Flash Fiction: Lanky

you get crazy away from people, we make you crazy in this world

~ ~ ~

In the deep summer, everything dries out and the wood fear the fire.

With so much to tell, Lanky Everett hurries into town. A good six foot five, Lanky runs, half coobles up the small rise, thoughts a thousand miles a minute.

“Gotta tell ’em,” he reminds himself as images pour through his brain.

Lanky is country, born and raised northern Alabama, believes in the confederacy, flies a confederate flag over his mobile. Lives deep in the woods. Goes into town ever now and then to hear the old men tell stories at the pavilion near the courthouse.

Where they ain’t watching for him. Where they ain’t listening to him.

When it gets too hot, and this is one them days, there’s no cloud cover, they got to go inside to tell their stories at the lunch hour.

And they can tell stories. The best stories that people can ever want to hear. About the ol’ days and ol’ glory. Don’t let anybody tell you different about the South. Those were glory days.

Well now, he has something to tell. And when he tells, everbody will want to hear. Everbody will remember ol’ Lanky always wanted to do good.

“Gotta tell ‘em,” he says, breaking into a jog.

Lanky is all athlete growing up. But for one thing.

Throws a football spot-on, shoots basketballs all day, through the net with that sweet swishing sound, fires fastballs, curves, sliders, changes wherever his catcher wants and hits bottle tops, rusty nails or deer heads with any gun, rifle or knife.

Till that day the fastball came out of his hand crazy-like, like it had a mind all its own and went for Tommy Cryder’s head.

Even then, Lanky could never run worth a lick.

After Tommy went down and couldn’t get up, from home plates to first bases, from dugouts to pitchers’ mounds, from benches to center jumps, Lanky’s legs would get stiff like concrete like when he stood on the mound looking at Tommy Cryder’s bleeding head, until he could run no more, till he never wanted to throw or shoot anything ever again.

But today’s gonna be different. He’s not gonna be the Lanky none of ‘em sees, none of ‘em hears, anymore. Maybe, jus’ maybe, Tommy’s watching down on him. Maybe Tommy sees him.

He moves

He skedaddles

Keep the pictures and sounds exactly right, that’s what he’s gonna do. They’ll listen to him. They’ll listen to Lanky because he wants to do good.

Stars

so far away

telescopes

probes

They don’t come in peace. And they ain’t big and monstrous, that’s not what they are. That part makes him wild with wanting to tell.

All your life you live in the country, away from city lights and electricity, you see night things.

Floating

Darting

Hovering

Tommy’s eyes

That fastball

Eating up

On him

Outside his trailer, when they come out of the woods, he thinks they’re a trio of weird-looking, fatheaded June bugs, almost like round bloody baseballs on little insect bodies.

1

2

3

Strikes

 

You

Shouda

Been

Out

Tommy Cryder

 

Almost

Like that

Not

Bleedin

All

Over

The

White

Chalked

Batter’s

Box

 

But when

They

Lower themselves

Into the grass

Stand there

Upright

Wings flickering

He knows

These ain’t no bugs

 

These are

Tommy Cryder

Past

Present

And Future

Talkin’

Right

Out

Of

The

Grave

 

Not

Letting up

On Lanky

“Little fellers,” he says, twitching his head, bending his knees, salvation coming.

Like a heavenly choir, the sounds. The little one, there are the three of them, puffs up and the sound comes. First like a choir and then a terrible burning sound, like a forest on fire, trees crying, people dying, the other two puffing, getting big like.

Like they’re telling him something.

Like they’re telling ‘em

They come

to burn the earth

to get back

at all

the meanness

 

Lanky is

first

to know

knows first

 

Run

Lanky

 

Tell ‘em

You gotta

Tell ‘em

He hears himself

Say

Over and over

 

 

All his work

Done

 

As he nears

The

Courthouse

Like he’ll be somebody again. Before the crazy fastball. Before he digs the torches into the ground, before he soaks ‘em in gasoline and makes ‘em into a circle ‘round the courthouse, in the near dry forest. If they don’t listen, he’ll just have to lock the doors when they all go inside to tell their stories.

If they don’t know Lanky wants to do good, he’ll just have to make a couple of lines out the powder in his pocket and connect those powdery arms into the nearness of the forest whose dry, leafy limbs hover like birds over the courthouse, close’n to those fiery torches he’ll have to light.

That way, they’ll know Lanky wants to do good. If they don’t listen to what he’s got to tell em.

Run, Lanky, run. You gotta tell ‘em. Tommy Cryder knows you mean to do good.

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