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Me and Jasper was down by Pookie Dotson’s meth shack, waitin’ for Pookie to show up with his special bag of Halloween goodies. He was an hour late, but we didn’t think much about it, ’cause when it came to Pook, bein’ an hour late was awful damn close to punctuality. Anyhow, we didn’t have much choice but to sit tight, because after parkin’ the Jeep at the bottom of the hill, we’d hiked back into the holler almost two miles on an old loggin’ road that wasn’t much more than mud ruts. Twice, Jasper fell and damn near broke his leg. No way were we goin’ home empty handed.
Jasper stood over by the door, quick-drawin’ his .38 from the holster, spinnin’ it around his finger over and over, like he was some sort of gunfighter in a brown Carhart jacket.
“What the hell are you doin’?” I asked him.
“Practicin’,” he said. “You told me to be ready, I’m damn sure gonna, Boo.”
Jasper calls me Boo, has for as far back as I can remember, ever since we was teenagers in the late ’80s, flippin’ through Fangoria magazines and talkin’ about who’d win a fight between Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, which everybody knows Jason would kick ass hands down, but for some reason my friend always argued on Freddy’s side. I never could figure that out—Jasper was always pretty smart about things like that, but for some reason he come down on the wrong side of that particular argument. Anyway, he calls me Boo but I ain’t never figured out why.
“You bring those bullets I asked you about?” I figured that he was good for it, but this wasn’t a time for just figurin’—it was a time for bein’ sure.
Jasper felt around in his pocket. I heard metal shells clink against each other. He said, “I got twelve of ’em, just like you said. They was damn hard to come by, but I got ’em.”
“Don’t you worry none with the wheres and the hows. I got ’em, that’s all you hafta know.”
I nodded, rubbed my scraggly beard with one hand. Above us, the afternoon sun flittered into twilight. A hellacious October wind come tear-assin’ into the valley, sweepin’ the pine trees back and forth like they wasn’t no more than turkey feathers. Even though me and Jasper was sittin’ halfway down the hillside, the trees didn’t do much to block that wind, neither; it smacked me full in the face, and felt a lot colder than we usually got this time of year in Kentucky. Weatherman said it was gonna be cold but I didn’t think he meant this cold, not godDAMN cold.
I pulled my denim collar tight around my neck, shoved my hands deep into the jacket pockets. I had a pistol of my own in there, a little .308. It wasn’t as big as Jasper’s, but it was big enough to tear an ass, that’s for damn sure. I didn’t see any sense in playin’ with it, not the way Jasper played with his like he was lookin’ for constant reassurance. I knew my gun was safe in my right jacket pocket, not far from my right hand, my shootin’ hand, and knowin’ that was all the comfort I needed.
Down the rough double ruts of the loggin’ road, there didn’t look to be much goin’ on. I strained to see around the edge of the hillside, just makin’ sure nobody unexpected was headed our way. Which they wasn’t.
Pookie wasn’t comin’ yet, either.
Jasper twirled his pistol around his finger, another move he’d been practicin’ for his repertoire. Made me think, it’s a damn miracle he ain’t killed himself yet.
“You got your cell phone?” he asked.
“There ain’t no service,” I said.
I looked at him for a second. “Who you gotta call anyway?”
Jasper shrugged, said, “Yeah, I’m kinda hungry, that’s all. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a man bein’ hungry.” The words just sort of dribbled out of his mouth, like he didn’t expect no answer, not that I had much of one, no ways.
He holstered the gun again, wandered around towards the far side of the shack. A couple of seconds later I heard the crunchy sound of piss cascadin’ on dead leaves. Jasper didn’t say anything else after that, and I preferred not to think he actually was considerin’ callin’ in a delivery order here to Pookie’s backwoods place.
