The Ford came into town full of men and wrapped in a cloud of dust and through the dust the late afternoon sun looked like a cheap lamp shining through wraps of gauze. The cloud glided for a great distance, slowed when the car stopped moving forward, spun and finally faded out and down on all sides until the car could clearly be seen coated in a sheet of white powder. It took a moment to realize that beneath the grime the car was as black as tar. The wind that had been blowing stopped and shifted and the dust wound itself up into a big dust devil that twirled and gritted its way down the rutted street and tore out between two wind-squeaked abandoned buildings toward a gray tree line in the distance.
Outside of the car there wasn't much of the town to see, just a few ramshackle buildings wiped clean by the sandstorms that chewed wood and scraped paint and bleached the color out of clothes hung on wash lines. The dust was everywhere, coating windows and porch steps and rooftops. Sometimes, in just the right light, the dust looked like snow and one half expected polar bears and bewildered Eskimos to appear. The infernal sand seeped under cracks no matter how well blocked or rag-stuffed, and it crept into closed cars and through nailed-down windows. The world belonged to sand. The street was slightly less sandy in spots since tire wheels and footsteps kept it worn down, but you had to stay in the ruts if you drove a car, and the Ford had done just that before parking in front of a little store with a single gas pump with the gas visible in a big dust-covered bulb on top.
The car parked and a man on the passenger side got out. He had a hat in his hand and he put it on. He wore a nice blue suit and fine black shoes and he looked almost clean, the dust having only touched his outfit and hat like glitter tossed at him by The Great Depression Fairy. He leaned left and then leaned right, stretching himself. The other doors opened and three men got out. They all wore suits. One of the men wearing a brown pinstripe suit and two-tone shoes came over and put his foot on the back of the car and wiped at his shoes with a handkerchief that he refolded and put in his inside coat pocket. He said to the man in the blue suit, "You want I should get some Co-colas or somethin', Ralph?"
"Yeah, that'll be all right. But don't come back with all manner of shit like you do. We ain't havin' a picnic. Get some drinks, a few things to nibble on, and that's it."
As the man in the pinstripe suit went into the store, an old man came out to the pump. He looked as if he had once been wadded and was now starting to slowly unfold. His hair was as white as the sand and floated when he walked. "I help you fellas?"
"Yeah," said Ralph. "Filler up."
The old man took the hose and removed the car's gas cap and started filling the tank. He looked at the car window, and then he looked away and looked back at the store. He swallowed once, hard, like he had an apple hung in his throat.
Ralph leaned against the car and took off his hat and ran his hand through his oiled hair and put it back on. He stared at the old man a long time. "Much hunting around here?" he asked the old man.
"Lot of hunting, but not much catching. Depression must be gettin' better though, only seen one man chasin' a rabbit the other day."
It was a tired joke, but Ralph grinned.
"This used to be a town," the old man said. "Wasn't never nothing much, but it was a town. Now most of the folks done moved off and what's here is worn out and gritted over. Hell, you get up in the morning you find sand in the crack of your ass."
Ralph nodded. "Everything's gritted over, and just about everybody, too. I think I'm gonna go to California."
"Lots done have. But there ain't no work out there."
"My kind of work, I can find something."
The old man hesitated, and when he asked the question, it was like the words were sneaking out of the corner of his mouth: "What do you do?"
"I work with banks."
"Oh," the old man said. "Well, banking didn't do so good either."
"I work a special division."
"I see. . . . Well, it's gonna be another bad night with lots of wind and plenty of dust."
"How can you tell?"
"'Cause it always is. And when it ain't, I can tell before it comes about. I can sniff it. I used to farm some before the winds came, before the dust. Then I bought this and it ain't no better than farming because people 'round here are farmers and they ain't got no money 'cause they ain't got no farms so I ain't got no money. I don't make hardly nothin'."
"What you're givin' me for this here gas and the like, that's all I've made all day."
"That does sound like a problem."
"Tell me about it."
"So if I was to rob you, I'd just be keepin' my own money."
"You would. . . . You boys staying in town long?"
"Where's to stay?"
"You got that right. Thirty, forty more feet, you're out of town. There ain't nothing here and ain't nobody got nothin'."
"Nothing to be had."
Ralph said, "My daddy, he had a store like this in Kansas. He ain't got nothin' now. He got droughted out and blown out. He died last spring. You remind me somethin' of him."
