Bad Business

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: 'The Odd Ones'
Enjoy your summers

Submitted: July 26, 2017

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Submitted: July 26, 2017



Bad Business


Kenny killed things.


We were cousins and turned ten on the same day, July first, Nineteen Fifty five. Living on adjoining farms we were pretty much together all the time. It seemed so anyway. We made up a club, built a hideout by digging into the side of a draw with our hands and knives. It was hard clay and held up until the first big rain. We had grown tired of it anyway.


The Dry Creek Bandits  was the name of our club. Two members, never more. Outlaws. Banks would be easy robbing, Kenny said smiling. These hick bankers out here won’t know what hit ‘em. I laughed and nodded.


We would meet at the Two Fork Rd. and ride our horses through and around neighboring farms. We armed ourselves with lever action BB guns and skinning blades. I guess we thought we were pretty tough. I remember to this day I never believed we would ever really rob banks and trains. A game. Now I see Kenny really wanted an outlaw life. More than that: he wanted an excuse to be mean.


He was dark haired and had eyes so black they seemed to be empty sockets when he would squint. Naturally muscular and almost a head taller than I was; made him the boss. Never talked about it, it was just so.


One morning, as we rode down to old HH Rd. Kenny held up his hand and dismounted. I did the same. I saw he was looking at the York farm and was grinning like the Devil. It was going to be bad business for sure. I remember looking into a huge spider web, all dewey and filled with struggling bugs. I felt like those damned bugs. I wanted to just sit there and smell the forest and maybe whittle. Anything other than what my cousin was cooking up. I wished I hadn’t gotten up that morning. But I did.


“ Come on and bring your rifle. I have an idea.” We tied the horse’s reins to some low branches and then ran from tree to tree until we were within shooting range of Mr. York’s house.


“ What are we doing? We don’t want trouble with the Yorks. They go to church with us and everything.”


“ So what?” Kenny looked at me hard. “ Don’t give a damn about that. Yorks ever do anything for ya? Hell no they didn’t. Me neither. ‘Sides, all we’re gonna do is shoot a few windows out. Gotta practice on the small things and work our way from there. Damn Billy, gonna chicken out on me.”


I never answered, just went along. A few windows turned out to be fifteen. Mrs York at work and Mr. York tending to his fields. Made no sense at all but I went along. Sure did. Still bothers me when other bothers fade for a minute.


Scrambling back to the woods a New Hampshire hen ran in front of us. In a second Kenny had his gun cocked and sent a BB into the bird. It tried running away but Kenny kept on pumping steel into her. She fell and craned her neck backwards and stretched out her legs. She was alive, but not for long. Kenny walked up to the downed bird and point blank shot her in the head. Why?


We went back to fetch our horses and I threw up. Kenny laughed. I could see Grandpa asking me about the York’s windows, about the chicken. He would look at me like he knew and so I would just tell him. It would be bad. Real bad.


“ Look at you, puking and about to cry.” Kenny’s shadow fell over me. “ What’s wrong you Billy? You worried about that nasty old chicken?” I heard his gun cock. Was he going to shoot me now? Pop, the BB went into the spider's nest I had been looking at earlier. Then, one after the other, the Daisy spat out BBs that wrecked the web. “ I think I hit the spider. Get up we’re riding out of here. Pull your bandanna up. We don’t want folks seeing us.”


Everyone in town knew us and our horses. Kenny was playing out a sick game in his head. We rode fast until we hit old HH and Kenny slowed and turned his horse to face me. He pulled down his mask.


“ Tell you what Billy, you ever punk out like that again and i ain’t having you in the club. Damned shameful how you acted. I’m going home to get my chores done so we can meet up later. Catch some fireflies at your place. Maybe go frogging.” He scratched his chin like he was thinking and went on. “ Sure as Hell fire Grandpa will ask us about this. Don’t you break down and start balling like a girl neither. It comes up you just act surprised. Hear?”


I nodded knowing I couldn’t lie to Grandpa. He had a way of knowing before he even asked the question.


Kenny rode off hollering like a Reb and waving his rifle in the air. A bad thought came to me then. THE bad thought. I headed south to the farm and doubled back up through the draw on the right of way. I would catch up to my cousin at the Ghost Barn. Just an old barn we pretended was haunted. The idea I had was growing stronger. I had, in most ways, hoped it would just go away. No, it took hold.


I made it to the old barn before Kenny passed ; tethered Red and went into the darkest part of the old place. Hay, rotted and filled with bugs and mice, stunk up the place real bad. My eyes were watering as I searched for the shovel  we had left there the summer before. Finding it I picked it up and hid right at the front where I could see my cousins approach; my hands were sweaty and so I rubbed them on my jeans to make sure I had a good grip on the handle.


Just as I suspected Kenny stopped when he saw Red. Looking out from a knothole I watched as the leader of the Dry Creek Bandits dismounted and hollered out to me.


“ Billy, you in there? I told you to scoot on home. Where the hell are ya?” He slid down from his saddle and walked toward me not knowing what was coming. How could he? I had just thought it up myself.


As soon as Kenny walked in he squinted to adjust his eyes to the dark.

“ Billy.”  He hollered as I raised the killing tool. “ You in here?”


That was the last thing he would ever say. Rusted metal dug deep into his skull and he fell twitching and screaming to the ground. I hit him again and  again. I thought about that hen and how she died the same way. Confused and in pain. Was that why i did it? I still don’t know.


Dragging his body to the old cistern was rough. I managed it and moved the rotten boards and brush away from the mouth of Kenny’s tomb. I don’t think I really knew I had killed him until his body disappeared into the black and then splashed the filthy water below. I think I panicked then. I went through all the right motions of covering the cistern head but felt dead myself. I did something worse than anything that had ever been done and knew the feeling of it would never go away.


If you had been following the news accounts back then you would know I have this account all wrong. I know the truth now but wanted you to know what I had been thinking.  It was Grandpa who found me. He was crying as he held my head above the water. A ladder was in the cistern and the top was uncovered letting in the sunlight; exposing the dark things swimming around me. My uncles had to haul me up with ropes. I was scared Grandpa would die. He didn’t die but I bet he was never happy again, knowing his ways I just bet on it.


Funny when you're dead and murdered you try and turn things right. Of course you can’t and what you pretend might be worse than being dead. It was a relief to know I hadn’t killed my cousin. I think when he told me to meet him at the haunted barn I knew what he had in mind. So why did I go? Because of all the bad business of that day; I think so.


Once I was up and on the ground I went to the barn and watched as everyone fussed over my body. Not sure where they took it but I stayed in the barn. Never left.


You know, it was never haunted until that day. Took all of that for me to find out.



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