Category Archives: Mark Westmoreland

Country Fucked

Ernest Miller turned his pickup into the Honeysuckle Ranch trailer park. He drove to the last single wide on the left and parked in front of a railroad tie. Kayla’s car wasn’t there so he guessed he’d sit in the truck and wait. Ernest checked his watch. He told her he’d be here at 11:45, and he was five minutes early. Kayla should be here.
+++++Next door Jasmine led a man onto the front porch. Her hair was a mess and his shirt was untucked and wrinkled. She kissed him on the cheek and said something that made him laugh. The man left her on the porch, hopped in his Mercedes, and left. Jasmine saw Ernest waiting inside the truck and motioned for him to let the window down.
+++++Ernest stretched across the cab and cranked the handle until the window was down. Jasmine had a cigarette in her mouth and flicked a lighter until the flame caught. She took a long drag on the cigarette and let the smoke out her nose. She asked Ernest, “How you doin, baby?”
+++++“All right, I guess.”
+++++“You here for Kayla?”
+++++“Yeah, where she at?”
+++++“Inside, waitin on you.”
+++++“Her car ain’t here.”
+++++“She had to take it over to Sturgill’s.”
+++++“What’s wrong with it?”
+++++“Hell if I know. Ain’t runnin right.”
+++++“I could’ve looked at it.”
+++++“She’s better off takin it to a professional.”
+++++“I know how to fix a car.”
+++++“Like you know how to eat a pussy?”
+++++“What?”
+++++“Nothin. Kayla knows how you like to be punctual, Ernie. Ought not keep her waitin.” Jasmine stubbed out her cigarette on the bannister of the front porch and flipped the butt into the driveway gravel. She didn’t speak to Ernest when she went back inside the trailer, and let the screen door slam behind her.
+++++Ernest stretched back across the cab and cranked the window until it was back up, he checked his reflection in the rearview mirror, and did his best to fix his hair. It went whichever way it wanted to and made Ernest wish he’d gotten a haircut. He opened the glove compartment, found his cologne, and sprayed himself down. He gave the scent time to settle and checked his watch. He was right on time.
+++++Ernest got out of the pickup, stepped up on the front porch, and knocked on the door. Kayla didn’t respond so Ernest knocked a little harder. He waited a minute or so and when she didn’t answer the door he let himself inside. Kayla knew that this was not the way Ernest liked for things to go, and if he was going to be a paying customer, she was going to do things the way he liked. He made a mental note to have a talk with her about the way he was supposed to be treated.
+++++Porno played on the living room TV, like Ernest liked, but the volume was turned so high the sound of hardcore sex agitated him. “Kayla.” He yelled but didn’t get an answer. “Kayla.” Ernest walked over to the television and shut it off. “Where you at, girl?”
+++++A strange man appeared from the bedroom. He was wide and burly and turned sideways to squeeze through the doorway. He wore a faded Skynyrd t-shirt, ripped blue jeans, and a Georgia Bulldogs hat was pulled low over his eyes. Ernest thought the face looked familiar but it was hidden by an overgrowth of beard. A smile stretched from ear to ear and he carried a glass dildo in one hand. “What you know good?” He asked.
+++++“Who the fuck’re you?” Ernest replied.
+++++“Kayla told me you liked it when porn was playin. Didn’t tell me which one was your favorite though. That one not any good?”
+++++“Where’s Kayla?”
+++++“I told her to take a couple hours off, grab some lunch.”
+++++“Why?” Ernest didn’t know why he asked the question. He needed to get out of here.
+++++“So me’n you could have a talk.”
+++++Ernest backed away from the man with the toy. He said, “I don’t know who you are, mister, but I think I oughta be goin.”
+++++He made his way toward the door and ignored the man when he said, “You know who I am.”
+++++Ernest jerked the front door open and stopped short. The largest man he’d ever seen blocked his exit. The man ducked inside the single wide, the neck of his shirt was stretched open because of his trapezius muscles, and his biceps bulged from their sleeves. The man with the dildo said, “Ernie, this colored feller here is my best friend Caudell, and I’m Peanut, why don’t you come on over here and have a seat?”
+++++Ernest backed away from Caudell but made sure to keep his distance from Peanut. The small living room didn’t provide him with many options of escape. He started to speak but Peanut interrupted him.
+++++Peanut asked, “You know why we’re here, Ernie?”
+++++“Can’t say that I do.” Ernest replied.
