HO SPRINGS
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Archive for the ‘Darrell’ Category

9. DARRELL: Bad Luck

arrell couldn’t believe his luck: A college girl. College girls definitely had sex all the time, with as little fuss as popping open a Diet Coke. They also all smoked pot pretty much constantly. At least that’s what his brother DaShawn had told him, and DaShawn had been up to Fayetteville studying business for almost a whole year.

But this girl, Julie something, only looked at him strangely when he asked whether she had a J. And even if sex was going to happen at some point, you couldn’t just make a grab for it as if she was one of the hos down at the Go Go. You couldn’t even make a grab for it with a ho, DaShawn told him. No matter what you were doing and with whom — DaShawn actually used words like that: whom — it was important to do it with style.

Remembering this advice was what gave Darrell the idea to take Julie to the Futureama. He’d tagged along behind DaShawn there late one night. DaShawn told him how the old fortune teller lady, Jimmie Sue, left the windows cracked no matter how cold or hot the weather, so the spirits could move around and shit. She left her money, wrapped in a nasty old silk snot rag, in the top drawer of her big old carved dresser, right beside her magic cards.

Do not touch those cards, DaShawn had warned Darrell, taking half the money from the silk cloth and putting the rest back. Those cards are evil. They will bring you harm.

DaShawn showed Darrell how to screw off the head of the big black buddha, where the pot was stored inside. The old fortune teller lady must grow her own, DaShawn said, and it was fine.

So every once in a while, when he was feeling brave, on nights when he just needed to get out of the house and wander, he’d come over here, let himself in, smoke a little dope, help himself to a bill or two, and slip out. Never with anybody else, though. Not until tonight.

“What are you doing?” the girl, Julie, asked, looking around, rubbing her arms, as he raised the back window of the Futureama, gently lowered his banjo inside and prepared to follow.

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19. DARRELL: Topless, Headless

pizza. That’s all he wanted was a pizza.

And then when the Domino’s guy finally got there, his coupon was expired so he didn’t have enough money and the stupid honky refused to leave the damn pizza. Probably went out to his car and ate it all by himself.

Fuck it. He knew Mom said don’t go out for anything, but she wouldn’t want him to starve there at home, would she? Plus, that slap this morning, that knocked something loose in him. She wouldn’t be back for a nearly an hour yet. And the Go Go, where he could get a badass pizza for free, was practically right across the street.

It was so dark in there, the only lights the low blue ones illuminating the lineup of liquor bottles arrayed against a mirror in the center of the horseshoe-shaped bar, and the spotlights — blue, pink, dark hot purple — shining on the girl on the stage. The music blasted from the giant black speakers mounted high in each corner of the room; the girl — the part-black girl, Tiffany, wearing something white, with rhinestones twinkling like stars — humping the pole.

Tiffany pulled the white thing down and her giant breasts sprang free. Darrell quickly averted his eyes but, too late, he felt himself grow a huge boner.

That’s why he didn’t like coming in here: It was so embarrassing. But he liked remembering it later.

“Heeeeeey, little man.” It was his brother, DaShawn, coming out from behind the bar, taking his hand, patting him on the back. Mom didn’t like him hanging with DaShawn, but having a brother who was the owner: that made him feel important. “Come to finally pop your cherry?”

DaShawn was laughing, teeth even whiter than usual in the bluish light, eyes glistening. He was always telling Darrell, come over, I’ll fix you up, it’s embarrassing having you old as you are and still a virgin. And Darrell was tempted, definitely he was. But what he figured was, your first time would stay in your mind forever. And he would never admit this to DaShawn or anybody else, but he wanted it to be with somebody he didn’t have to pay, somebody that made him feel something besides hot.

“Nah, man,” said Darrell, hoping he sounded cool, like he was turning down a Diet Coke. “I just come for a pizza.”

If he said that kind of thing to Mom — come for a pizza instead of came for a pizza — she might have smacked him again, or at least wanted to. But with DaShawn, it was the opposite. You didn’t want to talk too white around DaShawn, even if you were white.

