Nobody thought much about Pericho. Even the folks in Pericho. There were only two families that lived there. Pericho is a barren wasteland close to the New Mexico border. If you blink, well you
know the rest. Pericho has a grain elevator that hasn't worked in twenty years. There is one abandoned warehouse. Nestled behind the grain elevator are two trailer homes.
The Wilson clan lived in the biggest trailer. They were the rich folks in Pericho. The other trailer housed Old Man Johnson. That is what everyone called him. If everyone meant the Wilson clan.
Old Man Johnson's family were the original founders of Pericho. At one time, they ran a thriving cotton farm. Old Man Johnson never had time for school. The cotton couldn't wait. Learning could. The Wilson clan kept to themselves. Jim Wilson worked in nearby Texline. He owned a small feed store. Jan Wilson stayed in the trailer. She watched soap operas all day. She ate a lot. To say she was fat was being polite. Jim and Jan had one son. Larry Wilson. Larry went to Vietnam. He died from malaria. They had a small family funeral in Texline. Jan cried. Then she got hungry.
Old Man Johnson was a crazy old bird. He sat on his porch mostly. Spit chewing tobacco on red dirt. Other times, he'd wander out in a cotton field for miles. Nobody seemed to care. He had outlived all his family. Old Man Johnson had a secret. Buried beneath his trailer, lay a hundred pounds of gold. Johnson never trusted the government. When the gold standard was abolished, Johnson buried his treasure. "Ain't no government gonna take my money."
Jim got sick of listening to Old Man Johnson ramble. "Your paper money is worthless. Someday you'll see. I'm telling you right now. You better buy gold." Jim laughed most of the time at the advice. He had other things on his mind, like trying to feed Jan. She demanded a bucket of chicken a day. Jim had to stop by the Kentucky Fried Chicken nightly.
Old Man Johnson checked his gold monthly. He built a little trap door in his kitchen. The door was underneath the table. Right by the lime green kitchen counter. Sometimes he'd invite the Wilsons over for dinner. He'd sweat to see Jan sit on top of the trap door. Old Man Johnson worried he'd forget about his gold someday. His old age didn't help matters.
Old Man Johnson decided to move the gold. "I'll bury it five miles into the cotton field," he thought. It wouldn't be easy for an old man to haul a hundred pounds of gold. Maybe he'd ask Jim to help. "Hell no!"
Under the cover of darkness, the old man began to dig up his gold. He forgot how deep he buried it. Then he saw it. The beautiful gold shone up from his kitchen floor. All in bars and a few coins. Old Man Johnson loaded the bars first. He got it all out after a couple of hours.
The next few weeks consisted of the old man relocating his treasure. He put most of it behind the grain elevator. He buried a few bars in the cotton field. Nobody saw him, except a fat lady.
"Jim, that crazy Johnson is up to something."
"What do you mean?"
"I saw him taking some big boxes and a chest somewhere."
"Well, I think he's hiding something." Jan Wilson may have been fat, but she had insight.
"Okay, I'll check on him after work. In the mean time, you might take some exercise."
"Jim, you know I'd miss my soaps. Pick up a bucket of chicken on the way home."
Jim Wilson stopped by Old Man Johnson's trailer on his way home. He knocked on the door. Old Man Johnson knew this would happen. He was ready. His shotgun was loaded. Nobody was gonna steal his gold. Jim opened the door and was greeted by a shotgun blast. The pellets nearly blew a hole in his chest.
Jan heard the commotion and grabbed Jim's old pistol. Her loving husband lay dead in Johnson's kitchen. The fat lady waddled to Old Man Johnson's trailer, her cotton plus-sized dress swaying in the wind. Old Man Johnson hit her about half way. The first shot nearly took her head off. The fat lady dropped on the red dirt. A fresh bucket of chicken spilled all over.
Old Man Johnson had trouble burying the bodies. Jim was easy, but Jan proved difficult. She must have weighed four hundred pounds. Pericho was down to one resident.
Old Man Johnson died about a year later. His body lay next to his son. The sheriff found them about a year after that. He found the Wilsons too. Nobody really knew what happened. Nobody really cared. If you can find Pericho, check behind the grain elevator.
© Copyright 2017 Thom Young. All rights reserved.
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