“That him?”

I nodded.

The man crumpled to the ground, bawling like a baby.

My brother, Johnnie, leveled the rifle. “What d’ya want me to do?”

I rocked on the heels of my boots. We were deep in the woods behind our cabin, right where I’d been walkin’ the day before. And that was where it happened. I ask you, shouldn’t a girl be able to take a stroll and not have to worry about some jackass jumping on top of her?

“I suppose you could kill ‘im,” I said. “Ain’t nobody gonna hear nothing.”

“Oh JAY-sus, don’t kill me!” the man blubbered. It was actually funny. “I’m sorry, real sorry . . . please just let me . . .”

“Shut up.” Johnnie put his finger on the trigger. “B’fore I kill you for whining like a possum in heat.”

The man covered his face with filthy hands. His skinny arms hung out of his t-shirt sleeves like two snakes. His boney shoulders trembled. To tell you the truth, I coulda taken him down the other day if not for him leapin’ on my back and pushing my face into the dirt. His stink was so bad I had to hold my breath. Plus, the surprise of being knocked down had made me a little loopy. I didn’t even know it was a man at first. Coulda been an animal what with him smellin’ like rotten meat. Wasn’t until he tried to yank down my jeans that I was able to turn over and land one on his chin. I shoulda beat the shit outta him right there, but instead I just ran. Made me furious to think that I let him scare me so bad.

“Gimme the rifle, Johnnie.”

“You gonna shoot him?”

“I might.”

I handled the weapon with the calm assurance of somebody who knew damn well what to do with it. After all, I’d been huntin’ with my daddy for eighteen years, from the time I was four years old. I gave that cowardly bastard a pretty smile. “My brother’d prob’ly just shoot a hole right through the middle of you. But I’m a better shot. More precise, you know? I could blow off your balls. One at a time if I wanted to.” I probably couldn’t do it with the rifle, but I didn’t tell him that.

His hands went to his crotch, and he whimpered like a dog with a thorn in his paw.

“That’s right,” Johnnie said. “When she was twelve she shot a field mouse from twenty feet. Remember that, sis?” Johnnie laughed. “Or was it a lizard? I can’t remember. All’s I know is if she wants to put a bullet into one o’ your nuts, watch out.”

The man went stomach down on the ground to protect his jenny-talia. “Please, I beg ya’, don’ shoot my man parts.”

Johnnie walked over, lifted him up by one arm and one leg, and flipped him onto his back. Then he straddled him, resting his enormous weight on the man’s thin torso. “You ever been raped?” my brother asked, his tone as congenial as if he’d asked you ever eat pecan pie? That was Johnnie.

The man shook his head. Tears leaked out the corners of his eyes. “N . . . no.”

“Me neither,” my brother said. “But one of my buddies, Roger, well, he knocked over a gas station this one time and spent a year in the slammer. Well, you can guess what happened to him. Everyone always said he was too pretty for his own good . . . ”

I lowered the rifle and smiled, remembering Roger’s green eyes and long lashes. “He sure was. Johnnie, did you know he once took me out?”

Johnnie looked up. “Yeah I knew that. I tol’ him he ever get near you again, I’d break his face.”

“You did? You asshole! That’s why he didn’t ask me to prom. I hate you, Johnnie. You always ruin . . .”

“Um, excuse me?” the man interrupted us.


“Sounds like you two might, well, maybe you got some family matters to discuss.” He squirmed under Johnnie’s weight. “So why don’ y’all just let me skedaddle and leave you to your private business.”

Johnnie studied the man’s face as if he were considering the offer. His answer was a right-hook to the jaw.

“Anyway, sis, Roger ain’t so pretty anymore. Not after his year in . . .”

“I can’t breath!” The man kicked his feet.

“Well, I’m sorry,” Johnnie said. He rolled off the man and stood up.

I lifted the rifle and pointed it right between the man’s legs. “Stay put.”

His face turned an ugly shade of greenish gray. Made me think of this frog I had when I was a kid. I touched the muzzle to where I figured his balls were – it was hard to tell, what with his baggie jeans. But when his face turned white, I figured I was close enough.

“You gonna shoot now, sis? I wanna get home.”

“How many bullets you put in here?” I asked “Cause if there’s only one I’ll have to take off all his parts at once.”

The man’s face went from kind of an eggshell white to marshmallow. His eyes rolled back and his head tipped to the side.

“I think you killed him without even wasting a bullet,” Johnnie said.

A rustling in the leaves made me and Johnnie turn and look behind us. I didn’t care who was comin’. That rifle stayed pointed right where I wanted it.

“Okay you two. Fun’s over.” Sheriff Tipperton walked out from between the trees.

I wasn’t surprised to see him. I had told him where the man hid out, and that I was gonna track him down and scare the shit outta him.

“I think he’s dead, Sheriff,” Johnnie said, his tone as matter-a-fact as if he’d said I think I’m gonna drink a beer, Sheriff.

“He ain’t dead, Johnnie. But it looks to me like you really did scare the shit outta him. What a mess. Now I gotta load him and his stinky pants into my car. Jesus Christ.”

“Sorry Sheriff,” me and Johnnie said together.

“Alright then.” Sheriff Tipperton looked at me. “You sure this the man who jumped you yesterday?”

“Yep.” I still had the rifle pointed at the man’s crotch.

“Good. Y’all get on home. I’ll take it from here.”

The man started wakin’ up. I jostled my rifle against his pants, you know, like a little tickle down there, just to see what would happen. His eyes flew open. “Don’t shoot my balls!”

Me and Johnnie laughed and headed home. I carried the rifle over my shoulder.

“That was fun,” I said.


“Oh wait.” I stopped walking.


I slugged Johnnie as hard as I could on his arm, which was pretty hard for a girl.

“Ouch! What’d you do that for?”

“For telling Roger to stay away from me. You asshole. I thought he didn’t like me anymore.”

Johnnie shrugged. “Whatever.”

We went on home and had beer and pecan pie for lunch.




4 thoughts on “BACK WOODS JUSTICE

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