Just Like Bob Dylan Said

“Hey Joe! Watchya doing messing around with that gun? No guns, I said. I done told you to do it just like Bob Dylan said.”

“Whut’s dat, Ang?”

“I said, watch wut yer doin’. We ain’t using guns this time.”

“Wadaya, mean, no guns? We already done the blood on the tracks thing you talked about. Did it with that blond slut last night. Still got’er head in the cooler with the beer.”

Angus spun around and walked up to Joe with his chest puffed out and his chin high and although he only came up to the middle of his chest, Joe was scared. Without taking his eye off of him, Angus removed his red and black hunter’s hat and stuffed it into his back pocket then snorted back a great wad of snot and spat it on the ground. A long silvery string of spit hung from the corner of his bottom lip and he wiped it away with the back of his hand, his sleeve grating against the three day old stubble. Joe eyed Angus like a rabid dog.

“You know hows we gonna do this,” Angus said staring up at him. “We gonna do it Emmett Till.” Angus’s heavy lidded eyes gave him a calm look, but Joe knew better. He had been runnin’ with Angus for two years now and knew his ways, ways which were getting real strange lately. “I explained it to you the whole god damned way here. We gonna do it like that song we like, that Emmett Till song.”

“I know the song, Angus, the melody like, and I can hum along and stuff, but I ain’t never know what that mumbin’ motherfucker ever was sayin’.”

Angus swung his fist and struck Joe across the face. A thin stream of blood ran out of his nose. In the split second that Joe used to recoil, Angus was on him. He stuck out his sturdy little bowed leg and with a handful of hair from the scruff of his neck, he slammed Joe to the ground, jumped on him and squeezed his throat. He leaned forward and calmly whispered in his ear, ”Take it back, Joe. And then we can finish this thing.” As he said this, he cast a look towards the corner of the barn.

“I–I’m sorry Angus. He ain’t no motherfucker.”

“That’s not what I’m on about, Joe. Now say yer sorry or I’m gonna fuck you up.”

“Bu-but, what did I say, Angus? I don’t know what I done.”

They both stopped and looked as a moan drifted up from the corner.

“Shut the fuck up!” Angus screamed and the corner fell silent. He brushed back Joe’s hair and grabbed his face in his rough rope-like hands. “Now take it back.”

”But–-”

“No fuckin’ buts, Joe.”

“Okay, okay. I’m sorry.”

“For whut?”

Joe’s eyes rolled in their sockets and looked up at Angus. He saw mostly yellowed, nicotine stained teeth.

“Whut?” He repeated.

“For–-”

“–-For being a sorry ass muther fucker, Joe? No that ain’t it, Joe. That ain’t it at all you stupid shit.” Angus slammed his head into the ground. Joe hissed in pain. “Whut yous apologizing for is saying that the man ‘mumbles,’ dumb ass. E’rybody knows Dylan ain’t a mumbler, Joe. It’s his style, you dumb shit, like you’d know anything ’bout that.”

Angus shoved Joetothe ground and snatched the gun out of Joe’s limp hand and was back on his feet, heading through the pool of blood towards their Bronco. Joe felt tired; wanted to lay there all night just looking at the pretty little red tracks that Angus’s boots had made in the barn’s dusty floor, but he knew better and dragged himself up. Pissed off, he shot a look at the corner and growled, “You gonna pay, mister.”

Angus returned with a crowbar, two flares, and duct tape. “Damn near Jesus slipped out there, Joe, with the blood on me boots and all,” he chuckled. He tossed Joe the duct tape. “‘Bout to rain too, I reckon.”

Angus slid over to the corner. He stood with his legs spread wide apart and stared down at the mess of a human slumped and gagged there. It was their Emmett Till.

Another groan seeped out of the corner.

“Now, we gonna do this. This here little, Emmett Till. Come ‘ere Emmett Till, you dirty lil’ nigger.”

Angus grabbed the mess by the back of the neck and dragged his limp body down to a trough near the large red and white barn door. The first drops of rain splattered on the floor and snuck into the barn mixing with the blood. He looked over at Joe and with a twitch of his head he waved him over. “You see,” he lectured. “In The Murder of Emmett Till Bob offers an exquisite number in which he tries to redefine the folk tradition and the whole myth of lynchings and ol’ Mr. Till hisself, taking care to add a little fear into the Delta. Tryin’ to make the killin’ of a nigger, a bad thing. Now Bob is a good guy, knows what he knows, but killin’ a black man, and a blackfarmowner, that ain’t so bad. Like Bob says, ‘this shit still carries on,’ right Joe?”

Joe ripped an arms length of duct tape and wrapped it around the old man’s legs, then yanked off another piece of about the same length and bound his hands.

