an online showcase curated by Maya Kóvskaya


by Drew Buxton



Shawn’s cousin Tyler stood on the side step of the gorgeous Chevy Z71 truck with his prickly-pear grin on his face, waving a handle of Johnny Walker. “Y’all motherfuckers ready?” he asked and jumped down. He was always asking if motherfuckers were ready like we’d ever not been ready. We poured out half of the Dr. Peppers we picked up at Whataburger on the way and topped them off. It was 50/50 or you were a pussy.

“I got something you ain’t ready for, motherfucker,” I said and handed Tyler an eighth of dro. “Silver Shark, one-hit-quit stuff.” It was the same weed I sold him a couple weeks before, but I’d called it “white shark” then and “napalm” (“some Vietnam jungle dank”) before that. Good weed, not great. “Wait ‘til we get back to the ranch,” I said and Tyler’s big teeth pressed on his chin, and he gave me three 20s and a 10. I would’ve sold the same eighth to a Mexican for $55, but most Reagan kids didn’t really hear when I told them how much; they just handed it over whatever it was. Tyler had on a short-sleeve checker pearl-snap, almost-white blue wranglers, and gators on his feet.

Shawn popped the trunk of his Mustang Cobra and smiled at Tyler, and Tyler smiled back because he already knew what it was. He hurried over and lifted it, and lying uncovered between two 15-inch speakers was a brand new AK-47. I’d rode with Shawn into the city to the gun show earlier to get it. Tyler giggled and wiped his palms on his jeans and picked it up and mimed shooting from the hip. “Turns out banana clips are illegal, so I gotta use a straight-10 ‘til I can find one,” Shawn said. I took it and looked through the sight and made guttural sounds. I’d never shot an assault rifle before. “They’re great for hunting hogs,” Shawn said.

“So are mortar shells,” I said and they laughed.

We kept messing with it, and Shawn got bored and started climbing this big oak and like nothing he was on the big branch hanging over us. “Ima jump in the bed,” he said and got in a crouch. Tyler counted nine steps to the truck, and the branch was a good 10 feet up. Shawn sprang forward and cleared the lip with six inches to spare, his boots thudding on the bed-liner. He was a freak—6’4, 200lbs and fast. He was All-District at Reagan even though he didn’t care about football. He loved hunting and mudding and climbing things that didn’t seem like anyone could.

I had to step up on the back tire and use the open door to pull myself into the back of the Chevy. It had a 10-inch suspension and 44-inch off-road BF Goodrich tires with jutting tread. The AC blew ice cold, and Tyler’d just got the 4x4 fixed. I picked up the pistol grip NightBeam spotlight and pointed it at Shawn’s face. “Better not,” Shawn said and motioned to the rifle in his lap.

“Alright, calm down… Osama,” I said.

“Death to Amer-ree-cah!” Shawn yelled in a cartoon Mexican accent and cocked the rifle. He stuck it out the window and emptied the 10-round mag. It was quieter than I expected, nothing like my daddy’s 12-gauge. “Oh no, this ain’t gonna work. I’ma have to get that 100-shot banana clip like a goddamn insurgent,” Shawn said, and Tyler tore out. They were always seeing who could do the most kicker things. It’d been four years since they came to San Antonio from Nacogdoches, East Texas, but they were still pretty raw.

It’d rained that morning and Devil’s Den was slick, the pits half full of water. Tyler built up speed on the flat edges along the tree-line and yanked the wheel, and we dove down a steep pit and it got dark, then the Chevy bucked up and the wipers cleared the windshield, and we were above ground again, and there was the sky and trees again. Tyler sat on the edge of his seat and jerked the wheel back and forth like he wasn’t actually driving, like a toddler in the front seat with a plastic wheel, grinning and grinning.

“Y’all ain’t ready for the Death Bowl!” he said and sped up. Pretty sure he’d just made up “death bowl.” We went down and mud smacked against the window, and the truck stalled for a second, and Tyler put his teeth back in his mouth. The water almost settled in front of them, but he cut the wheel all the way right then left and we were out.

Six stars lit up in the high beams. Six stars meant three deer—three whitetail does 50 yards or so away, by the back park entrance. Tyler told me to hit the middle one with the NightBeam, and I rolled down the window and blasted two million candlepower into its dumb deer head, and the other two took off into the park through the two-car-wide opening in the chain-link fence. Shawn reloaded the magazine and set the rifle on the side mirror. We had to get close. We crept forward and avoided dips. Shawn cocked the AK.