+++++“They ain’t no reason for you to lie to me.”
+++++“I ain’t lyin.”
+++++“You know good and damn well you are.”
+++++“Look, Peanut,” Ernest held his hands up like he was praying to God in the hope that He would appeal to Peanut’s better nature, “I don’t think they’s any reason for things to get violent. There’s two of you and one of me. Tell me what it is you want me to hear, and I’ll be on my way.”
+++++“Caudell,” Peanut asked, “Why you think it is that ever’one just assumes I’m gone be violent?”
+++++“Couldn’t tell you,” Caudell answered.
+++++“We haven’t even got to talkin’ good yet. Ain’t no reason for me to just fly off the handle.” Peanut waved the dildo around like it was a magic wand and he was casting a spell.
+++++Ernest brought out his wallet, opened it, and said, “If it’ll get you boys to let me go I’ll give you all the money I got. They’s six hundred dollars here.”
+++++Peanut used the sex toy to bat the wallet out of Ernest’s hands. It smacked against the wall and Ernest’s head jerked around to see it hit the floor.
+++++“That’s insultin’,” Peanut said.
+++++“Why?” Ernest asked.
+++++“We don’t want your money.”
+++++“Then what do you want from me?”
+++++“A promise.”
+++++“What?”
+++++“A promise.”
+++++“What kind?”
+++++“That you ain’t never gone come round here again.”
+++++Ernest hesitated to answer.
+++++Peanut said, “Be a damn good idea for you to say, ‘Yes sir, Peanut, I promise I won’t never come round none of your girls ever again.’”
+++++Ernest didn’t speak. He couldn’t promise that.
+++++“Caudell,” Peanut said.
+++++Caudell punched Ernest in the stomach and kicked his legs out from under him. Ernest landed on his knees and tried to puke his guts up, but his head was wrenched back, and his mouth was forced open.
+++++Peanut stood over Ernest, said, “You know what made me madder than anything, Ernie? The cigarette burns on the inside of Kayla’s thighs. They was what? Fifty, sixty of ‘em. She walked funny for damn near a week. Couldn’t spread ‘em for bout as long. Hurt too much to have a man between her.”
+++++Ernest forced out, “She asked me to.”
+++++Peanut smacked the glass toy against Ernest’s forehead and shattered his vision. Peanut said, “Don’t lie to me, boy. The girls all know my one rule is don’t do nothin that’ll make it so they can’t work. Means you’s stealin money outta my pocket.”
+++++“I swear she did.”
+++++“Ernie, I tell all the girls if they get anybody that’s into kinky shit to send ‘em on their way. That ain’t what we sellin.”
+++++“She liked it when I did it.”
+++++“Caudell,” Peanut said, “This motherfucker ain’t listenin.”
+++++“Nah he ain’t.”
+++++“Hold his mouth open.”
+++++Caudell squeezed Ernest’s mouth open wide enough for Peanut to shove the dildo inside. He forced the toy to the back of his throat and Ernest couldn’t even gag. He tried to fight but that made Peanut work the tool around until Ernest thought he might choke and die. When Peanut brought the dildo out of Ernest’s mouth he pitched forward and dry heaved until his spit turned red and blood drizzled from his mouth.
+++++“Caudell,” Peanut said, “How long you figure this thing is?”
+++++Caudell looked the toy over, said, “Bout a foot.”
+++++“Shit, the only time you see cocks like this’s in the movies.”
+++++“Usually.”
+++++“How much you think ol’ Ernie was able to swallow just then?”
+++++Caudell shrugged. “Five or six inches?”
+++++“Think he can take the whole thing?”
+++++“Doubt it.”
+++++“What’s that called anyway?” Peanut was hunched down close to Ernest. “When the girls’re able to swallow the whole dick?”
+++++“Deep throating.”
+++++“That’s it, deep throating.” Peanut poked the side of Ernie’s head with the toy, asked, “Can you deep throat, Ern?”
+++++Ernest shook his head no, and tried not to cry, but he couldn’t keep the tears rolling from his eyes.
+++++“You cryin, Ernie?”
+++++“No.”
+++++“Caudell, what’s with Ernie wantin to lie to me?”
+++++“Probably habitual,” Caudell said.
+++++“You right.” Peanut stood up, motioned for Caudell to prop Ernest up. “Ernie, it make you feel good to make Kayla cry?”
+++++“No.”
