“The Baddest Man in Three Counties”

Israel Spurlock came out of his mama filled with meanness. She thought giving him a Bible name would help calm him, but it didn’t save him from a life of hatefulness. He knocked out teeth from Leslie County to Pikeville before he got kicked off the football team. It wasn’t worth driving a thug around who couldn’t make it half a quarter without getting a flag.

Once, when I was in middle school, he snuck into a DARE assembly and kicked the shit out of Randy White for talking to his girlfriend. It took two teachers and a librarian to pull him off of that boy. His girl Jamie was thirteen then. He must have been seventeen at least, because by the time I moved up to high school he’d been dropped out for at least a year. I heard the stories though.

My brother told me that he got into it with Israel during the ASVAB test and still couldn’t hear out of his left ear. He said that he had a knife with him, but didn’t dare pull it in front of those bald-headed Marines.

Darrell Wayne told me that Israel used to come up to the slow kids on the bus, and beat them while hollering “Ring the bell motherfucker! Ring the bell!”

The kids would ball up in the isle with their coats pulled over their heads and shout, “Ding! Ding! Ding!” Then he’d stop. Pull his hat down. That was his joke.

After he disappeared all the stories I heard were crazy. A girl told me he’d moved to Louisville, joined a gang, and was nearly burned to death when some other boys with gas cans caught him sleeping on a couch. Others said he’d found Jesus and moved away to build houses in Mexico. I’d like to believe that, all church kids hope for redemption, but I can’t.

What I picture is that Israel moved to Lexington like the rest of us. No jobs here unless you want to work at the prison or the school. You see the same people eventually. I imagine he has two kids by now, and a wife that can’t stand him but can’t leave him out of fear and need. In my mind they all live in a little house with rusty tricycles out front, and inside, all the walls have holes.

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Why I Write Featured Fiction New Fiction The Story Behind the Story
Sort by

Why I Write: Jim Powell

Old School Mission [for “Why I Write”] I’m writing this essay in March 2018, eleven days out of an ele
2019-09-16 23:45:09
jepowell

0

“Been Ingenious”

People called Ricky ingenious whether they thought it true or not. Most folks choose to remain blithely ignorant to
2019-09-09 11:06:24
jason-graff

0

“Rabbit County”

Jeremy said that one of Marsha’s rabbits got away again.  He told me last night while we were sitting in Dino’s wait
2019-08-23 23:40:04
asmith18

0

“The Undead”

Ryan said that he needed to call his girlfriend, and I wandered back to the living room and dropped into the
2019-08-05 11:05:12
wbwalker

0

“160”

Not many people knew what I knew about my brother and his wife. I knew it all. The booze, the opioids, the
2019-08-02 23:35:47
mwcox

0

The Story Behind the Story: “Baby Lanes”

To pursue my Ph.D., I moved from the Midwest to a small, southern Mississippi town. I was worried that I might find
2019-06-24 09:34:21
ctank08

0

The Story Behind the Story: “Weehawken”

Just a few months after graduating from college, I moved to New York City with three other friends. Or, well, more
2019-06-17 09:29:39
jakegoldman

0

“Doc Oils”

  Bolinas Seventies – 48 clicks by ‘Nam talk but a time warp from civilization which refugees’re ra
2019-05-22 11:14:19
gsarnat

0

“Doorkijkje”

Tess walks from the Met through Central Park. It is Saturday morning and the park is crowded with a fun run. The
2019-05-15 09:22:42
melgoode

0

“Barracuda”

“Goddamn cuda keep cutting our baits in two,” my father said, lighting a Salem with the lit butt of another. The che
2019-04-01 11:21:01
randyshelley

0

Michael Wayne Hampton

About Michael Wayne Hampton

Michael Wayne Hampton earned his M.F.A. in Writing at Spalding University. His work has appeared in publications such asMcSweeney’s, The Southeast Review, and 3AM Magazine among many others. His fiction most recently appeared in Atticus Review and decomP, and this year he was nominated for Best American Short Stories. He currently serves as an English faculty member at UC Clermont, and is at work on a number of creative projects. He can be reached through his blog at motelheartache.blogspot.com