The other two men who had been loitering on the other side of the car came around to join Ralph and the old man, and when Ralph said what he said about his old man, one of the men, brown suited, glanced at Ralph, then glanced away.
"Me, I'm just hanging in by the skin of my teeth, and I just got a half dozen of 'em left." The old man smiled at Ralph so he would know it was true. "I'm just about done here."
"You a Bible reader?" Ralph asked the old man.
"I figured that much. My old man was a Bible reader. He could quote chapter and verse."
"I can quote some chapters and some verses."
"You done any preachin'?"
"No. I don't preach."
"My old man did. He ran a store and preached and had too many children. I was the last of 'em."
The old man looked at the tank. "You was bone dry, son, but I about got you filled now."
In the store the man in the brown suit with pinstripes, whose name was Emory, saw a little Negro boy sitting on a stool wearing a thick cloth cap that looked as if it had been used to catch baseballs. The boy had a little pocketknife and was whittlin' on a stick without much energy.
Emory looked at the boy. The boy latched his eyes on Emory.
"What you lookin' at, boy?"
Emory wandered around the store and found some candies and some canned peaches. He got some Co-colas out of the icebox and set them dripping wet on the counter with the canned peaches and the candies.
Emory turned and looked at the boy. "You help out here, nigger?"
"Just a little."
"Well, why don't you do just a little? Get over here behind the counter and get me some of them long cigars there, and a couple packs of smokes."
"I don't do that kind of thing," the boy said. "That there is Mr. Grady's job. I just run errands and such. I ain't supposed to go behind the counter."
"Yeah. I guess that make sense. And them errands. What's a nigger get for that kind of work?"
"A nickel sometimes."
"Naw, suh. Per day."
"That's a little better. There's white men workin' in the fields ain't making a dollar a day."
"Yes, suh. They's colored men too."
"Yeah. Well, how hard are they workin'?"
"They workin' plenty hard."
"Say they are," Emory said, and took a hard look at the boy. The boy's eyes were still locked on his and the boy had his hands on his knees. The boy's face was kind of stiff like he was thinking hard on something but one eye sagged slightly to the left and there was a scar above and below it. He had one large foot and a very worn-looking oversized shoe about the size of a cinderblock.
"What happened to your eye?"
"I had a saw jump back on me. I was cuttin' some wood and it got stuck and I yanked and it come back on me. I can still see though."
"I can tell that. What's wrong with your foot?"
"It's a clubfoot."
"What club does it belong to?"
"You ain't so smart, are you?"
"Smart enough, I reckon."
"So, with that foot, you don't really run errands, you walk 'em." The boy finally quit looking at Emory. "Ain't that right," Emory said when the boy didn't answer.
"I s'pose so," the boy said. "That a gun you got under your coat?"
"You a nosey little nigger, ain't ya? Yeah, that's a gun. You know what I call it?"
The boy shook his head.
"My nigger-shooter. You know what I shoot with it?"
The boy jumped up. It caused the stool to turn over. The boy dropped the stick and the pocketknife and moved as fast as his foot would allow toward the door, turned and went right along the side of the store, giving Emory a glance at him through the dusty glass, and then there was just wall and the boy was gone from view.
Emory laughed. "Bet that's the fastest he ever run," he said aloud. "Bet that's some kind of clubfooted-nigger record."
The old man was topping off the pump as the boy ran by and around the edge of the building and out of sight. By the time the old man called out "Joshua," it was too late and from the way the boy was moving, he was unlikely to stop anyway.
"What the hell has got into him?" the old man said.
"Ain't no way to figure a colored boy," Ralph said.
"He's all right," the old man said. "He's a good boy."
The other two men were standing next to the pump, and Ralph looked at them. He said, "John, why don't you and Billy go in there and see you can help Emory?"
"He don't need no help," Billy said. He was a small man in an oversized black suit and no hat and he had enough hair for himself and a small dog, all of it greasy and nested on top of his head, the sides of his skull shaved to the skin over the ears so that he gave the impression of some large, leafy vegetable ready to be pulled from the ground.
"Well," Ralph said, "you go help him anyway."
The old man was hanging up the gas nozzle. He said, "That's gonna be a dollar."
"Damn," Ralph said. "You run some of that out on the ground?"
"Things gone up," the old man said. "In this town, we got to charge off of what the suppliers charge us. You know that, your daddy owned a store."
