Copyright©June 2014 Suzy Stewart Dubot
Published at Shakespir
An Anglo/American who has been living in France for over 30 years, she began writing as soon as she retired. She recently spent seventeen months in London, UK caring for an aged relative. She is now back in France. Writing follows her as easily as her laptop. With her daughters, she is a vegetarian and a supporter of animal rights. She is also an admirer of the British abolitionist, William Wilberforce, who was also a founding member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (S.P.C.A.).
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Cover design : Suzy Stewart Dubot
Cover photo : Anna Langova: https://goo.gl/oGfESr
A Fun-loving Guy
The lone mailbox standing alongside the highway had seen better days.
No one would be faulted for thinking that it had been abandoned as it leaned a little to one side with its aluminium body now a dull rough finish. The terrain where it had been placed was overgrown with weeds some of which rose high around its wooden stake to press against the box’s underbelly.
The United States Postal Service knew differently, though, as it deposited the occasional bill or catalogue and sometimes picked up a letter to post when the rusted flag was up.
R. J. Beamer, in black childish letters, was just another name to them on their daily route. Nothing indicated if it were a man or a woman, and it wouldn’t have changed anything anyway.
Next to the box was a dirt road leading to R.J. Beamer’s property which disappeared behind a screen of overgrown shrubs and trees tangled with brambles and poison ivy to discourage any uninvited visitor. If the truth were known – R. J. Beamer didn’t have any visitors.
The nearest one-horse town was Winchell.
There were folks there who could probably tell you about R. J. when he was younger and been obliged to go to school. But after he’d left the education system and his pa had died, they’d had no further dealings with the him. As he’d always been mean-spirited, people had tended to avoid him. His absence from town suited everyone.
Now that he was full grown, they’d sometimes see him driving by in his beat-up truck on his way to the next town over, which was a good deal bigger. He never spent his money in Winchell having a lasting grudge against the town and everyone in it, although no one knew why in particular — except maybe Betty Sue, and she wasn’t telling as she’d been gone for some time.
Years later they would be glad that he’d ignored them and done his business elsewhere.
Jeb was sitting on the porch bench outside the Winchell hardware when he saw R.J.’s truck drive past.
He squinted his eyes and followed the pick-up’s progress as he heard R. J. changing gears as he gained speed on his way out of town.
“There’s sumthin’ not right about him,” he said to Billy Ray, who was sitting next to him chewing tobacco. He hadn’t needed to name the person he was talking about as Billy Ray had watched the truck pass too.
“He gives me the creeps,” Billy Ray agreed, slurping a bit. “Met him in Madley and he spat at my shoes as he passed. We ain’t never been presented, so he had no cause to spit at me!”
Billy Ray was indignant.
“He ain’t healthy. Best steer clear of him, I say,” Jeb advised.
“Jeesh. Not looking to share my tobaccy with him, Jeb.”
Billy Ray sat chawing for a minute or two, then he told Jeb what he’d learned.
“Mista Smith done told me R. J. collects wheels from junkyards. You know, them that’s got worn out tyres on ‘em. Now why’d anyone want old wheels, fer land’s sake?”
He aimed carefully and spat tobacco juice away from the porch.
Just then pretty Amanda Dillon came up the step to go into the hardware and distracted them from their sombre thoughts.
“Miss Amanda,” they both greeted her with a smile and a nod.
R. J. dragged the used wheel off the back of his pick-up. This was the seventh, so far. He set it on its rubber tread and began rolling it down the trail at the back of the house. The black from the rubber dirtied his hands but nothing about him was particularly clean, so he wasn’t too bothered. The other wheels, on the limit of his land, slowly came into view. He was in no hurry to arrive as his mind shifted back to the few good times he’d had in his life. He now associated them with these wheels. They were reminders. The only problem was that as he got nearer to the row of six, those memories quickly veered to feelings of bitterness and frustration when he remembered the abortive outcome of each venture.
He was hot and the brambles that caught on his clothing as he wended his way with the wheel only added to his mounting irritation. Nothing ever seemed to go the way he wanted. Couldn’t even walk to the back of his land without getting scratched. No doubt about it. Everyone he had to deal with was always out to spoil his fun and ruin any chances he had for getting ahead, enjoying himself. These days, he had to stray farther afield when he wanted to have a good time. He drove to places where people didn’t know him so couldn’t judge him and he could be himself — just a fun-loving guy.
The sun was bearing down steadily and R. J. could see that the low mound of earth had already dried. It didn’t matter. It wouldn’t be hard yet.
He finally rolled the wheel up to it and let it drop to its side before shoving it up on top of the pile, where it lay flat. Once in place, he got onto the wheel and began to jump up and down, forcing it down into the loosened earth. As he jumped he shouted, “Bitch. Goddamn bitch. Bitch.”
Suddenly, he stopped and looked at all the other rubber wheels that were spread out in a line.
“Bitches all of you!”
From his raised position, he stared toward the first wheel in the line.
“You’re the biggest bitch of all, Betty Sue.”
He stepped off the tyre which had sunk somewhat into the mound and pulled a soiled hanky from his overall pocket to wipe the sweat from his face. It calmed him and got him thinking again about the past and the future.
Perhaps he’d better start looking for that special gal across the state line. No sense in letting folks connect a fun-loving guy with any of those missing women. Didn’t want them nosing around here, digging up his trophies.
If only those bitches had been fun-loving too, he wouldn’t need to keep buying these damn dirty wheels.
What does a guy have to do to have fun? R.J. is still looking and in the meantime, he's getting an impressive collection of wheels...