Bozarth dropped the nub of his Camel when he felt the heat coming through his calluses. The wind caught it before it hit the porch slats and took it away. Bozarth didnít notice. He was thinking about the air strip and the blueberry fields. He was beginning to pace, his boots slugging the wood sounding like an old boxer beating an imaginary opponent hiding inside a sand bag. Beside him his dog, Gunner, a lemon and white beagle, skipped along in step with Bozarth.
"Where is she," he yelled at the dog. Just like a Boney, he thought. This was later than usual though, and Bozarth felt a tightening in his gut, just beside his heart, right where his gallbladder would be if he still had one. Gunner padded over to the edge of the porch and circled once before lying down and putting his head on his paws. Bozarth leaned down and scratched between the dog's ears. He'd been a good dog all right.
Bozarth stood back up and leaned against the porch post, distracted. The Pineland's people had come snooping around again yesterday. He told them all he was gonna do was plant blueberry fields. No harm in that, no harm to the environment. Those state bozos didn't buy it, did they, and spouted a bunch of nonsense about a bald eagle's nesting in the vicinity. Well, it was Bozarth's God-damned property wasn't it? Long before some eagle. Shoot, he'd killed more Redwing Hawks than he could plant blueberry bushes. Darn birds killed all the small game in the area. What were Gunner and he supposed to hunt?
Bozarth was ruminating on the latest visit from the State people when Peaches Boney, sixteen and the youngest child in the Boney clan, finally opened the door and flipped the sign over to read OPEN. Bozarth was on his third Camel and was pissed off. He followed her inside. He didnít have to tell Gunner to stay; a good dog knows when to stay put. Just inside the store, on the left, was a boy, seventeen at best, his hair straight down over his eyes in front and cut so short in back you could see the knots in the base of his skull. The boy was sitting on a stool made from a cedar log, his legs stretched out in front of him, feet crossed at the ankles. His hands were stuffed in his pockets, and he was leaning back against a Pepsi cold box, his eyes closed.
Bozarth stopped in front of the boy and planted his feet wide, hooking his fingers into his belt. "Well, what the hell is this, Peaches," he said not looking at the girl who had retreated around the counter.
"Morning Mr. B.," said Peaches. She flipped on the coffee maker and grabbed four pots with one hand, her fingers laced through the handles. "Sorry about being late. Couldnít wake myself. ." She shook her shoulders as if that would make the morning slip off them.
Bozarth tapped the boyís ankles with his boot, startling him. "Whoís this here? Boyfriend, I guess," said Bozarth. He looked over at Peaches and smirked. "Get your hair out your face," he said sideways to the boy, "Donít you have no place to go?"
The boy grabbed the handle of the cold box and pulled himself up, angry, but dazed, as if he really had been asleep. "Donít do that oldtimer," he said.
"Zach," Peaches said, "Maybe you better go. My dadíll be coming by soon anyhow." Zach didn't move.
Bozarth sat at a counter stool, his back to Zach. "Mean your dad donít approve of this puppy?" »