Ralph pondered that. He buttoned and unbuttoned his coat. "Yeah, I know it. Just don't like it. Hell, I'm gonna go in the store too. A minute out of this sun ain't gonna hurt me, that's for sure."
Ralph and the old man went into the store side-by-side until they came to the door, and Ralph let the old man go in first.
The old man went behind the counter and Ralph said, "You sure look a lot like my old man."
"Don't reckon I'm him, though," the old man said, and showed his scattered teeth again, but the smile waved a bit, like the lips might fall off.
"No," Ralph said. "You ain't him, that's for sure. He's good and dead."
"Well, I'm almost dead," the old man said. "Here until God calls me."
"He don't call some," Ralph said. "Some he yanks."
The old man didn't know what to say to that. Ralph noticed that there were pops of sweat on the old man's forehead.
"You look hot," Ralph said.
"I ain't so hot," the old man said.
"You sweatin' good," Billy said.
"Ain't nobody talkin' to you," Ralph said. "Go on over there and sit on that stool and shut up."
Billy didn't pick up and sit on the stool, but he went quiet.
"I guess maybe I am a little hot," the old man said, straightening the items on the counter. "We got the gas, and we got these goods. Canned peaches, some candies, and Co-colas. That's be about a dollar fifty for all that, and then the gas."
"That dollar-tank of gas," Ralph said.
"Yes, sir. That'll be two-fifty."
"You got all manner of stuff, didn't you, Emory?" Ralph said. "I told you not to get all that stuff."
"I got carried away," Emory said, and turned to the old man. "You give any stamps or any kind of shit like that with a purchase?"
The men had gathered together near the counter, except for Billy, who was standing off to the side with hurt feelings and some of his hair in his eyes.
The old man shook his head. "No. Nothing like that."
"That don't seem right," Emory said. "Some stores do that."
"Do they?" the old man said.
"Some give dishes," Emory said.
"Shut up," Ralph said. "You wouldn't know what to do with a dish you had it. You'd shit in a bowl and sling the plates. Just get things together and let's go."
The old man was sacking up the groceries, but he left the Co-colas on the counter. "You gonna carry those separate?" he asked.
"That'll be all right," Ralph said. "You even got hands like my old man. That's somethin'."
"Yes, sir," the old man said, "I s'pose it is."
Ralph looked around and saw that the others were staring at him.
When he looked at them they looked away. Ralph turned back to the old man. "You got a phone here?"
"No. No phone."
Ralph nodded. "Total it. I'm goin' on out to the car. Emory, you or John take care of it."
Ralph walked around to the front of the car and got out his cigarettes and pulled one loose of the pack with his lips, put the pack away and lit up with a wooden kitchen match he struck on the bottom of his shoe. As he smoked, he looked through the front window of the car.
He walked around to the side of the car and looked in. The Tommy gun he had told Billy to put up lay on the backseat in plain view.
He walked around to the other side of the car where the gas pump was and looked in through the side window. You could see it real good from that angle, about where the old man stood to put the gas in.
He walked back around to the front of the car and started to lean against it but saw it was covered in dust, so didn't. He just stood there smoking and thinking.
After a bit, there was a sharp snapping sound from inside the store. Ralph tossed the cigarette and went inside. Emory was putting away his gun.
"What you done?" Ralph said, and he walked to the edge of the counter and took a look. The old man lay on the floor. His eyes were open and his head was turned toward Ralph. The old man had one arm propped on his elbow, and his hand stuck up in the air and his fingers were spread like he was waving hello. On his forehead was what looked like a cherry blossom and it grew darker and the petals fell off and splashed down the old man's face and dripped on the floor in red explosions and then a pool of the same spread out at the back of his head and coated the floor thick as spilled paint.
Ralph turned and looked at Emory. "Why'd you do that?"
"You told me to," Emory said.
Ralph came out from behind the counter and hit Emory hard enough with the flat of his hand to knock Emory's hat off. "I meant pay the man, not shoot him." Emory put a hand to the side of his face.
"We all thought that's what you wanted," Billy said, and Ralph turned and kicked Billy in the balls. Billy went to his knees.
"I didn't say kill nobody."
"You know he seen that gun in the car," Emory said, backing up. "We all knowed it. We was twenty feet down the road, he was gonna go somewhere and find a phone."
Ralph looked at John. John held both hands up. "Hey, I didn't say to do nothing. It was over before I knew it was happening."
