Outside a dilapidated outhouse a man by the name of Goodman waited impatiently for his turn. He stood on his right toe with his left boot heel, trying to not think about the deep burn that was welling up from his loins. His forehead burst into a frothy sweat. He knocked on the door’s driftwood texture and leaned against the wall for support. Goodman regretted having that fourth cup of robust coffee at the greasy spoon.
“Be out in a minute,” a husky voice shouted through the door’s cracks.
“Hurry up,” Goodman whined.
“Don’t rush art,” the voice replied.
He always did this. Always sat himself up for failure. Today, it was too much java. Last week it had been staying up to until 2 am to catch the end of Monday Night Football. A month ago Goodman had even tried to run to the grocery for a quick diaper fix, and he had forgot to take his baby with him. His neighbor, Marjorie, had been kind enough to call child protective services on him. It was the bad end of the stick each time. He blamed his troubles on bad parenting. It didn’t make the outhouse open up but at least he could sleep through the late night house calls from collection agencies hell-bent on making him pay up.
Goodman owed just under fifty grand to Wells Fargo and others. He remembered purchasing a fifty inch T.V. once, and it just catapulted from there. Glancing over at his new GMC Sierra pick-up, he remembered that he had left his cigarettes in the seat. Goodman light-stepped to the cab door and pried it open gently. He figured sitting down on the bench seat might ease his bladder’s pressure and so he scooted up and in. It did take a little off. He unbuttoned the top button of his blue jeans just to help out. Goodman’s rearview mirror showed yellowish eyes glaring back at him. He leaned forward for closer inspection. In doing this, he spotted blood shot red eyes to accompany the overwhelming yellow. Just great. I’ve got conjunctivitis, too. The outhouse door rocked slightly, and Goodman forgot about his bladder.
“It’s about time,” he heard himself say to the driftwood door.
“I’m not done yet,” the brusque voice retorted.
“But, you’re close. I know you are. You just shifted. You’re close.”
“Nope. Not even buddy. It might be best if you just go piss in the sticks.”
And Goodman kicked his new truck’s door. This fella is shitting bricks if he thinks I’m going out in those woods to take a leak. Goodman admitted that any distance away from his truck could result in an agency tracking him down and claiming it and other things. He didn’t want to lose his Sierra; he didn’t want the cops to catch him pissing out in the open. His balls did hurt though. Five more minutes and he would be just like he was on his family’s trip to St. Augustine. His family had only been five minutes from their exit when a traffic jam appeared. The yellow eyes had been present that day as well. Shivers and a warm sweat. Goodman hated the shivers. Thinking about them made beads of water dribble down his back. He turned on his car radio for moral support.
This weekend be sure to visit Kentucky Lake for all of your summer memories. The Army Corp of Engineers is giving away fishing supplies to any family that wants to cast down at Spoonbill Dam. Now is your chance angler. Have at it today!
And the annoying mechanical voice went away and Stevie Nick’s Landslide came on and Goodman shut off the radio, her raspy voice made him even more agitated. Stevie Nicks. She was better with Fleetwood Mac, Goodman thought. Then, he wondered if the person in the outhouse was a woman. Maybe he was a she. His mom had told him to never just a book by its cover. Goodman never followed one word of his mother’s advice. She was good at giving him lectures and then partying all weekend on the lake. Goodman was sure his nosy neighbor Marjorie had called the cops on his mom just as often as she had him. Maybe that was one of the few things he had in common with his folks – Marjorie.
The wooded area and a couple of adjacent cow fields surrounding the old outhouse were very inviting. The sugar maples were showing off their colors for fall, and the cows were mooing in an open pond. All that water. Goodman distracted himself and looked at the leaves falling from poplars as a swift wind came through the gravel road where his truck sat. The only other vehicle around was a tractor that had steam radiating from the engine and a strong oil odor. Goodman couldn’t figure it belonged to anyone other than the person still squatting behind the door.
“Been cutting some fescue today?” Goodman asked, hoping the question would bring about conversation. He needed to keep his mind at bay.
“Beg your pardon,” the voice answered, straining.
“The Massey Ferguson tractor with the bush hog. I couldn’t help but notice it was still steaming. You been cutting a field? It doesn’t look like that field below needs cutting yet,” Goodman added with a smile, proud of his farming knowledge.
