Updated: Jan 28, 2022
This is the end of the short story THE BREAKDOWN, and the beginning of the sequel, A BOY'S JOURNEY. A BOY’S JOURNEY
Timmy heard a "THUNK" sound. It reminded him of the sound he heard back at home in Kentucky when he dropped a big pumpkin on the ground, and it broke open. His Pa got mad at him for being careless. But that was last year. It's August now, and pumpkins aren't ripe. Anyway, he is in Michigan now, and on his way to Canada.
Gradually regaining consciousness, twelve-year-old Timmy began to remember what had just happened. The back of his head hurt. He was dazed and confused. He felt removed from reality. Yet, he heard that “thunk” sound despite his aching head and his disconnection from reality. He thought: “Yes, I am Timmy Hatfield, my mother is Ginnylou Hatfield, and we are on our way to Canada, as my Pa told us to do.”
As his vision cleared a little, he lifted his head, and saw as if in a dream, a man standing over the back of another crouching man. Buried in the back of the crouching man’s head was a hatchet. So, this explained the “thunk” sound. The crouching man collapsed to the left, dead, with the hatchet buried into the back of his head. As his body fell over, Timmy could see his mother’s immobile body lying on the ground. Her clothing had been pulled down because the crouching man had been examining her dying or deceased body. Timmy had no understanding of all this, except that “my mom is hurt or dead”.
The man who struck the hatchet blow turned to Timmy and asked, “Do you know who this woman was?”
Timmy was still dazed and confused, but he answered “yes”. The word “was” throwing him into even greater confusion. The death of his mother was incomprehensible.
“I’m Sammy” said the man who dispatched the violator of the dead woman. He bent down and jerked the hatchet from the man’s skull. “Who are you”?
“I’m Timmy. Timmy Hatfield”, said the boy. “That’s my mother there. Ginnylou Hatfield.”
Sammy – Your mother is dead. So are all the rest of these people lying around here.
Timmy – I saw you kill that guy. Are they all gone now?
Sammy – For now. Are you alright? Timmy – I’ve got a headache. Sammy – Let’s look at you. Sammy lifted the boy forward and lightly ran his fingers over the back of the boy’s head. Sammy – You’ve got quite a goose-egg on the back of your head. Somebody knocked you on the head, or you fell back and hit your head. It’s more likely that you fell back and hit your head, because this guy would have just shot you to get you out of his way.
Timmy – I don’t remember.
Sammy – You’re lucky you got knocked out. It saved your life.
Timmy – What was he doing to my ma?
Sammy – He was looking her over.
Timmy – What do you mean?
Sammy – He was looking her over pretty good. Some women have rings or piercings with jewels or gold.
Timmy – I didn’t know of any.
Sammy – Money is practically useless anymore.
Timmy kept rubbing the back of his head, and gradually felt more alert.
Timmy – What happened to everybody?
This is the end of the short story THE BREAKDOWN, and the beginning of the sequel, A BOY'S JOURNEY.
Timmy – When they started shooting, they killed Jim, and he fell over and knocked me back against this water pump, and I hit my head. I never got the chance to use this slingshot. Jim fired one shot.
Sammy – There are a lot of bodies lying around here. Some of your people hit their mark. That Mexican guy over there by the stump must have blown away a few before they got him, because he doesn’t have any shells left for his goose gun.
Timmy – How do you know all this? Did you watch the fight?
Sammy – I saw some of it.
Timmy noticed that besides the bloody hatchet hanging on his belt, Sammy had an AR-15 slung over his shoulder.
Timmy – Why didn’t you stop them? They killed all my friends, and my mother.
Sammy – I was tracking them up here, and I knew what they were going to do. There were too many of them. Once they jumped out of their trucks, they scattered. I killed as many as I could, but I couldn’t keep track of all of them. You guys put up a good fight, but they had automatic rifles, and you were no match for them.
Timmy – So where did they all go?
Sammy – They looted the farm and returned to their camp at the mall.
Timmy – What about Mark? He brought us here.
Sammy – He’s dead. The first to go down. If he thought he could negotiate, then he was brave but a fool. He should have known better.
Timmy – Who are you again?
Sammy – I’m Sammy Lightstep. Let’s get out of here. Timmy – What about my mom?
Sammy – Let her be. Timmy – Doesn’t she have to be buried?
Sammy - If you stay here, you’ll be buried with her. The Goppers are coming back up here to take care of the bodies of their friends. Quick! Help pull this guy’s leather coat off and grab his pistol and clips. Timmy – What for? Sammy – You’re going to need it. Timmy – It’s way too big. Sammy – That’s why it’s good for you. They turned the man’s body over onto his stomach and released the jacket from his shoulders and then grabbed the back of the collar and peeled it down and off.
Sammy – Grab his pistol and those ammo clips. Timmy – Okay. Sammy – Grab his belt along with that knife and sheath.
Timmy – I’ll have to undo his belt. Sammy – Right. Hurry up boy. They’re coming. They had to roll the body over again to undo the belt to get the knife and sheath. Timmy – This is a lot to carry. Sammy – You’ll be glad you’ve got it. Hurry up. Timmy rolled everything up into the jacket. Sammy – Good boy. Now let’s get to hell out of here.
Timmy – This stuff is heavy. Sammy – You’ll manage. Let’s go. Run. Your life depends on it.
The two of them entered a corn field starting at the farm’s back yard. Being late August, the lower eight inches of the cornstalks were just beginning to turn brown and dry, while the upper parts were still green all the way up to their six- foot tops. The planted rows were straight, but the plants were close together and the pathway was narrow. The two of them ran down the same row, with Sammy in the lead, and Timmy following, but starting to lag. The green leaves intertwined across the row and their edges were sharp enough to hurt when lashing at their faces as they ran. Finally, they reached the end of the cornfield and found themselves at the edge of a road running north and south. Sammy – They won’t follow us. We’ll go north from here.
Timmy – We’re going to Canada, right? Sammy – Eventually. But not straight-away. I don’t know about the “we” part either.