Fiction: Listening to a Mosquito Buzz


My name is Charles Dutton. This morning I made my way down to the Pinehurst Mart.  I like coming here sometimes when the off-season’s slow, keep an eye on things. There inn’t much harvesting to do when the mill’s not collecting. When there inn’t much harvesting happening, there inn’t much of anything happening. So I come down here, kill time, hear the buzz. Don’t let any out of towners try and best us out of gas or snack food or magazines or any other thing they might get a high mind to steal. Seems people’ll steal the damnedest things.

Especially college students. Just last year a group of those smart bastards tried to take Williamson’s pig. Now what could be so smart about stealing a pig? You know they don’t know how to butcher it. I don’t see any point to getting a pig, stealing it or not, if you ain’t gonna butcher it. So they took it and it probably just shit up and stunk up their fancy car truck ‘cause they drove off with it. Pig in the back seat and them hootin’ and howling all over like they’re the smartest bastards around. Who knows what they did with it but it must have stunk up that fake truck pretty good ‘cause Williamson found the pig a couple days later just walking along the side of 90 like a damned stray dog, big old pig ears flapping in the breeze. So I guess for all their smartness and stealing and thieving all they got out of it was their fake truck smelling like pig shit. That and disrupting old Williamson’s Sunday.

So I been standing here listening to a mosquito buzz into the sun in the window for a good 45 minutes when Jenny finally gets a mind to say hello. Jenny works at the Mart most of the time. Her dad or her husband Johnny or her brother Jimmy owns it, I can’t keep track. Anyway, she’s usually on the day shift while I’m over by the Coke machine killing time and keeping an eye on the goings on, listening to the mosquitoes buzz. Jenny’s kind of fat. She claims it’s a gland disorder that some doctor over in Billings diagnosed but I’ve got a mind that her only disorder is eating too many damned Twinkies. I see her outside smacking and rubbing that damned frosting on her teeth when she claims to be out there smoking.

I don’t know if she’s busy thinking about the Twinkies or not, but finally she gets around to saying hi to me when it’s been 45 minutes I’m already on my second cup of coffee. I bring in my own mug.

“Hi Charles.” She says.

I says “Hi.”

“What’s that bump on your head?” She says.

I says I fell and she goes back counting the cigarettes and thinking about Twinkies. I go back to watching the candy bars and magazines and standing by the coke machine and thinking about old Williamson’s pig.

So I was born in Pinehurst in 1979. I went to Pinehurst High School. I never saw much point in it, though. Not that I don’t take to school or books or classes at the gymnasium, but I just never saw much point in it. You don’t learn the harvest in no book and I guess I figure it’s a man’s job to cut wood. There’s wood around. There’s men to cut it. That’s what happens. Wood was meant for cutting. I guess I just figure that’s the natural order of things. That’s why the town’s here. That’s why I’m here. That’s why the whole damned state is here if you ask me, that and Indian reservations. But that’s what I do now, down at the Idaho Timber Products and Excavation Company, cut wood. Go out on the harvest and work a STIHL, felling the growth. I s’pose a man might do other things but none of them other things never much appealed to me. It’s all invented jobs. A man tries to invent a job and that man won’t work long. Some smart bastard will come along and replace him with a machine or a robot or a smaller man who doesn’t eat as much or something else.

I guess some of the fellas always played ball in school but I never saw much point in that neither. It don’t teach you nothing, and all of them ended up working at the mill or plowing snow or salting highways just like all of us. So I work down at the Timber Products, seasonal work mostly. Working with a harvesting crew felling trees when they’re needed. When it’s slow I’m down at the Mart, watching the happenings, killing time.

So yesterday afternoon I’m over by the Coke machine watching some real smart bastards from the university coming through. They’re buying their beer and making their noise and I can tell they don’t mean anything, pigs or otherwise, any good. Buying up all the damned beer in the cooler. They’re gonna be making trouble somewhere around. Smart bastards usually camp a few miles outside town then get all liquored and come in and make noise down at Pete’s Bar or pick fights with the Tate brothers down at the J&W. It’s after that that pigs get stolen or someone gets their face busted and we’ve got university bastards asking around about what we’re doing to those damned idiot college bastards when they come around here drinking our beer out in the woods like a damned bunch of fools. Or Indians on the rez.

So I’m watching these bastards pack up and pull off with their loot. They bought up all the Bud Light, Ambrose won’t be happy come 7 o’clock. They take all that Bud Light and head up 90. Like they’re being so smart and sneaky. I know where they’re going. Everybody knows where they’re going. They all go to the same place.

