At 5 A.M. the Preacher Johnson was on his way to the mountain top. It was a trip he made once a month to revitalize his soul. At least that is what he told his congregation. He always left while it was still dark so he could make sure he was not followed and he always stopped by Mack and Julie’s house to pick up Julie to help him revitalize his soul. He thought about Julie and the revitalization project and also about their prayer meeting the night before.
When the preacher pulled out of his driveway Mack was just arriving at his house. Mack knew Julie was going to be mad as hell because of the time, but he would just have to bear her wrath. He had enjoyed the poker game and for a change he won a little money. If she didn't like it she would just have to deal with it. He was actually feeling good about himself. She could bitch all she wanted to. He just wouldn't listen.
Mack was right. Julie was mad as hell. In fact she was downright pissed. She had left her prayer meeting with the preacher before she had been completely revitalized. She had left just so she could beat Mack home so that he wouldn't be suspicious about her and the preacher. Actually, she knew Mack was already suspicious but she didn't want him to be sure.
As long as it was just a suspicion she could always deny it and then accuse him of some indiscretion. Mack’s backbone was made of mush and she knew he would always lower his eyes and back down. She had wished him dead on more than one occasion and twice she had even planned a way to kill him but she had never found the courage to follow up with her plan.
Julie knew she shouldn't have let Mack go to that stupid poker game but if she hadn't she wouldn't have been able to sneak over to the church. Julie was mad because she had left when the preacher was begging her to stay for just one more sermon. She wanted to stay but she had come home to be with Mack. She had even considered letting Mack try to put out the fire that the preacher had started…and left burning…but not now…maybe not ever. Besides she didn't really need Mack.
Tomorrow was the prayer meeting on the mountain top with the preacher. That is, if she stayed awake. That thought made her even madder at Mack. She planned to be wide awake when he came home. Julie made a pot of coffee and paced the floor practicing all the names she was going to call him.
Mack tried to sneak in the house and not wake her up. He felt like a real fool when he opened the door with his shoes in his hand and she was standing there with a cup of coffee waiting for him.
She threw the cup, coffee and all, at Mack’s head and would have hit him right between the eyes if he hadn't been able to duck. But the coffee got him. It fell from the cup and cascaded down his neck and back. The cup bounced off the wall.
“For god’s sake Julie, you could have killed me,” he said.
“That would have been perfect. Then I wouldn't have to wait up all night for you to come home from your drunken binges,” she screamed at him.
“I’m not drunk.”
“Sure, you smell like a damned gin mill and you expect me to believe you’re not drunk?”
“I had three beers all night long. You know I don’t get drunk when I play poker”
“You might be right because I know how goddamned cheap you are. I’ll bet you save all your money for some whore down at the local bar. I sure as hell don’t see much of it.”
Thinking about the money made her even angrier. That was why she married him…for his money and he was so damned tight that she never got the things she wanted.
Mack made the mistake of trying to apologize and tell her how much he loved her. He even found the courage to kiss her on the cheek and fondle one of her breasts hoping they could make up in the bedroom.
Julie slapped him and accused him of being down at the strip bar and then wanting to come home to get laid. Her face was red and her eyes were bulging as she screamed in his face about his drinking and whoring and gambling and then the rooster out in the barnyard made the mistake of doing what it did every morning. It crowed.
The rooster crowing wasn't new. It crowed that morning just like it had every other morning and just like every other morning it really pissed Julie off. Its damned crowing had always pissed her off but on that morning she was already pissed at Mack and she was right in the middle of bitching Mack out.
When the rooster began his morning ritual Julie blew up and momentarily forgot about Mack. She screamed that she might not be able to kill Mack but she sure as hell could kill that goddamned lousy bird.
For awhile Mack was thankful as hell for the rooster. Crow baby crow, Mack prayed and the rooster did exactly what Mack had prayed for.
Julie went off on the rooster just like she had been screaming at Mack. She raised the window and screamed at the crowing rooster just as if the bird had any idea what she was screaming about.
That poor dumb bird probably thought she was thanking him for waking her up.
"I am so sick of that goddamned rooster," she screamed. "This is the last time that lousy son of a bitch is going to interrupt me or wake me up."
She flew out the door. Mack went after her. Now he was feeling guilty for wanting the rooster to take the brunt of Julie’s wrath instead of him. The way she treated him was one thing but not the rooster. He liked the rooster and he wasn’t going to let her harm it.
