Preview: Charles McNair's New Novel Pickett's Charge
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The monkey confusions seemed to bring the monkeys closer to earth.
“Hmm. One hundred and four. Might be too hot after all for little things in fur coats today,” he suggested to Threadgill. “I better chill ’em down!”
LaRue flicked on the air condition. Instantly, Siberian winter howled in. Threadgill felt delicious chills over his scorched body. A little whining moan rose from the dashboard.
LaRue winked at Threadgll.
“Man versus heat! Man WINS!” he yelled.
One window glided up.
“Man wins again!” he yelled. Windows two and three closed.
Now came a terrific soul-rending brain-splitting screech of pain from the back seat. It rose in a wobbly crescendo, louder, LOUDER, finally big and fierce enough to chatter the very windows of the Cadillac.
It was the end of time.
It was the Scream of the Universe.
Jesus! What WAS that?
LaRue twisted to look, then immediately recoiled so violently that he banged his shocked head on the rear view mirror.
A frantic, doll-sized monkey flopped and flipped against the glass directly in back of Threadgill. The power window had pinned its head. In agony, the monkey thrashed and wiggled like a fur snake with its head trapped under a stick. Its scream hurt even the back of Threadgills eyes.
If that sight didn’t shake LaRue, the next one surely did.
Forty-one furious fellow monkeys, slowly, sickly, oozed in one moist brown mass out the gaping open door of the chicken wire cage.
The lock on the cage had failed.
LaRue lost the car in his dismay.
The black Cadillac bounded onto the rutted, cat-tailed shoulder, flattened a PERDIDO 17 MILES sign and came sideways around a fishtail of mud, rubber and ripped vegetation. The engine coughed. The car shivered a moment. Then all went perfectly still.
It came to Threadgill at once. This will be very, very bad.
Without motion, the monkeys felt no motion sickness.
Threadgill quickly opened his duffel bag, put his feet inside, yanked the heavy laundry canvas completely over him like a cocoon. He wrapped the blankets of bedroll over his head and shoulders. Then, deep in padding, Threadgill’s hand pinched shut the opening at his face, and he disappeared from view. Larry LaRue only had time to gulp once before a slick brown wave crashed over him from the back seat.
Threadgill found his thoughts drifting, little white heedless balloons floating up throughout the quiet eye of a cyclone.
He recalled frying bacon, in boyhood years ago, the smoking skillet, the grease popping – ouch! – onto his arm.
He thought of the time he saw a wild fox tear the heads off Aunt Annie’s chickens.
He remembered a dream. A poor fellow stood in the door of a burning house, alarm fire, waving both arms in slow motion like a flaming snowman.
The Cadillac rocked on its axles.