Old friends

This one was done late, and in a very short amount of time thus the absence of it in the Collector, and for all that I apologize. It’s rough around the edges, bit poor but I hope it will work as a mostly fun read for this late Saturday afternoon.

Old friends

 

Garry Radford parked his brand new blue Chevy 69’ truck outside the gas station.  The dusty face of the country side and the old vintage stickers of naked women glued to the gas columns reflected in the dark surface of his sunglasses.

He got out of his vehicle into the sizzling day, a few small rocks crunching beneath his boots.  He wiped the sweaty drops from his forehead and put on his hat.

“Damn hot today”.

He walked around the truck and placed his hands on the passenger door to look down at his nine-year old son Henry.

“I’m gonna go inside to talk to Uncle Bill. Now I don’t wanna be disturbed during that time. See that convenience store? –Garry pointed the blue door of a small building next to the gas station – You can go and buy yourself some candy while I’m busy. – Garry handed the boy a dollar – Don’t go anywhere else until I come and pick you up, you got it?” –Henry nodded – “Yes sir.”

“Good boy. Now hop out.”

And Henry did. He ran straight to the store without hesitating on his father’s words. That he had tried once and then he had met with Mr. Belt. But more than that…he had met Uncle Bill who was everything else but an uncle to him and that man he didn’t want to see twice. There was something freaky about the way he talked to Henry, how he observed the boy. Like a snake lurking upon a rat.

The boy hurried.

The bell above the door shook and rang loudly when Henry entered the store. A fan by the door was chasing away the heat and spreading coolness inside.  The middle aged lady behind the counter ignored the presence of Henry and continued reading her magazine, filling the boring hours at work with spicy world gossip. Henry didn’t bother to say “good afternoon” and stood before the row with candy choosing from the rather poor choice.

Nevertheless he found the desired treats and joyfully filled his hands with dozen red and orange gums which flavor doesn’t go away even after hours of chewing! Nope! Never! , and chocolate bars that he felt melting in the wrappers. He bought a bag of mint candy for a few cents and a nice cold bottle of soda.

But as any kid Henry was impatient, and even the thought of his angry father couldn’t keep him inside the convenience store, so once he was done with buying candy he pushed the door, listened to the bell ring again and went into the sun.

He found himself a nice spot from where he could see the door to uncle Bill’s office at the gas station and sat on the ground enjoying his sweets.

Henry raised his head to check the door again but something else caught his eye and made him put away his mints.

From down the highway a shadowy figure was coming towards the gas station. It was moving slow and was far and Henry couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman. He taught “A hitchhiker” and turned his eyes away.

“Hey boy” .

Henry jumped to his feet, the candy falling to the ground and rolling away in the dust. The shadowy figure was standing before him, a tall slim man with sharp features. His face was dirty, his skin grey. It looked oddly burned and was peeling at some places. The man had a greying beard that barely hid a deep, ugly scar on his left cheek. Henry couldn’t see his eyes because of the cowboy hat hiding them but felt them on himself. The stranger’s voice was raspy, no more like rusty, as if he hadn’t spoken in years. It had something old in it, the pronunciation of the words perhaps, the accent.  The whole vision of this man was old- he looked like he was taken out from a 40’s western movie. He had the belts, but the guns were missing; a tattoo on his knuckles that looked like a convicts. Henry thought he looked cool but at the same time scary.

“Cat got your tongue boy? You mute?”

” No sir”  Henry shook his head

“Do you know a man by the name of Billy McCarty?”

Henry had heard that name. His father had called Uncle Bill, Billy McCarty ones.

” I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”

And the stranger laughed something between that sounded like a dry bark and the cough of a smoker. He took a step closer. Henry could smell dust on him, dust and whiskey. The boy took a step back.

“Me kid, I ain’t no stranger around these parts. Me and Billy go way back. We’re old friends. I just wanna drop by and say “hello”. Do ya think you can tell me where he’s at?”

Henry was unsure what to say. What if his father gets angry at him for telling? But at the same time this man made him feel uneasy. Henry felt he might pee his pants in a minute.

He reached his hand a pointed towards the gas station and the office of Uncle Bill.

“Much appreciated kid.”

The stranger tipped his hat and grinned at Henry.

The boy watched him walk to where his father was and maybe knew what was about to happen. But his mind was too busy and couldn’t think of anything else but the burning sparkle in those bright red eyes and the smile with two sharp teeth grinning viciously at him.

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