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34. DARRELL: What It Feels Like To Be Free

e was free, free, totally free of everyone and everything — except, of course, for Juliette, whose hand was clamped on his own. They were running, tearing as fast as they could down the sidewalk, through alleys, across yards, over fences, not stopping until they were sure that Dwayne and members of the psycho youth group might arrest them in the name of God.

Finally, it was dark. They were somewhere near the edge of town, standing on a cracked asphalt driveway next to a rusted metal fence. In the yard beside them sat a weathered chicken coop, clucking emanating from within. They stood there, breathing hard, still holding hands.

“I don’t think I can run anymore,” huffed Juliette. “I lost my shoes.”

Darrell looked in alarm at her feet, bare and filthy in her shredded stockings, bare blue-polished toenails hanging out from torn nylon.

“What happened?”

She shrugged. “They were my grandmother’s. I couldn’t run in them. They were about three sizes too big.”

“How far are you going to get in bare feet?” he asked.

Really, that girl could be fun and outrageous and sexy as hell. Plus, she knew how to get something going. But losing your shoes, on purpose, when you were in the middle of a getaway? That was some foolish stuff.

“I didn’t know we needed to get far,” she said.

“What do you think I’m gonna do, show up at my Mom’s house, make myself at home, only to have Dwayne beating down the door five minutes later? Or getting the cops on my tail? Nuh-uh.”

“Oh,” she said. “I guess you’re right.”

“You know I’m right. And if I go to your Mom’s pad, that’s just as bad. Worse, cause your Mom probably won’t even want me there.”

“I don’t want to go back to my Mom’s place,” said Juliette.

“Well, where you wanna go?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “France?”

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42. DARRELL: Be A Man

e walked far enough down the drive that he felt like he was surrounded by forest again, before he decided for sure that Juliette was not going to follow him.

He really wanted to keep going. Find the road that was surely at the end of this track and thumb a ride back home. Do whatever his mom told him from now until the end of time.

But he couldn’t leave Juliette here by herself. Be a man, he told himself. Go back.

She was nowhere to be seen. At first he thought she might have run back into the woods, but then he saw one of the old casement windows pushed in and realized she must have gone inside.

Shit! Tell that girl something she was not supposed to do, and she’d run right toward it, arms open.

Darrell climbed on top of the banged up metal garbage can she must have pulled under the window and peered inside, ruffled granny curtains flapping around his ears.

“Julie?”

“What?” came her muffled voice.

“Where are you?”

“In bed.”

Shit. Telling her to get up and get outside RIGHT NOW, the way Dwayne talked to his wife, was not going to do anything but make Juliette mad. She was like his mom in that way: Nobody was going to boss her around, and especially not a man.

But was Darrell a man? He was back here, going after her, not leaving her alone, because he was trying to be a man in the best possible sense of the word, right? And how could he be a good man, and not a bad man, when he wasn’t sure how to be a man at all?

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45. DARRELL: Going Crooked

arrell ran not into the woods where he’d heard them go but the other way, down the road, past their car, past the place where he’d turned back toward Juliette earlier in the night. He felt horrible not going after her again now but he also knew it would be crazy, to plunge into the forest where he knew they were. He had to save himself now; that was his best chance of saving her.

Why had she done that? It was so crazy, the way she’d jumped right out there in the brightly lit room. And then, when she was freaking lucky enough to make it out of the house alive, it was even more insane for her to bang on the window, to throw freaking rocks at the white Nazi freaks! What was wrong with her? That girl was out of her mind.

She was just crazy enough that she would drive them crazy, running around in the woods after her.  Had she taken a gun that maybe was lying there, before she ran out into the night?  Or maybe a knife?  Might that have been why she threw the rocks, because she knew she could turn the tables on them?

He thought he heard a shot in the distance.  Or maybe that was just his feet pounding on the road.  Or his heart banging against his ribs.

The driveway was so long, the trees on either side of it so overgrown, it almost felt as if he were lost in the woods again.  Was that his own feet he was hearing, or theirs?  Oh shit, oh shit, he was so fucking scared.