I looked towards the cabin’s only window. It was only a foot or so wide, covered with dust and mold. Even through the grime, I could see some of the tools of Pookie’s trade inside: bottle caps, light bulbs, drain cleaner, Sudafed, steel wool. I didn’t know how he cooked up his meth—surely there was other ingredients, too—but I damn sure knew that whatever he was doin’, he was doin’ right because his customers kept comin’ back for more. And they were spreadin’ the word, too. Seemed like whenever you went out in town these days, you saw more and more folks with their eyes sunk back in their head, their skin yellowed up and covered with sores, whatever teeth they had left rotted down to black nubs like old corn kernels. When you saw folks like that, you knew right off they were hittin’ the pipe, and more than likely, the stuff in that pipe was comin’ from Pookie Dotson.
It always amazed me, the shit that desperate folks would turn towards in search of a good, cheap high. The old days of growin’ weed in your bedroom closet seemed awful passé when a thirteen year old could look under the bathroom sink and find enough chemicals to get the holy-shit high of his life. Call me old fashioned, but I always thought a good toke of reefer and a fifth of Jack Daniels suited my mind alterin’ needs just fine. Folks these days, though, they’d rather play mad scientist, mix paint thinner and toothpaste and kerosene and Blue Diamond matchsticks and see what happens. Hell, I’d even heard that lately some of the high schoolers in Sewardville had started givin’ themselves the injection straight into their rectums since, you know, they were so hard up for action that normal shootin’ up wouldn’t suffice.
Jasper come back around to the front of the shack, so I asked him what he thought about that. “Did you know kids at the high school are shootin’ meth up their tater holes now?”
“Sure, I heard such,” he shrugged. He shrugged at most matters in life. He was a renowned shrugger. “Why, you thinkin’ of takin’ it up?”
“No,” I said. “Not really.”
We stood there for a couple of minutes, not sayin’ any more, listen’ to that whoosh through the trees. Leaves fluttered around us, already turned reds and yellows for the fall.
Finally, Jasper said, “Goddamn, it’s startin’ to get cold with the sun goin’ down.” He leaned against the shack, next to the window. “How late to this party do you think ol’ Pook’s gonna be, anyway?”
I reached back into my jacket pocket and this time wrapped my fingers around the grip of that .308. “Ain’t no tellin’,” I said. Then I walked up to the front door, kicked it down with one hard strike of my Redwing boot, and we went inside to wait.
Just a couple weeks ago, my daughter Amy Gayle hit her sweet sixteen. I never understood what was so sweet about that particular birthday—was it really that much sweeter than fifteen or seventeen?—but try tellin’ that to a daughter who’s been plannin’ her party for a solid year. Might as well throw a hard-boiled egg at a tornado. She invited some of her friends over to the house, five girls if I remember right. Sarah, Kasey, Jennifer, Tina, and Mona. I gotta be honest, I didn’t know all their names when they came up to the house that spring afternoon, but I can tell you one absolute fact, I sure ain’t forgot ’em ever since.
Early in the day, I cooked up some chicken and ribs on the grill and just tried to play the Good Dad; even though Good Dad ain’t ever been all that comfortable a role for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I do some dad stuff—keep the yard mowed, visit my kids’ teachers, go to my son’s basketball games and sit in the bleachers and hoot and holler at the refs—but it don’t come natural. I can admit that. Every man’s cut out for somethin’, and I know what I’m cut out for, and it ain’t grab-assin’ around the lawn. I got other callings. Roads to run. Work to do. You know how that is.
But for Amy Gayle’s sixteenth birthday party, I did my best to just be her Daddy. Her momma ran off with one of Sheriff Slone’s ass-hat deputies a few years back, and we ain’t really heard much from her since. So when it came to special days, everything was pretty much up to me. If I didn’t make it happen, nobody made it happen. So, I figured I could mind the grill, crack a few clumsy jokes, and more or less stay out of the way and let Amy have her day. Take it slow, and let the kids take it the rest of the way.
Don’t seem like I get to take it slow too often these days. Even still, that’s exactly what I was doin’ when Pookie Dotson come knockin’ at our door.
When I answered, I still had the grill tongs in one hand; they was covered in barbecue sauce. I dripped a little on the doorstep; that little glop sticks in my memory for some reason, that little splat on the dark brick.
What also sticks in my memory is how ill I felt soon as I saw Pookie standin’ there on the doorstep, grinnin’ that big shiteater of his. I didn’t try to hide it, neither.