Julie headed for the shed, grabbed a hatchet and took out after the poor rooster with Mack right on her heels pleading for the rooster’s life. She screamed at Mack to keep the damn hell out of her way because that damn rooster had pissed her off for the last time.
At first the rooster continued his crowing because that’s what he was supposed to do. But, the rooster wasn't stupid. He could see the crazy woman running at him with a hatchet. He had seen that woman with a hatchet before and he had watched as she severed the heads of the hens with that hatchet. He had watched as the hens flopped around the yard spewing blood from where their heads had once been.
He took off running with his wings flapping and squawking as loud as he could as if he was pleading for help or mercy or whatever roosters plead for when they are scared. Julie was in hot pursuit of the rooster, screaming every foul word she had ever heard and some that she had made up just for the occasion.
Mack was right on her heels trying to grab the hatchet but the woman would have none of his peace making. She stopped just long enough to threaten Mack’s life with the hatchet and then continued after the rooster. Mack gave in like he always had done and just watched, hoping somehow the rooster would get away.
She finally cornered the squawking rooster and as he tried to scoot passed her, she grabbed him by a wing. Mack screamed at her to stop but she wasn't about to listen to him. She grabbed the poor rooster by both feet and no matter how hard he struggled he couldn't get away. He wore himself out flapping his wings and squawking and finally resigned himself to his fate and just relaxed and waited for the hatchet to relieve him of his head.
Mack just couldn't let her kill him. If he let her cut the rooster's head off it would have been like letting her finish his own castration. Somehow from somewhere Mack found the courage to try to save the rooster. He grabbed her arm just as she swung the hatchet.
Preacher Johnson had just pulled up to the front of Mack and Julie’s house. He was disappointed to see Mack’s car in the driveway. Well, he thought, he would just invite them both to pray on the mountain top and that way Mack wouldn’t be suspicious about what he and Julie actually did at the meetings. If he was lucky Mack would refuse to go and if he was even luckier, Mack would approve of Julie getting saved on the mountain top.
Unfortunately for the preacher, he heard the poor rooster squawking and went around to the back yard to see what all the commotion was about. He arrived just in time for the hatchet to relieve him of his pulpit.
When Mack grabbed Julie’s arm the hatchet slipped from her hand and flew across the yard and hit Preacher Johnson right between the eyes. He didn’t even see it coming.
Instead of cutting the poor rooster’s head off, the hatchet split the preacher’s forehead right in the middle. No Indian’s tomahawk could have done a better job.
The preacher actually seemed to fly backwards for a few feet before his body hit the ground with a soft ‘whump’. He never uttered a sound.
Julie let the poor scared rooster loose and screamed at Mack, "Now see what you've done."
"Me?" Mack gasped. "I was only trying to stop you from killing the rooster and now you’ve killed the preacher instead."
"It was your fault. You grabbed my arm. If you had let me kill that lousy ball of feathers, I could be cooking it for the preacher right now. Do you think he is dead?"
"I don't know of many that have lived with a hatchet buried two inches deep between their eyes."
"What are we going to do?"
"Call the doctor and then the sheriff."
"No, don’t call them yet. We need to think about this."
"What's there to think about? If he ain't dead now, he soon will be."
"How do you know if someone is dead?"
"I don't know. Check his pulse, I guess."
The preacher lay flat on his back with his arms stretched out like he had been nailed to a cross. His legs were spread apart in a V formation. His blue eyes were wide open with a look of utter surprise.
When Mack knelt down beside the preacher he had the urge to grab the hatchet and split his crotch open too but he knew he would never find the courage to do that. His wife had castrated him a long time ago.
Mack felt for the preacher's pulse and found none. Mack had never really liked the preacher and felt no sorrow because of his death.
It serves the pious bastard right, Mack thought.
He wondered if the preacher and Julie ever…but he dismissed that thought because he always dismissed it…even though he was sure it was true.
"Is he really dead?" He heard Julie saying.
"Yes, we better call the sheriff," he muttered.
"No, I'll be arrested."
"They're not going to arrest you. It was an accident. They’ll understand that."
"You don’t know that for sure. The sheriff may not believe it was an accident. Let's wait and talk this over. Maybe we can hide him and no one will ever know”.
“That would be stupid. He’s bound to have told someone he was coming out here.”
“We have to call the sheriff.”
Mack wanted to call the sheriff for two reasons. First, it was the right thing to do and second, he wanted his wife to be arrested. But, he knew that if his wife didn't want to call the sheriff, they wouldn't call the sheriff.
For a few seconds he actually thought he was going to muster the guts to defy her but that didn’t happen. He made one more feeble attempt to reason with her.