And scared for her, too.  He hated to think of her out there, with them after her, even as crazy as she was.  But he hated to think about her, period, because every time he did, he felt even worse for not doing anything to help her.

At last, there was the road up ahead.  He sprinted the final yards.  It was beginning to get light, the trees finally gray and distinct from one another instead of one overwhelming black mass.

He could hear a car.  Running to the shoulder of the road, he waved his arms frantically over his head.  But the car just sped past, a lone white arm extended from the passenger window as if in greeting, or dismissal.

“Nigger,” he thought he heard as if from the car’s exhaust.

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49. DARRELL: My Hero

hit, it was a cop car.

He dove into the bushes but then, as soon as he landed there, was gripped by the worst feeling. He was lost. He’d become a terrible person. He could no longer remember right from wrong, tell good from bad. He’d always thought the cops were on his side and now they’d become the enemy, had always wanted to help his friends and now he was only trying to save himself.

He scrambled back out of the bushes and ran into the middle of the road, yelling and waving his arms.  The cop car’s brakes squealed and it skidded all the way into the other lane to avoid him.

“Don’t arrest me!” he cried as both cops jumped onto the pavement, hands on their holsters. “I’m Darrell Jones and….”

“We know who you are,” the female cop said. “Everybody’s looking for you.”

“They are?” Darrell said.

“Your parents reported you were missing. Your mom and the parents of your friend, Miss Laurent….”

“Juliette,” he said. “You have to help me. She’s out in the woods.”

The cop frowned. “When did the two of you get separated?”

“The two people, in the cabin, they went after her….”

“Slow down,” the cop said. “What two people? What cabin?”

“We have to find her,” Darrell said, panic rising now that help was at hand. “They were bad people. They had a gun, and….”

Things moved very quickly after that, in ways that were so confusing. The cops got on their radio. More cop cars — more cops than Darrell thought existed in Ho Springs — showed up, sirens blaring. Then Juliette’s mother was there, and more people who seemed to be from her family. Darrell led them all back to the cabin. Helicopters appeared overhead. There were dogs, very scary dogs. No sign of the tattoo Nazis. No sign of Juliette. Bullhorns. Cops fanning into the woods. Darrell’s mother, suddenly appearing at his side, wrapping her arms around him, making him feel the way that all the police and chaos and fear did not that he might at any moment collapse.
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67. DARRELL: Kidnapping Mom

e set the alarm on his phone for 5:30 in the morning, earlier than he’d ever woken up before. It was still pitch black outside, but the birds were tweeting, he could hear, and if he listened really hard, he could make out the sound of the delivery trucks pulling up to the old Piggly Wiggly.

His mom was still asleep. Sleeping in, she would call it. Before, she’d always been awake at this hour. Studying, cleaning the house, getting ready for work. But the new reformed mom slept until it was time to get him up for school, to cook him a waffle, to kiss him goodbye and wait for him to come home.

He dressed quickly in the black tee shirt and dark jeans he’d picked out the night before, and then as quietly as he could brewed a pot of coffee, reassured by her snores from the other room.

“Mom.” He shook her awake. Her room was the smaller one, barely space enough for him to crouch in, beside her single bed. “Come on, I made you some coffee.”

“What?” she said, confused, her eyes cloudy, her breath foul with sleep. “Why?”

“I have the SATs this morning. Don’t you remember?”

He could tell she was searching her mind, more ashamed at her forgetfulness than argumentative.

“It’s all right,” he reassured her. “There’s been a lot going on. Drink up. We gotta hurry.”

He bustled around the apartment then, avoiding her, while she drank her coffee and brushed her teeth and got dressed. The best would be if she just went along with him without question and then, once they were already there, he could spring the truth on her. And she’d have no choice but to go ahead.

But damn if she wasn’t exactly like Juliette, always with the questions, always with her own ideas about what was happening, and what should be.

‘Darrell Antonio Jones,” she said, stopping stock still at the top of the stairs. “Something’s not right here. I would not have forgotten something as important as your SATs. Exactly what is going on here?”

“You’re right,” he said. “Just wait here a second, and I’ll show you.”
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