Publication Year: 2012
Published by: West Virginia University Press
Dedication, Title Page, Copyright
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How does a man come to this? In 1961 I was ready to kill a man. I meant to do it. I was going to try, or so I thought. But somebody else beat me to it. Question is, would I actually have done it? That same year, I may have killed a man. I don’t...
Part I: The Road West
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I was naked, sitting upright in the center of the hood of the big sedan. In my journal, I once wrote that I had been “run out of the county” there in South Carolina. That was not exactly true. I was given a ride to the county line—on the hood of the car—but then I was launched...
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Goddammit, i wasn’t a northerner. And from what I had seen, I wasn’t a Southerner, either; didn’t want to be; didn’t want any part of it. Not after all the shit I had brought down on my own head in that wonderful place called “The South.” I didn’t know if there...
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What the hell was I doing there? That seemed to be the central question of my life, the question that kept coming up, again and again, no matter where I went, what I did. What the hell was I doing here, on that two-lane highway far and...
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Winter was coming on in the Carolinas. The land rose to the west and lifted higher into the mountains and I could feel the cold flowing down and out of the hills and wrapping itself around me in my beach shirt and old jeans and I wished I were back there, sitting on...
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What was she doing there? What was she doing, sleeping in a culvert by the side of the road? What was she . . . . She lived there! No, not there, not in the culvert. She lived . . . there . . . through the woods, where she ran...
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Seems like getting to the Mississippi River was no trouble at all. Just one short ride after another, the drivers talking about the same things, the same trees going by the car windows, the same nights, the same days, the same cafes where the drivers ate and I didn’t...
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On the ranch, to keep myself from going stir crazy, I ordered books through the mail, mostly history and biographies, some travel. I read novels when I could find the right ones. I made sure that all the books were paperbacks, so I could carry them in my saddlebags...
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Two hours after I left Tubbs sitting on his bunk I flagged down a bus. My first bus ride. I didn’t give a damn which way it was going. I rode until I came to the first large town, got off, and discovered there was a university there...
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On a day in winter when I could smell the ice in the air, even through the frosted windows of the room, I raised my hand during a class that I do not even remember and asked to be excused. “Restroom,” I think I said. I never went back. I just kept walking...
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I never learned to get out of a whorehouse the easy way. Maybe I should have gone to whorehouse school to get my manners polished up. I just never got around to it. But, all things considered, I went to some schools that were pretty much like whorehouses, and I never...
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The dreams came and floated, then merged into a confused mess that I could not understand and would not remember. Except for the dreams about the ranch. I was back there, on the ranch, and it was payday. But there was...
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There was silence. I didn’t know how long there had been silence. It bothered me. Where were the snoring sounds of the others? I lay there in the bunk, trying not to breathe the stink, but too full of hurt to get up...
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I got drunk in San Francisco and fucked away all my money and then the Mexican burned the police car and we lost him. None of it was very hard to do. We didn’t belong in the city. We didn’t belong in a lot of places...
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Night court. We stood in front of the judge a few days later, Wendell staring straight ahead again, not looking at the judge, me with the whole left side of my face still swollen, my left eye shut...
Part II: Scummer Training
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Starker. When I first laid eyes on the son of a bitch, I did not like him. Within a week I hated him. Within a month I knew that I would like very much to bust the motherfucker’s head, and that I would enjoy it like nothing else in my life...
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Fort Ord, California. U.S. Army Basic Infantry Training. I don’t really have to explain basic training. If you ever saw Tab Hunter in the movie Battle Cry you get the idea. Sure, Tab was in the Marines and I was in the army, but it was all the same. Same...
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The air was close with dampness and chill. We were not far from the beach and fog had come in, turning everything to a misty gray that took away our energy, made us want to find a cave to huddle in, build a fire, roast a chunk of mammoth while we dozed...
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I have always liked birds. On Black Hawk Ridge the birds brought the daylight over the tops of the ridges and spread it over the trees, pulling the light with song. Most of the time I never saw them, only heard them, took them for granted. But I always liked them...
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I lost the Indian shortly after that. I awoke in the cold and silence just beyond midnight and rolled over, facing in the Indian’s direction. A single, bare bulb burned all night in the latrine down the hall and reflected its dull, yellow light...
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We stood in silent formation in the damp winter of the California coast, rows of dark green uniforms jutting up from the street in front of the barracks building. We stood as quietly as we could, waiting for our last inspection as basic infantry trainees. Within...
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Somewhere along the way—I thought it was just after basic training— Christmas had come and gone. They did not let me go home during the holidays; I was one of the few who did not get Christmas leave. I needed the additional training, they said, and so I heard...
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The door opened, a little bit at a time, and a scrawny, nervous lieutenant eased through the opening. The two MPs were with him. “Tench-Hut!” one of the MPs snapped. I got slowly to my feet. Starker, still standing, did not move...
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The wind blew steadily into February. It blew over the hard red clay and through the cracks in the windows. It blew up through the gaps in the floors and ate its way under our blankets and into the far corners of the latrines. It brought a heavy dampness...
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Barracks Building #13 was like all the rest of them, one large, oblong room with a row of double-decker bunks down each side. The bunks were carefully aligned, precisely, absolutely. Each morning before leaving the building, two men in each barracks...
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The early morning light had barely hit the tops of the barracks buildings but we already sat on the bus, more than twenty of us, waiting. Our stay at Military Police Training School was over. We were leaving. Even I was leaving. Swink had seen to that...
Part III: The Scummers
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I didn’t wake until the bus stopped. As long as there had been movement I had slept, but when the movement stopped I woke up instantly, wondering immediately where Starker was...
