The Dusty Road
This is a short story I wrote back in 2012 after being inspired by Ray Bradbury's short fiction "The Highway".
Bo and Jasper were working in the barn stacking hey like usual. The Sun was beating down on them so badly that they had to stay in the shade or otherwise.
The sky was looking rather dark from afar, as Bo had noticed and had mentioned it to start a simple conversation. Jasper, his brother, paid no attention.
Jasper was always hard working and always taking his breaks while looking at dirty magazines he had found a while back in a car that had broken down on the highway. At the time, the car had no one in it. Jasper took the magazines and was never the same after that.
Their tools were old. They’ve had their farming tools for many generations. The family survived by their own will for a long time. They made their own produce, had their own livestock, and sadly made love with themselves as they were very secluded from society.
The girls in the family had it the worst. Amber, the oldest sister, was already pregnant at fourteen and didn’t even know who the father was. Billy Jo, the mother, couldn’t get pregnant anymore. She had problems with Elrod, who is 7 seven years old now. Elrod made his bleed profusely during birth and pretty much ruined her abilities to give more birth. Bobbie Jo was the youngest sister at 11 years old and was coming of age.
The father of this family was dead. He fell off the top of the barn while inebriated with moonshine. He had broken his neck, among other parts of his body. Jasper, the oldest, had to go get help but came back after seeing a huge explosion far away while traveling on the family carriage. He came back to get a gun just in case, but the father had died.
The oldest, Jake, was killed by the father four years ago when Jake tried to have sex with Billy Jo, his own mother. The father out of jealousy killed him. The father stabbed his own son in the back of the head with an ice pick. They still use the ice pick during wintertime, for it is a good ice pick.
Their family size was at its lowest numbers lately, and Bo and Jasper would sometimes argue on who would have dibs on Bobby Jo.
On this particular day, Bo was staring at the sky. The sky that sat very far away, for the last month or so, was very dark. He always brought it up, but Jasper didn’t pay attention.
“How is ya’ don’t pay attention to what is going on with the sky?” asked Bo to Jasper.
“I don’t reckon I know what the heck the sky want wit us!” Jasper replies.
“It looks funny, Jas!”
Jasper stands up straight and looks out to the sky. It did look dark and it was growing.
“Golly, it is getting worse!” added Jasper.
They both stood there in the blistering sun looking out yonder.
“What was it like when you left to go get help, Jasper?”
“When you left to get help for Daddy?”
“It was strange!”
“Tell me more Jas”
“Well, I saw more cars, and these sheriffs types kept telling me that I couldn’t go farther.”
“Really, I haven’t seen no one else besides our family since I was seven,” interrupted Bo.
Suddenly, Bobby Jo was running up to them and yelling. She was pale and looked very scared. She was as white as a ghost despite the sunburns that she had sustained in the last months or so.
“What’s all the hollering about Bobby?”
“There’s a man about a mile up the road!” she answered with her eyes wide open. Her reddish color was coming back as the blood inside of her was pumping via adrenaline.
Bo and Jasper took off, leaving Bobby Jo behind. She actually fell on her face trying to catch up and bit her tongue something awful, but her brothers didn’t care. They ran all the way past the house where Amber was sitting smoking her afternoon smoke with her mother.
As the boys ran past them, Billy Jo yelled out, “Kill him if he gives you any unnecessary lip!”
“How are those two wimps gonna kill anything, Momma?” Amber told her mother and with her seven-month-old belly, looking like it’s going to give birth to twins.
The mother was petting her white cat, Lighting, with her foot as the cat lay, purring by her dirty calloused feet. Lighting was one of the two left, for the cats were getting eaten in the last month or so since the pigs were getting sick from the water coming from the river. That water just didn’t look right, but this family didn’t care. Lighting and the female, Jade, were to be saved to make more kittens for food.
“Heck, Jasper and Bo are big-boned. They can use their hands and feet if they have to!” responded the mother.