Emory picked up his hat. Billy lay on the floor with his hands between his legs. John didn't move. Ralph took a deep breath, said, "You think nobody noticed a gunshot? You think that little nigger ain't gonna remember you? 'Cause I know you run him out. Grab that shit and let's go. And help that retard Billy up."
John drove and Ralph sat up front on the passenger side. Billy was behind him, and across from Billy was Emory, his hands still tucked between his legs, holding what made him a gentleman.
"I thought you meant kill him, Ralph," Emory said. "I figured on account of what you said, him like your father and all, and considering what you—"
"Shut up! Shut the hell up!"
Emory shut up.
Ralph said to John: "You better find some back roads. I know some out this way, but it's been awhile. There's one that a car can travel on down by the river."
They took the road when Ralph pointed it out. It wound down amongst some ragged cottonwood trees. The trees had few leaves and what leaves it had were brown with sand stripping and the limbs were covered in sand the color of cigarette ash. The car dipped over a rise and there were some rare green trees below that hadn't been stripped.
The trees stood by the river where it was low down and the wind was cut by the hills. The river was thin on water and there were drifts of sand all around it. They drove down there and turned along the edge of the river and went that way awhile till Ralph told John to stop. They got out and Ralph went over by the bank and looked at the remains of the river. Emory came over. He said, "I didn't mean to make you mad. I thought you wanted me to do what I did."
Ralph didn't say anything. Emory unbuttoned his fly and started peeing in the water. "I just thought it was one way and it was another," he said while he peed. "I didn't understand."
Ralph reached inside his coat. He didn't do it fast, just with certainty. He turned and had a .45 in his hand. He shot Emory in the mouth when he turned his head toward him, while he was trying to explain something. Emory's head went back so hard it seemed as if it would fly off his neck and parts of it went down the bank and a piece slid into the chalky-colored water and the water turned rusty. Emory lay on his side, still holding his pecker with his right hand. He was still peeing, but in a dribble, and he had clenched himself so hard between thumb and forefinger it looked like he was trying to pinch it off.
"Goddamn!" Billy said. "Goddamn."
He came over and went down the bank and bent over Emory and looked at what was left of his head and saw pieces of Emory's skull on the ground and in the dark water. "Goddamn. You killed him."
"I should think so," Ralph said.
Billy stood up straight and looked at Ralph, who had the gun down by his side. "Wasn't no cause for that. He did what he thought you wanted on account of you saying he looked like your old man. Goddamn it, Ralph."
Ralph lifted the .45 a little and John came over and put his hand on Ralph's arm, said, "It's all right, Ralph. You done done it. Billy ain't thinking. He and Emory were cousins. He don't know how things are. He's grieving. You understand that. We all been there."
"Double cousins," Billy said. "Goddamn it."
"Shut up, Billy," John said, and he kept his hand on Ralph's arm.
Billy looked at Ralph's face, and some of his spirit drained away. Billy said, "All right. All right."
"Why don't you put the gun up?" John asked Ralph.
Ralph slowly put the gun in the shoulder holster under his coat. "That fellow looked so much like my old man."
"I know," John said.
"He had the same hands."
"Emory shouldn't have done that. Now the town will turn out. They'll have the law all over us. That little nigger will remember Emory's face."
"That won't be a problem. He ain't got a face no more. I don't think he seen the rest of us that good."
"It don't matter," Ralph said, taking off his hat. "They'll know who we are."
"They got to catch us first," John said.
Ralph took off his hat and ran his hand through his oily hair. There was dust on his fingers and some of it came off in his hair. He put the hat back on. "Goddamn, Emory. Goddamn him." He looked over at Billy.
Billy was sitting on the bank looking at Emory's body. Flies had already collected on it.
Ralph started over that way. John touched his arm, but Ralph gently pulled it away. Ralph stood over Billy. "You get to thinking what you ought not, it could go bad for you."
Billy turned his head and looked up at Ralph. "Only thing I'm thinking is my cousin's dead."
"And he ain't comin' back. No matter how much you look at him or shake him, he ain't gonna come around and his head ain't gonna go back together. And I want you to know, I don't feel bad for doin' it. I tell you to do somethin', you don't figure what I mean, you got to know what I mean, not guess. I run this outfit."
Billy ran his hands over his knees, lifting his fingers so that they stood up like white tarantulas. "Yeah. Yeah."