“Watcha doin’ here, Pookie?” I asked him, barely cordial.
“My daughter’s here,” he said. “Kasey, remember?”
Now there’s a lot that goes through your mind whenever somebody like Pookie Dotson shows up on your porch, but about the last one is that he might have a child walkin’ this earth. After all, the man is a drug dealer and a thief, so far as the law knows, and maybe a murderer that the law don’t know. He ain’t somebody you much care to have for a visit. He’s short and wiry, with jail tattoos all over both arms. Least he calls ’em tattoos, but really they’re just half-assed scrawlins of knives and barbed wire and lady cartoon characters with their titties flopped out. His long hair mostly covers his face, and even though you can’t see his eyes, you still know they’re rheumy and half glazed over, barely able to look straight ahead, much less right at you.
What I mean is, Pook don’t look like the fatherly type. Certainly not the type of father you want showin’ up at your daughter’s sixteenth birthday party.
He smiled—I suspect he knew the thoughts percolatin’ in my head—and said, “She left her purse at the house with her cell phone in it. You know how teenage girls are about them phones.” Then he reached into the bag and pulled out a hot pink Samsung, just in case I didn’t believe the story. Which up to that moment, I didn’t.
I just looked at him.
“You gonna let me take it to her, or what?” he asked.
I thought about it for maybe a half second, then said, “No, I don’t think that I am.” Then I yelled towards the back of the house for his daughter to come and meet him, and didn’t take my eyes off of Pookie until she got there.
It didn’t take long for Kasey to come runnin’. Her daddy handed over the purse, she kissed him gentle on one cheek, and after that sweet little exchange, he left and she went back to the other end of the house where her friends was proceedin’ with their get-together. I didn’t think no more about it and headed for the grill. There was chicken to be cooked and I was just the Good Dad to cook it.
Anyway, before I even got to the grill, I could hear the six of them girls warblin’ like doves, like they was havin’ the biggest time that people was ever meant to have on this earth. Then all of a sudden they went quiet, just as soon as I come around to the back porch and could see everybody and they could see me. They was all huddled up, with Kasey Dotson in the middle. I noticed she put her purse behind her and went for cover in back of her friends.
Now look. Bein’ as Pookie Dotson was this girl’s daddy, and he’s a known piece of shit across Seward County and probably way beyond it, too, it ain’t that hard figurin’ where the story heads from here. Them girls was all excited because little Kasey opened up her purse and showed them all kinds of goodies: pills, pot, a little bit of meth. That’s why her daddy had come by, cause he wanted to drop off some party favors. And that’s just what he did, too, although I reckon he didn’t plan on things endin’ up quite the way they did.
Let me just say that at this point in the story you probly think you know how all this is gonna end up. And maybe you do. Maybe you do know.
Or, maybe you don’t.
We’ll come back to it in a little bit.
An hour after the sun went down, that hillside was colder than a welldigger’s ass and me and Jasper was still sittin’ in that damn meth shack, freezin’ our jewels off. I had the door propped open so we could see outside, but we hadn’t seen nothin’ at all come down that loggin’ road except for two coons and a buck deer.
There sat the two of us, round a rickety old fold-out card table, surrounded by remnants of Pookie’s handiwork. Empty cough syrup bottles, aluminum foil, a hot plate, some rubber hoses, lots of grimy jars and beakers of different sizes. I saw busted glass all over the place and a sort of salty lookin’ residue on most everything that gave the appearance like this work station wasn’t too well cared for. To be honest, I sorta felt like Pook was cookin’ meth on a budget, but then again, I don’t know if there’s any other way.
“He ain’t comin’,” Jasper said. It was cold enough that we could see our breath foggin’ in front of our faces. “I don’t know why we ever expected he’d show up, anyway.”
“He’ll be here,” I said.
“The shit he will.”
“The shit he will.”
Jasper shook his head and spit on the floor. He took his .38 out again and set it down on his lap, then loaded them special bullets in there that I’d asked him to bring. I don’t know why he did that just then, but he did, and it turned out to be perfect timing.