Jasper got on the bicycle with the sidecar on it. Bo got on the sidecar and took out a little .22 caliber gun from a holster tied on the inside of it. They both put on their dust goggles and began riding up the road with Bo helping by pushing the bicycle before jumping into the sidecar. Jasper kept his buck knife tight on his belt. They rode fiercely up the road lifting dust.
The grass on both sides of the road was dying, for it was not the rainy season yet. The family thought that the rain was coming early this year since the sky always looked dark over yonder in the last two months.
Bobby ran up to where Amber and Billy, the mother, were sitting smoking their pipes. Bobby ignored the blood dripping down her chin. Her tongue was swelling. She tried to yell out at them.
“The man lookin’ like he hurt!” yelled out Amber as blood squirted out of her mouth into the hot air.
“What was that you say?” asked Billy.
Bobby ran into the house ignoring her mother.
“What is that little devil up to now?” wondered Amber.
Bobby Jo came out with a jug full of water.
Jasper and Bo kept peddling up the road like they were in a joust competition. Leaning forward with anxiety, they were biking their way up the road. They could see the man up the road, as Jasper hit Bo in the back of the head to give him a heads up. Bo got the .22 ready and held it in his right hand as he rode the sidecar of this bicycle.
They finally got to the man who was on the ground. The man was a soldier and was armed to the teeth. However, the soldier was hurt badly. There was a pool of blood to his side and his uniform was bloody as well.
Jasper and Bo got off the bicycle at the same time. Bo had the gun aimed straight at the soldier. Jasper got a lead pipe that was holstered on the outside of the sidecar. He also got his buck knife and hooked it on the end of the pipe. The pipe was already made to turn into a spear when such things should arise at the farm.
The soldier saw them and turned on this back. Jasper and Bo pointed their weapons at him.
“Water,” said the soldier.
It looked like he was shot on the right shoulder, on his right thigh, and had some shrapnel wounds on his face and neck. He was pretty messy.
Jasper looked up the road and saw in the distance a possible vehicle smoking.
“Golly, this man just walked a long way bleeding like that!”
Bo looked at the soldier and at the road. He saw the smoke in the distance, barely.
Behind them, Bobby was running with the jug of water, spilling some of it out. Bo turned as he heard her running stride in the distance. He turned back and saw Jasper poking the soldier.
“Water,” repeated the soldier under his breath.
“Darn it, we come out here in a flash an’ thinkin’ the worse,” said Bo.
“Shit, I don’t think water gonna help this fella!” added Jasper.
Bo got down next to the soldier and held his head. Bo looked into the soldier’s eyes and asked, “What happened to you?”
The soldier tried to answer, but his eyes were wandering into space. Bo slapped the soldier in the face a couple of times.
Bobby Jo finally got there with the jug of water. Jasper took it from her very rudely, almost ripping Bobby’s arm off.
“Dang!” yelled out Bobby Jo with the blood on her chin dried out and mixed with dust giving it a dark brownish color. She licked it with the bottom of her tongue and spat out some of it.
Jasper kneels down and pours water into the soldier’s mouth. The water just fills up and overflows on the side of the soldier’s dusty face. Bo slaps the soldier again. The soldier’s eyes are wide open looking up at the brownish-bluish sky.
Jasper and Bo stand up and look down at this poor man.
“Is he dead?” Bobby Jo pushes them aside.
Jasper drops the jug of water as some splashes on the soldier’s motionless face. Both boys look at the smoke in the distance.
“Let’s go,” says Jasper.
Bo grabs the jug as Bobby Jo tries to get some. Bo slaps her hands out of the way gets ready to push the sidecar. Jasper puts the lead pipe in the holster and begins to pedal.
Bobby Jo begins to search the dead soldier for goods She takes out a knife and a side gun. She throws both guns (the sidearm and the assault rifle) to the side as Jasper and Bo circle back to pick them up. As they make their turn to go towards the smoking vehicle, Bobby Jo throws the soldier’s belt at them, the ammo. Luckily, it snags on the back of the sidecar, and Bo turns to grab it.
