Hatin' Don't Pay
The deputy slammed the jail door shut and locked it, Pookie lingered at the door, looking out, watching his sword as the deputy took it over to his desk. The rest of the punks dispersed murmuring angrily shooting eye daggers at the back of Pookie’s head.
Pookie rested his arms through the bars as he watched the deputy sit in his chair at his desk. He continued to study the weird sword like he was wondering which end was the pointy one.
“Now I saw this thing work” He said pointing at the ringpull on the scabbard. “Shoots it out real fast right?” He looked up at Pookie “Now how in the hell does that work?”
Pookie shrugged and made a face.
“Sure” He turned the sword over and studied the handle. “That is the goofiest thing I’ve ever seen” He laughed. “Oh and what in the hell does this one do?” He said pointing at another but much smaller hidden ring pull on the handle itself.
“I’d leave that one alone.” Pookie said.
“Is that right?” The deputy smirked as he put his feet up on his desk and cocked his chin out. He looked it up and down again. “I might take your advice on this one” He smiled and put the sword down on his desk.
“So what now?” Pookie asked.
“Now you watch shadows grow bud”
“Is that all?”
“You’ll cool your heels with your buddies in there and then in the morning you’ll get your sword back and be on your way. There may even be a plate a cold beans in it if I’m feeling hospitable.” He smiled and tipped his hat down as he reclined in his seat closing his eyes.
“Others may come”
“Oh so you’re one of those huh? – A run away, they got a name for that?” The deputy poked his hat up over his head and opened one eye. “So what did you do? Ya kill someone you weren’t supposed to?”
“I see- so now you’ve got a price on your head- I’m not about to get mixed up in all that. Not a big fan of your shows but I know what you do- all that blood really turns my stomach, I gotta, say.” He tutted “I don’t know how you stand it” He let out a spiteful laugh. “You probably like it, only way your pecker gets hard I’ll bet”.
“It’s not like that.”
“Uh huh- Well don’t you worry, you’ll leave town in the morning and you’ll never come back ya hear.”
“Gramps there are some weird guys outside” Efron squeaked.
“Eh?” The old man peaked outside his door trying to look through the distant heat haze. Blackened shifting shapes moving in his general direction. “Just look like big birds to me, probably just want some of my worm broth”. He chuckled.
There was a loud banging on the roof and a dent to match and then more foot steps and a strange scratching and whispering and high pitch mocking laughter.
“What the hell was that?” Zach said in harsh whisper. He got up on the bed and tried to look through one of the holes in the roof and saw nothing. Then for a split second he was face to face with a wooden crow face, it’s empty black eyes staring at him. He jumped back falling off the bed.
They watched not breathing as the dents in the roof moved towards the door. There was a flapping fluttering noise and a thud and then a knock at the door.
“Who is it?” Efron said.
“Shhhhhh!” Gramps and Zach hushed her in unison.
There was an ominous cawing noise made more so by the fact it was a human voice making the sound.
They waited a moment and the sounds stopped. After about ten minutes of listening to nothing but the wind the old man gingerly walked towards the door and peaked out. Opening the door wider to get a better look. “Take a gander through the hole again” He whispered.
Zach did as he was told and sheepishly probed his head around the hole, making sure not to get too close. “I can’t see nothing” He whispered back.
The old man feeling a little more sure of himself opened the door all the way and stepped out to look around. He instantly regretted it as a three pronged meat hook claw came down and hooked him under the shoulder blade. Picking him up like a toy grabber at an arcade.
The kids sat inside listening to his screams as he was dragged onto the roof bleeding and kicking and crying. The sounds of the claw ripping into his flesh and then it went quiet again and all that they could hear was the blood running off the tin roof.
The door opened slowly and a man with a duck mask was standing there. The crow dropped off the roof in a crouching position behind him covered in the old man’s blood.
“It might’ve been good to talk to someone around here who could actually communicate in full sentences.” Canard said.
“S-sorry, all the f-fun from before and I didn’t even get my beak wet” Crow tittered as he looked at the blood dripping off his claws. “I c-couldn’t help myself” He flicked his head erraticy, bobbing like a birds.
Canard sighed and looked at the kids as they stared up at the old man’s bloody hand through the hole in the roof. “Hey, any of you kids seen a clown around here.”
“Yeah he went into Woodsmoke, town not too far from here, just over the ridge.” Zach said without looking away from the old man’s hand as it dripped.
