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Bewildering Stories

Gary Clifton, The Biggest Balls in Sanderson County


The Biggest Balls
in Sanderson County
Author: Gary Clifton
Publisher: Bareknuckle Thoughts
(March 2014)
Length: 84 pp, 1,844 kb

Twenty tales of noir, crime and violence that only a forty-year cop could write.

Near Miss

Sissy bolted through the screen door in a swirl of August East Texas red dust. “Man comin’ up the lane, Mama.” Skinny, her sandy blonde hair was freshly combed, her blue eyes wide with terror.

“Man...walkin’?” Merrylee wiped flour on her apron and bent forward to peer outside. Slender, 29, with hair the color of her daughter’s, stress and hardship showed in her prematurely lined face.

“’s Daddy,” Sissy hissed. “He gonna kill us?”

Merrylee stepped onto the porch, the screen banging shut behind her. “Early, you ought not to be comin’ here.” She shuddered and involuntarily touched the scar across her forehead.

“Jes wanted to see Sissy, Merrylee. She mine too, you know.”

“We was never legal married up, Early. Did you...?”

“No...paroled out...two day ago.” He was lean and prison-pale with close-cropped jailhouse hair.

“After only eight year?”

“Eight year a long damn time in that hellhole, Merrylee.” Missing a front tooth, he’d aged twenty in eight years and had a slash scar across his nose, but he looked as mean as ever.

“Buck be comin’ home any minute. Best you ain’t here,” she struggled to hide the fear in her voice.

“Ain’t scared o’ buck but ain’t wantin’ no trouble.” He leaned aside to see Sissy hiding behind her mother’s dress. “I ain’t meant to kill your brother, Marylee. He jes’ showed up at Mama’s with that damned old shotun.”

“Was you meanin’ it back when you was whalen’ on me, Early? That’s whut brung the dammed fool lookin’ for you.”

Early studied his dusty boots. “Jes’ come out to see about Sissy. Marylee, I’m...I’m sorry for everthin’ I done.”

“Early, I brung her over to see you at that Beto Prison...even come twice to the nervous hospital at Rusk.”

“I’m stayin’ over at Mama’s, Merrylee. Jes’ wanted to know how Sissy be,” he looked up. The venom in his eyes glowed yellow, like a water-moccasin caught on a bass hook.

Merrylee struggled to hide her terror. “She jes’ fine, Earl. You go on now. Me n’ Buck bring her by your Mama’s Sunday for a spell.”

Without a word, Early, bathed in summer sweat, turned and started back down the lane, his heavy boots kicking up dust before disappearing at a bend in the road. Merrylee reached in her apron pocket and touched the .38.

“Don’t be a comin’ back out here, Early,” she said softly as he disappeared in the tall pines. “Not never.”

Copyright © 2014 by clifton

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