BORN FOR TROUBLE: THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF HAP AND LEONARD by Joe R. Lansdale preview: “The Briar Patch Boogie”
In celebration of the release of Joe R. Lansdale’s outstanding BORN FOR TROUBLE: THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF HAP AND LEONARD, Tachyon presents glimpses from the new collection.
If you already know Joe Lansdale, you don’t need me to tell you to read BORN FOR TROUBLE. If you don’t, you’re in for a hell of a ride. Pulpy, blackly humorous, compulsively readable, and somehow both wildly surreal and down-to-earth. Lansdale is a national fucking treasure.—Christa Faust, author of Money Shot
The Briar Patch Boogie
Joe R. Lansdale
We left our fishing gear up on the rise and found her at the bottom of the hill lying in the leaves with her head on a rotting log. She was a young woman with long blonde hair, in her thirties I figured. She might have been pretty before, but the way she had been beat, it was hard to tell. She wasn’t wearing much, a formerly white blouse now mostly the color of the leaves and dirt. She wasn’t wearing pants or underwear. Her head was swollen and she was bruised on the arms and legs, and her bare feet were a bloody mess. She was lying in an ant bed and was covered with ant bites.
All of that she could get over in time, but the wound in her side wasn’t something that merely required bed rest and a couple of aspirin. Something was sticking out of her. I looked. It was an arrow with plastic feathers on the end of the shaft.
I brushed the ants off of her, and we picked her up, Leonard at her head, me at her feet. We carried her to a pile of leaves that was better than the ant bed.
Her eyes were slits. She had taken such a beating she couldn’t quite open them, at least not completely. She looked up at me and cried.
Leonard said to her, “We’ll get an ambulance.”
“They’re out there,” she said, and when she opened her mouth I could see her front teeth were chipped.
“Who’s out there?” I said.
“How many?” I said.
“Two men and two women. They rented me. Like a carnival ride.”
“You saying you’re a working girl?” Leonard said.
“They’re after me. They’re hunting me.”
“Who’s after you?” I said.
“Them.” By then she hardly had the breath to speak.
I took my canteen off my belt, slipped my hand under her head, lifted her up and gave her a drink of water. She gulped greedily. I only let her have a small amount to keep from making her sick, then I laid her head down gently on the leaves.
“They took me off a Houston street,” she said. “I do it for my daughter.”
“No judgment from us,” Leonard said.
“They spent days raping and beating me, and then they took me out here, drove out onto a trail, made me walk deep in the woods. They raped me again and set me loose, said I had an hour. They caught up with me and shot me with an arrow, but I got away. I don’t know how I did it, but I got away. But they’re coming. They’ll find me.”
“Take it easy,” Leonard said. “When did you last see them?”
“I don’t know. It was night. That’s what helped me. Oh, Jesus, my head is swimming.”
“It’s all right,” I said.
She quit talking and lay still.
“We got to get her back to the car, drive her to a hospital,” Leonard said.
My thought was she wouldn’t make it that long. That wound in her side was bad and she had lost a lot of blood.
“Hap,” Leonard said.
She had stopped moving. One moment she had been talking and now she wasn’t saying anything or making any sounds, no moaning, no breathing. Her face was slack and her lips were turning blue.
I put my head to her chest. No heartbeat. I touched her throat to feel a pulse. Nada.
“She checked out,” I said.
“Damn. . . . Do you believe her story?”
“There’s an arrow sticking out of her. She was either telling the truth or Robin Hood missed a shot at a deer.”
That’s when we heard a noise, someone coming, being loud, purposely. My guess was they wanted her to hear them coming and cause fear.
Two men began to call out.