The story: 1
The next morning, we head south on highway 101. She had me go over the story again and again and again, trying to tease out the most miniscule memory of that night’s events. I was glad to turn off and head towards Senka’s best guess as to the location of the grove on the map. The car sent a plume of dust up from the dirt road.
After a few minutes, Senka tapped my shoulder and pointed to railroad tracks and an orange grove. I saw a red cloth tied to a fence post. I pulled over. Senka noticed it too, she raised an eyebrow and nodded. The dust settled. Bees hummed in the hot afternoon. A waft of heavy citrus clung to the mostly still air. The sun brought beads of sweat to my brow. We climbed over a feeble fence and moved to the shade of the grove.
“What now? What are we supposed to be looking for?” I asked above some distant barking.
“Oranges, I guess,” Senka looked around.
I noticed a few oranges with some marks on them. That must be it. The barking dogs seemed closer.
Senka picked another marked orange; there must be a half dozen. Our hands were full after the first few oranges. Senka pulled the bottom of her blouse out and made an impromptu basket. I tossed her the few I had and went to climb a tree to go after a few of the higher fruit. I saw black dogs in the distance running all out for us, Rottweilers, judging by their size. Ranchers used dogs to keep the Okies from devouring their crops. I dropped another orange to Senka.
“Run! Get in the car and roll up the windows! I’m right behind you!” I screamed.
I saw one more orange; it was the only one marked with a double red X. I climbed higher to get it. The dogs were about a hundred yards away. I reached but the orange was still too high. Another branch and I had the orange in my hand. The barking grew louder.
I was going to jump, but mostly fell out of the tree, breaking some branches on the way down. The orange rolled from my hand. The dogs were maybe fifty yards away.
I got to my feet and scooped up the orange like a center fielder. Their loud, furious barking sent chills down my spine. I gave a quick look to see the hounds of hell, droll dripping off their fangs, closing the distance at an incredible speed. I hurdled the fence and was at the car door in just five steps. The hounds leapt over the fence and were at my door just as I got it closed. Driven to a murderous rage they attacked the windows. One jumped on the hood and went after the windshield. I tossed her the special orange and stomped on the gas. The one on the hood tumbled off. The other managed to crack the driver-side window.