August 18, 2011 by markstani
Here’s an excerpt from a story called ‘The Howling’ from ‘Mostly Redneck’, a gritty short story collection by Rusty Barnes (pub. Sunnyoutside Press). It’s out today! See the post below for links and an interview with the author.
Carrie sat in the front seat with the overhead lamp on daubing her lips with a potent shade of red. The sky outside was the color of an old dog’s mouth. ‘You figure they’ll be much going on?’ she said, smacking her lips and looping one tendril of hair over her forehead just so. I felt bad hauling my sister along to this, but Mom and Dad said to watch her carefully while they were gone. They didn’t say to avoid a social life. I’d be shipping out soon enough. Parris Island, here I come. This was the last party of the summer for me.
‘I guess.’ Downfield and just ahead of the hummock of earth that marked the Reutter’s property edge, a bonfire bloomed, showing tree branches and a bunch of figures huddled together in various groupings.
‘I’m kinda excited,’ Carrie said. ‘I’m going to know some people there, right?’
‘You’ll know everybody,’ I said. I reached into the back and got her vodka and a bottle of fruit juice. I poured half the juice out the open car door and filled the rest with vodka.
‘It’ll be so funny to see them all out of church.’
‘Just remember don’t never drink anything but what I give you or what we brought.’ I got out with the case of beer Uncle Shorty bought for me.
‘You’re so fucking serious,’ she said, tugging at her shorts as she got out. ‘Nothing’s going to happen. It’s a party.’ We walked downfield and into the firelight, where I got a bunch of high fives and some hugs from already-drunk girls I knew. Somebody had hauled down a couple picnic tables, and at one of them, Joe Pickett, a guy from over the next hill, was arm-wrestling our token dyke, Marcella. I could see Joe straining at her arm, and Marcella held him there in about the three quarter position, laughing at something someone behind her had said. Marcella wasn’t anybody to mess with. She had blonde hair cut short and had been working her dad’s farm since she was little. Now she stood a good six feet, maybe 170 pounds or so, wearing her track shorts and a wife-beater. Joe had his off hand clutched at the edge of the table.
‘Cheater,’ Marcella said simply, and whipped her arm around and down, thumping Joe’s arm into the table, rattling the empty cans of beer off onto the ground. It was then I noticed half the guys around her didn’t have pants on. There were tighty whities and boxers everywhere. I heard Carrie giggle behind me.