Kyle Hinton Pomeroy flicked his cigarette and studied the pattern the ash made when it splashed down on the floor. This was the latest addition to an ongoing attempt at a work of art… He was trying to make a rendering of the Virgin Mary so he could get some publicity from the local news station but so far it just looked like someone had tripped carrying an urn across the room. He was tempted to get down there and shape it with his hands but in his mind that constituted cheating. He hadn’t arrived at his cheating threshold yet.
The severe weather alert was scrolling across all three television sets, but the melancholy moaning of the wind and the constant grumbling of the thunder told him what he needed to know about the conditions outside. He noticed there was a little water trickling under the door so he adjusted his jute SAP bag, a long strip of canvas-like material filled with something resembling sand that doubled as a door stop and a flood barrier. It was never enough water to justify the bag but he felt a surge of pride knowing if a flash flood hit he was protected.
Now they were predicting tornadoes. There hadn’t been a tornado watch in this county for close to fifty years, even though the surrounding counties went to high alert every now and again. Kyle couldn’t remember the last time a twister had actually swept through Oakland. In point of fact, he couldn’t remember because it had never happened in his lifetime… possibly it had never happened, period. But his bones were telling him things were about to change, and when they updated the watch to a warning he wasn’t surprised.
His man cave was well fortified… it used to be a standalone garage but he had converted it to a venison processing workshop. Currently he was cleaning the dried blood off his Dexter Russell 6 inch traditional handle skinner with the high carbon steel blade. He’d ordered it off Amazon Prime last month and never looked back. The deer hide was under his feet and he’d slung the carcass over the stainless steel counter. It calmed him to skin the deer while the storm raged around him. He’d never been too comfortable with storms… they announced God’s presence all too blatantly and he and God weren’t on the best of terms.
Seemed like he’d been in trouble since he’d first gained consciousness… he was a breech baby and had come out near sideways. Many a vigorous whipping had been accompanied by his father reminding him it took six months for his mother’s vagina to heal, an image that he’d never quite dislodged from his mind’s eye. Then he was excommunicated from his church when he was eight, less than a month after he’d made his confession of faith. To be fair, that confession was made with the misunderstanding that it would come with a lifetime supply of butter pecan ice cream. Neither his parents nor his former pastor could figure out how he had come to that conclusion.
The rain pelting the tin roof ceased abruptly. The walls of the man cave were rattling, and the coyote hide tacked to the door flapped as said door stood up to the intense intermittent gusts. The eyes of the eight slain deer heads decorating the dimly lit plywood walls regarded him smugly, confident that they were about to be avenged. If the fates were just, all of the knives, meat cleavers and scalpels resting on various surfaces around him would be picked up by gale force winds and shoved through every inch of Kyle’s sinewy body.
But Kyle ignored his increasingly precarious situation as best he could, stumped out his cigarette, put on his reading glasses and started cutting into the red, thick muscle of the buck on the counter as he carefully carved out his supper. Even when the howling outside reached a deafening pitch he refused to let it distract him from the task at hand. He hummed a tuneless dirge to the comforting throb of the backup generator, barely audible over the din beyond the confines of the cave. By the time he’d loosed a hunk of meat from the deer’s flank the winds were already subsiding. The corner of his mouth crooked into a smirk.
“Not this time,” he declared to his old adversary, but the Almighty didn’t offer him the satisfaction of a response, and he felt slightly foolish for saying it aloud.
A sharp rap at the door interrupted that train of thought and he wondered who was dumb enough to venture out in this weather.
“Come in,” he grumbled, and whoever-it-was tried to open the door but only succeeded in making a banging racket as the knob was tugged in six consecutive, rapid-fire attempts. Kyle rolled his chair across the floor and twisted the roughhewn wooden latch, freeing the door to creak open. A few seconds ticked off the clock before Purvis’s pockmarked nose pushed through, followed by Purvis, who looked flustered. Beyond him, Kyle noticed that the tree line that was there when he came in this morning had been flattened. He smirked again, but this time he didn’t say anything.
“Jeez God, you see what it done out here?”
Kyle shrugged, then cocked his left eyebrow. “What the hell you doing wandering around in it, then? You don’t got any more sense ‘n a billy goat with a brain tumor. Less even.”
“I got news.”
“It couldn’t wait another hour?”
“It ain’t the kinda news to wait.”
“Well go on and tell it.”
“It’s about your boy.”
Kyle shifted in his chair a little. He removed the pack of cigarettes from the sleeve on his bicep, took one out and let it dangle from his lips for a second before lighting it.
“He’s on his way.”