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There were eighteen of us, all that had been on the bus, and we stood in the basement of the concrete-block, three-story barracks building. It must have been what standing in the basement of the Great Pyramid felt like...
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The room was small, barely large enough to keep two men from falling over each other. The floor was tile, polished to a high shine. The walls were concrete block, covered with one layer of white paint. There were two GI cots...
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Tucker and I stood at attention in Murphy’s office on the first floor of the MP company building, my leg throbbing—not broken, but pain-raging. Outside the single window I could see that the snow had stopped falling but the sky was...
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Confined to the post, to North Depot Activity, Romulus, New York, a place where there was no post exchange, no theatre, no gymnasium, no recreational facilities of any kind and, as far as I could tell, no town named...
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It was incoming. Some sort of ball-like object blew out a single pane of glass in one of the big north windows of the mess hall, caromed off the hard surface of a dining table, thunked into a shiny metal milk dispenser and disappeared over the serving line and back into...
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For me, there was nothing left to do but settle into the routine of maximum security guard duty. But I did not count on standing guard duty with Bannerman. Or Sabolino. Hays Tucker had told me that Bannerman and Sabolino always...
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There were four platoons in the MP company and we pulled guard duty every four days, twenty-fours at a time. After our shift, we had twenty-four hours off; then a day of detail duty, usually shit details, picking up cigarette butts from the compound, painting...
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A flicker of light slipped across the rear window of the guard shack. Somewhere inside NDA a pair of headlights turned off a side road and headed for the main gate, where I was pulling guard duty with Sabolino...
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Funeral detail. Maybe that was my way off the post, at least for the day. The MPs always pulled funeral detail, honor guard, a bunch of guys looking sharp in dress uniforms, going into Geneva or Seneca...
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Once, back on Black Hawk Ridge in West Virginia, I had stood at the edge of a grave dug in the raw dirt of a small ridge-top cemetery and watched my relatives bury my cousin Elijah. It had been raining then, too, and the water had caused the edges of the grave to...
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There was a small buck deer hanging from the heavy wire of the middle fence and smoke was coming out of its asshole. I stared at the deer’s asshole, the wisps of warm smoke curling gently upward. I could have sworn the deer was white. A ghost deer...
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Sabolino heard Kraus on the radio. “Tell him where you are,” Sabolino said. “Why? So the bastard can try to blame the goddamn dead deer on me?” “You ain’t nowhere near the deer. He can’t prove you ever saw...
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No one ever asked me about the deer. After we got off guard duty that morning, Kraus held the platoon outside the barracks on the pavement in the bright morning sunshine. He wanted to know if anyone knew how the deer got there. Hell, I didn’t know how the...
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Nah, her name wasn’t Jane Russell. She just looked like Jane Russell. Her name was Antonia DiPaulo. Everybody called her Toni. The first time I saw her I was standing guard duty with Bannerman at the main gate, right next to the badge office...
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We were preparing for another 24-hour shift of mind-numbing guard duty. Our platoon was in formation, standing guard mount in the parking lot in front of the barracks building, the warm, early October sun...
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Not all MPs were stupid. Somebody figured out that Bannerman had fired the 8-ball out of the canon. I think they had been working on it since it happened, but I never really found out who put it all together...
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I was never much for contemplation, for sitting on a ledge above some canyon, probing around in my mental guts for the reason behind it all—whatever it was. I just wanted to get on with it, to do what was in front of me; to take some action, even if it was wrong...
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Concrete is soft. I remembered the concrete of the sidewalks and basement stairwells of San Francisco and I always thought it was hard, man-stone hard, grinding against my skin when the Indian and I tried to sleep...
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Ruker sat beside my bed, his bulk completely hiding the straight-back chair he was sitting in. If Ruker was there, I knew Garcia would be there, probably standing in a corner, but I could not move my head enough to see him...
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There was no moon on the lake and the room was almost black. The painkiller was slowly draining from my body and I could feel all the small places where pain came from and I wondered if there would ever be another time when something in my body did not hurt. I lay...
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I knew the crazy bastard was down at the end of the long hard barracks hallway and I thought if I concentrated, really concentrated, I could hear the rasp of his stinking breath coming through his ugly rat-nose...
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I left a blood trail along the hallway, down the stairs and out through the heavy entry door. But that was okay—I wanted the trail of blood to lead straight to Starker...
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We did not go back to the base. Whatever was going to happen from now on, Ruker said, was going to happen out of the reach of Kraus and the rest of them. They had put me in the car and we were driving slowly down a narrow road that seemed...
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It was that time of day when the light died willingly behind cracked buildings and trash-strewn vacant lots, as though it could not wait to cover the city with darkness to keep decent people from seeing what crawled there. The sun slid down behind the highest buildings...
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After that, Ruker never mentioned Garcia. I never mentioned the biker at the back of the house, never mentioned that I did not know if he was breathing. Technically, I never went back to North Depot Activity...
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It was the best café I had ever been in. I wanted to stay there, to live there, to drop out of the minds and sights of any who were in search of me, who knew that I was alive. Heavy wooden tables and benches nestled into the sand floor...
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I had to go back. As I said, just to make sure. I came to the town in the middle of a dog-days night when the darkness has a thickness to it that you can actually feel. Even so, I knew that place...
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Two days after Jesse Stone left Crum, the woman and boy from the bus walked into Crum School. The woman registered the boy, her son, in the second grade. His name was Jesse Stone Staley. There is...
About the Author
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Lee Maynard, also the author of Crum and Screaming with the Cannibals, was born and raised in the small towns and hollows of Wayne County, West Virginia, where his relatives have dwelt for over two hundred years. His work has appeared in...
Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2012