tagIncest/TabooDown at the Twist and Shout Ch. 04

Down at the Twist and Shout Ch. 04

bybeachbum1958©

My thanks once again to my editor and mentor GrandTeton for his patience and calm determination to teach me the error of my ways; that this story still makes sense at all is due mainly to him and his own highly developed narrative skills. All characters portrayed herein are over 18 years of age.

If you liked the story, please vote or comment if you feel moved to do so, and if you didn't like it, please tell me why.

This is not a depiction of the real world, it's my story universe, so the characters do or say things differently from how you think they would in the real world, please remember that this is just a story; it's just fun, something I hope will help you while away a quiet hour or so. I hope you enjoy sharing my world with me.

beachbum1958


*****

Justine fanned herself languidly, ineffectively, as the temperature in the cab of the old blue Blazer rose steadily, even with the windows down. Their pace through the maze of tracks and dirt roads was of necessity slow, due in part to the large amount of log debris left over from Katrina, added to by Sandy, Harvey, and subsequent, less destructive, but still bothersome flooding.

Most of it was heaped by the roadside in bleached mounds, but the occasional trunk still buried in the muddy, little-used tracks by the storms' fury was enough to make Johnny mindful of his Blazer's suspension. That, and the narrow roads and sharp, unexpected turns and turn-offs that could fool even the best driver, and Johnny was still the best, at least here where he knew every twist and turn.

"How much further, Johnny-Bear?" she asked, "I'm just about melting here. What's the temperature out there, baby?"

Johnny looked at the almost-reliable binnacle-mounted air temperature gauge and grinned.

"This thing says 80 degrees, but I'd say it got to be closer 95 degrees out there; we in the swamp country now, Minou, it get real hot an' humid out here this time o' year, sometimes up high as hundred degrees in the shade. Jes' think cool thoughts, Minou, we be at Lubin's place afore long, he got real icy aircon there, even got backup generator jes' fo' th' aircon fo' when they get browned-out."

Justine slumped back in her seat, wriggling her shoulders uncomfortably at the feel of her sweat-damp T-shirt clammy and sticky against her back, but still managing to grin at her Johnny-Bear's exaggerated, bayou-boy accent.

"Just make it soon, please, otherwise you're gonna have to scrape me off this seat with a squeegee!"

Johnny laughed out loud even as he patted her thigh (her long, smooth, firm, round thigh, noted another part of his brain entirely...)

"Don' you worry Minou, we make bayou-folks outta you real soon; jes' remember, it get down to 'bout forty degrees hereabouts come winter; you be rememberin' this heat real nostalgic-like roun' 'bout then!"

Justine grinned and fanned herself some more, resigning herself to more of this wretched heat and humidity. Johnny never seemed to think in term of hours and minutes, especially when she tried to get a guesstimate of their arrival time out of him; his standard response always seemed to be 'time be time, li'l gal; we come there when we come there, don'cha-all fret now!"

The drive through endless canebrakes and barely visible tracks, lined with huge, tangled honeysuckle bushes, their sweet, heady fragrance heavy in the hot, still air lulled her somewhat, but when they passed through a large stand of Live Oaks, she thought she could hear another engine, one with a different, harsher note than the Blazer's, echoing behind them through the long, winding ranks of hardwoods. She looked inquiringly at Johnny, but he seemed oblivious, his brow wrinkled in concentration as the Blazer bucked and bounced along the uneven surface.

"Johnny, there's someone behind us!" she hissed, memories of the three armed men in New Iberia crowding in on her, but Johnny merely nodded.

"Likely so, Minou; this ain't no private road or nuthin'; prolly local folks, an' nuthin' to do with us, mos' likely 'shiners; pay no mind to them an' they do likewise; lotsa folks down thisaway got trucks an' this a useful way to 'void the ATF."

Justine fretted nervously anyway; after almost running into the people looking for them she was understandably jumpy, so kept an eye behind them, hoping to catch a glimpse of whoever was back there. The more she listened, the more certain she was that there was another truck coming up behind them, and not making any attempt at concealment, either; whoever it was, they were gunning the motor, almost like they were trying to catch up.

As she strained to see anything in the light flickering between the trees, suddenly there it was: a flash of dark orange, no more than a glimpse, but it was out of place against the lush greenery and vivid pink slashes of the bunched honeysuckle blossoms. The flash was enough to confirm that there really was someone behind them, and trying hard to catch up. She looked worriedly at Johnny, but he still seemed completely unconcerned.

"Johnny..." she murmured worriedly, but he just shook his head.