"Give me your gun," Ralph said.
Billy looked at him so hard his eyes teared up. "I'm over it," he said.
"Give me your gun."
Billy reached inside his coat and took hold of a .38 revolver and pulled it out and when he did, Ralph pulled out his .45. "I'll just hold it for you," Ralph said. "While you grieve."
Billy gave Ralph the .38. It was small enough Ralph put it in his coat pocket. "Sometimes, we're upset, we do things we shouldn't."
"That's what you did," Billy said.
"It wasn't something I shouldn't have done. I don't feel bad at all. Ain't no one kills no one unless I say so."
Billy seemed about to say something, but didn't. Ralph said, "Build up a fire. I don't think anyone will see the smoke much down here, and we'll just have it for a while."
"Why?" Billy said.
"We'll get right on it," John said, came over and took hold of Billy's arm and pulled him up and pushed him toward the woods. He called back to Ralph. "We'll get some wood right away."
While they were gathering wood, Billy said, "He killed him for nothing. He killed him while he was holding his dick in his hand. He didn't have to do that, didn't have to kill him that way."
"He killed him because the old man reminded him of his old man. He'd be just as dead if he hadn't been holding his dick."
"His old man . . . that can't be it. You know what he done."
"I know, but there ain't no way to figure it straight, because what he did wasn't straight. It's just his way."
"Just his way? Jesus. That was my cousin."
"Yeah, and he ain't gonna get no deader, and he ain't gonna get alive not even a little bit, so you got to let it go. I've had to let a lot of things go. Drop it."
"I don't know I want to keep doing this."
"We split up the money, then we can go the ways we want. But you don't want to make Ralph nervous. You make him nervous, only so much I'm gonna do. Me, I plan to make Thanksgiving at home this year. I don't want to end up on the creek bank with part of me in the water and flies all over me. So I'm doin' the last of what I'm doin' for you, you savvy? Because I'm more worried about me and I want my share of money. Look at it this way—more money split three ways than four. That's a thing to think about. You savvy?"
"More split two ways than three," Billy said.
"I wouldn't think that. You think that, you'll think yourself into the dirt with your head blown off."
They stacked up the wood like Ralph said and then they sat on a hill above the bank for a while and then Ralph said, "John, you go look in the turtle hull and get out the hose and the jug there, siphon out a bit of gas. Maybe about half-a-jug-full. And bring me back a can of them peaches."
"Sure," John said, and got up to go do it.
Billy made to get up too, but Ralph said, "You stay here and keep me company."
Billy sat back down. Ralph said: "Listen here, now, boy. Your cousin talked too much and didn't listen to me good. John should have stopped him. He should have known better. You're just a dumb kid. But you ain't gonna get to be any older or any smarter you don't start payin' attention. You get me?"
"Yeah," Billy said.
"I don't think you get me."
"No. I do."
"We'll see. You go down there and get your cousin, don't have to bring up his brains and stuff, just drag his body up here and you put him face down on that pile of sticks you got together, and then you fold his hands up so that they're under his face."
"Why would I do that?"
"See there, boy, you don't get me. You don't understand a thing I tell you and you always got a question. Now, I told you to go down there and get him."
Billy got up and went down the bank. Ralph didn't move. He lipped out a cigarette and lit it with one of his kitchen matches.
After a while, Billy come up the hill tugging at Emory by the heels. He got the body over by the sticks about the time John come back with the clear jug half full of gasoline and the can of peaches. He gave Ralph the peaches.
"Take that gasoline," Ralph said, "and put about half on that pile of sticks, sprinkle it around, and pour the rest on Emory's hands and face. That way, ain't nobody gonna recognize him and he ain't gonna have no fingerprints. Take off his clothes first."
Billy had quit pulling on Emory. He said, "They'll know who we are anyway. You said yourself that little nigger seen us. And Emory hasn't got much of a face left."
"We're just making it harder for them," Ralph said.
"I think you're just making it meaner," Billy said. "I think you're teaching me a lesson."
Ralph turned his head to one side curiously. "That what you think? You think you ain't already got a hole God's gonna put you in? A slot."
"That ain't your call," Billy said.
"It sure was with Emory. I helped God fit him to his slot. I sent him where he was goin' and I didn't choose his place, just his time, and that there, it was preordained, my old man taught me that. And the place Emory went, I don't figure him nor any of us is going to a place we'd like to go, do you?"
