‘Ass mutts,’ said Rees.
Dung mucked his boots. Coyote scat. He hacked the soles through grass and stamped and kicked and scraped. Rucksack shifting sore on his back. Rifle lowered. The sun hurt. Bruised his bald skull. He rubbed his scalp and skin fell on his neck. He scanned the plain. Fit lime grassland. Hills blistered pink. On the sunsweat flat heat-hazed trees showed to embrace and waltz. ‘Pop a berry,’ he said, booting a shrub airborne. He crossed a field onto the tarmac and headed into town. Swore on his balls to find a hat.
At a main junction, near a derelict bus, he unstrapped his gear and dropped his dungarees and squatted. Along the road, past shuttered shops and tomb appartment blocks, dogs barked. No sight of them. Sounded like a pack in flight. Masterless. Orderless. ‘Bow fucky wow,’ he said.
He shat and blew his nose. Snot into red bikini pants. Done with them, sniffed out. His abuse on the fabric. He considered the woman who had worn them. ‘Darlin cockle,’ he said, and wiped his anus with the silk crotch. He dumped them on the shit and rose hoisting his denim shoulder straps.
A vehicle’s engine turned over. Stammered up littered streets. The starter turned, coughing and dying, quieter with each ignition switch. It choked dead.
Rifle raised, Rees ripped six rounds, aimed at a cloud, a solitary pearl in the lagoon sky. ‘Pickle yir cockles,’ he shouted and jigged around his mess hysterical.
Outside a gun store he sat his rucksack on the sidewalk and unclipped a pouch and drew a crowbar. He knelt and jemmied the shutter base, grunting and jabbing and bending. Locks sprang broken and he rose lifting the cage, wishing the mute alarm to squeal. He easy jemmied the entrance door and packed-up the crowbar. The shop was fully stocked. He tinkered with rifles and shotguns. Loaded a pistol big as his fourteen-size boots and posed at a full-length mirror. He holstered the gun in his thigh pocket and pulled and fired. ‘Howdy, pilgrim,’ he roared, grinning to his eyebrows, his reflect other felled to glints. Felt like the floor cracked.
He snatched his crotch and cat about the shop spanking an erection, liking it jumpy against the zip. He pillaged under-counter drawers. Opened boxes of bullets and cases of gun-cleaning kit. Dropped them soon as he’d touched and seen and sniffed. He sat on a swirl chair and twirled. Imagined the gunsmith proprietor everyday loving the joyride. Knew him surely dead.
Metal tastes stuck his mouth. Dried his tongue clothy. He spat and hoisted his heels and slammed the proofed counter glass. Helled on smashing it. The casing trembled unbreakable. He hammered harder and cramp sogged his calves. He stood and hopped and bawled, ‘Jesus fuck it,’ and veins bloat and spurt and the muscles flexed true. He hobble-sat and sneezed and farted and his ears popped and he heard his presence louder about. Stretched out on the chair he sprung his dick and hit thinking a blonde nurse and a black porter screwing in a toilet cubicle. He sprayed fast. Dozed away to his dread grinning.
A creature chewed him. His popped eye saw his body shred sinewy between serpent teeth. A saliva mud washed his eye-him down the gullet into an amonia pond. Buoyant in the urine stink, he saw his pale heart sink, beating bleeding.
He woke wailing and leapt and grabbed his rifle and blasted the shop window, an erratic salvo, maybe ten shots. Glass fangs root from the triangle framework. Shaken sober, he zipped-up and slapped his face. A smoke curtain parted. He supposed the space a demon mouth. Saw the road a dustrise bed of the piss-pit gut.
He stocked on bullets. Four fat boxes tucked into his rucksack. He yanked the till and swiped a rag of bills. On his way out, shoulder-ramming the door, he tossed the notes overhead, and not a glance back shouted, ‘That ought’n cover it.’