"Don' worry none, Minou; we almost there, jes' take it easy; I swear, ain't no reason to worry; you see me frettin'? Relax, Angel-May, t'ain't nuthin' to worry 'bout!"

The track eventually widened out into a dusty rural road, then met a single lane blacktop. Justine gasped at the view: endless marshy flats, as far as the eye could see, the myriad pools and sloughs shimmering in the sun as light breezes ruffled their surfaces, reflecting imperfectly the cloudless blue above them, like abstract mirrors in the endless flat greenery of the marshes.

Johnny pulled over to the side and rested his crossed arms on the wheel. His eyes were distant, far away, his whole posture one of almost complete relaxation. Justine leaned over to check him out, and he smiled at her, a small, almost wistful smile, like he was recalling something from long ago and far away.

"Johnny..." she murmured once again, twisting around to scan their back-trail, searching for another glimpse of the vehicle following them, one that she could hear clearly now, but he didn't move, just gazed at the miles of low-lying, swampy marshland and glinting pools, his eyes soft and unfocused.

"This where I grew up, Minou..." he murmured, ignoring her worried tone, "this my back yard; me, an' Big Jean, Jean-Nöel, Jean-Martin, Randy Broussard, Ofie LeGay, Mack 'n' Hoagie Doubilliér, couple others, we all come out here catfishin', sticking bullfrogs an' dippin' blue crabs, mebbe a couple mute ducks if we real sneaky-like, an' have us camp-outs, fry up a mess o' legs an' tell ghost stories. Over that way, that where ole Papa Joubert store use to be; Maw-maw Lucianne, his wife, she make the best hot cinnamon candy in Terrebonne; li'l Mel an' Odie allus come on out here with me an' eat fried legs an' candy 'til they sick, then I got to explain to Tante Amice why they so sick an' sticky an' stained-up; boy, she whup me good, but they was still good days..."

Justine watched his face as his memory unreeled, seeing the years drop away and the naughty, adorable boy Amice had told her about emerging again; her expression softened at the sight of Johnny so lost in his memories, a side of him she'd only ever seen fleeting glimpses of before.

But still that truck coming up behind them worried her; it worried her that they were out here in the middle of nowhere, alone and in the open, that they were only one jump ahead of whoever was looking for them, and that Johnny wasn't in the least bit concerned. Even as she pondered how to snap him out of it, there came the sound she'd been dreading, loud and clear: the other truck had caught up with them, and then an old but immaculate stepside painted a dusky orange, the exact same shade as a ripe persimmon, bucketed around the corner concealing them and purred to a halt right behind them.

"Johnny, JOHNNY!!" hissed Justine, punching his arm to wake him out of his reverie as the driver and passenger doors swung open. Johnny roused, looked around and behind him, and grinned.

"Stan' down, Justy; Welcome Wagon jes' 'rived!" he grinned. Justine jumped when a pretty brunette girl poked her head into the cab of the Blazer and grinned at her. An equally pretty blonde girl did the same on the driver's side, and Johnny smiled and winked at both of them.

"Hi baby-girls, you-all took your time gettin' here; I saw you back up along Bayou Blue, what you do, stop fo' li'l catfishin'?"

The blonde girl climbed up on the running-board, grabbed his head, and planted a big kiss on his cheek, then grinned happily.

"Well hello to you too, Li'l Jean! We been watchin' your back-trail last thirty mile or so, saw couple sneaky-lookin' trucks with blacked-out glass an' Noo Yawk plates gettin' theyselves lost in the cane; we stayed back a ways an' made sure they good an' lost, jus' in case, then double-back and play tag with you last twenty miles. Hi, my name Mélette," she beamed at Justine. "Jean-Bastiènne here my cousin, that my twin sister Odélie over there, this here Terrebonne Parish an' we the Welcome Wagon! You mus' be Johnny's gal we been hearin' 'bout; all the boys dyin' to meet you, watch them, some o' them kinda wild an' woodsy, they ain't been round anyplace much but they mean well. Tell you the truth, there ain't much to do here in the parish but we makes our own fun!"

Justine felt breathless just from listening to the girl rattle away nineteen to the dozen, but she smiled back when the cute little blonde grinned happily at her.

"So get yo' ass outta there, John-Boy, where your manners, ain't you-all gonna say 'hello' prop'ly?"

Johnny smiled back at her as he unclipped his seat-belt. Justine couldn't help but notice how his whole attitude had changed; now, instead of pensive and careful, he seemed almost boyish, young and happy again. The blonde girl stepped back as he swung the door open, and as he climbed out of the cab, she jumped on him, wrapping her legs around his waist as she hugged him in a neck-breaker.

"Whoa, easy there, li'l gal, you ain't no baby no more!" he grinned, staggering back under her weight.