About that time the beam of a flashlight poked through the woods, comin’ towards us. When it was about twenty yards from the shack, a voice called out, “You boys in there?” and sure enough, it was Pookie.
I nodded at Jasper. He picked up the pistol off his lap, stood up, and moved towards the side wall, while I stepped back towards the wall opposite. The front door was in between us and we wanted to be sure neither one of us stood in front of it. Which, as it turned out, was a good call on our part.
Pookie yelled, “MOTHERFUCKERS, Y’ALL IN THERE!”
As soon as he said that, we heard a loud CRACK! and a bullet whizzed through the front door, flyin’ right between me and Jasper fore it crashed out the back window. Another couple shots come after that, KRAK! KRAK!, but they hit the front of the building and didn’t come in.
Between me and Jasper, he’s always been the quicker draw—I guess all that practicin’ really does come in handy—and this time wasn’t no different. Soon as Pookie’s third bullet missed, Jasper raised his .38 and fired three shots of his own out the door as he crossed the room headed towards my side. Those shots went in the general direction of the flashlight outside and while they didn’t hit nothing except tree limbs, they come close enough that we saw the light disappear for a second as Pookie dove for cover.
It was a couple minutes before anybody said boo. Pookie went first.
“Boys, now, y’all shouldn’t be up here,” he said. “I told you, don’t come up here. If you come up here, me and you’s gonna have some problems.”
“Well, I told you we was comin’ up tonight,” I said, “and here we are. And we got some problems that we got to sort out with you, you hear?”
Jasper added, “That’s right. We got some problems.”
“Hell with your problems,” said Pookie. “You know as well as I do—”
I run across the shack and fired two shots out the door. Pookie responded with one of his own, but it flew further off target than all the ones before it.
Then, wham bam, and all was quiet.
Me and Jasper exchanged looks, and it was apparent that neither one of us knew just what to do next. I held out my hand and shook my head slowly, so he didn’t get no thoughts about makin’ another move. We waited for Pookie to show his self somehow, but he didn’t. Never moved, never shot, never said nothin’. I figured he was probly waitin’ us out the same we was waitin’ him out, and while I couldn’t much speak for anybody else, I felt pretty sure that I wasn’t in no hurry to get anywhere for a good while.
A few more minutes went by without so much as a whimper in the woods. Jasper looked like his fingers was dancin’ on the pistol grip; he didn’t have nowhere near the patience that God gave a snappin’ turtle.
“How much longer is it gonna be?” he whispered.
“Ain’t no tellin’,” I whispered back. “He ought to have at least a couple a bullets left.”
I noticed Jasper takin’ a step towards the door. Before I could stop him, he hollered outside, “YOU GOT ANYTHING LEFT, POOK?” and a second later fired another shot in Pookie’s general direction.
“Hold on, boys!” Pookie called out. “Hold on, goddammit!”
We heard a rustlin’ in the leaves, twenty or thirty yards down the loggin’ road. Then, Pookie stepped out. There was enough moonlight that we could see he was in bad shape, staggerin’ back and forth, with one hand up and other hand holdin’ his side. Somehow in the exchange, one of our bullets had managed to hit the target.
Then he fell over and didn’t move.
“Son of a bitch!” Jasper said as he took off out the door. I went right behind him, runnin’ hard as I could but barely able to keep up.
We come up on Pookie expectin’ to find him in the throes of dyin’, if not dead already, and our expectations were not disappointed. He wasn’t dead, but he wasn’t too far from it neither. He’d been shot through the gut; a hellacious amount of blood had already seeped from his body, takin’ a lot of the color from his skin. He looked like he was in a bad way with pain and I figured that about served his ass right.
He didn’t have no clothes on, neither. But, it didn’t surprise me, not after what I’d seen at my girl’s birthday party.
He tried to speak, but couldn’t get any words out.
I bent down and shoved my pistol into his mouth. “You ort to knowed we was comin’, Pookie,” I said. “I told you we’d make things square between us and now that’s just what we’re gonna do. Make it all square. You know what I’m talkin’ about, right?”
