After posting the first part of The Sacrifice I got quite a few comments and suggestions, but I’m going to post the second part anyway. (By the way, some of your suggestions are physical impossibilities. I blame it on our educational system. Don’t they teach basic human anatomy anymore?) So here is part two, an encore presentation. I hope you enjoy it or at least tolerate it until I can think of something else to post.
THE SACRIFICE (PART TWO)
The big guy had something in his hands. He walked over and handed it to White-stripes–it was a chicken. She held it down on the flat rock, and the bald guy came over, raised the sword and lopped off its head.
“I know what this is,” Buckner whispered. “This is a rich folks’ chicken-picker.”
“I don’t think so,” I whispered back. I was pretty sure a bunch of people wouldn’t come clear out in the middle of nowhere just to dress out some chickens.
“It has to be,” Buckner insisted. “These rich folks don’t have any old clothes to wear so they don’t wear nothing.”
“You would think they could afford to buy some overalls,” I said.
Buckner shrugged. “Their way’s a lot friendlier.”
If these people were just cleaning chickens, they sure enjoyed it. As soon as Baldy lopped off the chicken’s head, they started carrying on something fierce, singing and dancing, even louder than before.
Baldy suddenly raised his arms over his head and pointed at the barn again. Everyone quieted down. After a moment out came Leathermask and this time he’s dragging this thin blond girl. She had on a black leather skirt and one of those blue silky things that looks like underwear, but is supposed to be worn out where everyone can see it.
“She’s beautiful,” Buckner whispered. His eyes were bugged out of his head and his mouth hung open, sort of the way he looked at Mary McCutcheon when she wore her tight pink t-shirt. It reminded me of a toad that’s been run over by a truck, except not nearly as attractive.
The underwear lady cried and struggled against the guy in the mask, but he dragged her out into the middle of the circle where Baldy and the fat lady were. The three of them set upon her and tore off her clothes until she was standing there as naked as the rest of them.
I looked at Buckner again, and I couldn’t believe his eyes could open that wide without his eyeballs falling out.
Leathermask and White-Stripes spread-eagled the underwear lady on the flat rock. Baldy came over and raised the sword over his head and started with his Beelzebub stuff again.
All of a sudden, I’m positive this isn’t a chicken-picker. I start to see where the underwear lady and that chicken could have a lot in common in the next few minutes. I look at how big Leathermask is and how long and sharp the sword looks glinting in the fire light, and I think that this might be a good time for Buckner and me to go find someplace else to get help. I turned to tell Buckner that exact thing, but he isn’t standing beside me anymore.
Now Buckner’s never been much of a hero. I’m not saying he’s a coward. It’s just that more than once I’ve seen him run out the back door when he knew someone was waiting for him out the front door. I guess seeing how many people could beat him up has never been one of his top priorities. So I was shocked when I looked back at the circle and saw Buckner push the masked guy down and grab the underwear lady and shove her behind him.
Everyone in the circle, White-stripes and the big guy looked surprised. Baldy lost his puffer for a moment, and then suddenly his face lit up. He winked at Buckner and started strutting around again.
“You dare to defy the children of Beelzebub,” he said holding the sword up over his head. He turned toward the people in the circle. “Children of darkness, we have an infidel among us. What should we do with him? What is your judgment?”
Everyone in the circle looked at each other, the bald guy, the underwear lady and Buckner, but no one said anything. They were really quiet as the fire popped and hissed at them in the night.
“What shall we do with him?” the bald guy repeated.
Again, nothing but silence from the circle.
The bald guy walked over to White-stripes and whispered something to her. She whispered back and her face lit up.
“Kill him!” she shouted. “Kill the infidel.”
Pretty soon, one at a time, the whole circle started yelling, “Kill him! Kill the infidel!” until everyone was yelling it.
They started singing and jumping around again, circling Buckner and the underwear lady and making the circle smaller and smaller.
Now I don’t know if it was because Buckner had the keys to the truck that had all my stuff locked in it, or because Buckner’s the only fishing partner I’ve ever had who would clean all the fish no matter who’d caught the most. Maybe it was just that crazy is contagious, and there was so much of it going around, I caught a good dose. Anyway, the next thing I know I’m in the middle of the circle beside Buckner with the underwear lady behind us and the circle getting closer and closer all the time.
“Okay, now you’re just getting ridiculous,” Baldy said shaking his head.
“See how ridiculous this is,” Buckner said and grabbed a log out of the fire and held it out in front of him like a flaming Louisville slugger.
I looked for a log, too, but the only ones left were really little or burnt clear to the end so you couldn’t hold them. Then I remembered my pocket knife. I pulled it out and opened it, holding it out in front of me like I was some street tough from Westside Story, even though I can’t sing or dance.
“Hey, watch it with that knife,” Baldy said. “You could hurt someone.”
I looked at the puny three-inch blade on my knife and compared it to the huge blade on his sword.
“We’re going to hurt a lot of people if you try to touch this girl again,” Buckner said.
