Murder in Junior’s heart
The dogs barked even before Junior shined the Gator’s headlights directly into the Love Shack where Sweetgrass and I were sleeping. It was an hour before midnight, which meant trouble. Especially since Wilbur the Alpaca Farmer had banned his son from the farm after the kid’s Fourth of July thievery. Now he was idling outside our cottage, less than 100 feet from the rising tide. And he wasn’t there to borrow a cup of sugar.
Sweetgrass and I held onto the pooches and didn’t move from the bed. After a minute, Junior drove away. We got up and Sweetgrass headed to the rocky beach with the dogs. I dressed and ran toward the screams and shouts coming from atop the hill, then stood in the shadows of a stand of scraggly pines and watched Junior attack the front door of the Fortress.
The 21-year-old was beyond angry. Empowered by hatred and fury, he kicked, punched and pounded the door while yelling venomous threats skyward, at the second floor, where his mother and teenage sister cowered, alone. Wilbur had left Eastport that morning for Portland. His new mistress, Candy, was asleep in the farmhouse at the foot of the hill, oblivious to the melodrama taking place less than 300 yards away.
While Junior continued his frontal assault and battery on the door, I snuck over to the Gator, removed the key, then returned to the shadows and waited for the punk’s tantrum to end. Soon after that, he gave up and returned to the Gator, reached for the ignition and discovered the key was gone. He turned and pointed almost directly at me amid the scrub pines and howled like a madman.
“CRASH, I KNOW YOU’RE OUT THERE,” he roared. “GIMME THE GODDAMN KEYS, OR I’M GONNA KILL YOU!”
Junior was obviously drunk, deranged and livid. Though we used to be pals, all the pills, dope and booze – coupled with the lack of morals modeled after his dad’s – had turned the kid into an asshole, always ready to fight.
“Dude,” I said, walking out of the darkness, careful to keep some distance between us. “You know you’re not supposed to be here. You better get going before…”
“FUCK YOU!” he screamed. “GIVE ME THE KEYS OR YOU ARE A DEAD MAN!”
“I don’t have ’em,” I shrugged. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I know you have ’em,” he snarled, taking a couple steps toward me. “And you’d better…”
“Stop right there,” I said, opening the sheath on my belt and grabbing the Leatherman multi-purpose tool that I always carried. “Or I will stab you.”
The steel of my ersatz weapon glinted in the light of an almost-full moon. Junior paused. Luckily, he didn’t know I was brandishing pliers. It’s hard enough to get the blade part of the rig open under normal conditions in broad daylight, and practically impossible under the stress of imminent hand-to-hand combat in darkness. No chance I’d be able to unfold the knife before he attacked. The mere threat of a stabbing was all I had on my side.
My bluff worked. He froze for a second and looked around, desperate for something to use as a bludgeon. Then he spotted the fiberglass replica of a lighthouse. It was the size of a small trash can, standing on the edge of the crushed-rock driveway. He grabbed the thing by the base.
“I’M GONNA KILL YOU!” he screamed again, raising the lighthouse over his head. “I’M GONNA…”
And he hurled the sculpture at me.
I easily sidestepped the projectile. It landed on the ground with a thud. I took three steps closer to Junior, parrying his anger with a couple distant thrusts of my pliers.
“FUCK YOU!” Junior turned and ran away from the Fortress. “FUCK YOU!” he repeated over his shoulder as he disappeared into the night.
I ran to the beach and found Sweetgrass. We headed for the farmhouse instead of our cottage, to the perceived safety that comes with electricity and a phone, and I left Sweetgrass there. Then I went to the Fortress and checked on Wilbur’s frightened family. I urged his wife to call the police, but she declined with a sad shake of her head.
I returned to the farmhouse and discovered the .22 rifle was missing. So I grabbed a baseball bat and walked around the grounds, checking each building, barn and shack in search of the weapon or Junior, hoping not to encounter either one. Then I came back and sat on the farmhouse’s front porch. By now, it was almost 1 a.m. I was wide awake. Not a chance I could sleep. Every creak of the farmhouse would sound like Junior seeking revenge.
I sat on the porch for a couple hours, silent, smoking herb and drinking cheap red wine. Watching and waiting. But he didn’t come back. So I went inside and joined Sweetgrass in a second floor bedroom and slept restlessly.
Three days later, Wilbur returned. He’d already heard the tale from his wife, so the incident was old news. He waited impatiently for me to finish telling my version of the story.
“Why didn’t you call the police?” He sighed and shook his head. “Get him on attempted murder. Or at least assault.”
I stared at him incredulously.
“You shoulda called the cops.” He nodded. “Someone’s gotta teach that kid a lesson.”
Crash will be presenting a “Crash Course in Medical Marijuana” at Longfellow Books in Portland on Oct. 3. He’ll be performing Tough Island: Live at “Harry’s Harvest Ball” in Starks on Oct. 6. For more info visit crashbarry.com.