PEACE NOW the bumper sticker on her ’68 green Impala said in red, white, and blue. Me and my hound Bobo were walking in the woods and came upon that mess of cars down by the Carmichael hay barn where the creek runs east. Would’ve recognized it about anywhere, I figure.
The day Flower came by to pick up Bobby she’d just come back from that fancy girls’ college her daddy sent her to up North. Had to sneak over to our place when she came home at Christmas, too, because of what her daddy thought of Bobby. Looked all different with her tie-dyed shirt and blue jeans and moccasins and all. Tell the truth, I hardly recognized her. Bobby said she’d become a hippy up North. Standing there on the front porch, breeze dancing in her long blonde hair, throwing it in her face. Just smiled at Bobby, jingled her car keys at him.
Said I could come if I sat quiet in the back seat. Flower was driving and Bobby had a jar of that corn liquor from the Johnson still flickering like a diamond in the sunlight. He and Flower were sharing it and listening to Janis Something on the 8-track. Stopped down the river under the bridge going to Tuckersville. Smoking cigarettes and something else too. Smelled funny like when Daddy burns the fields.
Told me to stay in the car and listen to the music. They walked off a little way. I still remember them kissing while they took off their clothes. If I stretched over the seat I could see them squirming in the grass, naked and white as the clouds reflecting in the slow brown river. Looked like they were wrestling, but hell, what did I know? Was only six.
I never even saw them drive up, they were so hushed. Heard the shots and saw Flower’s daddy and her brother standing over the other side of the river. I stayed still and got myself real close to the floor. Just fired and turned around, got back into their red truck as quiet as they’d come. Never knew I was there. All I remember is how quiet it got after those shotguns cracked through the woods, Even the cicadas stopped their buzzing. I knew I’d be okay if I could crawl up into that quiet and stay there.
Sat there about an hour that afternoon. Yep, same old car with the PEACE NOW sticker peeling off. Here’s the ashtray with the cigarette butts. 8-track with the tape still sticking in it. Janis Joplin. Pearl. Smells the same too. Gasoline and red vinyl. All the same but for this moss growing on the dashboard and the rust on the hood out the cloudy windshield. Murky and heavy like my dreams when I get myself real tired. Oh, and look here, Bobo, here’s that old jar.
Walked home that afternoon when I realized Bobby and Flower weren’t getting up any more. Sheriff never knew what happened and they never even knew I was there, not even Momma and Daddy. Never dawned on them it could’ve been Flower’s daddy and brother. Momma and Daddy never knew why I’d stopped talking that day, just thought it was from missing my big brother, Bobby. Never spoke a word since. Never knew the car was over here.
Sometimes I see Flower’s daddy and brother over the Piggly Wiggly when I’m spending my food stamps. Just put my head down and keep on walking, crawling a little bit further up into the quiet. PEACE NOW.