“I can’t hear you in here,” the voice strained again. It sounded like something rough, but Goodman couldn’t smell anything from inside his truck cab. The miscommunication prompted him to take his full-to-bursting bladder over to the door.
“There’s a tractor out here, and I wanted to know if you’d been cutting grass this morning. It’s a great day for it but your field hardly needs it,” Goodman encouraged.
“Listen. Don’t you touch my tractor,” the voice snapped.
“I wasn’t going to,” Goodman replied, shocked.
“Good. It’s mine. I don’t need you pilfering around it. Stay away. It’s my ticket out of here.”
“Fine,” Goodman huffed. He was unsure of what the person had meant.
The irresolute voice made Goodman ask again. “You almost finished? I really need in there.”
“You still haven’t peed out there?”
“Can’t why? Just unzip your pants and drain your lizard. Easy as pie. You’re a man aren’t you?”
The mentioning of a lizard made Goodman think of a pet iguana he had once. Iggy had been his name. Iggy had had no problem going to the bathroom at will. He would pee all over his cage and company. Plus, he could also lose his tail when he wanted to. Both were things that Goodman envied. Those damned collection agencies would be sure to find him in such a small town as Seton, KY. It was best if he stayed close to cover.
“Did you hear me? Not a man I know that can’t urinate in public. Or, ruin somebody’s life. So go on,” the voice urged.
Goodman built up his last bit of resolve and marched towards the tractor. He wanted the androgynous voice to reveal itself. When he was right up beside the tractor’s fender he said, “This sure is a nice tractor.”
Shuffling was heard in the outhouse. Followed by a kicking sound against the door.
“Keys are still in it. I’m going to take it for a spin,” and Goodman bit his fist waiting for the person to emerge.
“I will stab the ever-loving snot out of you, if you touch my daddy’s Massey,” the voice blistered, as a boot walloped the door open into the crisp fall air.
Out marched a teenage girl in hiking boots and a nightgown she had outgrew wielding a bowie knife with a brown leather handle. She twisted the knife in mid-air, making a stabbing motion at Goodman. Her eyes possessed a red tint revealing the lack of sleep and the reason for her fury. Her clothing hinted at her urgency and reason for leaving home. The too small nightgown was tattered at the edges. The shoes she had on were fluffy house shoes with mud caked on them.
“Just a joke,” said Goodman, his hands shaking from the bewildered look on the young girl’s face.
“Don’t joke about my tractor,” and she lunged outward with the knife, just missing Goodman’s stomach.
“Where’d you get a knife girl?” Goodman asked as he danced, and the urine raced down his pant leg. His eyes turned from yellow to white and his bladder emptied itself completely onto his blue jeans.
“You never can trust a fellow. Not a one. Especially in this forsaken town,” and she spat.
“Listen. I was only joking about the knife. And now I’ve wet myself.”
“Get out of here. The last thing I need is more attention from men like you. My whole family already hates me. So scram chump,” and she stabbed at Goodman again.
“I didn’t mean to scare you so,” he said. He noticed the fresh streaks of blood on her pale white legs; he was afraid to stare too long.
“You like what you see creep?” she barked.
“I didn’t mean to stare.”
“Get out of here or I’ll cut you up. Cut your whole head off,” she said.
The girl marched back towards the outhouse, red-drenched nightgown following, and slammed the door. She began to cry; her sobbing startled Goodman more than the knife had.
Before his legs caught gravel and propelled him forward, he could’ve sworn he heard screaming. Screaming that came through the driftwood boards and wasn’t the girl’s. Higher pitched than the girl’s and much more like a baby’s. Followed by a muddy thud and more sobbing. Goodman ran with wet pants all the way to the dam where anglers were casting their empty nets onto tranquil lake water.
Brian Tucker enjoys spending summers on Lake Cumberland and writing fiction about the ever-changing South. He is a current student in EKU’s MFA Creative Writing program. Brian has been published in (or soon to be published in): Southern Grit, Dew on the Kudzu, Trajectory Journal, The Dead Mule, Gloom Cupboard, Burnt Bridge Press, and The Camel Saloon.