As he staggered, Mélette turned her head and winked at Justine, who grinned at Johnny spluttering as he tried to fend off the barrage of kisses she planted on his face and neck.

"Get offa me, what wrong with you, baby-girl, I ain't been gone that long, cut it out!" he blustered, mindful of Justine sitting just five feet away, watching a very pretty girl kissing him frenziedly.

Mélette smiled at Justine and slid off him, to be replaced by Odélie, who went through the whole performance again, wrapping her legs around him and kissing him just as frenziedly.

Johnny managed to untangle himself from the little brunette and kissed both girls on top of their heads as he circled them in his arms.

"Damn, it good to see you pair 'gain!" he grinned. "Tante Amice tole me you livin' part-time down near Bayou Boeuf, got yo' own fishin' guide business, coupla pirogues an' a huntin' lodge; I might need to be borrowin' some o' that 'fore long, less'n you-all objectin'?"

Odélie hugged him and looked up into his eyes.

"Anythin' you need, jest ask; Maw-maw say you got bad trouble trailin' you, I'm guessin' it more than just them idjits we saw gittin' lost in the cane, so we dealin' ourselves in too; you know I can shoot the spots off of a zirondelle at fifty yards with papi's ole Remington, and Mel nasty good wi' that bow an' quiver o' hers; you got us along, I reckon we can make unwelcome comp'ny feel real unwelcome!"

Johnny nodded thoughtfully; what Odélie said had merit; she had a true sharpshooter's eye, and Mélette was lethally expert with her compound bow, her favorite hunting weapon; they would indeed be useful to have around. Too bad he wasn't going to allow it; bad enough he and Justine had those people after them, but to drag his baby-girls into it as well? No way, no how, not in a million years.

"Lemme introduce you proper, like, to Justine," he hedged. "She my girl, I think you like her. Wait here..."

With that, he stepped around the Blazer and popped the passenger door, steadying Justine with his hands around her slim waist as she climbed down from the cab. When the two girls saw her close up for the first time, they smiled broadly.

"Li'l Jean-Bastiènne pick a real pretty one, no mistakin'!" smiled Odélie, making Justine blush prettily.

Mélette looked closely at her, then reached out and smudged away the concealer under her eye before Justine could avoid her hand, revealing the purpled bruise underneath. Her lips tightened as she did the same on the left side of Justine's jaw, the bruising under the concealer vivid and ugly, clearly outlining the mark of a clenched fist. She spun around to look at Johnny, her eyes flashing with anger.

"What the hell this mean, boy? You do this? You gonna tell me she walk into a door, or she 'fell down', an' it was all a accident, cause if you do...!"

Justine stepped in front of Johnny, wrapping her arms around his waist even as she recoiled at the hot anger blazing in the blonde girl's eyes.

"NO! It wasn't Johnny, my Johnny's never laid a hand on me! It was my husband, ex-husband, I mean, he did this; he did it so he could steal my money, and those people after us, he owed them money, and now they say I owe it to them, and I have to...have to work it off; Johnny was defending me, he got rid of the men threatening me, and now they're after him because he tried to help me! Johnny's the most gentle man I've ever known, and he's never laid a hand on me in anger, I swear!"

Mélette looked at her for a long moment, then relaxed; she could see no lie in her eyes, she was telling the truth. Odélie gently took Justine's arm and turned her so she could look at her injuries.

"I'm thinkin' John-boy show the men who wanna harm you the error o' their ways, 'm I right?" she murmured, and smiled at the look Justine darted at Johnny.

"It OK, I know what Li'l John capable of when he get mad, I seen it once, long time ago..." she shuddered at the memory.

"I can guess what he did, but way I see it, he was defendin' his boo'sha; anythin' he did was the right thing to do, so I wouldn't go losin' no sleep over it. We get you back to Noncle Lubin's place, I reckon Tante Maigrette know how to make them bruises go down some."

Johnny looked curiously at Mélette, at her flushed face and neck.

"Why you so mad, li'l gal? Someone hurt you too?" he asked softly, his eyes hardening when she avoided his gaze. Odélie too looked away rather than meet his gaze.

"What happen? You tell me now or we ain't movin' from this spot; who did it?" he asked once more, a hard, clipped edge to his voice even as he watched both girls closely.

His voice took on a softer, menacing edge.

"I ain't gonna ast no more. Don't be no tête dur, c'est moi, ton grande frère qui demande, alor' dis-moi maint'nent; je ne t'entends pas! (don't be hard-headed, this is me, your big brother, asking, so tell me now; I can't hear you!) You gonna tell me who was it, an' whut he do to you, et co faire (and why)? Tell me!"

