Spanish moss made the cypress trees look like bearded old men - ancient guardians of the brackish water below. Rippling currents, dark and sinister beneath the low hanging branches, betrayed the presence of a turtle, or maybe a crocodile. I was thinking Black Bayou was well named.
“Say, Butters,” Sal leaned back and pushed his felt hat off his forehead revealing streaks of greasy black hair. “You figurin’ we’re better off ‘ere? I don’ think I likes da look a’ dis place no better dan de cops we was runnin’ from back d’ere in N’awlins.”
Butterfingers McNally, the leader, turned to grimace at Sal.
“Sally, you don’ like it ‘ere, get out a da boat an walk back to N’awlins why don’ ya?.”
I kept my mouth shut and watched the ripples following our boat. I glanced at Jimmy and he shifted his eyes toward the bank to our left. I turned my head as casually as I dared and almost embarrassed myself when I saw the six-footer with jaws that could snap a man into two pieces.
“Hey kid, what ya’ lookin’ at?” Sal evidently caught my gaze and looked too. “Yikes! Butters! Look ova’ there! Look at the teeth on that Granddad!”
Butters looked over too and pulled out a shiny black Colt 45. I’d seen those in movies. Back at the bank was the first time I ever saw one for real. I cringed away. That was a bad move.
Butters grinned at me. “Wha’s a matter kid? You scared a’ me? Maybe I oughter jus feed ya’ to dat fella’ over there.”
“Yeah,” Sal chimed in, “Maybe we oughter. Den maybe it’d pay no attention ta us.”
“Lord Jesus, I sure wish I could walk on water like you." I prayed silently. "I know, if I just had a little more faith.” I was pretty sure Butters and Sal wouldn’t take well to religion.
I thought of the little black Bible in my pocket. When Butters and Sal nabbed me and Jimmy as they made their get-away from the last bank they robbed in New Orleans, they hadn’t discovered it.
“Jesus!” Jimmy breathed. He looked like he might throw up.
“Hey, why don’t we t’row da both a ya’ in?” Butters was having some fun now with our fear.
“Yeah, Butters, whyn’t we do dat? See what dat ‘Jesus’ ‘l do for em!” He reached for Jimmy, grabbing him by his denim jacket. Jimmy pulled away and that’s when things started happening real fast.
The little boat rocked precipitously. Granddad with the razor jaws and leather hide slid off the bank into the water. Don’t forget, there was a ripple of something following the boat already.
Butters shouted at Sal to let Jimmy go. “We don’ need no murder rap on us, Sal!”
Something bumped the boat. Butters swore and swung around to see where Granddad had gone. Not seeing the six-foot crocodile, he started shooting into the water.
Sal still had hold of Jimmy, hanging on for dear life as the boat tipped a little more perilously. There was another bump.
Zing! Bullets were flying. I never saw Butters reload. I was busy hanging onto the boat with one hand and onto Jimmy with the other.
Something bumped the boat hard.
“B-Butters, m-maybe ya oughter stop shootin’…”
“Lord Jesus, help us!” I prayed aloud. Sal just nodded vigorously – religion was looking real good to him right now it seemed.
“You shut up with that Jesus…” Butters' gun hand came up quick in my direction. The Colt flew out of his grasp and into the water. The black metal vanished immediately into Black Bayou.
“Jeez! My gun!” Forgetting about Granddad, Butters leaned over the side of the boat and reached into the water.
At the same moment, Granddad or his friend bumped the boat from the other side. Up and over it went. Sal screamed. Butters swore. I grabbed Jimmy and did my best to push back on the bottom of the boat with my feet trying to right it again.
The boat fell back and Jimmy and I landed in the bottom of it.
The wind was knocked out of me and I couldn’t be real sure, but I’d almost swear I saw Sal and Butters running right on top of the water toward the shore. Granddad was following behind pretty fast. I heard Sal crying out “Jesus!”
We heard sirens somewhere nearby.
I chuckled. “Looks like Sal and Butters might get some bayou justice.”
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