The bald guy and the man in the mask stepped toward us. Buckner cranked the log over his shoulder and prepared to hit a home run.
Both of them jumped back and I could tell they were starting to get riled up.
“Okay, the Baldy whispered, “enough is enough. Give us the girl.”
“All you’re getting from me is about three feet of wood,” Buckner said with the log still cranked back. He stepped toward them.
They jumped back again, and I could tell their riled-up had turned into anger.
“Listen,” the bald guy said as stern as a minister talking to the church’s worse sinner, “either you give us the girl right now, or you won’t be invited to the next sacrifice.”
“We weren’t invited to this one,” Buckner said.
“You weren’t?” the bald guy asked sounding confused. His face suddenly went blank.
“No,” I answered. “Our truck broke down a few miles back and we were hoping to get some help, but now…”
“You mean you’re not a member of the coven?” Baldy asked. His eyes were wide now.
“We’re not even members of the Elks,” Buckner said. “And I’m not sure we want to be if they act anything like you folks.”
All of a sudden Baldy, White-stripes and the man in the mask started rushing around gathering up their robes and putting them on. They were beet-faced and sucked up with their heads down, kind of looking like a bunch of little kids who just got caught playing show-and-tell in the bedroom.
I looked out at the circle and those folks were all getting dressed, too. They stood just outside the circle of light milling around nervously. Buckner and I stood there with him holding the log and me holding my knife while everyone else covered themselves and talked to each other in nervous whispers.
After a little bit, the bald guy dropped the sword and walked over to us with a big smile on his face.
“We weren’t going to hurt the girl,” he said. “We were just…acting.”
“Well you did a good job,” Buckner said with the club still at the ready. “It convinced me.”
“Listen,” Baldy said and started to step forward as if he was going to put his hand on Buckner’s shoulder.
Buckner wasn’t having any part of it. He swung the club and just missed the guy’s head by a fly’s hair.
Baldy jumped back sputtering. “For heaven’s sake, Tabitha!” he screamed. “Tell these men we weren’t going to hurt you!”
Buckner and I glanced behind us at the underwear lady. She stood by the fire slouched over trying to cover herself with what was left of her underwear-that-wasn’t-underwear.
“They weren’t going to hurt me,” she said in this meek little voice. “It’s just a game we play. We girls take turns…being…the…virgin…and…” Her voice trailed off to nothing. She looked flustered, and picked up the rest of her clothes and hurried out into the darkness where the rest of them were hiding.
Buckner looked at me like he’d just seen a cow give birth to a dinosaur. He looked at the spot where the underwear lady had been standing then at the bald guy. He let the chunk of wood drop to the ground.
“Well now,” the bald guy said smiling broadly. “You said something about your truck breaking down?”
“Right,” I said because it didn’t look like Buckner could talk. “It’s just up the road a piece.”
“Hey Mel,” Baldy said. “You own a couple car dealerships. Do you think you know enough about trucks to help these gentlemen out?”
About an hour later, Mel, the man with the mask without the mask now, pulled his head out from under the hood of Buckner’s pickup.
“Okay, give it a try,” he said.
Buckner turned the key and the truck was resurrected from the dead as the engine roared to life.
“That should do it,” Mel said. “Remember it’s not fixed permanently, but it should do until you can get it somewhere where they have the tools and parts to fix it right,”
“Thanks,” I said extending my hand out to Mel.
He wiped his greasy hand on his silk suit pants and shook it.
“Don’t mention it,” he said smiling. “It’s been a long time since I’ve done any engine work. I enjoyed it.”
Buckner got out of the truck and came around the front where Mel, Baldy and I were standing. He looked at them as if they were alien creatures who had come from the planet Greevyak just to help us out–appreciative but afraid eventually we’d be strapped down with them shoving instruments up our nether regions.
“Thanks again,” I said.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay for the post-sacrifice banquet?” the bald guy asked.
“We appreciate the offer,” I said, “but we want to get to the lake by daylight.”
Baldy nodded and then lowered his voice to a whisper. “You know we would really appreciate it if you didn’t mention this to anyone. It could be rather embarrassing if anyone knew we were out here…playing, especially for the judge and senator.”
“Don’t worry,” I said, not bothering to tell him with all the excitement and naked bodies jumping around I hadn’t bothered to look at any faces. “We won’t say anything.”
He seemed pleased and we shook hands all around again.
We were down the road a few miles before Buckner finally said something.
“You think they were going to hurt that lady?” he asked.
“Naw, they were just play-acting like they said.”
“Then how come they got so embarrassed when they found out we weren’t with them?”
“Well,” I said slowly, “you know how there’s some things that don’t seem so dumb when you’re doing them by yourself, but as soon as someone else sees you doing them, you suddenly realize how dumb they are?”
“You mean like picking your nose?”
“Exactly. See we caught these rich folks picking their noses. Now hurry up so we can get to the lake before daylight.”