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Say Uncle

We see a lot of touching tales about family here in the Gutter.

But nothing seals the paternal bond like take your son to work day.


SAY UNCLE by Mark Westmoreland



Peanut rode next to his daddy in the cab of his pickup truck. They drove backwoods country roads and through the mountains of north Georgia until they reached the outskirts of Confederate County. The truck slowed and turned off road onto a dirt drive that led to an abandoned house and dilapidated barn. Buford parked his pickup next to a ‘77 Chevelle and killed the engine. Peanut didn’t recognize the property so he looked over to his daddy expecting an answer. He didn’t get one.

Buford Bohannon let down the driver’s window, took out his pack of Marlboro’s, and shook loose a couple of cigarettes. He handed one to Peanut and lit the other. Smoke filled the truck’s cab and the taste of nicotine was on the air. Unsure of what to do Peanut asked, “What’s this for, deddy?”

“Smoke it.”
“Mama says these ain’t good for you.”

“Your mama ain’t here.”

Buford handed over his lighter and Peanut clicked it until a flame caught and his cigarette lit. He didn’t expect to cough so much but once the nicotine kicked in he felt good, relaxed. He crushed out the cigarette in the ash tray after he finished and Buford got out of the truck. “C’mon, boy.” He said. Peanut followed.

They walked inside the barn. It was dark inside and smelled like chicken shit. It took a minute for Peanut’s eyes to adjust but once he could see he saw a man tied to a chair with a hood pulled over his head. Behind the man stood his cousin Rusty. Peanut was confused. “What’s goin on?”

Buford spoke, “Peanut, ain’t you ever wondered what it is I do for a livin?”

“I guess not.”

“Your ain’t never wondered about your family?”

“No.”

“Son, it’s time you learned.”

“What? Deddy, I don’t know what you talkin bout.”

Buford hunched down on a knee next to his son. He put an arm around him. “Peanut, it’s time you started learnin to take over the family business.”

“Deddy, I ain’t even in high school.”

“You don’t need no school for what I’m gone teach you.”

“What you gone teach me?”

Buford reached behind his back and handed his son a black Smith & Wesson. “You gone shoot that man, Peanut.”

“What? Deddy, no.”

“Son, you learn this and you won’t have no problems with nothin else I teach.”

“Deddy, I can’t. You scarin me.”

“Peanut, that man hurt this family. Took food from our table. You gone shoot him.”

Rusty stepped up next to his cousin, put a hand on his shoulder. “You ain’t got to be scared, Peanut. It’s easy.”

“You done it, Rusty?”

“Yeah, I done it.”

Peanut thought about what his daddy claimed, and that Rusty said it’d be easy. He looked over the gun and decided he could do it. “All right.”

“Good boy.” Buford said. “Here’s what you gone do: Step in front a that man, point the gun at his head, and squeeze the trigger. Understand?”

“Yessir.” Peanut left his daddy’s side and stood a few feet from the man. He didn’t make a sound but fought against the ropes that tied him down. Peanut lifted the gun and aimed it at an invisible bullseye. The sides of his head pounded and before tears filled his eyes he squeezed the trigger.

The sound was so loud Peanut dropped the gun. The man’s head was slumped back and blood puddled on the floor. His daddy stepped up next to him and squeezed his shoulder. “Peanut,” He said, “The people you gone have to hurt ain’t always gone be wearin a hood.” Buford nodded at Rusty.

Rusty removed the hood from the man and ripped duct tape from his mouth. Peanut looked from his dad to his cousin and tried not to cry. “Uncle Waylon?”


Mark Westmoreland and is a Georgia native living in Oklahoma. He's a Georgia Bulldogs fan, comic reader, and pro-wrestling junkie. He writes redneck noir set in Confederate County, Georgia. Lots of bad shit happens there.