Howl County part 1

By Jeep
published October 24, 2019

A man finds you really can’t escape your past

Please note: This is a prologue iof sorts, so no transformation or sex happens yet. But I hope you enjoy the set up, and will continue reading!

"I done thought I’d escaped, but guess ya can’t escape who you was really meant to be…

See I was brought up dirt poor in Howell County, not trailer trash poor, but durn close. Mama brung me up in a series of rent houses, while she worked 2 or 3 jobs at a time to make ends meet, sometimes workin’ at the Egg plant, sometimes cleaning houses for the folks who lived on Hill Street, sometimes workin’ shifts at the Lazy Day Diner. I never knowed my Daddy, but that wasn’t strange in Howell County, lots of the men up in the woods and hollers would walk out with girls and then leave em once they was in a family way. I understands that better now, ain’t sayin’ it’s right, just sayin’ that’s the way it is for lots of folk here. Anyways, this ain’t a story bout then, it’s a story about now, well anyway, a story that begins bout 6 months ago when mama died… I’m tellin’ you now cause it’s almost time for the sixth changing, and once that happens, I don’t know that I’ll remember enough to tell it no more, and if I don’t tell it, it’s gonna keep happening to other folk…"

The man shifted his bulk in the wooden chair opposite me. As he moved i could see the corded muscle under his filthy cammo printed tee shirt move and ripple, and I caught a wiff of his musk. His body odor was curious, the best way I can describe it is unwashed laborer mixed with wet dog and tobacco smoke. He pulled out a wallet, and asked me to look at the ID inside. I looked at the wallet, not at all what you’d expect from the bearded, burly man… the wallet was black, fine leather, obviously expensive. I pulled out a Driver’s License from New York dated this year, and look at a photo of a man who couldn’t be more different from the person across the desk from me, thin, intellectual looking, dressed in an expensive suit. I look at the name on the ID, Marc Connor… Marc Connor was all over the news a while ago, it’s not often that a powerful attorney rents a car, leaves Manhattan, and is never heard from again. How his license and wallet ended with this brute really might be a story worth hearing, the kind of story that could make a reporter’s career, a story that apparently just walked into the offices of the Smithfield Daily Ledger, and got directed to my desk.

“Where did you get this wallet?” I ask, trying to sound neutral…

"Git? What do ya mean git? Have I changed that much?"the man stops to think for a minute, and chuckles, “fuck, guess I have, all the more reason for you to hear my story, and the story of Howl County…”

“Great,” I think to myself, " I’ve got a crackpot who has somehow stumbled into the biggest story I’ll ever get a shot at, maybe if I listen to his bullshit, it will give me enough clues that i can find out what really happened to Marc Connor.."

“Go on,” I say, “tell me your story, and the story of Howell County…”

I begin jotting notes as I listen, allowing my phone to record his words. I jot down Howell County demographics, Marc Connor biography, missing persons department..,

The big man continues, “Anyway, from the time I was a pup, Mama knowed I was different from the other kids in town, I wasn’t gonna farm, or go down inta the mines, or work at the egg plant, I was smart, smart like the folks on Hill Street, like the Doctor, heck, maybe smarter than all of ‘em put together. School come easy to me, I was reading grown up books when other kids was just learnin’ how letters become words. Mama knowed if I stayed in Howl County, I wouldn’t get what I needed schoolwise. I cried when she told me I was goin’ to live with some kin of her grandmama Taylor’s who could see to my schoolin’ and give me a chance in this world. Those folks was good to me, life in the city was good, and I soaked it up like a sponge, shit I couldn’t learn fast enough. For a few years, I’d go home to Mama for the holidays, but then she got that job takin’ care of ole Miz Adolphe, who didn’t like kids much, so i stopped goin’. I never forgot Mama though, and when I won my first big case lawyering about the same time as Miz Adolphe passed, I bought Mama that big ole house on Hill Street, and let her know she wasn’t gonna want for nothin’ no more. I done that to the day she died, money I was makin’ it was easy. Sure I didn’t go see her much, but I called her every week, even though my life was busy…”

I make some notes on my pad to check out the mother’s obit, deed to the house…

“When Mama got sick, and then died, I knew I owed it to her to go back, back to a place I ain’t seen in more than 30 years, so I headed back to Howl County. Drivin’ through town, I looked down on the folks I saw and their poor lives, and I was mighty proud of myself for gettin’ out, gettin’ away. I pulled onto Hill Street, and up to Mama’s house. The few times I’d seen it when it was old Miz Adolphe’s, it looked like some castle, but it wasn’t. Weren’t actually all that big, cept by the standards of a poor little town in a poor county in one of the poorest states in the US. I went in, and I looked for some memory of Mama, but it was like Miz Adolphe never left, her furniture, her pictures on the walls, her china and gee gaws on display. It was like Mama just acted like a caretaker. Looked like Mama didn’t even change her room from that little bedroom behind the kitchen, that’s where I saw her pitiful few dresses, and a couple pictures of me growin’ up. I was angry as Hell, I sent Mama plenty of money and she never complained, I figured she was livin’ the high life. . Next day, was Mama’s funeral, and a couple days after that I had a meeting to put the house on the market, and then I’d be done with Howl County, or so I thought… I never made that meeting, but you’re a smart feller, guessing you know that right? By then Howl County had claimed me, taken me as one of it’s own…”

I nodded as I made a note to contact the realtor who would have listed the house, and watched as the man shifted uncomfortably in his seat, clenching and unclenching his fists as he continued with his tale…

"Next day I went to the church, and talked with the preacher about Mama, and my grief, and how the service would go. When it was almost time, I sat and prayed by Mama’s coffin, hopin’ I’d done right by her, knowin’ I hadn’t. Bit by bit, a few people came in and prayed in the pews or walked up and touched my shoulder, mumbling about how proud Mama was of me. A few minutes before the time we was to begin, a group of about 10-15 men all come in at once. Everyone turned to look, and a murmurring begun amongst the folks. Remember, we was poor when I was a youngin, but these men didn’t look to be even trailer trash, they was lower than that, they was folk from outta the hollers, dirty, smelly, their clothes not much more than greasy rags, their hair and beards, thick and uncut. They was all big, bigger than you see me now, lookin’ like a pack of wild animals trapped in a cage bein’ in that church. The oldest, biggest, dirtiest of the all come up to me, and said words that chilled me to my bones, he said, “Boy, I’m your Pa, snd these, Hell these is your brothers, well step brothers anyway… I think its time fer a homecomin, don’t ya think?”

I continued jotting my notes, enthralled by the tale this man was telling, wondering when I might hear the truth about the wallet, but fascinated by every word this thick, bearded man was saying…

"Preacher came in at that point, and said it was time, to begin, before I could answer the old man. The old man looked up at the preacher with hate in his eyes, and said,“We don’t cotton to your ways, preacher, so we’ll git..”

He then leaned into me, and said to me low and hard,“Welcome back boy, bout time you got to know your kin…”

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