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When These Mountains Burn by David Joy

When These Mountains Burn by David Joy

Author:David Joy [Joy, David]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780525536888
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2020-08-18T00:00:00+00:00


TWENTY-TWO

On flat ground the Suzuki topped out around forty miles per hour, but downhill a man could really get moving. Denny’s hair whipped wildly from the back of his helmet and the smell of smoke in the air made him believe he was just shy of catching fire, everything burning off as the headlight sailed down the mountain like a comet.

When he’d made up his mind, he hid the scooter in a stand of sumac off Whitewater Drive. He’d driven by the Exxon four times, scoping the place out. The plan was to hit the gas station, tear off through the woods, and be back to the Suzuki in under a minute. The sound of the river would conceal the motor’s high-pitched whine. He’d shoot down Whitewater, hang a left by the bear zoo, and slip off for the island park. There was a big grove of bamboo where he could hide for an hour till things calmed down before making his way up Big Cove.

A bell rang on the back side of the door when he entered. There was an old white woman working the register. She lifted her head and pushed her glasses up her nose with the tip of her finger. She sized him up, then turned back to the crossword puzzle spread on the counter. It was still a few weeks shy of Thanksgiving but there was Christmas music playing from the ceiling. The old woman was humming “Silent Night” in that beautiful vibrato tone that only old people seemed capable of.

He hung an immediate left along pallets of two-for-five twelve-packs and crept past the motor oil and fuel additives, being sure to keep his back to her. Head down so the cameras couldn’t get a clear shot of his face, he turned around the end cap and made his way up the candy aisle. It had only ever come to this once before and that time he’d had a shirt that was worn so thin that the clerk could read the candy bar label through the fabric. He’d sworn it was a gun but she laughed as she dug through her purse and pulled out a key chain pepper spray and damn near melted his face off.

The knockoff Tommy T-shirt was navy blue and there wasn’t a chance in hell that old woman had passed an eye exam in decades. Denny grabbed a Snickers bar and situated it in his hand so that the shape mimicked the slide on a pistol. He slipped the rig under his shirt and started for the front of the store.

The clerk looked up from her crossword puzzle and eyed him through cloudy bifocal lenses. A cough drop ticked against the front of her teeth as she smiled and greeted him. Denny was coming forward fast and he was just about to start screaming for her to give him the money when all of a sudden the thought came over him that he just might scare her to death, that he might honest to God make that woman have a heart attack and stroke out right there on the floor.



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