04 Mar

From the Swamp (part 5)

“Look at this guy, he thinks he’s the Terminator or something.” He smiled a crooked smile.

Sherri was smoking a cigarette. Mike turned toward her, with his back to Keith, willing him to start something. “Is he hurting you?”

She crossed her arms and exhaled her smoke with a suggestion of defiance. “I’m fine, hon.”

“What the fuck? Can’t you people mind your own goddammed business?”

“We’d like to mind our own business, asshole, but it’s hard when you’re saying “˜Fuck you, Sherri’ every two minutes.”

“Look, tough guy, if you don’t like it, feel free to call the police. It’ll take “˜em an hour to get here, and then we all know how quiet the police are.”

Sherri chuckled.

“Oh, I’m not gonna call the police.” Mike could feel the muscles in his forearms tensing. “I’m just going to give you one chance to apologize and shut up.”

Keith flashed his best white trash sneer. “Fuck off, Die Hard!”
Sherri laughed. She actually laughed. “Die Hard!” She laughed again.

Mike got two hands around the guy’s throat and squeezed. Keith’s eyes grew wide, and he slapped weakly at Mike’s arms. He fell to his knees. Mike was keenly aware of his hands; they felt enormous, electric, invincible.

From the clifftop, Chris heard a metallic thump, followed by silence. Then coughing and then Sherri. “Oh shit,” she said. “Did I kill him?”

He felt clairvoyant, prophetic. He saw the events to come. He’d go discover Mike Wallace dead; he’d identify the body for the police; he’d be stuck in Fishtrap for days; and then he’d drive 24 hours back home to Minneapolis with two boards and all of Mike’s belongings. He’d be named at Mike’s funeral, remembered as a true friend, contacted for years by Mike’s mother.

Or not. Sure as he was of his prophecy, he couldn’t be certain.

He only knew that walking back down those rocky steps would reveal possibilities for which he wasn’t prepared.

He stood, took a step toward the precipice. He could jump – submerge himself in the deep, become the swamp creature of Fishtrap. He’d subsist on whatever meat he could gather by overturning nighttime fishing boats or by snatching up cliffjumpers before they returned to the surface. Occasionally, he’d emerge from the water and let out a low bellow that would send chills down the spines of the campers on shore and set the dogs to barking.

For once in his life, he’d be what people feared.