+++++Peanut thumped the toy against Ernest’s head. “Really, boy?”
+++++“It didn’t.” Ernest tried to put up his arms to keep from being hit but Caudell forced them to his sides.
+++++“Caudell, you know I can’t stand a lyinsumbitch.”
+++++“Me either,” Caudell answered.
+++++“Well, lets find out if Ernest here is able to deep throat this cock.”
+++++Ernest tried to squirm out of Caudell’s grip but he was too strong. He handled Ernest like a child and gave him no chance to get away. He pulled Ernest’s head back by his hair and squeezed his mouth open. Peanut didn’t give him a chance to take a breath. He shoved the dildo as far back into Ernest’s mouth as it would go and kept on shoving. Ernest tried to scream but there was no room for air or sound to escape his mouth. He tried to bite down on the toy to keep it from being shoved any further but its surface was too slick and scraped against his teeth. When he almost passed out from being unable to breathe Peanut took the toy from his mouth.
+++++Ernest tried to fall forward but Caudell held him upright. He coughed up more blood and slobber dangled from the corners of his mouth.
+++++“How much you think that was, Caudell?”
+++++“Eight, nine inches.”
+++++“Goddamn, Ernie, that’s impressive. Maybe I oughta hire you on. They’s queers in Confederate County that’d take a real likin to what you can do. You agree, Caudell?”
+++++“I wouldn’t know what queers are into.”
+++++“Me either. But I think Ernie here could be a money maker..”
+++++“No,” Ernie mumbled the word.
+++++“What’s that, Ernie?” Peanut asked.
+++++“Nothin.” Ernest bobbed his head to keep himself conscious. He thought his jaw might be broken.
+++++“Naw, you said somethin. What was it?”
+++++“Didn’t say nothin.”
+++++“This boy’s still lyin to me, Caudell.”
+++++“He is,” Caudell answered.
+++++“You’d reckon that all I’ve put him through he’d just tell the truth.”
+++++“You’d think so.”
+++++Ernest tried to confess the truth but Peanut talked over him. “Now, Caudell, why you think that is? We already established he’s a habitual liar, but what you think made him that way?”
+++++“Could be lotsa things.”
+++++“You right, could be. But I’m thinkin it’s one thing in particular.”
+++++“What’s that?”
+++++“Lack of respect.”
+++++“Makes sense.”
+++++“It does, don’t it? Just look at the way he treats women. I know the girls here at Honeysuckle Ranch ain’t nothin but whores, but you know what, they still women. They oughta be treated with some degree of respect. Especially since they work for me. You disrespect my girls, you disrespect me. So, Caudell, what you think I oughta do here?”
+++++“Teach him some respect.”
+++++“No.” Ernie burst out. “No. Please. I learned it. I learned respect. I won’t hurt nobody no more. I won’t even come back.” Ernest tried to pull away from Caudell but he couldn’t get away.
+++++Peanut smiled at Ernest as Caudell forced him onto his knees. “You believe him, Caudell?”
+++++“Don’t think so.”
+++++“Me either. Pretty clear he’s a liar.”
+++++“Yep. Pretty clear.”
+++++“You know what?”
+++++“What?”
+++++“I just thought of a good lesson in respect for Ernie here.”
+++++“What’s that?”
+++++“Bend him over.”

Rattlesnake Gospel

The chill of the north Georgia mountains frosted the windshield of Peanut’s Bronco. The heater was broken so he sat in the cold and drank a thermos of stale coffee. Caudell sat in the passenger’s seat and sipped a bottle of Mountain Dew. They waited for Randy Jessup to exit the office door of his church.
+++++“Think he’s ever comin’ out?” Peanut asked
+++++“Don’t look like it,” Caudell answered.
+++++“I’m getting tired a sittin’ here in the goddamn cold.”
+++++“Pentecostal services go long on Sundays.”
+++++“Shit, if I’d a known that we’d a just met him here ‘fore anybody showed up.”
+++++“They have Sunday school before service.”
+++++“So?”
+++++“People get here early.”
+++++Peanut gulped the coffee and let the hot liquid burn the back of his throat. “You think he’ll stop by his office ‘fore he leaves?”
+++++“Probably so.”
+++++“We could just go inside and wait for him.”
+++++“That ain’t a good idea.”
+++++“Why not?”
+++++Caudell unscrewed the cap from his bottle, drank the last of the Mountain Dew, and screwed the cap back on. He watched the office door and drummed his fingers on his thighs.