At first I wasn’t sure he heard me. Maybe all he could tell right then was that his whole life was dribblin’ out the hole tore clean through his belly. Crimson rivulets streamed out of the wound, with thicker blood poolin’ on the ground under his back. Mixed in with the blood were little streaks of silver.
“I see you took me serious,” I told Jasper.
“Course I did,” he answered with a nod. “I didn’t come here to fuck around.”
Pookie looked down at his wounds, saw that blood and silver pourin’. His eyes opened up big as plug nickels, and when I saw that I reckoned one thing for sure: Pookie knew the score now. He might not have known it before, but he damn sure knew it now.
About one-thirty in the morning on the night of Amy’s sixteenth birthday, I heard a scream from the basement, where all the girls were supposed to be asleep. I was sleepin’ good myself, but when I heard that wail downstairs, I jumped out of bed, grabbed the pistol out of my top bureau drawer, and rushed to see the bad news. ‘cause it was gonna be bad news.
As soon as my socked feet hit the cold basement floor, I saw one of my daughter’s friends layin’ there, lookin’ asleep, with a dribble of spit runnin’ from one side of her mouth. It was Kasey, Pookie’s daughter. Amy Gayle was holdin’ Kasey’s head in her lap. Tears was washin’ down her face, same way they was washin’ down the face of every other girl there. Sarah, Jennifer, Tina, and Mona, Amy Gayle and Kasey, them six names that would be with me forever. Besides Amy Gayle and poor Kasey, the rest of the girls stood out in the middle of the room, sniffling, arms wrapped tight around one other. You could tell by the zombie looks on their faces they didn’t know what was comin’ next, and were scared shitless of it.
I rushed towards them, but barely two steps their way I heard a man’s voice speakin’ from the far corner.
“She’ll be alright.”
It was Pookie.
“What’s goin’ on?” I said.
“Don’t worry about it.”
Sure I was worried about it. I glanced in the direction of that voice and saw him leaned against the wall like he had corn for sale. He didn’t look much concerned about nothin’, just stood there with a half-smoked cigarette danglin’ between two of his bony fingers. To be honest, he didn’t look too good, neither. Sweaty, pale, eyes down. Wrung out. I noticed a few drops of blood on the floor near his feet, which sent a cold charge through my spine.
“What are you doin’ here, Pook? What’s goin’ on?” I tried again, but again he didn’t answer nothin’, just stayed there in the corner and raised that cig to his lips. I didn’t have time to worry about him, though; when I checked his girl for a pulse, I couldn’t find one. She wasn’t takin’ in air, neither.
I said to Amy Gayle, “How long’s she been like this?”
“A few minutes,” she managed. “He…bit her.”
“He bit her.”
“Bit her? Where?”
“Arm. Shoulder. Somewhere.”
It didn’t really register with me what Amy was sayin’. Why would Pookie bite anybody, let alone his own daughter?
As though she sensed my confusion, Amy Gayle grabbed Kasey’s dead arm and held it up where I could get a good look.
“See for yourself,” she said.
I did, too.
A nasty gash had been ripped out of the wrist, leavin’ a bloody hole big enough to stick three fingers through. The ragged flesh reminded me of the time I saw a fox gnaw his own leg out of a bear trap.
’Bout that time, Pookie stepped away from the wall. “She took some pills. OC 50’s, maybe a couple of Xannies, a handful of Vicodin, too. It was a lot of pills. You know how that is.” He spoke in a low voice, almost a growl, like somethin’ hid back in the corner of one of them scary movies.
“Xannies?” I knew it was bullshit. “You’re tellin’ me she popped some pills, and that’s what ripped out her arms and caused her to bleed to death?”
“Yeah,” growled Pookie. “You know how that is.”
The way he said it sent a rip of cold air up my back. Them words was dry and careless, like he was rattlin’ off basketball scores to the old men down at the restaurant. There his daughter was, dyin’ on the floor of my basement, if not dead already, and it didn’t faze him nary a bit. Like, oh well, it’s just one of them things. Shit happens. You know how that is.
But shit like this didn’t just happen. Kasey might have popped a few pills, but weren’t no way in hell any pill had ripped that wound in her arm.
I said to Pookie, “Did you really bite that girl?”
