Tag Archives: that damned ol’ hog

That Damned Ol’ Hog

When Clayce Talcott and Luther Twoshoes entered the ramshackle shack at the edge of town they found Dickey Bub McClung on the kitchen floor and Jocko Fayette at the table.  Dickey Bub had a butcher knife in his cold, dead hand while Jocko had a jelly glass of corn likker in his live one.  The table was littered with dirty dishes, the floor with empty beer bottles. The air smelled of cordite.
+++++“What happened here?” Clayce asked from the doorway.
+++++“I kilt the sonuvabitch is what happened,” Jocko said.  “He come at me with a knife so I shot him.” He nodded toward the revolver on the table next to the Mason jar of moonshine.
+++++“Why did he come at you?”
+++++“It was that damned ol’ hog again is why.”
+++++“Hog?”
+++++“Uh huh.  Two year ago his hogs got loose and I found one rooting in my garden.  I kilt it and cured it for bacon.  Dickey Bub didn’t much like that.  Ever’time we got to drinking he’d bring it up again.”
+++++Clayce moved into the room and took the revolver from the table.  Opening the cylinder he checked the loads then put the gun in his jacket pocket.  Luther followed Clayce into the kitchen, his dark eyes taking in the details.
+++++“Look around while I talk to Mr. Fay-ette,” Clayce said, then waited to take a chair until Luther slipped thru the doorway into the rest of the shack.
+++++Jocko slapped the table top with the flat of his hand and raised his voice. “Twoshoes, my woman’s back there somewheres, and she’s nekkid.  You don’t be taking no free looks, y’hear?”
+++++“Free looks?” Clayce arched an eyebrow.
+++++Jocko leered and reached for the Mason jar. “Ain’t nothing free in this world, mister Chief of Po-lice.” He took a drink of moonshine before adding, “If the price is right I’ll rent her to you for a bit.” Then, after belching loudly, “I don’t like yer pet injun snooping around my place.”
+++++“Too bad,” Clayce said mildly.  “I didn’t know you had a woman.”
+++++“Neither did I ’til a couple of weeks ago.”
+++++“Where did she come from?”
+++++“She got tired of being married to Dickey Bub.”
+++++“Oh.”
+++++“That’s Dickey Bub’s gun in yer pocket, too.  She brought it along with a cardboard suitcase and two quarts of likker.”
+++++“A makeshift dowry as it were,” Clayce said without humor.
+++++“A what?”
+++++“Forget it. How did Dickey Bub feel about her moving in here?”
+++++“About like you’d expect, I reckon, but he had to know she wadn’t gonna stay with him.”
+++++“Why not?”
+++++“She was on the prowl is why not.  Sometimes us boys played cards over to their place on Friday nights.  She was all the time running around half-dressed and Dickey Bub mad if he caught you looking.  I never once saw her in a full set of clothes.  Now that she’s living here, I just keep her naked. It’s easier that way.  She’s one of them, uh, what’a’ya call it when a woman wants is all the time?”
+++++“A nymphomaniac?”
+++++“Yeah, what you said—nymphomaniac.”
+++++“So, tell me what happened tonight.”
+++++“Ain’t much to tell.  We been drinking since supper and Dickey Bub got onto that damned ol’ hog again. That and Arvetta moving in here after cleaning out the bank account and stealing his gun to boot. He bitched about me not shutting the windows at night. Said he could hear the two of us going at it, what with Arvetta being kinda loud when she gets wound up. Then he allowed as how his life had basically gone to crap the last couple of years, which took him right back to that damned ol’ hog.  Next thing I know, he grabbed a butcher knife off the drainboard and come at me with murder in his eye.  It was self-defense, plain to see.”
+++++“So you grabbed his gun and shot him?”
+++++“No, I grabbed my gun and shot him.”
+++++“You just said the gun is his.”
+++++“Truth is, I misspoke.  It maybe was his ’til Arvetta brought it with her.  What’s that they say about having something being nine-tenths of the law?”
+++++“Possession?” Clayce provided.
+++++“Yeah, what you said—possession.”
+++++Luther reappeared in the kitchen doorway and leaned a shoulder against the jamb.  Both Jocko and Clayce looked to him, but Luther looked only to Clayce.
+++++“Arvetta McClung’s in the bedroom naked as a jaybird, hoss.  She’s got a black eye and bruised ribs and swears she fell down the stairs.”
+++++“What stairs?”
+++++“That’s what I asked, but she didn’t have an answer.”
+++++“Does she want to press charges?”
+++++“I asked that, too, but she said how do you arrest a flight of steps?”
+++++“Anything else back there?”
+++++“Nothing illegal if that’s what you’re asking?
+++++“So, what do you think, Luther?
+++++“About what, Arvetta?  I think Jocko smacks her around for whatever reason or maybe no reason at all.”
+++++“And Dickey Bub?”
+++++“Oh, Jocko murdered him alright, hoss.  No doubt about that.”
+++++“What?!” Jocko barked as he sat up straight.  “You’re fucking crazy. I tole you it was self-defense, didn’t I?”
+++++Ignoring Fayette, Luther said to Clayce, “You remember a year or so back when Dickey Bub and Ross Fugate went at each other in that juke joint parking lot out on Route 60?”
+++++“I do,” Clayce said.  “Cut each other up pretty good as I recall.”
+++++“They did,” Luther nodded.  “Had what we call a two-quart-of-blood fight.   By the time we broke it up it looked like they’d been butchering beef.  Anyway, hoss, Dickey Bub was a blade man.” Nodding at the corpse on the floor, he added, “Look at the way he’s holding that butcher knife.”
+++++Both Clayce and Jocko looked down at the dead Dickey Bub.
+++++“No knife man worth his salt holds it that way, with the cutting edge down like you’re gonna slice meat or chop carrots.  A knife man comes at you with the cutting edge up so he can gut you like a carp.  I figure Jocko put that knife in Dickey Bub’s hand after he shot him.”
+++++“That’s a lie!” Jocko spat. Then with a sly look, “And even if it ain’t, you can’t prove different.”
+++++Clayce pulled out a pair of handcuffs and tossed them to Luther who snatched them in mid-air like a camp dog catching a biscuit.
+++++“I don’t have to prove it, Jocko,” Clayce said mildly, “that’s the prosecutor’s job.  You’re under arrest.”
+++++“Well, I’ll be go to hell,” Jocko snarled as his right hand dropped into his lap under the table.
+++++“Don’t,” Clayce warned.  Dickey Bub’s revolver had somehow appeared in his hand, the muzzle leveled at Jocko’s belly.  “Maybe you have a gun under there, maybe not, but we already know this one works, don’t we?  Put your hands up.”
+++++Jocko’s empty hand reappeared. He grabbed the Mason jar and guzzled the last half-inch of moonshine before offering his bony wrists to Luther. Looking through the open doorway, he yelled, “Arvetta!  Put some clothes on and get your ass out here.  Call my daddy, tell ‘im I’m gonna need a lawyer and bail money.”
+++++There was the padding sound of bare feet on hardwood floor somewhere back in the shack.
+++++Rattling his shackles like Marley’s chains, Jocko hawked up a wad of phlegm and spat it between Luther’s boots. “Fucking injun,” he said as if commenting on the weather. Giving Clayce a look that would freeze water he said, “If I’d knowed you was gonna arrest me, I’d’ve shot you crossing the yard.”
+++++“Not likely.” Clayce waggled the gun barrel. “Get on your feet.”
+++++“I still say it was self defense,” Jocko grunted as he rose. “Hell, me and Dickey Bub’d still be swapping ends with Arvetta if it hadn’t been for that damned ol’hog.”