+++++“I asked you a question.”
+++++“I heard you.”
+++++“You gone answer me then?”
+++++“You want anybody to hear that man scream, Peanut?”
+++++“Naw.”
+++++“Then we don’t need to wait for him in his office.”
+++++“Guess you right.” Peanut adjusted the rearview mirror so he could watch people leave by the front door of the church. “They finally lettin’ out.”
+++++Caudell turned in his seat to have a look for himself. “Good.”
+++++“How much longer you think he’s gone take?”
+++++“Probably not long.”
+++++“Bet he’s shakin’ everbody’s hand.”
+++++“They ain’t that many hands to shake.”
+++++“There he comes.”
+++++The office door opened and Randy Jessup stepped into the cold. A charcoal pea coat was pulled tight around his shoulders and he fumbled with a ring of keys. Peanut rolled down his window and waited for the preacher to turn. Randy tested the knob to make sure it was locked, spun on his heel, but didn’t notice the men waiting for him.
+++++“Hey, preacher,” Peanut called, “What you know good?”
+++++Randy Jessup turned to the voice that called him, noticed who it was, and ran for his car. Peanut shifted the Bronco into drive and the engine died. He turned the key in the ignition but the engine wouldn’t start. He punched the steering wheel, said, “Goddamn truck.”
+++++“I got this,” Caudell said.
+++++Randy Jessup was on his knees. He’d fallen in his run for the car. The onion skins of his Bible whipped in the wind, papers scattered from his brief case, and he’d lost his keys. Caudell walked up behind the preacher, grabbed him by the neck of his coat, and pulled him to his feet. Randy threw a wild punch that missed, and was picking himself off the ground when Caudell slammed him into his car. From there he let Caudell lead him to the truck.
+++++The Bronco cranked on the third try and Caudell let the passenger’s seat forward so Randy could climb in the back. Peanut adjusted the mirror so he could see the preacher, but he looked out the window to keep from making eye contact. Randy Jessup asked, “Where yall boys gone take me?”
+++++“You’ll see.” Peanut answered.

***

Peanut parked the Bronco in the driveway of a run down single wide trailer. It sat far enough off the road so you couldn’t hear the sound of traffic as it rushed by. Pecan trees grew around the mobile home and provided it shade. Peanut stepped out of the Bronco into overgrown grass. Caudell and the preacher followed him up the steps of the front porch and inside the trailer.
+++++“Where you brought me to?” Randy asked.
+++++“Ain’t nobody told you bout this place?” Peanut asked.
+++++“He ain’t lived here long enough for anybody to fill him in on town gossip.” Caudell grinned.
+++++“But he’s lived here long enough to steal my business.”
+++++“What?” Randy asked. “I don’t know what you’re talkin’‘bout.”
+++++“Preacher.” Peanut stood in the middle of a seedy living room next to a pinewood box, “This’s my daddy’s home. I been watchin’ over the place while he’s locked up in Angola.”
+++++“Why’d you bring me here?”
+++++“Because I’m gone hurt you.”
+++++Randy Jessup couldn’t argue, fear choked the words from him. Instead he tried to run but he didn’t make it halfway across the room before Caudell knocked him from his feet. The preacher stumbled into an entertainment center and caught himself on an old box TV. He knocked rabbit ears off the set and almost tipped the television over.
+++++“Goddamn, don’t break my daddy’s TV. He’ll be pissed.”
+++++Randy picked up the antenna from the floor and put it back in its place. He ran a hand through his hair, messed it up, and when he tried to speak his voice cracked. He drew up like a turtle in its shell, too afraid to face what was going on around him.
+++++“Now, preacher, if you’s just here to preach the gospel, and do the work of the Lord, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. You might convert a handful of junkies, but I’d always be able to get them back. What I got a problem with is you comin’ into Confederate County thinkin’ you could stick your hand in my cookie jar.”
+++++Randy Jessup recovered his ability to speak, said, “I got no idea what you’re talkin’‘bout.”
+++++“Don’t play dumb with me. That’s just insultin’.”
+++++“I swear to God.”
+++++“Men of God ain’t supposed to swear.”
+++++“I’m just tryin’ to tell you whatever you’re accusin’ me of ain’t true.”
+++++“Don’t bullshit me, preacher.”
+++++“I ain’t bullshittin’ nobody.”