Justine's eyes flicked from the girls to Johnny and back, not understanding the rippling, rapid-fire Creole French, but getting what he was saying from his tone. Mélette flushed bright scarlet under her golden tan.

"It OK, Li'l John, it been taken care of, we OK, nuthin' much happen, an' it a while back anyways, let's jes' get outta here," she mumbled, then started when Johnny took her arm, gently but firmly pulling her around to look up at him.

"Whut happen, baby-girl?" he murmured.

Mélette looked up at him, her gaze level and unflinching.

"Beginnin' las' summer, me an' Odie decide we gonna go do some dancin', mebbe have a beer or two, so we ask Rafe Guillory an' Hecky Lafontaine to go with us to new place up the bayou at Belle Fourche, place called Harpoon Louie's; it was 'sposed to be a good place, clean, no road-house goin's-on, good music, but we din't wanna go there alone, like, so we asked them two along; we even took Apache, 'cos you don' go to a place like Harpoon Louie's in no farm truck. We got there, we dance with the boys, couple other boys ask us to dance, we havin' fun, and Rafe don't like it too much; he get all in there, telling me I'm his girl an' what I doin' actin' all loose and ready for whatever, so I tell him to blow it out his butt, ain't no universe I knows of where I ever be his girl; walkin' into a bar with him don' give him no rights over me, he jus' my frien' an' escort an' nuthin' else, so back off, go get a beer, ask some girl fo' dance, there plenty to choose from, an' we be cool."

She paused, her eyes far away and dark with remembered fear.

"He drug me outside, Hecky try stop him, he punch him out an' come after me, gimme couple good licks, made me see stars for sure. When I see straight again, I see Rafe down on his back, his face all blood; Odie must a' had Papi's Remmy in back o' the truck the whole time, 'cause she standin' over him with that rifle stuck in his eye; she hit him with the butt while he whalin' on me, an' she had her finger on the trigger an' all; I really thought she gonna blow his brains out, I know how light that trigger is, an' I jes' knew I was gonna see murder done."

She looked fearfully at Johnny, at his set expression and icy gray eyes, and continued.

"Bartender must have called the police. Nex' thing I know Randy Broussard show up, I remember he yo' frien' when you young; he one a' his daddy's deputies now, he listen to us, Hecky bear me out, so Randy take Rafe away, an' Hecky take me to ER at Thibodaux Regional, then take us home. When I get home an' maw-maw see them bruises, she go crazy, roundin' on Hecky, even though he all busted-up too, blamin' him, start callin' ever'one an' tellin' them whut Rafe done, an' how they got to help her drag him off somewhere so's she can make gator-bait outta him; Odie got to take her twelve-gauge and hide it in the truck otherwise she gonna end up in jail too. When I saw Justine's face all bruised-up like that, it just brung it all back."

Johnny stared at her, his lips compressed in a thin line, but his face otherwise expressionless. Mélette looked sideways at him, and her eyes widened.

"NO! You leave it be, John-Boy, it done and settled, don' go makin' things worse! I know that look, don' be stupid, Johnny, you got enough, an' bigger trouble on yo' ass!"

She dimpled, her eyes dancing, "'sides, Mack Doubilliér an' Jean-Martin go an' remonstrate with him, an' his leg kinda got broke by accident..."

Johnny raised a quizzical eyebrow at her.

"How well you know Macky D?"

Mélette dimpled again.

"For shame, Johnny, you-all know ladies don' talk 'bout such things! Le's jes' say we been...close, an' leave it at that; he cute, he clean, an' he know how to behave hisself around ladies; 'sides, he know he get rough he gotta 'splain hisself to you, an' he never gonna be ready for that kinda trouble!"

Johnny suddenly realized the girl had expertly deflected him from forbidding her, both of them, from tagging along, something he remembered she was always good at. The little blonde stared at him challengingly, and with a sinking heart he realized they had both dealt themselves in, and there was nothing he could do about it. Odélie grinned and slipped her arm through his, and pulled him down so she could plant a kiss on his cheek.

"Now that all settled, time we got headed outta here; them idjits following still ain't too far behind, so we best get movin', it still a fair way to Bayou Petit Gaillou."

*

Justine's first sight of Johnny's uncle Lubin was a shock; apart from the obvious age-difference, she could have been looking at his exact double, they looked that much alike. Lubin was gray, with a craggy brow, the only real sign of age, otherwise he seemed as hale and fit as Johnny; when he smiled, he had that same infectious, boyish grin, his voice was as soft and unobtrusive as Johnny's, and the same clear gray eyes that seemed to look right through her.

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