Another groan.

“You see, Joe, I’m just trying to make this great land of ours a better place to live. That’s what Bob says to do and that’s whut I intend to do.”

Joe, the bigger of the two, roped the man up and tossed the slack end up over the rafter and leaning into it he dragged the old man up until hung there, his boots just touching the ground.

Angus grabbed the crowbar and set to work. As always, Joe watched and smoked a cigarette and waited while Angus “fooled around a lil’ bit.” It was the same thing he did for The Lonesome Murder of Hattie Carrol gig. Angus let the old man struggle with the rope around his neck, his boots slipping and sliding in his own blood, trying not to choke. Angus loved to see them fight for life. He danced and swayed to some song in his head and watched as the old man fought to stay up, taunting him, slapping him. The old man sighed and seemed about to give up and just before he let his own weight sag into the rope, Angus charged at him and rammed the crowbar into the old man’s chest.

Blood splattered his shirt. And he pried the crowbar deep into his stomach, the guts and intestines making sloshing and squishing noises, the bones grinding louder than his barred teeth, until a rib bone finally popped out of Emmett Till’s chest. Angus snatched the white rib bone and with great heaves of his body he yanked it and twisted it and after five minutes or so it came out of the old man’s chest with a sickening pop. He smashed the old man’s knee cap and wrenched out the patella which he threw in the old man’s face.

Joe finished him off. He didn’t use the gun. Too loud, Angus said, so he squeezed the life out of the man, snapped his neck. That’s how he did it. Always how he did it. That was the part he liked the best, the killing. Then he headed back to the truck and waited. He couldn’t stand it what Angus did next. Joe thought the dead should be left alone. But Angus had to do it his way. Fuckin’ the assholes off of dead was not his thing.

Joe looked around the farm. It was cold. A frost from the North Country hung on everything. The house on the hill was silent and he imagined the whole family up in their rooms tucked under quilted blankets fast asleep. He jumped into the Bronco. The tape deck blared out Shelter from the Storm. The rain fell heavier now and he looked back at the barn, a thin shaft of light cut an outline around the door. A flash a lightening cut through the sky and the barn disappeared for a second. The rain came in great torrents. He wondered what the family’s reaction would be when they found their father mangled in the barn with two flares sticking out of his eye sockets. Angus and his stupid “calling card.”

He looked down at his feet and saw the gun lying there. Lightening flashed again and Angus was walking toward him buckling up his belt and grinning. Angus hopped into the Bronco and rolled it out the long driveway to the I-40 and floored it around the corner, a peel of mud arching up from the back tires as they rushed headlong into the sea of stars that stretched over the horizon like a black ski mask. Rows of wheat fields and the odd silo whispered on by. And as usual Angus was driving and going on about the headlines in the paper and bein’ bandits and all of that. Joe sat there listening.

But this time he was listening to Angus. He was listened to Bob. For the first time he heard what he said.

Bob wasn’t mumbling to him no more. He was comin’ through loud and clear, clear like he imagined them new C.D.s to sound like. And Dylan sang:

Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved. Everything up to that point had been left unresolved. Try imaging a place where it’s always safe and warm. ”Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm.”

Joe reached down between his legs and picked up the hand gun. Angus babbled on and on about the rush and the blood and he didn’t notice a thing.

Joe leveled the gun and shot Angus in the face and was never heard from again.

5 Responses to “Just Like Bob Dylan Said”

  1. You’re fucking amazing with dialogue.

    Also, the ending is a fucking punch in the face. Fantastic!

  2. Hey Man, thanks for stoppin’ by an reading my stuff. I really appreciate it. This story struck me at two in the morning and wrapped up two hours later. So, I’m happy with it.

    Wellum Hulder
    thejunkdrawerneedles.wordpress.com

  3. Hey Bob didn’t say that! I know the song about Emmett Till, and it’s an amazing piece of writing, and I must say so is this. I really love the characterisation of both characters, and what I love more is every piece of Bob on or between the lines, because Bob is everything that is good from that 20th century.
    I’ll say it again; it’s a very good piece of writing and I’ll try to follow this blog.

    Warm regards,
    BV, http://apicturefromlifesotherside.wordpress.com/

  4. Hey Brecht, thanks for taking the time out to read my stuff. I appreciate and I’m glad to her that you liked my Dylan story. I’ll trya nd keep in touch with your stuff as well. And yeah, Dylan is the man.
    WH

  5. Hey, thanks for leaving a comment on my site.

    I’ve read through most of your stories and I believe at this point in time “Just Like Bob Dylan Said” is also my favorite. However, the ending to “The Notebook” could take it over the top, depending on the eventual outcome.

    I need to learn your powers of description.

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