Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | March 3, 2012

Prologue to New Novel, “Overload”

Rastus Smallwood screamed; spittle flying and dripping down his red plaid shirt.
His yells nearly drowned out the higher-pitched, hysterical yelping of his daughter.
Smallwood’s mouth gaped wide with yelling, showing missing teeth and the yellow of the remaining few. He wore loose, dark-blue denim trousers with cuffs dragging the muddy, red cemetery earth at the heels of his hiking boots.
He carried a professionally printed sign, two by three feet reading, in red letters, “GOD WILL PUNISH QUEERS!” His daughter’s placard read, “BODIES OF DEAD SOLDIERS ARE LOVELY SIGHTS!”
Smallwood’s hollering echoed across the open ground, louder than one would expect from a bandy-legged man standing about five-seven. His chest wasn’t broad and his belly stood out like a half-basketball, stretching the bottom buttons on his shirt. He wore a yellowish baseball cap so dirty the original product or company advertised was illegible. His hair was yellow-gray and hung in a greasy ponytail four or five inches below his shirt collar. His short beard dripped with spit.
“Filthy warmongers! Your miserable deaths are payback for the country’s fags in power! More are gonna die! The Lord will take them!”
A crowd of mourners stood around an open grave, about a hundred yards away, trying to ignore him. An American Flag covered the coffin, held suspended by nylon straps over a gaping mouth of red earth waiting to receive the vault at ceremony’s end.
Smallwood’s daughter, Clara, a short, doughy woman with a ruddy round face and oily brown hair, told the Texas State Trooper—in an adenoidal complaining voice—through snuffling and rubbing her nose on a well-used hanky—her memory of the next event.
“Daddy was just a’ standing and testifying to them sinners over at the grave. He leaned backward and drew in a breath to preach louder, and his head blew up. His ponytail landed about five feet over yonder. Somebody shot him.”
The Trooper grimaced.
“Did you see anyone with a weapon?” He said.
“Them soldiers over by the grave have guns,” Clara said.
She pointed with her quivering double chins to where the funeral hadn’t yet dispersed.
“Yes, Ma’am they do. Those are honor guard soldiers. Their rifles will only fire blanks. We’re currently checking their weapons and interviewing people who were around the grave. Now, Ma’am, did you see anyone with a weapon pointing toward your father? Could you tell where the shot could have come from?” the trooper said.
“Naw, daddy was just preachin’ to them sinners. We gotta stay a ways away from their graves now. New law. He was witnessin’ real loud so they could hear what the Lord meant for them,” she paused, “…then his head exploded. His ponytail landed over yonder.”
“Thank you, Ma’am, I’ll get back in touch with you when we have some leads on the perpetrator,” the trooper said.
He touched the brim of his “Smokey Bear” hat, turned away and marched back to the State Patrol cruiser. The grim line on his mouth almost hurt. Laughter bubbled behind clenched teeth.

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