Cletus T. Broshus & the Blue Ridge Beast: Prologue - 2.

"Nope. Uncle Jack said he and Michael dropped off a few bags out in the chest by granddad's old stack a few weeks back. Should be plenty there to lay out a good first seeding." 

"Is Uncle Jack meeting us out here?" His son asked, adjusting himself in his clothes, a bit tight from a recent  growth spurts. 

"No. Said he had to do some church thing with Aunt Janet. He might try and come out later on... Guessing he'll wait to hear if we bag us a hog while we're out here before making any final decisions." He said, picking up his rifle and sliding the strap over his head. He adjusted the rifle, resting it comfortably between his shoulder blades. He then checked his side arm, removing his .40 with a click from its hard plastic holster. He reached again to his side, free hand unclamping a hard leather pouch stuck to his side, sliding a shiny chrome clip out. It was heavy, the ten bullets weighing it considerably as he moved it towards his weapon. He slid in the clip, chambering a round; the brushed metal slide clicking hard as his thumb flipped a latch along the side of the spring loaded steel. 

"The guns are live, son." He said, returning the handgun to his holster. 

"Should I load mine?" Clive replied, wrestling a bit with his rifle as he slid it over his head. Henry watched him struggle but left him to it, knowing he would have to learn on his own how to outfit himself. Clive eventually got it, his gun resting oddly behind his head. 

"No need. Have them more as a just in case. Jack said he saw a few big hog ruts out here; figured it better to have a gun and not need it than the alternative," his father said matter of factly, reaching out towards the boy, adjusting the rifle behind him so his head wouldn't bang against it while they walked. 

"Now, remember, it's still a bit flooded out there. The swamps out a bit further than usual, so watch for slop spots. Still a bit too cold to go wandering around in wet clothes."

"Ok dad," the boy replied, his hand grabbing a medium sized duffle bag stuffed with gear. He slid over that strap across his chest, the heavy bag weighing down on him. 

"I'll get it off you in a bit," Henry said, watching his son struggle under the weight of the bag. He then took a quick final accounting before heading off into the woods, positive he hadn't forgotten anything. 

"Did you bring the phone?" Clive asked, watching his dad frisk himself; the bag growing heavier as the pair stood there. 

"Yes." Henry replied, tapping his Fingers along the unsightly bulge in his front pocket formed by the thick, silver phone. 

"Don't see why... Damned thing may as well be two cups and a string as strong as the signal is out here." He said, more to himself than to Clive; starting to head towards the brown worn path carved out generations ago by Henry's great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Col. Montgomery Birchum Jr. 


It took longer than usual to hike it, the ground sloppy and thick with invading waters as they trudged along, but the pair had made it finally to Granddad's shack. Worn out a bit by the walk, the pair decided to stop for lunch before getting to work; sitting along the run down porch of the shack as they quietly chewed on soggy ham sandwiches Henry's wife had sent along. Henry marveled as he chewed his sandwich, wondering how in nearly twenty three years of marriage his darling wife had managed to never once make a good sandwich. He gave her all the credit in the world for trying, waking up at quarter to five in the morning to make sure her men were sent off to the woods with a proper meal to feed them while they toiled. But, bless her heart, she always managed to screw up the balance; some element of the delicate formula necessary to maintain if one is to make a proper sandwich would always be elusive to her. Today's lack of balance was found in thecondiments, her application of mayonnaise too thick. It had seeped into the fluffy white loaf as the day had grown warm, making a chewy soft bread paste as it mingled with the saliva in his mouth. He could feel the oily bread squishing between his jaws as he slowly chewed his bite; the overly thick sliced hunks of ham feeling like human flesh as his teeth ground it to swallowable hunks. 


"If our lives ever depended on your mother's skill at making a sandwich, we would all be dead."  Henry said to his son with a bread muffled voice, smiling as he took another forced bite of the sandwich. Clive silently nodded to his father, more out of politeness than of agreement; his eyes focused on his iPod, scrolling along as they sat there. 

"Playin' a game, son?" He asked, watching Clive fiddle with the device one handed as he gripped the gooey sandwich with his other. 

"No. Setting up a playlist for when we work." He replied, never once looking up. 

"Good thinking." Henry replied, a little hurt that his son intended on tuning him out during their time together. Henry should have been used to it by now... The kid burying himself under a hood and those headphones, becoming a flannel figure shaking along to an unheard beat that haunted their living room every afternoon.  Henry got up from where he had been sitting, his ass a bit sore from the gnarled twisted boards that formed the porch of his granddad's shack. 

The shack was large for a one room bungalow, Granddad Cliven needing to house his brood of five strapping boys that he brought with him every time he ventured out. The ancient house was shaped with long, thick carved boards; each one greyed over with time. There were two windows cut into the dark wood walls, grimy panes of glass nearly unable to be seen through. 

Henry ran his fingers along the warping grey wood; deep worn ruts in the wood embedding tiny splinters into his calloused fingertips. He could imagine his granddad shaping each board, the lumber for the house being made up from the very trees felled where Granddad had intended it to go. He picked up the duffle bag and his rifle off the gnarled deck, slowly walking across the creaking porch; his steps slow and deliberate as they creaked down on the grey and black boards, each of them warped and misshaped by time. He opened the door to the shack with a deliberate shove; his thick, calloused hand gripping the latch and pushing forward. The door stuck a bit as he pushed it in, the heavy door creaking as the swollen wood escaped the worn door jam. 


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