"Ain't mine to think about."
"Oh, Billy, sure it is."
"Not if it's done planned."
"Billy," John said. "I'll help you."
"I ain't gonna put him on that fire."
"You don't, it'll still get done," Ralph said, "and maybe I get John to siphon out some more gas, get some more sticks. You get where the wind is ablowin' on that?"
Billy was breathing heavy. John said, "Billy, let's just do it. Okay?"
Billy looked at John. John's face was pleading. "All right," Billy said.
Billy and John got hold of Emory and rolled him over. They took off his clothes except for his shorts, which were full of shit. Billy got a stick and worked Emory's dick back into the slit in his underwear. John started to pour gasoline on Emory's open-eyed face. The top of Emory's head looked like it had been worked open with a dull can opener.
"No," Ralph said. "Have Billy do that." John handed Billy the jug.
Billy looked at John, but there was no help there. He took the jug and poured gas on Emory's head.
"Now put him face down on the sticks and put his hands under his head," Ralph said. He had used his pocketknife to open the can of peaches and he was poking them with the knife and gobbling them down, some of the peach juice running down his chin.
Billy and John did as they were asked and then Ralph gave John a kitchen match. John set the sticks on fire. The stench of Emory's burning body filled the air.
"Let's go," Billy said. "I don't want to see this, smell it neither."
"No," Ralph said, eating more peaches, "you just find you a seat. We'll kinder pretend we're at the movies."
The three of them sat on the hill but Billy sat with his face away from the fire. The fire licked at Emory and pretty soon the head and hands were burned up and so were the feet and parts of the rest of his body.
"Close enough," Ralph said. He had long finished the peaches and had tossed the can down the bank toward the water, but it didn't go that far. "Spread them sticks out and kill the fire so we don't burn half the county down. What's left of him won't matter. Dogs and such will have them a cooked meal tonight."
When they went out to the car, Ralph fell back and said to John, "Any kind of noise goes off, you just hold steady, you hear?"
"Yeah," John said, and then he walked briskly away from Ralph toward the driver's side. Billy was about to get in the backseat when Ralph said, "You sit up front, Billy."
Billy turned and looked at Ralph. He studied him for a long hard moment. He said, "That's okay. I don't mind the back."
"You sit up front," Ralph said.
"You always ride up front," Billy said.
"I don't mind."
"You sit in my seat."
Ralph sat behind Billy in the back, and John drove. They drove out of the trail and out of the woods and onto the main road. It was starting to get dark. John pulled on the lights.
John glanced at Billy. Billy's face was beaded up with sweat. "I been thinking," Billy said. "Everything you was talking about was right, Ralph. I was just upset."
"Yeah," Ralph said.
"Yeah. I mean, I wasn't thinking."
Billy turned halfway around and put his arm on the seat. Ralph was looking right at him. In the early evening he was only slightly better defined than a shadow. He had his hat pulled down tight.
"Turn around, Billy," Ralph said.
Billy turned. He looked at John. John said, "I done told you."
Billy said, "He's my cousin, so of course I was upset. I ain't gonna say nothing about it to no one. Not even his mama."
"That's good," Ralph said, and reached in his pocket and took Billy's revolver out of it and rested it on his knee, his hand resting gently on top of it like a man caressing a pet.
"You know we all done done the sins that's gonna send us to hell," Ralph said. "It's just a matter of when now, but we're all goin'. There ain't a thing we can do to change things. For some of us when it comes, it'll come quick and with a pop."
"Sure we can," Billy said. "We can all do better."
"I don't think so," Ralph said.
"It's like you said, I ain't nothin' but a kid. I ain't thinkin' things through. But I'll get better. We all thought you wanted that old man done."
"Leave me out of this," John said. "I ain't part of that 'we.'"
Billy was talking fast. "You sayin' he looked like your daddy, and us knowing what you did."
"Don't mention my old man again," Ralph said. "Ever."
"Sure," Billy said. "Sure. But I've learned my lesson. I've learned a lot."
"Sure you have," Ralph said, and then there was a long silence, and then Billy heard the revolver cock.
We'll be down by the bank next Thursday, March 13, with another story by Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe R. Lansdale. Come back and join us.
"Dirt Devils" was originally published in 2009 in Sanctified and Chicken-Fried: The Portable Lansdale (University of Texas Press). "Dirt Devils" © 2009 Joe R. Lansdale. All rights reserved.