White Trash Devil
The simmering cold war between Lovella Sampson and I escalated into a near white trash holocaust over a pilfered extension ladder. My ex-stepmother-in-law lived in the trailer next to mine. She wanted to recycle the extension for the few bucks the aluminum would bring. I wanted to keep the ladder in case I needed to get on the roof with a pair of binoculars in the event Sheila in the trailer down the street opted for an afternoon of nude sunbathing again. Since I actually owned the ladder I foolishly believed I should have final say in the matter.
The problem came down to Lovella needing money. Since she was unable to work because employment required working (something Disability refused to cover), family members paid her utilities. Their charity didn’t extend into the realm of tobacco or marijuana, however.
Lovella began hocking technology that made Alabama living a little bit easier. The microwave disappeared. The bread maker. The DVD player. The electric blanket. Later, the tiller, the gas powered generator, the family toolbox complete with the sort of tools I needed to do things like change the brakes on my Chevy LUV or turn a screw. I’m sure she would have sold the craftsman riding lawnmower out from under me if she could have found a buyer interested in purchasing a riding lawn mower so broken down you had to push it from behind to cut grass.
Once she depleted her stockpile of useful goods, she switched to scrap metal.
From the kitchen window of our trailer, the wife and I watched Lovella set upon the horse shed in the back meadow like a white trash dervish, slinging sheets of tin into the bed of her old Chevy pick-up.
"She’s working pretty damn hard for a woman trying to get on Disability," I remarked.
"She’s working like a woman possessed," the wife agreed.
"Nonsense. Ellen exorcized the demons with her Southern Baptist hoodoo."
I watched the exorcism with my own eyes. A sort of laying of hands meant to dispose of the demons that compelled Lovella to smoke blunts and watch Judge Judy all day.
"They come back with a vengeance," she said as Lovella muscled the shed’s roof over her head and threw it in the back of her truck.
"And they brought all their rowdy friends."
The next day found me and my four year old son in the front yard practicing t-ball. I was as good as I was likely going to get, but Jared still had a lot of work ahead of him. Especially when it came to catching pop-ups with anything other than his forehead. I figured he had another fourteen summers before the Chicago Cubs came knocking. He took a step backwards today. Since I took him to see the movie 300 I’d been unable to break him of the habit of yelling "Madness? THIS...IS...SPARTA!" and front-kicking the ball off the tee.
Next door, Lovella hunkered over her central cooling and heating unit, taking it apart for the copper and whatever other scrap metal prizes the innards contained.
I heard a pop and a hiss. A white, vaporous cloud exploded into the air. Lovella jumped up and ran away. As the toxic fog crept toward Jared and I, she yelled "y’all might wanna git away from that there cloud’a Freon".
The mist had all ready enveloped my chihuahua/terrier, Lenny. That bow-legged, whup-eyed little fucker just couldn’t run fast enough. I grabbed my boy and high-tailed it for the trailer.
"Stupid fucking bitch," I muttered.
"We can fight in the shade," Jared replied.
That evening while Lovella drove along back country roads searching for empty beer cans, I looked over her pile of scrap metal, curious as to what else there was possibly left to salvage. That’s where I found my extension ladder, my aluminum stairway to Sheila’s glistening breasts. Since it was too long to hide behind the couch and leaving it in the middle of the front room would incur the wife’s wrath, I shoved the fucking thing under Lovella’s trailer where Lovella wouldn’t think to look. I had to sever a couple thin PVC pipes down there, but I eventually muscled it all the way under, gouging trenches in the suddenly muddy ground below her trailer.
I was awakened the next morning by loud, cop-like pounding on the screen door. I roused myself from bed and looked at the alarm clock. 11:05 am. Good god, someone was gonna get a knife in the eye for this. Hell, my four year-old knew better than to wake up before noon.
Lovella’s sister, Lucille, stood on my porch. She closely resembled Lovella. All Lovella’s inbred brothers and sisters closely resembled each other, in a fish-like spawn of Cthulu sort of way. She regarded me with her watery blue goldfish eyes.
"Where’s my ladder?"
"Lovella said you took my ladder. It’s my ladder. I want it back."
"You gotta be outta your fucking mind."
"I want my ladder."
"What ladder? Describe this ladder, you crazy bitch."
"It’s... a ladder."
"Yeah, and behind you you’ll find... the stairs. Now fuck off."
I shut the door and climbed back into bed. I was going on only nine hours sleep. Two more hours would set me right.
Ten minutes later, more pounding on the door. "Oh Jesus Christ. You answer it," I told the wife. "I don’t want to kick an old woman’s ass."
Beating the elderly was a habit of mine I took no pride in. Gray hair made me see red. It’s why I never visited my grandmother in the nursing home. I couldn’t make it through the Greta Garbo wing of the Shady Acres rest home without getting into a slap fight with some World War II vet who didn’t appreciate the length of my hair and my ability to use my legs.
The wife got out of bed and answered the door. "You gotta be kidding me," the wife said. "Hey, get a load of this."
Lovella stood on the front porch. She held an old timey sixteen gauge shotgun exactly like the sixteen gauge shotgun in my closet. It once belonged to her before the police confiscated it when she threatened to kill herself. How many old timey sixteen gauge shotguns did she possess.
