"Jesus, what was that for?" Ray rubbed the welt rising on his forehead. A bloodied tin of boot polish lay at his feet.
"Don't take the Lord's name in vain." Rony pointed the shotgun at Ray's chest.
Ray raised his hands. "Okay! Okay!"
"Why were you trying to sneak in here?"
"I just want some condoms, man! And some Gatorade. Powerade. I'm not picky."
Rony braced the shotgun against his shoulder and improved his stance.
"You can't kill me!" Ray said. "Today is the best worst day of my life!"
Rony lowered the gun. "Welcome to Kangaroo. Condoms are over there." He turned up the radio. Ray clapped his hands over his ears.
"You have a problem with country music?" Rony said.
"Uh, no," Ray waited for a few measures, then removed his hands. Maybe Dread Girl had meant music in the woods, he thought. He looked over the selection of condoms while humming off-key.
"Why are you so happy?" Rony said. "Are you on drugs?"
"Would you relax?" Ray said. "My name is Ray. I work at the Forest Service. I come in every other week and buy one of your crappy hot dogs."
"Wait a second," Rony said. "You're friends with that Korean dirt-bag."
"Tell your friend my sister's still in high school."
"I'm pretty sure he knows," Ray said. "She was wearing a uniform. Isn't she a senior?"
Rony glared at him.
"I'll tell him," Ray said.
"Just pay for your stuff and get out." Rony watched the storm.
"Why are you so pissed off?" Ray said.
Thunder rumbled. Rony flinched. "You wouldn't understand."
Ray read the back of a box. "I hope she's not allergic to latex."
"Who?" Rony said.
"Not your sister!" Ray said. "I don't know her name. We just met."
"A real romantic," Rony said. "Well, you aren't getting any tonight, playboy. You look like garbage. Did your car break down?"
Ray selected a box of condoms and started browsing the sports drinks. "Nah. We were walking in the woods."
"The woods around here?" Rony said.
"A mile or two from here," Ray said.
Rony gripped the Hand of Mary through his shirt. "There are things in these woods. I hear them at night, sometimes."
Ray laughed. "Yeah. Owls, crickets, raccoons. It's the woods."
"I mean it's haunted," Rony said. "It's not safe to be out tonight."
"I noticed." Ray pointed to the wound on his forehead. "Seriously though, I don't believe in ghosts."
"I'm only telling you because I don't want a customer's death on my conscience," Rony said.
"Why does it have to be a customer?" Ray said. "You don't care if just anyone dies?"
"Just anyone doesn't feed my family," Rony said.
Ray grinned. "I would hope not. That'd be cannibalism."
"Look, moron. They aren't ghosts. They're nature spirits. You don't want to listen, fine." Rony imitated Pontius Pilate washing his hands.
YOU ARE READING
King of the Woods, or Trivial PursuitFantasy
Florida Forest Service duty officer Ray Lumley is in love with a white fringetree. Not an I-read-Walden-in-high-school love; a sweaty, sappy, I-want-to-rub-against-you-'til-I-get-splinters love. It's awkward. So, he's relieved to learn that he's rea...