“Let’s just call the sheriff and take our chances,” he whimpered.
“Our chances, you mean my chances, don’t you? Well that’s not going to happen. We are going to get rid of him.”
"Oh sure, we’ll just get rid of him and just where will that be? What about his car? What are we going to do with his car?”
"We're going to get rid of him and the car. Get his car keys,” Julie smiled.
Mack searched the preacher’s pockets for the keys. While he was going through the preacher's pockets Julie was thinking and scheming. She already knew what they had to do. She just had to work out a few details.
“Go get the car and bring it back here,” she ordered.
Mack groaned, “I don’t like this.”
"Just do what you’re told,” she growled back.
“Maybe we should call the sheriff and I can blame this whole mess on you. I’ll bet I could convince him that you’re the one that split the preacher’s head open. If you don’t get his car right now, that is exactly what I’m going to do.”
Mack knew he was completely defeated. He went for the car.
Julie quickly recovered from the Preacher’s unfortunate accident. She stared at the preacher's face while Mack was getting his car. He still had the hatchet stuck in his face. She thought about the times they had been together and wondered if Mack suspected or even knew that she and the preacher had been lovers.
The rooster crowed from the far side of the yard.
She looked at the rooster and screamed at him, "Don't think that I'm not going to cut your goddamned rotten head off. I'll get back to you when I've taken care of the preacher."
When Mack returned with the preacher’s car, she ordered him to pull the stupid hatchet out of the preacher' face and put him in the car. Mack had no idea what she was up to. He pulled the hatchet from the preacher’s face and was surprised that blood didn’t gush out all over the ground. The wound hardly bled.
"Dam, I hope you know what you’re doing,” he whimpered
"Shut up and put him in the car," she ordered
"Behind the wheel?"
"No, you idiot, do you think a dead man is going to drive a car? Put him on the other side and you drive."
“Me drive? Where?
“Just follow along behind me."
Mack was concerned about being seen driving the preacher's car but Julie told him to be quiet. Julie figured if someone did see Mack she could pin the whole thing on him. She got in her car and drove towards the canyon.
Mack followed along behind with the preacher riding beside him. Except for the big gash between his eyes, the preacher looked as if he were enjoying the canyon scenery.
Mack had put him in the car straight up with his head against the head rest and then buckled him in with the seat belt. He wasn’t sure why he buckled him in, he just did. Mack looked at him all buckled in and had to laugh. Mack felt powerful.
He poked the preacher with his elbow and said, “I buckled you in so you won’t get hurt if we have an accident. See preacher, now I’m looking after you. That’s okay; you don’t need to thank me.”
Just then the car hit a bump and the preacher’s head rolled to the side and his eyes looked directly at Mack. His eyes and mouth were still wide open and so was his forehead where Mack had removed the hatchet. For an instant, Mack thought the preacher was going to say something. He shuddered and looked away.
As they drove towards the canyon, Mack began to figure out what Julie was up to. Or, at least, he had a good guess. They could just push the preacher and his car over a cliff and everyone would think that he was killed in the accident.
That is exactly what Julie was thinking, except she had an added scenario to the plot. She was going to make sure that Mack was in the car with the preacher. Then, no one would ever know that she had killed the preacher and she would get all of Mack’s money. It was a no brainer. It was perfect
When they reached the spot Julie had chosen, she had Mack drive the preacher’s car right up to the edge of the cliff and then move the preacher’s body behind the steering wheel.
While Mack was moving the preacher, she took the tire iron from her car. Her plan was simple. She would whack poor Mack on the back of the head and send him to the bottom of the canyon with the preacher. She would be free of both the preacher and Mack.
That evening, she would call the sheriff and tell him that the preacher and Mack had gone to the top of the mountain to pray and that she was concerned because they hadn't returned home yet.
After Mack put the preacher behind the steering wheel he walked around to the other side of the car to close the door. As he walked passed Julie, she swung at him but her luck with the tire iron was no better than her luck with the hatchet and the rooster.
Mack slipped on some loose gravel just as Julie swung. Julie missed Mack’s head and lost her balance.
Like the rooster, Mack figured out what his wife had in store for him. But unlike the rooster, he didn’t run. Julie quickly recovered and swung at him again but Mack grabbed her arm and punched her. She went out like a light and fell to the ground. Mack looked at her and smiled. He knew exactly what he was going to do.
Mack enjoyed the afternoon rocking on his front porch. He wondered how soon he should call the sheriff to report his wife and the preacher missing.
gs batty/July 2013