Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scenes 41, 42 & 43

The dead eye of the deer is full of firelight. The carcass shifts slightly, as the truck accelerates from a stop. The gears go back and forth. The deer trembles artificially. Now the animal’s hair starts to singe, and the fire in its eye gets bigger yet.



Myron races up to where he can barely stand it, 70, 80 yards from the fiery crater where the pumps used to be. He’s shouting for Blinky. Charlene is shouting for Tom. The crowd from the Star-Lite is tumbling out. The gush of flame is roaring like a train. The signpole is bent back, and the new plastic SBE Petroleum sign is melting off the top of it, like a burned marshallow falling off a stick. Shredded lottery tickets flutter in the air. Beer grenades and plastic motor oil bombs are going off. And it’s raining Buick parts.

Inside the remnants of the station, the little corn starch men are strewn about and fried to crisps. The fax machine is a pool of plastic and circuits.

Charlene is hysterical. She and Myron are trotting around the heat as best they can. Over the sound of Charlene and the fire and the exploding beverages, Myron hears a terrifying sound: whobb whobb whobb whobb whobb whobb whobb. Right away, the guy knows what it is. He grabs Charlene and whirls her to face him. Shouting, he says, “Who was Tom selling the station to? Who!”

Whobb whobb whobb whobb. . . .

Charlene is sobbing and catching her breath. She’s making that weird klesping sound again. “To . . . the . . . Sucke Brothers!” she manages, just as the first of the copters sweeps low around the column of flame. It has “SBE, Ltd.” written on the fuselage.

“These are not,” Myron says loudly, “people who handle property damage well.”

The copters are swarming. They are beginning to strafe arbitrarily. Myron is scanning the landscape for any sign of Blinky. “I shouldn’t’ve left him,” he’s muttering again and again. He’s beginning to entertain the possibility that Blinky’s been atomized, or shot, when he notices another sound, this one lower and more percussive. Boom! Boom! He follows the sound to its source, and discovers, to his total amazement, Mad Anthony Wayne standing in the bed of a Ford pickup. The guy is firing an antique cannon. The copters are turning like angry wasps.

Some guy with a loudspeaker in one of the helicopters is reading from a prepared statement about the legitimate rights of the Sucke Brothers Petroleum Distribution Company and Sucke Brothers Enterprises, Ltd. to pursue legal remedies to the destruction of company property and, secondarily, the loss of corporate personnel.

A door from the Buick comes down with an awful thunk. Myron wheels around just in time to see Blinky’s head slowly rising from behind an overturned refrigerator. He’s scorched. Smoke is coming off his eyebrows. Little bits of his skin are gone. He’s like a red-spotted Blinky. Myron dashes over to him. “Blink!” he shouts. “Are you okay?!”

Blinky’s in shock.

Whobb whobb whobb. . . .

Myron is looking frantically for a way out. The copters are strafing Wayne.

Then, out of the flame and the fluttering debris, something--some animal?--emerges. Myron is squinting into the smoke. A magnificent three point buck trots out into the light. A copter swoops by. The deer takes a few steps, looks around, then picks its way over to Myron and Blinky. It stops for a second, snorts at Myron, then trots off in a direction away from the fire. It stops, looks back, then trots a little further. Myron is beginning to get the idea when a large orange truck pulls up just beyond the deer. It’s a Department of Transportation vehicle, a salt truck, the kind they use to salt the roads in the winter. Which it’s getting to be. Winter that is. Myron is really cold.

The buck walks around to the back of the salt truck and looks up at the gate. Myron grabs Blinky and hustles him toward the vehicle, staying low. They’re starting around toward the back, when Myron looks in the cab. Little Turtle is driving. He’s sipping on a cup of coffee and looking at a map.


Mad Anthony Wayne is bellowing into a manufactured wind of the copters. “You bastards! Come on and get me!” He’s lighting the cannon with a cigar. “Try this one on!” Rounds of machine gun fire rip across the bed of the Ford. BOOM! goes the cannon. He’s already bending down to get another ball. “Goddammit! Too low.” They swing around for another pass.

For a cavalry guy, Wayne is getting the hang of artillery pretty fast. “200 years,” he’s hollering. “200 years with that goddamn savage!” He’s trying to jack the cannon up, to get more loft. “Get down here, you cowards! You goddamn greedy Britishers!” He loads the next ball. The copter is swinging into position for a run. He’s holding the cigar off the taper. “You are my ticket out!”

The lead copter is bearing down on him. “Lower,” he’s coaching it, “lower . . . and fire!”

He jabs with his cigar. The stogie lights the taper, the taper lights the powder, the cannon erupts. Helicopter disappears in a fireball. KABLAM!

The guy with the megaphone stops talking.

Wayne is hooting and dancing.

A rocket from the second copter slams into the Ford. Kablooey. Annihiliates it.

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