So I stand awhile after they’ve left over by the Coke machine listening to Jenny talking to her sister Olive, who is also fat. All the while I’m wondering what those damned bastards are doing heading up there into those woods or if they’re gonna come in and mess with my saws or someone’s pig or my axe or someone’s little girl. Those idiot high school girls are always prowling around like cats in heat practically yowling all over, shaking their hair like it’s a raised tail and batting their damn eyelids at these college boys acting like they’re God’s golden ticket to something better. Damned fools chasing damned fools paying all sorts for a piece of paper that says they can work an invented job.

I linger awhile longer getting tired of listening to Fat Olive talking about her weekend over in Moscow and the boyfriend she supposedly has there. Claiming he’s some sort of damned intellectual. She don’t have any boyfriend, unless you count her putting out for the high school boys. But I supposed if she did find some damned fool to be her boyfriend, he’d have to be smart to be able to see something under all that fat.

I decide to head down to the J&W and have a Coors.

I guess I’m down at the J&W awhile mulling things over a few times in my head. Hard to think though with the Tate brothers over in the corner drinking whiskey and playing bad pool as usual. Earl and Idiot Jim Tate. Dumb bastards if I’ve ever met one. They have a salting business that their uncle gave them the equipment for.  So they’re over in the corner making noise and shooting pool and bickering. Which ain’t bad till damned Earl needs a glass and ends up over at the bar talking to me.

“Where’s Daddy’s little girl tonight, Charles?” Earl says.

“Now what in the hell is that supposed to mean, Earl?” I says to Earl.

“Well what do you think it means, Charles?” He says to me.

“Well I don’t know. Sounds like a bunch of damned fool speak to me.” I says.

This goes on awhile and pretty soon Idiot Jim’s come over, standing behind his brother and making his damned mongoloid laugh and retard grunts at everything Earl says.

I guess I have a few cans get tired of the whole damn thing. So I leave.

“Don’t have too big a night.” I says, burnin’ them pretty good on the way out.

I go out and get in my truck to head home but those damn university bastards are still eating at me. I know they’re up to no good. What drinking beer in the woods and all.  So I start down 90 looking up ahead to the black old trees at to the turn to my old house but I decide not to stop. I need to let the dog out. He’s probably howling around and digging around bugging old Williamson’s hound.

So I skip past the house and keep driving down 90 up to the old logging road. We cleared a few acres about 2 years back. If I’d of known that paved some damned golden invitation for those university bastards, I’d have skipped the harvest. I swear the bastards thought we did it for them to camp in, all custom, ‘cause now a weekend don’t go by without some of them burnin’ a damned camp fire out there or takin’ girls up there or being damned idiots. So I follows this old road up into the mountain. It’s all white road and black trees like a great big old white snake cutting it’s way through the trees and the moon and the mountain. The moon’s shining down pretty good and I take my truck up a ways and pull off to the side. I figure I don’t want to make a scare with my engine noise and lights. So I pulls over and hike aways up the road to where I can smell their fire. I creep through the woods a bit till I come up about 100 yards from’m. I’m crouched watching the bastards. I can hear them hooting and whooping around. They’ve got their car’s lights on and music playing. Now, who goes out to the woods to play damned music?  I figure I’m there at bit crouching and listening and waiting for those smart bastards to get the bright idea to come back into town. I guess it’s about then that feels somebody behind me.

“What are you doing out here you goddamned faggot?”

I turn and see that damned old Earl Tate right up on top of me. All drunked up.

“You been watching them boys like you’re some kind of faggot. You like watching them boys, faggot?”

I go to say something smart back to him. I opens my mouth to start into him but look to see a big old tree branch swinging around and cracking into my head. Must have been Idiot Jim.

I come to a bit later and everything’s looking around funny. All black and red. I got a bad pain in my skull and my mouth’s all full of blood and all I see is ground as I’m getting moved around all jerky on my hands. I’m hearing this goddamned gurgling sound and getting dragged or pushed and getting my head mashed into in the leaves and pine one weird tug at a time.

Tug, tug, tug.

My mouth all fills with blood again and I wince a bit and my head hits a piece of granite again.

Tug… tug… tug…

The pine is scratching into my face pretty good when I come to enough and I feel what’s tugging me. It’s Earl’s pecker. That goddamned faggot is making me like his girlfriend.

Tug… tug… tug…

I crane my head a bit to turn and see Idiot Jim sitting over by a fire and making those damned weird cripple gurgling noises and then rubbing his pants and then gurgling a bit more.

Tug… tug… tug…

I figure, well I figure nothing my damned head hurting so bad and woozy and goddamned faggot Earl with his pecker out, making me like a woman and Idiot Jim making those damn cripple noises and all the while that blood taste in my mouth getting stronger and stronger.

