Excerpt

As the sun dropped behind the Appalachians, two candles flickered to life on Dora’s porch. For the first time in recent memory, she didn’t sit alone, a fact that wasn’t lost on Pete. It has to be a full moon, he thought. Dog Shear Dora with a guy, holy cripes. Poor smuck, hope he knows what he’s getting into; Pete unconsciously covered his crotch with his hand as he entered his trailer. He deliberately let the screen door slam behind him. He chuckled; its clank drove Louise ape shit, hopefully doubly tonight since she had a migraine.

In her darkened bedroom, a self-sedated Louise barely stirred. Frustrated by the lack of Louise’s bark, Pete trudged back to the bathroom, slammed that door, threw up the toilet seat, squeezed his bladder extra hard for a rain-on-a-tin-roof effect, flushed – usually he forgot this courtesy – stomped across the linoleum floor before again slamming the bathroom door and tromping down the hallway. Then he found the remote and turned Sports Center on at full volume. The decibels pumping through Pete’s entertainment center – another consideration for not leaving Louise, he’d have to leave it behind – shook the trailer’s flimsy walls.

Suddenly awake, Louise sprung to a sitting position in the middle of the bed. Her sudden movement caused an intense head rush. The room spun around her like a 78-RPM record. She stifled a shout. Remembering the condition of her face, she reconsidered starting an argument. It seemed too hard to argue. Instead, she hunkered down beneath her mountain of pillows, trying vainly to return to the land in her dreams where horses flew.

“Jesus!” Maistoinna jumped from his chair. “Damn Schizo Noids!” Pete’s sound system had the desired affect on the wrong person.

“Schizoids,” Dora corrected.

“Maybe where you come from. Where I come from, loud white people qualify for an ass beating.”

“Oh really?” Dora asked.

“White people should be seen and not heard. Damn pestilence, you folks killed our buffalo, stole our land, raped our women and polluted our gene pool.”

“At least we didn’t rape your buffalo and kill your women.”

“Don’t kid yourself,” Maistoinna said standing.

“You best be quiet,” Dora chuckled. “You’re in paleface territory now. You know, when in Rome, do as the Romans.”

“When in a trailer park do as white trash.” He prepared to demonstrate.

“HEY!” Maistoinna shouted, his voice echoing across Heaven’s Lake Modular Community like thunder over the plains. “YO! HEY! JACKASS, TURN IT DOWN!”

Dora cringed before chuckling aloud. It was nice to have someone stick up for her. She’d never have considered starting with Pete and his out-of-control live-in and their bastard kid—a criminal in the making if there ever was one. She knew the type too well, thank you very much.

“Too bad I don’t have my pack. I’d throw a scare into that decibel dork.”

Dora rolled her eyes. Maistoinna’s medication was wearing off.

“I’m serious. How’d you feel if an Injun came knocking on your door toting a tomahawk?” Maistoinna pronounced it Tommy-hawk.

“You carry a tomahawk?”

“A camp ax. You tell me… a six foot five Indian knocks at your door in ill-humor, you gonna know the difference ‘tween an ax and a tomahawk? It’s the Hollywood effect. The white man is automatically thinking tomahawk, he’s thinking his scalp is my wampum.”

“Holy Cow,” Dora said looking at her watch. “It’s already nine o’clock, time for your meds.”

“You got hatchet, eh; how a-boot a hammer? He’ll be so worried about the load in his pants he ain’t gonna know no better, huh, ennit?”

“No really, don’t worry ‘bout it.”

“YO GOMORRA,” Maistoinna said bounding to his feet “TURN IT DOWN!”

“Gomorra?” Dora asked.

“Ya know, the bitch in the bible,” he said over his shoulder as he leapt off Dora’s deck.

“Huh?”

“You know, Sodom’s bitch. From Sodom and Gomorra, the lovers in the bible.”

“Lovers? What are you talking about? They’re cities, you twit. Wait a second, what are you doing? Oh, no you don’t! Put them down… Don’t! Oh shit!” A quick burst of loud pings reverberated off the aluminum siding of Pete’s trailer. Dora hid her face in her hands. Another loud, single crack followed.

Pete ignored the yelling. Nighttime screaming wasn’t an unheard of occurrence in Heaven’s Lake Modular Community. But the loud bangs on the side of his trailer gained his attention. “Get down!” he screamed at Little Matty. Scrambling off his recliner, Pete flopped on the floor. Another, single, louder shot hit the side of his trailer. In the bedroom, Louise pulled a blanket over her head.

In his years as a prison guard, Pete understood it was possible that some disgruntled ex-inmate might find his address and visit a little havoc upon his residence. He never thought it probable; he never believed anyone would waste their time. He crawled over and threw himself on top of Little Matty. “You okay?” he asked.

“No,” Little Matty grimaced struggling for his voice, his face turning beet red.

“You hit? Shit! You’re hit! Where’d they get you?”

“I… I… ca… can’t, ba… bra… breath,” Little Matty struggled to say.

“Oh my God! Oh my God!” Pete repeated brushing the hair from Little Matty’s face.

“Ga… get, a… off me!”

Pete rolled off Little Matty. “Oh my God, you’ve been shot! Where does it hurt? Oh my God.”

“You dork!” Little Matty cried, sitting up. “I’m not shot.You were crushing me. I couldn’t breathe.”

“Stay down,” Pete ordered, pulling Little Matty to the floor. “Stay down. Don’t move. Somebody shot up the house.” In his haste to gain his feet, Pete stumbled over the same coffee table that Ace sent Louise flying over a few hours earlier.

Regaining his feet, he cautiously made his way towards the door. He saw a guy—Dora’s friend—standing at the foot of her deck, looking up and down the road.

“Did you see anything?” Pete cried out his door.

Maistoinna knew an opportunity when he saw one: “Sure did. Wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it myself.”

“What, what did you see?” Pete asked bounding out of the trailer and leaping down his steps.

“Some Joe-Bob pulled up, got out of his car, picked up a hand full of rocks and flung ‘em at yer place. I yelled to him: ‘What the hell are you doing?’ He just gives me the finger, does his thing and goes tearing off.”

“Good grief,” Dora mumbled, sinking her face into her hands.

“Oh really? Tell me, this ‘Joe-Bob’—By the way, I didn’t get your name.”

“That’s ‘cause I didn’t give it.”

Pete briefly evaluated the giant. Shoulder in a sling, intimidating eyes. Not white, but a big mother, maybe spick, maybe Indian, maybe Calabrese. In the dark, Pete didn’t take into account the giant’s jet-black hair, which may have been a giveaway.

Pete blinked. “I guess you didn’t.” He gave the large stranger the chance to speak but Maistoinna remained quiet, staring into the smaller man’s eyes.

“Name’s Pete.”

“Maistoinna.”

“My-what?”

“Sweeny.”

“My Sweeny?”

“Maistoinna, my friends call me Sweeny,” the large man said with a disarming grin.

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