“Nah, put that down. I’m gonna run her over,” Tyler said.

“You’re gonna mess up your front,” Shawn said.

“Nah, you just gotta accelerate through them, and they suck right under.” This hick. I felt glad to be in the back. I kept the beam on her face, and we got within 15 yards, but a front tire crunched over a patch of gravel, and her ear flapped and she went.
Tyler gunned it and pushed a button and the side mirrors folded in, and I rolled up my window, and we were on a rough hiking trail, barely wide enough for the Chevy. Dry branches raked the sides and broke off, and clumps of exposed tree root rattled the truck and my cheeks. The terrified doe kept on the trail. Deer are so dumb.

The wall of woods on the left opened up to a grassy field spotted with just-planted oaks. She weaved between them, but Tyler kept straight and the cattle grill snapped the baby trees. I wanted, badly, for the truck to take out the doe; I wanted it to suck under like Tyler’d said. I held my head between the front seats, and Shawn turned to me, giddy, like “Here we go!”

The ground switched back to mud, and a rain pond was ahead. Tyler pushed the truck, and the doe pushed her body so hard, like a leg could just fly off or if Shawn shot her she’d explode like a shook-up Coke. She wanted to get to the strip of woods on the left, but Tyler stayed on her left side and she broke right of the water. We sank into a foot of sludge, and Tyler went straight for the pond. The angle was perfect; we’d meet her as she circled back.

We hit the mud water, and the Chevy pulled up a little, but Tyler gunned it and we jolted forward but it got deep fast like we drove down a boat ramp. It was a pond pond, not a rain pond. She was getting away, and the Chevy stopped, the water up to the window. Shawn lifted the rifle and started to roll the window down, but water splashed his face, and she was gone anyway. The engine screamed like it knew it was drowning. Tyler jerked the wheel to the left and we sank a little, and he jerked it right and we sank more.

The water picked up the beauty and turned it driver’s side up, and I was pressed against the window. Water came in through the floorboard, and no one moved or said anything. The passenger side tires hit a floor—limestone—and the other side came down, and we settled upright, totally under. Water rushed through the holes in my tore up Air Force Ones. The beautiful Chevy was our tomb. I paused my hand over the door handle.

“Don’t,” Tyler said, mugging me through the rearview. Shawn was frozen, just looking at Tyler pushing down on the gas, but the engine didn’t gurgle this time or make any noise. The water was up to our knees and Tyler’s cocked brow dropped, and he couldn’t look at anyone.

“Got your phone?” I asked him for some reason.

“Yeah,” he mumbled. Shawn all of a sudden took charge and had us take our shirts off to make a pouch for our wallets and phones.

“Open doors on three,” he said and I nodded, and Tyler kept his head down but felt for his handle. Shawn held the rifle and leaned against the door like a Marine about to roll out of a Humvee. I held the pouch, three and we pulled the handles and pushed, but the water pushed back more than I expected, and I had to kick the door open with both feet. The water forced its way up my nose a little, warm as old beer, and the pouch got wet. I doggy-paddled until my feet hit the limestone. Shawn was helping Tyler get out. I tossed him the bundle, and it was calm, the Chevy roof poking just out of the dishwater. Water’s no joke; it’d felt like we were at the bottom of Medina Lake.

The weed had kept dry in the ziploc, and Shawn went back in to get the whiskey. He took out the drowned Alpine stereo too for some reason, just to show he could do it underwater, I figured.

The phones survived, and I went to give Tyler his but thought I’d wait. He sat with his Johnny Walker in one hand and his dead stereo in the other, his white jeans brown. All the things he never got to do in the beautiful Chevy. It was a death, like a stud running back who was getting all these offers but died in a crash or from drinking too much and not waking up.

The gun went off and startled us. Shawn had it pointed in the air. “That’s what’s great about AKs, they never jam even if they’re soaked,” he said.

“Shut the fuck up,” Tyler said, his white jeans brown.

It didn’t matter though. The next week he pulled up to my house in a new black Nissan 350z like goddamn batman. Turbo-charged, convertible.





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