By Ira Kennedy
Later Billy didnt mind driving to town but the time wasnt right. The
reasons for going didnt quite stack up to what was happening right then, which
wasnt much, if anything. Besides, Later Billy was no fool. It was about ready to
flood, and there was at least a mile of muddy road before the dry creek bed crossing up
near the paved road. Flash Flood Creek, thats what Later Billy called the big dip in
the road with the flood marker.
Later Billy didnt see how anybody could argue against that, but Lacey did.
Lacey could argue for or against anything. And at that moment she wanted some Taco
flavored Dorritos and a six pack of diet soda. And some hot dogs for supper. And
I aint goin, Billy said, so forget it.
Give me some money and Ill go.
I gave it to you, Lace, I gave it all to you.
What about the ten you won on A&M?
I spent it getting liquored up before comin home yesterday.
No you didnt, Lacey said, I found it in your pockets this
Aw, Lace. You goin through my pockets again?
Just gonna wash em. I dont want you gallivantin around in dirty
clothes. What will people think of me?
Lace, how could I gallivant on ten dollars?
I remember when you could gallivant on less.
That was a while back, and you were gallivantin right with me. Ahead most of
I dont gallivant, Lacey asserted, I socialize.
Sometimes I just wanna gallivant, Later Billy said almost whispering.
Sometimes? Ever day, Billy, even now. That aint normal.
It aint as easy as it once was.
If it werent for me youd be hangin out at the Bar None Bar and
Bar-B-Q, Lacey retorted in her most adult-to-child tonelike she was doing
Later Billy a favor explaining just how much his life had improved under her guidance.
Lacey even had Later Billy eating with his fork instead of that filthy old pocket knife.
Well, Later Billy said, thinking less about a no-win argument than who
might be at Bar None. Any woman that would send her man out in the middle of a
flood, and risk his getting drowned for a bag of Dorritos and a six-pack of soda just
The hot dogs, Lacey interrupted, and the buns. Oh, yes, and a
can of beans. Ranch style.
You got any better ideas? Lacey asked.
Tuna fish. What about that can of tuna you bought?
I bought that for you. I dont like it.
Thats it, Bill said relenting. Wheres them pickup
Youve got em, Lacey said, I put em in the pocket with that
ten. I decided not to wash.
Well, Later Billy said surrendering all argument. Where are my
Where you left em.
I left em on, you took em off, remember?
Which ones are those you got on now? Lacey demanded.
These are the jeans you started to wash last week. Couldnt find no
How can I wash? Lacey asked, like Later Billy was soft on the brain.
Its nearly floodin out.
OK. Lacey. OK. OK. Im headin to town this minute, Later Billy
said shaking his head No underneath his old black Stetson with the rattlesnake
You aint wearin that hat. Lacey said. Ever time you wear
it you dont come home till the next day. Wear that one over there.
Lacey. Thats made a straw. Itll ruin.
OK. But you come straight home.
Now why wouldnt I? Later Billy said as sweet as he could. Almost
as sweet as that second piece of pecan pie Lacey was cutting into. Im as
hungry as you. Later Billy sighed as he made for the door knowing all along that
wasnt the last word.
Now what did I tell you to get? Lacey asked remembering how forgetful
her man was. She was always so busy remembering for him that he hardly ever bothered.
Later Billy recited the list on his way out the door. As quick as it closed he
heard Lacey shout, Get the big bag.
Later Billy raced to the pickup, started her up and headed out. Raindrops pelted
the pickup like a swarm of beetles. Back towards town, which was where the rain was coming
from, it was black as the insides of a cowexcept for the constant bolts of
Later Billy held to the middle of the muddy road as best he could. It was bad. If
he went too slow, hed get stuck. Too fast and hed end up worse.
As Later Billy pulled up to Flash Flood Creek it was at one-foot on the marker.
When he eased across and up the slippery slope of the road on the side he heard the roar
of the flash flood. He had seen it happen here before. A wall of water with all manner of
debris churning around and poking out every now and again. It was kind of magical and
scary all at once. As quick as thought, Later Billy was out on the main road headed for
town and the Bar None Bar and Bar-B-Q. Once there, he called home for the first time in
Honey? He paused a moment trying to think of the right words, not that
there ever were any with Lacey.
You wreck our truck? she said more as a statement of fact than a
Then why you callin? Im hungry.
Well, thats it. Right after I crossed the dip it flooded good. I
cant get back till tomorrownot even then if the rain dont let up.
You did this on purpose. He could hear Lacey stomp her foot rattling
the dishes in the cabinet clear across the room. You knew all along youd get
stuck in town.
I tried to tell you. Remember?
You coulda explained it better. What am I supposed to do for supper?
Lacey, Honey, Later Billy said soft and gentle like, while the
bartender slid a longneck right into his open palm. Theres always that tuna