Standing there, staring at the gauge’s black hole, I flashed back to the last time she pointed a shotgun at me. Granted, I deserved it that time. When she pulled the gauge on me, I was on top of her trailer with a slide whistle and two high beam flashlights pretending to be a UFO.
"I want my damn ladder back," she muttered. "And them pot plants you cut down."
Oh, I thought, so those pot plants on the edge of my property weren’t placed there by a kind and benevolent god.
"I guess I’m gonna hafta call Ellen," the wife said. "Looks like you’re in need of another exorcism."
The thought of Ellen laying on hands and chanting in tongues shook Lovella, enabling me to reach forward and snag the gun out of her hands.
"Now I got your ladder and two old timey sixteen gauge shotguns, you daffy cunt."
No sooner did I get to laugh maniacally then she dropped down in a karate stance and kick me in the balls.
"Ooooooowwwwwwwaaaaahhhh!" I leaned against the shotgun, panting in agony.
I’d been kicked in the balls by thirty-two different women in my time. Lovella was the second oldest to ever have the pleasure of striking my sack in anger.
The telephone appeared in the wife’s hand. She phoned Ellen.
Lovella’s eyes got big around as flying saucers. She fled down the steps, toward her trailer. I set the stock against my shoulder and aimed at the back of her head. The wife grabbed the gauge away from me.
"You can’t go shooting every woman who racks you in the nuts," the wife chided.
"Why not?" Maybe if I had retaliated in such a fashion the first time, I wouldn’t be sitting on thirty-two nutshots.
As the wife called Ellen, and Ellen, in turn, phoned her god squad of demon slayers, Lovella phoned her collection of Lovecraftian, incestual kin.
There was Roger the lisping pedophile, Nellie the one-armed Avon lady, Willard the chicken farmer/fucker, Augusten the arsonist who pioneered the possum bomb (during dry summers he’d trap possums, douse them in kerosene, light them afire and release them into the brush fields of his enemies. There was Judy and her five child brood, all fathered by different strangers of dubious heritage and mysterious ancestry. There was Chrissy who once fucked a fifty three year old guy for a set of tires for her truck. It wasn’t so good a deal for the old man since the tires at least still held some traction. Chrissy’s whore gene was passed down from her mother, Penny. She never fucked for a set of all purpose radials, but she’d been known to give out blow jobs for rides to Wal-Mart.
The whole sorry lot of them converged on Lovella’s trailer in a herd of third hand pick’em up trucks. They all stared balefully at me as I sat on my porch flanked by old timey sixteen gauge shotguns. I nestled an ice bag against my nutbag. By setting my jaw and narrowing my eyes I succeeded in looking menacing.
They tried to match me in malice by picking their teeth with their thumb nails and itching their pubic hair with the same hand (in Nellie’s defense, she didn’t really have a choice). It was like something out of The Shadow Over Innsmouth except the protagonist (me) was a bad ass motherfucker.
"Lovella. Why ain’t your water working?" I heard Judy call out.
"Dern water run out, I reckon," Lovella answered.
We would have gone on with the Lovecraftian standoff indefinitely had the Southern Baptist panel van not roar into view. Ellen and her crack team of exorcists had arrived heralded by the rousing chorus of "Therefore By the Grace of God Go I" blaring from a loud speaker.
The Sampson clan, scared out of their half wits, evacuated in a flurry of pot smoke and rusted quarter panels.
Ellen leapt from the passenger side door of the van like an evangelical Colonel Kilgore. Her husband, Jerry, slipped out from behind the steering wheel. The panel door rolled back releasing five men and one woman. The men wore dockers. The lady, an ankle length khaki skirt. Their hair was perfect. They all clutched identical bibles with identical passages highlighted with identical explanations concerning the verses embedded in their communally fervent minds.
"Mamma!" Ellen called. "It’s time to get them demons out of you once and for all."
The Jesus brigade fanned out in a wedge formation with Ellen leading. Jerry lagged behind. I could tell he’d rather hang out on the porch with me but feared I’d ask him how his son was doing on the junior high cheer squad.
And to think my first instinct had been to call the cops.
"That cocksucker stole my ladder," Lovella spat from her hiding place.
"I don’t think so, mama."
Ellen and the Exorcists found Lovella hunkered down in the canning room behind a wall of canned vegetables left over from the food stuffs stock-piled during the frenzied days leading up to Y2K. They dragged her out, kicking and hissing, her cries for her ladder sounding like satanic gibberish. As they loaded her in the panel van, Jerry circled the trailer. Curious as to why there was a stream of water gushing from beneath the trailer. He pulled back the underpinning.
"Ellen," he called. "I found the ladder."
"Forget the ladder," she replied. "We’ve got a stage 6 Dementor!"
Jerry dropped the underpinning and rushed back to the van which rocked with the commotion inside. He jumped behind the wheel and tore out of the yard almost capsizing.
"What the hell was that all about?" The wife asked.
Sheila’s tits, I thought. Sheila’s tits.
Karl Koweski resides in Guntersville, Alabama.
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