Canard scratched his face under his mask “Well that was easy.”
“W-what do we do now?” Crow said bobbing his head erraticly.
“Business as usual I guess”.
“M-me first” Crow said eagerly.
“Ay ya ya, hold your horses there bucko” Canard said barring the door with his arm. “We do this the right way, Finch, fetch the chart will you.”
Finch appeared pulling out a rolled up scroll from his coat sleeve and he walked up to Efron.
She looked up at this strange thin man in the bird mask as he began to unravel the scroll next to her.
He held it up next to her and on it was a picture of a clown with his hand out over a height chart. He stood it next to her and measured. Her head was just under the clowns hand.
Finch tutted and said. “This one is too small.”
“Come on out honey” Canard said. “It’s alright”
Efron cautiously walked towards the door as Finch moved on to Zach.
He held the chart up to Zach and his head was just over the clown’s hand.
“Ah we have a winner.” Finch said. He rolled up the scroll and put it back in his sleeve as he made his way out of the shack.
“Well what has he won?” Canard said turning to Crow.
“H-ha-ha.” Crow hopped and bobbed into the shack, the door slamming behind him.
“What are we gonna do with this one” A female voice said over the muffled sounds of Zach’s screams.
Canard turned to Heron and then back to Efron and patted her on the head. “I always loved that motherly instinct you have”
Heron said nothing.
“Well we can’t take her with us until we complete our mission” He said looking down at her mussing up her scruffy red hair. She looked up at him, her face screwed up into a puzzled frown. “You wanna babysit?”
Canard sighed “I guess you’ll just have to go play somewhere else kid. Auntie Heron is too busy to take care of you, she really doesn’t have time for kids, what with her high flying career and all.” He looked for a reaction from her and got none. “Scoot kid, before I change my mind.”
Efron didn’t take a second to think about it she just started to run in a seemingly random direction without looking back.
“See ya” Canard waved.
“What do we do now? Turkey asked.
“Hmm- What do you think big guy?” Canard said looking at Penguin.
Penguin breathed deeply and made a low growling noise.
“That’s what I thought- Crow! Aren’t you done yet?” Canard shouted.
Crow appeared behind him covered in blood from head to toe. “W-whats up?”
“I’m calling a little ‘family meeting’” Canard said.
“Who died and made you boss?” Cardinal said.
Canard laughed “I’ve got the biggest mouth”
“No argument there” Finch sighed.
“You got a plan Cardinal? Nah, didn’t think so, so why don’t you keep your beak shut” Turkey sniped.
“We were only supposed to recover the body” Heron chimed in.
Canard scratched his cheek under the mask. “Yeah well, ‘the body’ appears to be walking around killing wasteland transvestites and weebs, or did you not notice that?”
“If you wanna go back and report-be my guest.” Canard continued.
“You think Regus is gonna give you a pat on the head if you bring him the clown’s head?”
“You think you’re gonna get one for tattling on us?” Canard laughed.
“Tell you what, we’ll make up our minds when we get there, deal?” He said smiling with his voice.
Pookie tilted his head to the side to let the large fist pass. It landed with a satisfying wallop against the prison bars sending a shock all the way up Bully’s arm.
Pookie looked over at the deputy who was still napping soundly with his feet up on his desk and his hat down. He turned to look at Bully shaking and blowing on his throbbing hand.
He looked up and grinned, his face still looking very strange with his nose halfway across his face from their first encounter.
“D-don’t you worry about him, Deputy’s a heavy sleeper” he chuckled. “M-me and you got unfinished business and without that sword of yours I’m guessing you’re shit out of luck.”
“Guessed wrong” Pookie said softly.
“Lucks all I got” Pookie smiled.
“I-is that right?” He signalled with his head at his boys who grinned in answer. “W-well lets see if we can change them odds.
The first of his boys launched at Pookie out of turn with a rolling punch. Pookie ducked and dipped rolling with the strike and picking the idiot up over his shoulders. Using his momentum to toss him against the bars like a ragdoll. As soon as he hit the stone jail floor he was out cold.
Pookie cricked his neck and waited for the next challenger. Bully just shrugged and let the next fist fly.
