• • •
Jonathan Knox releases his legs and focuses every last iota of willpower in his being on not crying at the pain, but it’s not enough. It’s not remotely enough. In response, Cletus kicks him in the spine like he was trying to punt a ninety-yard field goal.
I know what you’re thinking, because it’s the same thing that Jonathan Knox thinks as soon as the steel toe of the boot connects with his back: ‘This hillbilly fuck is trying to kill me.’ Well, mayhap not the exact same thing, you maybably thought This hillbilly son of a bitch means to kill Jonathan Knox, egad! What an absolute scoundrel! But it’s the same thing. Different words, same meaning. You get the picture.
“Ah shit, I’ll just get the picture,” Cletus says, stepping over Jonathan Knox like a gorilla would a crippled spider monkey.
Beside the bed is a little nightstand and on that nightstand is a pair of pictures, one framed. The framed one depicts Cletus holding a woman with tits the size of her head, no bullshit, from behind. She has plenty of other features, too, but the woman’s tits are the only things Cletus notices in this momen–… in most moments, really, and that’s just what she likes about him, too. He’s even holding them in the picture, his hands are acting as a gopnik bra, and that gopnik bra is the only article of clothing present within the frame.
After staring at the photograph for a solidly long moment, Cletus shakes his head, releases his crotch, and slides the other picture off the nightstand. He turns to Jonathan Knox who did not notice any of the events described in the above paragraph because he was trying to figure out how to straighten his body without inducing a little self-paralysis in the process – his back hasn’t tweaked yet, but he’s positive it will just as soon as he moves the right way – and rolls his eyes.
“Whatchoo doin’, boi?”
“I’m afraid if I get up my spine will snap in two,” Jonathan Knox snivels. “You kicked me awful hard, Cletus.”
“Boi, alls I did was administer a slight adjustment.” He then tweaks his neck from side to side, letting rip an orchestra of bony cracks and pops. “I’m a masseuse and a chiropractic, best one in this acre’a’th’wood. You jus’ ask my wife, when you meet ‘er.”
“I don’t understand you.”
“Stand the fuck up and maybe you jus’ might.”
Throwing caution to the wind, Jonathan Knox gets it over with like leaping into the pool the moment the cover comes off and stands the fuck up. There’s not a moment of pain in his spine. His ribcage hurts like a bitch, it was crushed by a bulbous hillbilly’s boot for Christ’s sake, and his foot is throbbing in pace with his heart, but his spine is feeling fine, just fine and dandy. Straighter than ever, in fact.
“Cletus, I… I don’t know what to say.”
Cletus hands Jonathan Knox a photograph. Jonathan Knox raises his glasses to get a clear look, as he is nearsighted like a fothermuck, and sees an image of himself laid flat on the forest floor with a puddle of blood beneath one shoe. He says nothing, as doing so seems the appropriate response. The best response. The only response.
“That there’s you, Droolie,” Cletus explains. “Me an’th’wife were out strollin’, full moons make fer lovely strollin’ weather y’see, and we went out to our favorite li’l’ clearin’ as we often do when the moon is full and the weather is fair, and that’s when we found you. At first we thought you were sleepin’ off a night’a boozin’, but nope. You was jus’ reelin’ from the blood loss.” He hocks one and spits again. Less weight to it this time. The glob merely splats against the spittoon and dribbles slowly down. “So we snapped the picture, just to show you in case you ain’t believe us when y’woke up in our humble home, and we took ya in. Wrapped y’foot up good, even fixed y’shoes.”
Cletus folds his arms, looking proud of himself.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Jonathan Knox says, his voice full of gratitude and reverence for this kind backwoodsman and his lovely wife.
Cletus grunts, then, “Well a thank you ’d pro’ly suffice.”
“Oh, uh, of course. Thank you, Cletus.”
“Don’ mention it!” Cletus says. He slaps Jonathan Knox on the back so hard the boi drops the Goddamn photograph, but that’s a’ight. His foot’s gone droolin’, he can’t help himself. “Oh, sheit. Le’me get that.”
Cletus bends down to get the picture. Jonathan Knox peers over him, sees the framed photo on the nightstand, and blushes like a schoolboy.
“Here we are,” as Cletus meets his eyes.
“Cletus… is that… in that picture there, is that you and your wife?”
Cletus turns around like he has not one idea what Jonathan Knox might be talking about, takes a solidly long look at the framed photograph, and turns back with a wide smile.
“Sure is. She’s somethin’, ain’t she? Don’t you be touchin’er neither, boi. I’ll know it if you do. I can smell a man’s cockstink from fifty yards. Don’t test it.”
“I’d never dream of it,” Jonathan Knox promises. Direct eye contact. “Ever.”
“Well hold on, now,” Cletus returns. “You can dream of it all y’want. Jus’ don’ be doin’ it, y’understan’?”
“I understand,” Jonathan Knox understands.
“Great!” Cletus crumples the picture of Jonathan Knox and tosses it over his shoulder. “Well? C’m’on then, wifey’s waitin’ downstairs, and you know what that means.”
Cletus moves to the door.
“No, I-I don’t, Cletus. What does that mean?”
Cletus freezes between the doorjambs. He asks whatever’s in front of him, “What’s yer name, boi?”
“Jonathan Knox,” quivers Jonathan Knox.
“Well, Jonathan Knox,” without turning ‘round, “that means it’s breakfast time. Let’s go’n’get us some.”
Cletus goes’n’gets him some. Jonathan Knox hobbles off to do the same.
This has been the start of the sixth subchapter of the first chapter of the book Over the River: The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox. Here is everything you need to know about it:
Over the River
The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox
Over the River is the third book in a trilogy called The Fall of the Seven Earths. I’ve also released that trilogy as a single book called The Fall of the Seven Earths. Here’s everything you need to know about it:
The Fall of the Seven Earths
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
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If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~