I shook my head. “You got jumped by a ten year old and a gimp. I’m so proud right now, Bodo.”
“I ain’t ten. I’m fifteen. And that ain’t very polite, callin’ a guy in a wheelchair a gimp. And he’s my brother by the way.”
“You got pregnant with your brudder?” asked Bodo, the look on his face not hiding his disgust.
“Pregnant?” I said, noticing for the first time that she did look a little round in the middle.
“My brother? Oh gawd, that’s disgustin’. No, it wasn’t my brother, you idget. It was one o’ them wild boys runnin’ around out there in the night. Attacked me when I was out gettin’ water from the well. But Jimmy killed ‘im right where he stood when he was done hurtin’ me. But it was too late. I got knocked up.”
“Holy crap, that sucks,” I said, before I could stop myself.
“Yeah,” she sighed. “Tell me about it. Havin’ a baby in the middle o’ this mess. And with the father bein’ all crazy an’ such.”
The father being a cannibal rapist, you mean. I thought it but I didn’t say it. Poor girl had enough on her plate to deal with. “Well, at least you have this nice place to live.”
“Yeah, well, we got weapons. And we’ve killed enough of ‘em that they stay away. Only you two dummies have come here in the last couple weeks.”
“Well, we’re not bad people and we don’t mean to cause you any harm or any … stress. We’ll just leave you alone if you let us go.”
“I’ve a mind to let you go,” she said as if measuring her options. “Where’d you say you was headin’?”
“Orlando,” I said, at the exact same time Bodo said, “The Everglades.”
I shook my head. “Bodo, do you not listen to anything I say?”
“Hey, dey’re nice people. Dis iss like a place people can go for information. Maybe one day dey can sendt people to where we liff so we can grow our community.”
“Or maybe they’ll tell the canners who we are and where we’re going so they can all show up and eat us!”
“Oh, hell no,” said Jimmy, struggling to turn around. “Them freaks done ate our dog and raped my sister! You think we’d help them sons-a-bitches? Sissy, gimme that gun so I can shoot this girl and her foreigner friend.”
“Shut up, Jimmy. You don’t need a gun right now. You’re talkin’ crazy.”
She walked over to Bodo and flicked out the blade from a knife she’d taken out of the pocket of her pants. I tensed up for second and pushed the gun harder against Jimmy’s head before I realized she was just cutting the zip ties off Bodo’s wrists and ankles. She grunted with the effort of bending over.
When she stood up her face was all red. She blew the straggly pieces of hair off her forehead before she said, “There you go, Bo-do. Take your jaw breakers and get the hell out.”
I stood up, thanking her and her brother profusely, still pointing the gun casually at his head. “Listen, guys, seriously, thank you so much for letting him go. I’m really sorry to have caused you this trouble.”
“How’d you get in anyway?” asked Jimmy.
I’d come around to face him and saw his suspicion.
“Uhhhh, you left the back door unlocked.” I prayed we’d be long gone before they discovered that little lie.
“Uh-huh,” he said, squinting at me, obviously not believing a word I’d said. “I don’t believe I left that door open, actually. I guess I’ll just have to go back there and check.”
He tried to turn around to wheel away, but the rebar was still in his spokes.
“Okay, well, we’ll just be going now. It was nice meeting you, Sissy … Jimmy.” I backed up, heading in Bodo’s direction.
Bodo was standing in front of a jar on the counter, pulling out jawbreakers and stuffing them into his pants pockets. He looked over his shoulder at Sissy. “If you see any good people who want to start a new life, you send dem to de Everglades. Dat’s where we are going.”
“Yeah, and any bad people? Tell them we went to Orlando,” I added, grabbing Bodo’s elbow. “Time to go,” I urged under my breath.
“But I need to get da candies for you.”
“Not now,” I said, pulling on him harder.
Jimmy had reached around and pulled the rebar free and was turning to head back to the kitchen.
I took off running. “Bye, Sissy! Good luck with the baby!”
“Bye, Sissy!” said Bodo, as he ran alongside me.
We burst through the front door and I yelled as quietly as I could, “Go! Go! Go! before he realizes I broke their door!”
Peter quickly turned around and headed out of the parking lot, his legs pumping furiously. I saw the Hello Kitty backpack with Buster’s head coming out of the top, bouncing around on his back. Buster let out an excited bark when he saw us running.
I went to jump on the bike but Bodo beat me to it. “Bodo, get off!” I yelled, panicked that he was going to leave me behind to get shot.
“Get on da handlebars, quick!”
I didn’t bother to question his orders. I jumped on and grabbed the handles just inside the grips, finding a spot on either side of the front forks to rest my sneakers.
Bodo started pedaling and the bike slowly pulled away. The combined weight of him, me, and the trailer was making it hard for him to pick up speed.
I heard yelling back at the Cracker Barrel, and we weren’t yet out of the parking lot. “Hurry, Bodo! Hurry! Pedal faster!”
I felt his breath on my neck and realized he was standing up now, grinding out the rotations on the gears as fast as his thigh muscles were capable. We were at the road when I heard a shot ring out and the voice coming from the store.
“You broke our dooooor!! Get back here!!