This time two at once, punching from either side, a small gap in the middle as both punches arched in to the centre. Pookie turned deflecting both fists with just the turning of his shoulders like a bull fighter whipping a cape. Their fists glancing off over his shoulder and hitting eachother square in their jaws. Dazed, they stayed in that position long enough for Pookie to turn grabbing both men by the wrist. Twisting them around threading their arms. Then finally pulling them together knocking both their heads together.
They slumped to the ground stupidly looking something like a human pretzel.
Without wasting anytime Bully charged at him low trying to tackle him. Pookie leap frogged him and Bull went careening into the bars getting his bowling ball head stuck.
The fight continued behind him, just out of his frame of vision.
A sneaky sonofabitch stamped his foot and a little blade came out of the tip. Pookie wasn’t impressed and he stamped on his foot harder and snapped the blade off and broke all his toes. He hopped towards Pookie in a rage. Pookied grabbed him by the nose with two fingers and tripped him, landing face first in some other random asshole sneaking up on Pookie.
Then there was a flash in the corner of his eye. At a forty five degree angle another reprobate lunged at his soft, freshly heeling side with a nasty little shank made from a sharpened soup spoon.
Pookie turned on his heels reaching over and quickly grabbing bottom of his attackers knife hand and twisting it. Pookie used the slick stone floor to slide through the gap in the spoon wielders legs still holding onto his hand flipping him onto his back.
Still holding onto his hand Pookie span around on the slick floor. Twisting his arm back and forth giving way to painful snapping and crunching noises the attacker was too dizzy and dazed to notice really hurt.
By this time the other guy had managed to get the man with the broken foot off of him and was pissed. So Pookie kicked the guy on the floor over at him sliding like an air hockey puck under his feet. He fell flat into a big gay pile on the floor getting very sleepy.
Pookie looked around at his handy work, the place wasn’t any tidier but at least it was quiet now. Except for bowling ball head silently sobbing to himself between two cold steel bars.
The sun was starting to set on the little nowhere town, two or three streets in the middle of nowhere. A saloon, a general store and a jail and not a lot else but an under taker.
Canard looked down at it from the ridge and the sun dipping behind the mountains of trash behind it.
“Not much to look at” He remarked.
“Thinking of settling down?” Turkey quipped.
“Raise a few toe headed ducklings” Finch said.
“Who knows, Mrs Canard might be right down there waiting for me” He smirked.
“I never pegged you for the romantic type” Cardinal said.
“And you never will” Canard said.
“So what now?” Heron interjected.
Canard sighed. “I’m not going back empty handed and by the time we catch up to the caravan he might be gone from here.”
“You wanna just waltz in and start knocking on doors?” Finch mocked.
“We could burn it all to the ground- who would stop us?” Cardinal said stepping forward to look at the puny town.
“Penguin, what do you think?” Canard jested.
He let out a gutteral grunt.
“Ccan we just kkill everyone?!” Crow blurted out.
“Too messy, and it sounds dangerously like work to me.” Canard said.
“When you do what you love you never have to work a day in your life” Turkey said.
“Regus wouldn’t be happy, our audience pool is small enough”. Heron said.
“Why don’t just send Crow to scout it out and when he finds the clown we go in and kill him, simple.” Finch whined.
“Too simple, too boring” Canard cut him off.
“Then what?” Heron said.
Canard perked up “I say we play a little game.”
“A game?” Cardinal said.
“The clown has never seen our faces correct?” Canard asked chirpily.
“Considering the fact I’ve never seen your face, I’d say that’s a good bet.” Turkey said.
“Oh that’s right we trained in our masks.” Canard said. “You weren’t part of the ‘old troupe’. He jabbed.
“I’ve seen your face” Heron said. “Your true face”.
Canard laughed. “I remember- but that was a long time ago, you might have forgotten- besides I’m not the same person I was back then.”
“Regardless, I’ve grown tired of these games.” She scoffed.
“So you’ll be heading back after all.”
“One of us should report back, if I set off now I should make the Caravan before nightfall.”
“Better run along then” Canard said without turning.
She turned without saying another word and broke off into a sprint back down the ridge in the opposite direction of the town.
“Ssso?” Crow said eagerly.
“Huh? Canard said lost in thought.
“The game.” Finch probed.
“Oh right, well it’s simple, he won’t recognise us if we take our masks off. I say we split up, take off our disguises and find him, the first one to kill him wins.”
“Must we do it alone?” Cardinal inquired.
“However you wish.” Canard said. “So, are we agreed?”
None agreed but none disagreed.
“Very well then- let the games begin.”