The story so far:
Maybel darted her head out over the well but pulled it back a moment later, conflicted. She frowned and bit her bottom lip, her dirty hands curling into fists that trembled with suppressed emotion.
Another hopeless howl echoed from the depths of the well.
Maybel's anger won the battle, "You shut up down there, now, Billy Ray! You're gettin' what you deserve!"
"You shoulda' thought about that before you did what you done to me! Now eat that dead dog fer dinner, you bastard!" Maybel whirled around and stalked off, her arms straight out and rigid with anger at her sides.
"Maybel! I'm sorry! Maaaayyyybbeel!" Receiving no answer, the tone of the scream darkened, "I'm going to get you for this you stupid bitch!"
Maybel ignored the cries as she stalked all the way back to her truck.
She didn't cry until she was safely insider her beaten Ford pickup, windows rolled up, doors locked. The tears were the hot kind, the kind that were coming out no matter what you did, the kind that left you a blubbering mess.
Maybel wiped her face hard, leaving red swaths of flesh behind. The mild pain helped her focus. She adjusted her rearview mirror so that she could see her face. She rubbed her eyes clear and stared intently at her own image.
"Now Maybel," she spoke to herself, "you pull yourself together girl! That boy deserves every bit 'a what he's gettin'! You know if you went to sherriff Netters, he wouldn't do a damned thing. Probly just high five 'em er' somethin'. So yer doin' whatcha' gotta do. It's what baby Jesus and Mary would want you to do. I mean, what if someone raped Mary? Whatcha' think Jesus would do?" Maybel nodded grimly. "He'd do a damn sight more than throw'em in a hole fer awhile. He'd burn 'em alive fer all eternity, that's what! You're being nice!"
Maybel felt better. She still felt bad about the dog, sort of, but she hadn't killed him. Poor thing had been lying out on the road all dead and busted up. But she'd gotten a little kick out of throwing it down there with that bastard. The fat bastard would probably eat it up, anyways. Fat bastard. Fat rapist bastard.
Maybel turned the ignition and roared off, leaving behind a cloud of dust in her wake along the country road. She rolled down the window, letting the air whip through her matted, dirty hair. She cranked up the radio and let the rich voice of Willie Nelson soothe her soul as she rested her elbow on the top of the door and set her head on her palm, steering with her right hand and arm. The country road unwound before her, a strip of brown dirt through the horse-dotted canvas of Kentucky bluegrass.
No more than fifteen minutes had passed before she approached a small, battered sign that read- Old Mills Road- on her right. She almost drove by.
She skidded to a stop, dust swirling around her truck, slammed it in reverse and backed up until she was just in front of the small narrow road leading off east.
"Now Maybel," Maybel spoke to herself, "That's a crazy idea."
A white pickup truck zoomed along the road behind her, only about a minute behind. Slats of wood shivered, strapped down in its bed, as it bounced along the dirt road.
Maybel chewed her lip in thought, feeling the truck approaching behind her. Grimacing, she spun the steering wheel to the right and took off down Old Mills. "Okay, I'll just take a little looksy..." she promised herself. "After all, that boy owes me somethin' fer what he done to me."
Billy Ray Doddard lived five miles east of the main road. A small, shack of a house, with the rusted remains of a Buick Le Sabre quietly being reclaimed by nature in the front yard, set out about fifty yards away from Old Mills road.
Maybel jammed on the brakes, sliding to a halt in the front yard, her sudden deceleration leaning her forward in her seat and then thumping her back to rest in the driver's seat.
She turned off the ignition, cutting Dolly Parton's soaring voice off mid word, and jumped out of the truck, slamming the door behind her. Billy's empty house squatted silently in the noon day sun, waiting for her, all raw brown boards and leaning supports, the windows cracked and dingy. The ungroomed grass, knee high all around the old building, was thick and unwelcoming.
Maybel stood with fists on hip outside the house for a minute, but the sun was beginning to redden her face something fierce, so she stalked over to the front porch and stood in the shade, thinking things over.