Bodo was now laughing while he was pedaling and I just shook my head. I was using every abdominal muscle I had to hold onto my spot on the top of those handlebars, my heart going too fast and too wild for my brain. I was seeing auras around the stars above our heads. How Bodo had the strength to pedal three hundred and fifty pounds of us and laugh at the same time, I’ll never know. Friggin Germans.
Within a few seconds we were back under the overpass. I jumped off the handlebars and got onto the other bike, immediately going to join Peter at the bottom of the exit ramp.
“Come on!” I shouted as I zoomed past him, Bodo right behind me.
“I guess we’re leaving now?” asked Peter, pumping hard to catch up to me.
I didn’t slow down enough to talk until we were about a mile away.
I WAS PEDALING STEADILY, KEEPING my eyes forward.
“You’re mad aren’t you?” asked Bodo, coming up next to me.
“Ya think?” I said sarcastically.
“I got da jawbreakers, dough.”
“You almost got killed, you stupid jerk.”
“What happened back there?” asked Peter, coming up to ride on my other side. “One minute I was standing there in a totally silent parking lot, and the next thing I knew you two were running out, yelling, and someone was shooting a gun.”
I was still angry enough to sound enthusiastic when I told the story. “Well, ding-a-ling here decided to break into the Cracker Barrel which was the home of Sissy and Jimmy Redneck – Sissy carrying the fetus of a cannibal rapist and Jimmy being in a wheelchair; and in the process of relieving them of some of their candy, managed to get himself caught.”
“It wass awesome. Bryn came in dare and threatened to shoot dat Jimmy guy, and dey let me go. And dey let me take da candiess too.”
“I appreciate the gesture, Bodo, as I’m sure Bryn does, but really, that kind of risk is only going to get you or one of us killed.”
“Yeah. What Peter just said. Times ten,” I added.
“Yes, okay. It wass stupid, I admit dat. I won’t do it again. I just wanted to do something nice for you guyss, since you’re doing so many nice thingks for me.”
“Next time, just offer me a foot rub or something instead,” I said.
“Really?” he asked.
“No. Not really. Stay away from my feet, weirdo.”
“So where are we going … I mean, what’s the plan for tonight?” asked Peter.
“Well, since we’ve gotten an earlier start than I had originally planned, I figured we’d just ride until we can’t anymore.”
“I don’t know if I can make it until eleven again,” warned Peter. “That’s, like, twelve hours straight of riding.”
“Why don’t we go for a few hours, stop and have a meal, maybe a little nap, and then go some more?” I suggested.
“Works for me,” said Peter, sighing. “I’m going to be really glad when we get to our final destination. I hate riding bikes. I didn’t before, but I do now.”
“Me too,” I agreed.
“How will we know when we’re dare?” asked Bodo.
“I haven’t figured that part out yet,” I admitted. “When we get closer we should look for a tourist shop that has maps and stuff, and pick a spot. I hope we can find a place that has canoes nearby. Then we can take a few of them and go out into the Everglades until we find the right place.”
“Da Everglades iss a really big place.”
“Yes, I know. But it’s made up of lots of different kinds of terrains and stuff. We have to find an area that has trees for cover and dry land to build a shelter on.”
“And there has to be a lot of game or whatever. Or fish,” added Peter.
“I read in da newsspaper, dat dare are snakes so big out dare, dey can eat a deer,” said Bodo in his best spooky voice. “Dit you know, dat deer are bigger dan people?”
“Shut up, Bodo,” I said, quickly losing patience with him. First he scares the crap out of me, making me think he’s going to get killed, then he tries to freak me out about man-eating snakes.
“No, he’s right. I read that, too,” said Peter. “Some people apparently either lost their constrictor snakes or purposely set them free out there, and without any natural predators they’ve gotten huge. I saw a picture of a giant yellow one. It was freaky. As long as a car … or longer.”
I refused to panic about something I hadn’t yet seen with my own eyes. “All that means is a bigger meal for us, as far as I’m concerned.”
“We’re gonna eat snakes?” asked Bodo, clearly excited about the prospect.
“Why not?” I asked. “It’s meat, isn’t it?”
“Dat’s so cool. Who’s gonna catch it?”
“You. That’s your job. Snake wrangler.”
“Awesome,” he said. I think he really meant it, too.
“Smooth,” said Peter, quietly, so only I’d hear.
I smiled, pretty proud of myself. “Never doubt my skills, Peter. Never.”
“Oh, I won’t. Believe me.”
“I think we should try to eat gator too. We can use dare hides to make shoess.”
“Yeah, you work on that, Bodo. You can be our snake wrangling, alligator wrestling, cobbler.”
“I know you’re mocking me, Bryn, but I can do it. You’ll see.”
“Good. I hope you can, because I have no interest whatsoever in doing any of that.”
“What are you going to do?” asked Bodo. “I have my chob now. What’s yours and Peter’s going to be?”
“Don’t forget to add gardener to your list,” I reminded him.
“Of course. I have promised you tomatoes and you will haff dem. I just haff to find some seedts.”
“I have some. In the backpack. My dad bought them for me … before he died.”READ MORE >>