He didn’t say.
I told Amy Gayle, “Call 9-1-1,” and as she ran off to get the telephone, I bent down and checked her friend again. She hadn’t sprung a pulse. She still wasn’t breathin’, either. To be honest, she looked like she’d been layin’ there more than a few minutes; I wondered how long I’d been asleep with that dead girl sprawled on my basement floor.
I looked back up at Pookie to ask him that same question. When I did, I found myself starin’ down the business end of the .38 pistol that Pook had pointed at me. For the first time, I noticed the dark blood—his daughter’s blood—splashed across his face from lips to chin and halfway up one jaw. He had a bunch of coarse, black hair sprouted around his ears, up and over his temples. His brows were arched, pullin’ his eyes back like he was some sort of hound. I never seen anything to beat it in all the world.
And them teeth.
Them teeth, juttin’ from the top of his mouth, one on each side, four inches long at least. Could have been a foot and a half, hell, I don’t know. All I know is they looked like huntin’ knives, like somethin’ I never seen before on a human. And judgin’ from all the blood that covered his nasty mug, he’d used ’em to do a hell of a number on his darlin’ little Kasey.
Them teeth could do a hell of a number on me and Amy Gayle, too if we weren’t careful.
Now, I ain’t gonna lie. I’d like to tell you that I jumped him, took that gun out of his hands, and beat him half to death with it, right before the EMTs showed up and brought his little girl back to life. I’d like to tell you that, but I can’t, cause that ain’t what happened. What really happened was I froze up tighter than Aunt Millie’s glory hole. My mind went blank. I didn’t know what to do.
“Don’t do nothin’,” Pookie said.
“Pook, I won’t say a word,” I managed to say. “Just leave us be—”
“Don’t move,” he sneered. “Don’t do shit. You understand?”
I didn’t know what he thought I was gonna do, but just like he said, I did nothin’.
He moved towards the door, keepin’ the pistol trained on the middle of my face. “Don’t you be thinkin’ about followin’ me,” he continued. “Either you come downstairs at just the right time, or you come down at the absolute most fuckin wrong time there ever coulda been. I ain’t sure which. If you’da been five minutes later I’d have gotten all I needed and had strength enough to fight.
“But bein’ as you come down when you did, I’m still feelin’ a little weak in the knees, so I’m gonna get out of here now. I’m gettin’ out of here, you and all these girls get to live another day, and as long as you don’t come after me, ain’t nobody else gotta get hurt.”
Before I could think of anything else to say or do, he scooped up his daughter, threw her over his shoulder like she was an old feather pillow, and ran off into the night. Well, he didn’t really run. He leaped, strong on his back legs, like he was some sort of a dog. Or a wolf.
After he was out the door, I grabbed my twelve gauge out of the closet and chased after him. When he stopped to shift Kasey’s weight over his shoulder—and rip another big hunk of meat out of her shoulder with them mouth knives of his—I caught within thirty yards of him and managed to get off a shot. He took the brunt of the shotgun spray in the wide part of his back, but it wasn’t enough to even knock him down. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think it would have mattered if I’d been at arm’s length from that sumbitch. Might as well have been shootin’ confetti from a pop gun.
Pookie shook off the blast like it was a cloud of pecker gnats. He turned, leerin’ at me, which caused me to just about shit all over myself.
While I was still ponderin’ fight or flight and figurin’ that neither could do me a hell of a lot of good given the situation, he whirled again and took off into the night.
“We’re gonna square this!” I yelled after him. “We’re gonna square this up, you hear?” Indeed, I was sure Pookie heard me. And I was just as sure that he didn’t give a good damn what I had to say about it.
I guessed he gave a damn now.
Jasper lifted his foot and dropped it down hard on the spot where he’d shot Pookie, just above the beltline, in a mushy red hole that had bits of gut and silver seepin’ from it. Pookie yelped but didn’t fight too much; I figured he didn’t have nary a bit of nothin’ left in him. He sounded like a struck dog. Didn’t look no better, neither. For a second, I felt a twinge of sympathy. But just for a second.
