new blue '37 Ford Coupe, all dusty n' muddy. Now if'n I had me one-a those...

The Ford Coupe stops by the Linco gas pump an' the driver gits out. He looks like a city dude an' I watch'm start t'work the hand lever an' pump gas inta the glass cylinder topa the gas pump. When the cylinder's full, he takes the hose nozzle an' starts fillin' up the Ford's gas tank.

“Hey bub,” the driver says t' me as I sidle up t' 'mire the car. “Where am I?”

“B-Buttermilk Junction,” I stammer. I can see a gun-bulge under his coat.

“Junction to what?”

“Don' know. Jus' what they call it.”

“Fair enough,” as he caps the tank an' heads in the store.

I wanna watch the man so I head up the porch an' trip on the loose step. I look inna window while I rub my shin an' see'm talkin' n' givin' money t' ol' McNab. In the corner my eye I see Deputy Johnson ease down his chair an' turn n' look 'round Duffy at the man.

Then all hell breaks loose. Deputy Johnson stan's n' pulls his pistol as the man turns witha revolver in his hand. They both shoot at the same time. Deputy Johnson misses the man an' hits ol' McNab. The man hits Deputy Johnson, who ackdently shoots Ol' Man Duffy's knee as he falls. Duffy's mules brays n' bolts n' takes off down the road, buckboard bouncin'. I jus' stan' there with my mouth open. Fuckin' jus' like Bonnie n' Clyde.

The man comes walking out t' his coupe an' cranks the starter.

“See ya, kid,” he hollers as he takes off, dust flyin'.

I look back in the store an' Deputy Johnson's on the floor bleedin' by the stove an' Ol' Man Duffy's howlin', holtin' his knee. Ol' McNab's down behind the counter where I can't see'm.

Hell. This's whole lot better'n fishin'.

Lester L. Weil

is an ex-professional bassoonist, ex-professor, ex-custom furniture builder, ex-house builder. He is retired in Arizona near the Mexico border.

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