General Slaughter’s, Like, Revenge or Something by Melanie Browne

Denise never expected to find herself covered in camouflage holding her breath underwater in swamp water, but that’s exactly where she was. “Like, gross!” she says as she re-emerges from the muck and realizes her contact lenses are covered with swamp mud. She pulls herself out of the water and lies on her back trying to figure out how it is that she got herself in this mess in the first place. It might have been love but most likely it was revenge. Her boyfriend Gary had given up his life in the valley to come live with some tramp named Colleen in this trashy gulf-coast town called “Delightfu.” Denise had no idea what happened to the L but with the quality of people in this hell-hole, she had a pretty good idea some redneck had turned it into some kind of beer- bong. Her plan was to surprise Gary in bed with Colleen, and force him to see what a huge mistake he had made or something like that. She had not really thought the plan through, other than her various outfits. Oh why couldn’t Gary realize everything he was giving up? I mean, in the valley they had a “lifestyle!” here in this dump there was neither a life nor style, as far as she could see. Which at this moment with the mud in her eyes wasn’t very far. How could Gary give up their bike rides, the all-day cleaning marathons, trendy lunches with all their friends at The Cheesecake Factory? She just didn’t see how that trashy Colleen had pulled the wool over Gary’s eyes.

Denise crawled stealthily towards Gary’s classic Camaro when she felt some sort of creature breathing on her face. It was a dog of some kind. A big dog and she didn’t like dogs. “Grrrrr…. Pant. Pant. Pant. Grrrrrrr… Pant. Pant .Pant.”

“Ew!” Denise screams. Then she covers her mouth when she realizes what she’s done.

“General Slaughter?” a disembodied voice says.

“C’mon boy.”

Denise tries to shoo away the mutt named General Slaughter, but he just sits there on his haunches sniffing her greenish foul-smelling hair.

At that moment a creature too obscene for valley-words appears in Denise’s not so clear peripheral vision. Wearing Dirty Levi’s, old Doc Martens, and a black t-shirt bearing nothing but the word “Secede,”

The man claying claim to General Slaughter leans down and stares right into Denise’s eyes. He runs one dirty hand through his helter-skelter hair.

“Who in the heck are you?”

Denise coughs, and points in the direction of Colleen’s house.

“She, I mean, Colleen, the woman that lives there, she totally stole my boyfriend!”

The creature looks at Denise warily.

“That’s my sister. We call her Lenny.”

“Lenny?” Denise asks.

“Yup,you can call me Holler.”

“Holler?”

“No need to scream, I’m standing right here.”

Denise stares at the creature.

“Most people laugh at that,” he says deadly serious now.

“What’s with the get-up?” the creature says.

“Like, this is my tactical outfit. I didn’t know how, you know, serious, things might get.”

Holler points at Denise’s handbag.

“Wow, that’s a cool looking purse.”

It’s monogramouflage; Luis Vuitton,” Denise says.

Well, don’t let General Slaughter see it, he likes to chew leather.”

Denise holds the bag close to her chest and moves away from the dog.

The creature named Holler moves up behind Denise and begins to sniff at her hair just like General Slaughter was 10 minutes earlier.

“Did you say you came here for purposes of revenge?” Holler whisper’s in Denise’s ear.

Denise doesn’t fight the creature as he lightly takes his tongue and moves it across her ear.

“I hate my sister, I say let’s kill them both and let God sort them out. Hell, the bitch fucks half my friends, and drinks all my good whiskey.She’s kicked General Slaughter more times than I can count. Besides, I like Gary’s Camaro and there’s some places around here I think you ought to see, um, what’d you say your name was little gal?”

“Denise,” she whispers.

Like, he’s so gross and so hot at the same time. She couldn’t understand why she was sweating, you know, down there.

Denise watches in horror as the creature named Holler walks to his mud-caked truck and pulls a crossbow from the back seat and grabs her by the arm and marches across the driveway to the tiny red-brick house. He put his hand over Denise’s mouth and pushes open the back door. The smell of Hamburger Helper and marijuana fills the air. Denise can hear Gary and Colleen’s laughter spilling across the house. Holler moves into the hallway still holding a hand tightly over Denise’s mouth.

He picks up the crossbow and moves in front of the doorway.

Like, I can’t believe he’s really doing this! Denise doesn’t know what to do! This isn’t what she had planned at all! Like, not at all!

First there is the swish, the thunk, the thud, and finally the screams.

Then there is the blood. Colleen and Gary dead on the floor.

And now Denise knows she has her hands dirty with this thing. She helped kill two people.

She falls back against the wall and starts to cry, long heaving sobs as Holler carries first his sister Colleen and then Gary out to the swamp where she had hidden behind the house.

The creature Holler is carrying Denise out to the Camaro where she and Gary had shared smoothies

on Saturday morning drives.

He drives for hours while playing his horrible Charlie Daniels Music, every once in a while leering at Denise and trying to move his hand up her thigh.

He pulls into a Holiday Inn and Denise wonders how he thinks he will get away with this, how long he’s going to hold her hostage, wondering if this hotel has clean towels.

Holler is a con-man, that much Denise is certain of. She just isn’t sure yet what it is and who it is that he cons yet. At first Denise won’t let him touch her, but every night she relents a little more, until Hollar gets to know her in the biblical and even all the non-biblical senses. The third night he gets a tattoo that says Denise & Hollar, the fourth night they get married at the local JP. Denise knows it is only a matter of time until the law catches up to Hollar, but she’s getting used to his ways, and she doesn’t miss the cheesecake factory as much as she thought she would.

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