+++++Peanut charged across the living room like an angry pit bull. Before the minister could resist he was forced to his hands and knees and drug to the lid of the pinewood box. Caudell opened a chicken wire door and Peanut shoved Randy Jessup’s head next to the opening. He didn’t need to be told what to do. He listened for what was inside and could hear the rattle of a snake.
+++++“God, please don’t.”
+++++“God ain’t the one you oughta be prayin’ to, preacher.”
+++++“No. NO.”
+++++Peanut forced Randy Jessup’s head inside and he screamed. “Don’t scream. You gone scare that snake if you keep carryin’ on like that.”
+++++Randy bucked against the box and tried to force himself free of Peanut’s grip, but the fight did him no good. Peanut had all the leverage and he forced the preacher’s head in up to his shoulders. The snake was coiled tight in a corner and its tongue darted from its mouth. The eyes of the serpent considered Randy Jessup and hissed when it assumed he was a threat.
+++++“Stay calm, preacher.” Peanut said. “If you try’n fight me you gone scare that rattler. He’ll bite you sure as the world.”
+++++Randy Jessup didn’t speak. He wet himself instead. The smell of his piss filled the mobile home. That’s when he began to cry.
+++++“Preacher, I’ll let you out this box if you agree to do two things for me.”
+++++Randy shook his head that he would.
+++++“I need to hear you say that you will.”
+++++“I will. I’ll do whatever you ask.”
+++++“All right.” Peanut let Randy Jessup go and he pulled himself out of the box.
+++++“What you want from me?” He asked.
+++++Peanut hunched down to eye level with the preacher and Caudell stood over his shoulder. “Well, since you asked,” Peanut said, “The first thing you gone do is stop sellin’ meth to my people. Don’t speak.” Peanut held up a hand to quiet the preacher. “Just listen. Keep Murdoch’s shit outta Confederate County. This is my territory and ain’t nobody sellin’ here but me. Understood?”
+++++“Yeah.”
+++++“What?”
+++++“I said, yes.”
+++++“All right.”
+++++“What’s the second thing?”
+++++“I need you to go back to Greenville and take a message to Murdoch with you.”
+++++Before Randy Jessup could ask what the message was Peanut grabbed the minister by the arm and forced him back inside the box. The snake’s rattle thrummed against the wall and the preacher screamed as his hand was pushed near the mouth of the serpent.
+++++“You tell Murdoch the next motherfucker he sends round here I’m gone send back dead. You hear me?”
+++++“I hear you.”
+++++“Do you?”
+++++“Yes!”
+++++“Good.” Peanut shoved Randy deeper into the box and before he could pull away the rattlesnake struck. Its fangs pierced the fat of his hand and he jerked and banged against the box trying to get free.
+++++Peanut stepped away from the preacher and let him pull his arm from the box. He held his hand close to his chest like it’d been burned. He rocked on the floor and called the name of the Lord. “Jesus good Jesus please Jesus.”
+++++“You think he got the message?” Peanut asked Caudell.
+++++“I’d say so.” Caudell answered.
+++++“Then lets go.”
+++++“What?” Randy Jessup asked. “Hey, don’t go. You can’t.”
+++++“Preacher, I’m hungry and I wont to get over to Generals’ ‘fore the Baptists take over.”
+++++“What? No. You leave’n I’ll die.”
+++++Peanut turned his back on the minister and made his way for the door of the single wide.
+++++“You killed me.” Randy screamed. “You killed me, you sonuva bitch.”
+++++“Hey, preacher,” Peanut stood in the doorway of the mobile home, asked, “Ain’t you supposed to be a man of faith?”
+++++“What? What’re you askin’?”
+++++“Don’t the Bible say you’ll be able to take up serpents and scorpions and no harm’ll come to you or some shit like that?”
+++++“I don’t know what you’re tryin’ to say.” Randy Jessup cried.
+++++“I’m sayin’ to use your faith. Save yourself.”
+++++Randy rocked onto his side and said between sobs, “You killed me. You killed me.”
+++++“Preacher, whenever I kill you you’ll know you’re dead.”
+++++Randy pushed onto an elbow, asked, “What? What’re you sayin’?”
+++++“That rattlesnake you’s just bit by ain’t even venomous. Its glands was removed.” Peanut stepped out of the mobile home and said, “But if you don’t do what I say it ain’t gone be no snake bite you’ll have to worry about next time.”