Our cane’s thick, like almost Supernatural. The soil plays big into it. At least, that’s what my Old Man said. He said, ‘Part clay, part blood.’ Said our family’s in the cane field.
Which, I don’t doubt we have more than a few bodies back there, graves unmarked. I’m old enough to understand that we’re all just feed– the sugar-stalks two, three persons high. Life’s just a game of Indian-giving. I’m old enough to understand that.
But my Old Man, when he said what he said, he meant ‘blood’ like ‘lineage.’ I’d always thought ‘blood’ like ‘shed’.
‘Cause my Old Man and his Old Man and the Old Men that came before them, they were all heavy-handed. To say the least. More precisely, they were heinous kiddy-beaters. Mine had a horsewhip dedicated to acts of discipline. Didn't even ride. He was the most fattest, drunkest, fake-jockey terror-farmer I’d ever seen in my life.
So that night. The last time I’d seen him.
You’re asking, but you’re not gonna believe.
It was Mom’s anniversary, the consequence being he got especially boozy. He started chasing me through the crop like a wild pig.
We both had our parts. Me, animal-boy—wailing, squealing—and him, camp-butcher. Wanting to stick me. What a game. Maybe after, he’d roast me on the campfire, chew me down to my flame-cracked bones. Like out of one of those tired, horrific fairy tales. That’s how I’d always imagined it going down when I was a kid. How I imagine it now, too.
So like a thousand times, I pounded my feet and heart through the sugar. Runaway. He screamed after me, drunk-howling—‘BEHAVE BOY, GIVE IT UP, I’M FAMISHED’—again and again. Like a beagle-hound after fox. Tearing through plants, hollering loud all hunt long, all scent long, direct, calamitous, bullet—
And our farm was alone by miles. Backcountry. Silent. You know what could happen back there. I did. That cane was thick. You couldn’t see up at the stars, and even in the parts you could they just looked bare and false on you. Cold infernos. Like Supernatural.
In all that dark, I crashed into a clearing in the middle of the sugarcane. A perfect circle, carved from nowhere, nothing. But I didn’t hesitate. My Old Man ripped in through the crop behind me.
He grabbed me, started going to work. Put my ass onto the clay, hard. Laid into me with the horsewhip, the hessian boots, the gloved knuckles into my head. I saw nothing. Just hot blood on my face. Then my eyes got violent.
He had his gun with him. Cold Ruger in my back.
And that’s when. Supernatural.
There was this sound—BANG. And the black sky stopped being so black. The horsewhip stopped coming so down. Then this beam.
Thank god, or whoever.
‘Cause when that light waned, my Old Man was gone. Away from the sugar. Away from the farm.
Indian-giving. That’s the way it went. No other way.
Evan Nicholls attends James Madison University (‘20) and is from Fauquier County, Virginia. He is involved in JMU’s literary magazine, Gardy Loo, and has work appearing in CHEAP POP, Penny, and formercactus, as well as forthcoming in The Jellyfish Review and Lost Balloon. Follow him on Twitter @nicholls_evan.