I guess I lays there awhile longer letting dirty faggot Earl finish with his pecker or lose interest or realize that he’s a dirty faggot and quit making me like a woman ‘cause eventually he stops. Tug… Tug… He slumps me over and stumbles over by his fire and his idiot brother. He picks up his bottle of whiskey and starts giggling and scratching at his belly and taking big old pulls off of the bottle. All the while damned Idiot Jim is giggling and gurgling and grab assing around with him and the bottle.

I got that blood taste in my mouth keeping strong and filling up and running out all over my nose and chin and shirt. My butthole hurts and I’m all slumped over, head and arms all scratched up in the needles and brush. I come to a bit more and fumbles around a bit and find a broken old piece of granite that’s been grinding into my head on the ground there with the cones and leaves and twigs. I picks it up and stumble around a bit before I get over towards Earl and grab him by the shoulder. He’s whips around, with his goddamned pecker still out and he’s swinging it around with his denims down a bit.

I swings that piece of granite like it’s my goddamned axe and bust his nose and most of his faggot mouth pretty well clean off. He yelps and falls over and blood starts coming out of his face.  He drops the bottle and his idiot brother quits the gurgling and starts into this high-pitched squealing. But all the while he’s still rubbing his pants like he can’t stop or help himself or he don’t realize he’s doing it. I picks up a bit of the whiskey bottle that broke when I hit is faggot brother and head over towards him with it. Damned idiot is still squealing and rubbing his damned pants when I get into him with it. I gets into his ear pretty good and he’s still rubbing his goddamned pants so I do my best to get into his hands and carve them clean of working. He stops rubbing his pants and I get into his throat with the glass neck and pretty soon he’s gurgling again and spurting his damned idiot blood all over everything.

I stands a bit and my butthole’s hurting when old faggot Earl starts moaning around and wiggling and falling over with his pants down and his pecker still out so I go back over to him. I picks up one of the pieces of wood from their fire, all red and hot and smoking with coals on one end and show him what he did to me. I pull his denims down the rest of the way and get into his butthole with that burning log. I jam it in there a bit and make him feel them coals like he was woman and them coals were a pecker. I dig into him pretty good and it’s making noise and he’s screaming and damned near scratching his goddamned faggot hands off on the ground trying to get away. I’m not sure why but he scrambles, he ain’t getting away. But he stops soon enough. He’s dead, all slumped over in the brush just like his idiot brother.

I guess I sits out there a bit with Idiot Jim laying by the fire and faggot Earl laying in the brush smoking a bit with his denims down. I’m not sure how long I been sitting out there looking them and giving my head a rest but eventually I get into figurin’ I can’t just leave’m out here. Wouldn’t be right. I gets up and wanders around a bit getting my scope of things. The moon ain’t bad and damned idiots weren’t more than a mile off the logging road so I find my truck pretty easy. I can’t drive it back over to wear they’re laying in state so I have to walk it back and forth a few times getting their goddamned faggot bodies through the brush and over the roots and around to the road, my butthole hurting more and more the whole time. Eventually I get both them over to the ditch by the logging road and into my truck. I roots around a bit and find my axe and shovel in the back there.

So I decides to drive a bit down to 90 and over to a sector that’s already been cleared and replanted… trees should take to them pretty good and the soil’s soft. So I digs a few smaller holes around. I don’t waste time going too deep, I don’t want bears or somebody’s dog getting into them but my damned butthole is hurtin’ bad and nobody should be rooting around here for a good 5 or 6 years. By that time the pine beetles will have gotten into them. So I takes my axe and gets them into some smaller pieces. Moon’s still pretty good and the light is starting to come around a bit more.  I don’t go crazy but I lay into what’s left of faggot Earl’s face with a couple of good whacks. He inn’t twitching or screaming any more but I figure it can’t hurt. Besides the log’s still in his butthole. So I digs a bit and get them planted and stowed.

I looks around and it’s getting morning and I’m needing some damned coffee so I make my way down to my old truck and get my spare shirt and Wranglers. I look around a bit but this part of 90 is always empty this time of morning. I get cleaned up a bit over by the stream and pull the needles out of my face and arms before I takes some of the old shirt and stuff it in up around my butthole like a bandage. I put on the Wranglers and shirt and head into the Mart to see what those damned smart bastard university kids ruined the night before.

Fat Jenny’s in there. She don’t notice me come in ‘cause she’s busy acting like she’s counting cigarettes thinking about Twinkies. I’m there for a good 45 minutes drinking a bit of coffee and aching by the Coke machine before fat Jenny asks me about the head.

“I fell.” I says. I linger awhile and then head for the door. I ain’t let my dog out yet. ‘Sides I think my bandage is bleeding through.