Feelin’ confident, Jasper kicked him one more time, this time in the left side of his ribs, which sent dark, bloody guts spraying out of Pookie’s belly wound. Then he said, “I always figured one of them werewolves might be a little tougher to bring down. How about you, Boo?”
I shrugged. The way he said it struck me odd, like he’d actually considered the topic before. Most nights I would have thought it a dumbass statement. Tonight wasn’t most nights, though.
Pookie stared up at Jasper with those big yellow eyes, eyes that was halfway between man and wolf. Them huntin’ knife teeth gnashed out for an instant, retracted, then came half out one more time before settlin’ back inside his mouth, like they sort of gave up, like they realized there wasn’t much they could do here, no how. Which there wasn’t—Jasper still had a couple silver bullets in his pocket, and I had three still loaded in my gun. They’d all be blasted into Pookie Dotson’s body in just a few short moments.
He was bleedin’ out, couldn’t say nothin’.
Jasper bent down, ready to finish the job.
Pookie reared up and took a swipe at his throat with one hand. Jasper dodged it easy enough, then jumped back to his feet and kicked Pook hard as he could square in the nose.
“Sumbitch!” Jasper hollered. He fumbled in his pocket for more bullets as Pookie rolled over. “We gotta end this bullshit right now!”
“Hold up now,” I said. “You don’t know what we got here—”
“Shit I don’t,” Jasper spit back. “You’re the one told me what this was! You had me get them silver bullets. You saw what he did to that girl at your house, you saw him yourself! Hell if I believed you then, but hell if I don’t believe you here and now.”
I let him calm down. We both stood there, splittin’ our looks back and forth between each other and the half-dead, half-human shitsack on the ground.
“Just hang on,” I said. “He ain’t goin’ nowhere.”
“Bull,” said Jasper, as he reloaded his pistol with more silver bullets. “Pure bull. Let’s get this over with.”
He stepped closer to where Pookie lay, pointed the gun at the back of Pook’s head. Pook wasn’t hardly movin’. Jasper squeezed the trigger twice—KRAK! KRAK!—and then Pook wasn’t movin’ at all.
After that, we rolled him over for one last look. Just to make super extra sure, I suppose. Sure enough, there was a couple of bloody gaps in his face where the shots come through. Now I was certain that he wouldn’t trouble us no more. As we watched, his body eased back into its full human form, hair, teeth, and claws all slinkin’ back into his body, just like in the movies.
When it was done, all we had left was Pook’s dead carcass, layin’ naked on the ground.
Jasper nodded. “Mmmm-hmmm.”
“Mmmm-hmmm,” I said.
“Ain’t nobody believin’ this,” he said. “What do you think we oughtta do with it?”
“Fuck if I know.”
About that time, from down the hillside, come a sound that I didn’t particularly care to hear at that moment. I heard it just the same—a low, mean howl that lasted a good ten seconds before it drifted out into the cold air. Right after that, we heard branches breakin’ underfoot, one at a time, then several all at once, then a steady crash. We knew what it was. We didn’t know who it was, but we knew what it was.
Me and Jasper had the same thought at right about the same time, takin’ off on a dead run for Pookie’s meth shack. Soon as we got there, we jumped inside and slammed the door behind us. Not long after, that motherfucker sauntered up towards the cabin on his hind legs, sniffin’ around the cracks in the doorframe. He smelled us. I know he smelled us.
It didn’t matter.
After a few seconds—and it really was just a few seconds, even though they felt like hours—the wolf’s steps moved back away from the cabin. Jasper gave it a moment, then flung open the door and leaped back out into the night. When the wolf heard that door swing wide, he turned to come back towards us, and was just in time to get a face full of hot silver as Jasper fired every damn bullet he had left.
He didn’t miss none, neither.
I come runnin out next, and just for good measure I put my barrel up against that wolf’s chest and cut loose with three silver bullets straight into his heart. As the wolf hit the ground, I noticed it was wearin’ the shreds of what looked like Kasey Dotson’s clothes, but we didn’t wait around to watch it turn back to its human form. Instead, we got the hell out of there.
And now you know why I said early on that maybe you knew where this story was headed, and maybe you didn’t.