Balloon Man

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Chapter 27

It was dark out when Cooter made it to his trailer. He cleared a space on the couch, pushing old newspapers out of the way and then proceeded to drink beer after beer. He did nothing else except toss them back and stare at the single fluorescent light bulb above the table.

After downing four cold beers, Cooter decided to get up and dig a hole. He didn’t like the idea of leaving the new boy so far away from his trailer, away from his watchful eyes.

Rising with unsteady feet, Cooter walked out back, snatching the shovel leaning against the side of the trailer. With no moon out it was pitch black, so he reached back inside the door and grabbed one from the counter. Flicking it on, he aimed it at the ground, took thirty steps, and then started digging.

Cooter’s attention was now fully engrossed with getting the hole dug. Once finished, he wiped the sweat from his forehead with one hand, fumbling around with the other for the flashlight. His fingers grazed the edges, sending the light spinning in the opposite direction. Cooter’s mouth dropped open when he saw what hidden treasures the faint yellow beams illuminated: Remy and Papite, asleep on two the lawn chairs.

“Well, well, well. What do we have here?” Cooter whispered as he picked up the shovel. Edging closer, careful to stay quiet, Cooter sniffed the air. He almost laughed out loud when he noticed the smell.

Moonshine. The empty bottle on the ground between the two brats left no doubts. Cooter couldn’t believe his luck. He laughed and snorted at the same time.

Cooter retraced his steps and snuck inside the trailer, returning with some rope and two old shop rags. He tied and gagged both while they were still passed smooth out. Satisfied they weren’t going anywhere, he dug two more holes.

He placed Remy and Papite one at a time into a hole, burying them up to their heads. After he was done, he took a metal pail and placed one on each one’s head. Papite woke up when the pail was inches from his face. The pain and terror behind the kid’s eyes made Cooter smile before sending the kid into darkness.

The lawn chair creaked as Cooter settled into with a beer. He stayed out there all night watching the pails, marveling at how things worked out.

When morning came, Cooter lifted up the first bucket, grimacing at the dirty, disheveled face of his nephew.

“Not my fault you’re in this spot, you stupid kid. Stupid! Just like your pa! Killed one and now the other! It’s a family affair!”

Cooter spat in Papite’s face then set the pail back into place. Disgusted, Cooter left to get Jacob and bring him to the trailer.

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