She hesitantly reached one hand out toward the front door knob and then jerked it back. She put her nails in he mouth to chew on them in thought but spit them back out disgustedly a moment later, the stench of dead dog still on her hands. "Well Maybel, you do need to wash up." Maybel nodded and tried the doorknob.
It was unlocked.
Maybel entered the house timidly, peeking her head in first. "Hello? Anybody in here? It's Maybel Stallings, from up on down the road! I'm a'comin' in!"
No one answered.
Maybel stepped into the poory lit interior and wrinkled her nose. Empty cans of Budwieser were strewn haphazardly about the floor, like debris from a beer geyser, the epicenter of which appeared to be the motheaten plaid couch in the center of the living room. A small television rested gingerly on a wooden stand, the antennae wrapped heavily in foil and coat hangers. Various fish were mounted on the walls, between pictures of Billy Ray and his brothers, and a few well placed Nascar plates.
Maybel kicked the cans out of the way and made her way to wall switch. "Damn, Billy, didja' leave any beer fer me?"
She flipped on the lights, revealing the various stains mottling the wooden floor. Maybel shook her head and walked to the kitchen area.
Cracked, yellowed plates were piled up in the sink. A half eaten pizza lay on the stove, and a flock of flies had turned it into their own paradise. Maybel swatted them out of her way and opened the refrigerator. The bright white light shrank her eyes, but she smiled. "Ah you did leave me some beer. Maybe you ain't so bad, Billy boy."
Maybel guzzled down a draught of cool beer while she contemplated just what she was going to do. For the moment, she almost felt safe. Hell, she knew the owner wasn't going to come home, he was stuffed down in a well, and Billy didn't ever have no kin over. Hell, he didn't even have any dogs.
Maybel nodded to herself and took another long drink.
She'd found the sledgehammer in the attic. It was a heavy bastard, but she was a tough country girl. She could handle a little work. Especially when it was worth it.
Maybel let the sledgehammer drop to the ground, and wiped the sweat from her brow. Her arms burned like fire, every muscle a white-hot snake under the skin, but damned she was having fun!
Maybel took another deep breath and swung the sledgehammer into the living room wall with a satisfying thunk. She let go and laughed out loud at how it stayed there, sticking out like a mud in a stick. She looked around the room at her handiwork.
If Maybel had been a tornado, she could not have done more damage. Every article of furniture, evey picture, item, knick knack, had been smashed, cut, torn, ripped, or just beaten to smithereens. Chunks of the walls were smashed out, caved in, dented. Fluffy white balls of material were strewn about the overturned couch, its insides gutted like a disembowled vicim.
Maybel nodded, took another swig of beer, and sighed lustily. "That's what you get, Billy!"
Maybel tossed a glance out of the window. It was getting late. Her pappy would be getting worried. She walked, slightly unsteadily, to the kitchen. The six pack she had downed was having an effect. A phone clung to the wall, its spiraled cord hanging beneath it like a tail.
Maybel picked up the phone and dialed home. Her pappy answered after only two rings. "Hello?"
"Pappy, its me, Maybel."
"Maybel! Where you been girl? I been worried sick about you. Just sick! Where you at?"
"I'm at-" Maybel looked around, "It don't matter where I'm at Pappy. I'm just calling ta tell ya' I'll be home in a little bit, okay? So don't you go worrying on me okay? You know what Doc Blake said about you worryin.' It ain't good fer yer pressures an' all."
"Maybel, you dun hear what happened to Billy Ray Doddard?"
Maybel blinked, stunned. "What are you talkin' on 'bout pappy?"
"They dun found him in a well! Down there with a dog. Words all over 'bout it. Can you believe that, Maybel?"
Maybel slammed the phone down and stepped back. She whirled around, as if to find Billy Ray standing right there, behind her, his hot, putrid breath on her face.
But it was just the front door, slightly ajar, as the soft rustle of the wind kissed grass and the crooning of country crickets filtered in.
Outside, night had begun to fall.