Bobby Jo watches them ride away for a minute picking up dust as they go. She notices that the grass is dry and dead on both sides. She wonders if the coyotes will be out tonight. She looks down at the soldier and ponders. She goes for the soldier’s pants and unzips them. She pulls down on the pants, struggling a bit. She sees something that makes her wonder.
“That don’t look like Jasper’s dick,” she tells herself.
Down the road, Jasper and Bo are making their way to the smoke. Bo keeps wondering about the day their father died. He wanted to be the one who wanted to take the carriage down the road to the next town. He remembered how Jasper didn’t want to talk about it after coming back from his brief trek that day.
They buried their father next to all their kin in the cemetery a half a mile behind the barn. As of now, many generations were buried there. They were the last of their family.
Jasper kept thinking of a female. He was a bit disappointed about the soldier thing back there. He wanted to see a female. Last time, all he saw were Sheriffs or policemen, telling him he couldn’t go up the road when suddenly the biggest light he’s ever seen went off in the distance, making a deep rumble on the ground. Scared the bejeezus out of him that made him turn around with no questions asked. He even forgot about his dying father when he saw that giant mushroom as he turned.
Bo remembered the sky lighting up that day. He thought it was the heavens opening their gates to let his father in or shutting its doors to keep that old, mean, bastard out.
As they neared, they see a heavily armored car with a big gun sticking out of it. The vehicle has dead bodies around it. Half of it is destroyed and burning. They can smell flesh burning inside. Jasper and Bo know what flesh smells like when it is burned, but that is another story. One of them is a dead female soldier. Jasper saw the boobs on the body.
They circle the burning vehicle with their weapons pointed at it. They see the flames going out and keep smelling the stench. Jasper stops the bike and looks out into the distance.
“They was fighting somethin’,” says Bo.
Jasper turns back and tells Bo that there are no other vehicles anywhere nearby.
Bo gets off the sidecar and walks over to the vehicle. He starts to look at the bodies and searches them.
Jasper goes for the female soldier. He leans down and begins to smell the female soldier’s neck. He stares at her face. Her eyes are closed. He removes her helmet and puts his arms around her waist and picks up her body up to his as he sits. His legs go under her torso. He begins to smell her neck again.
Bo stares at his brother as he eats chocolate he just stole from a dead body. Bo wonders what it would be like with a dead body. He didn’t like the idea. He kept thinking about it though. He was tired of masturbation.
Jasper begins to lick the neck and the woman moans. Jasper jumps back startled.
“What, what happened!?” Bo begins to shout with his .22 aiming at the woman.
The woman begins to moan some more. Jasper had a big smile, showing his dirty, yellow teeth.
“Kill me,” demanded the female soldier.
“You crazy woman,” said Jasper.
“I can’t move,” she added.
“I don’t care, honey,” said Jasper as he got ready to do his thing.
“You can’t do that Jasper,” said Bo.
Jasper looked up at him and began to bang his fist on the ground.
“What da ya’ mean!”
“She needs help, Jasper.”
The woman gasps and Jasper looks down at her. She was brown, something that Jasper hadn’t seen before. They had seen colored men when they were kids when they went to town those few times, but not a woman.
“Kill me, please!” she looked up at Jasper, “my world is over.”
Jasper looked down at her and saw that she was in a pool of blood. She had a wound in the back of her neck. He remembered his father’s wound that made him not able to move from the neck down. He felt bad for her.
He shot her in the forehead with the .22 cal. The bullet didn’t exit her head, and Jasper thought that it must have scrambled her brain. She died with a smile as if her suffering was over.
As they collected everything they could, they headed back to the farm. Down the road, they could see the soldier that Bobby Jo was left with. When they rode by the body, they saw Lightning licking up blood from the dirty puddle. Lightning’s face had a pinkish color to it as he enjoyed the blood, slightly. Lightning was having a decent meal as he was spooked when they rode by.
“Tomorrow, we get ready to ride past that burning vehicle,” said Jasper.
“We will take the carriage,” Jasper added.
“Why are we going to do such a thing for?”
“I want to find out what this world thing is about.”
by Bazooka Teaches
A tribute to Ray Bradbury