Arkie Baker was a bully, even in grade school; Wonnie Robbins was his chief target. Through grade school, high school, and into the steaming jungles of Southeast Asia their hatred of each other grew and grew until it was ready to explode. Wonnie had been beaten so many times by Arkie, that he planned to kill him. However, Wonnie's plans seldom went as he wanted them to go. This tale takes a long wild ride, with more twists and turns than the Norfolk Southern Railway that winds its way through this small southern town. Be amazed and spellbound as you look into the thoughts of these two characters, in the final days before the dramatic and surprising conclusion.
Chuck Buckner's Storefront
Cowards die many times before their deaths;
the valiant never taste of death but once.
The Courthouse Square
Wonnie Robbins sat in his old truck. He was parked on the north side of the courthouse square, waiting, uneasily; he kept asking himself if he really wanted to go through with this.
The square was practically deserted now except for a few workers from the courthouse making their way to their vehicles. It would probably be a couple of hours or so before the teenagers, who hung out around the square almost every night, started to show up. Wonnie had timed his visit so that he could finish his business inside the courthouse and then wait here to finish his other business. He planned to be back in the mountains before dark.
The Norfolk Southern rumbled its way around Snag Hollow Ridge and the Briar Fork Creek crossing. The sound of the train whistle traveled loud and clear through the cool autumn air. The train rumbled on and crossed Elm Street.
One driving south to north along Elm street would pass along the west side of the square before coming to the train crossing about a block away, then would enter the mostly black, north side of town. The tracks had effectively divided this town for a long time.
Wonnie’s mind wondered as he listened to the train going through town.
He half-way hoped that Arkie Baker won’t show up at all, but he knew that he would. Arkie Baker always showed up when he was in town—or anywhere else for that matter— except for up in the mountains. Arkie Baker would never try to find him in the mountains. Wonnie knew every tree, every rock and every hiding place in the woods there. Wonnie laid his right hand on the jacket lying on the seat. He felt the pistol under it. The gun was loaded, safety off, ready to be used. After today, Arkie Baker would never bother him again. Arkie Baker would be dead.
“Yeah, I know all that, Walker. I know all about it.”
“Well, you best keep in mind what I’m saying or you’ll be like the mouse who let the cat come into his safe hiding place and then killed the cat.”
“Don’t go changing my story around. No mouse ever killed a cat.”
“Wonnie Robbins ain’t no mouse, at least once he gets up there in his territory. He’s like an animal. You go up there in his territory, you’re at a disadvantage before you start.”
“I’m going up there, Walker Simms,” Arkie replied as he walked away. “ You just make sure you don’t tell nobody.”
“I won’t tell a soul, Arkie Baker, but I’m not scared of you, you old school ground bully,” he replied.
Arkie stopped suddenly and turned back around.
“Well, you should be my friend, you should be.”
“I ain’t and I ain’t Wonnie Robbins either. You start beating on me and I have a ball peen hammer right here in my left hand that I’ve been holding ever since you drove up.”
Arkie started laughing.
“If you ain’t afraid, then why do you need a hammer, Walker?”