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Bullfrog Jones Novel Music (6) RE: Novel Music 09 Jan 03

The food was hot. And limp. The soup was thin. The rice clumped, the vegetables sagged. The pork was undercooked. "You like this?" I asked him.

"Yeah, it's great. They don't use any MSG either."

"You need to try some of Mama's cooking someday," I told him.

"What's the difference?"

"Same as between Debbie Gibson and Judy Henske."

"Which is Debbie Gibson?"

"This stuff."

"Oh. He took a deep mouthful of the food, chewed it experimentally. "So who's Judy Henske?" he asked.


...He started tentatively, getting the feel of the controls—the way you're supposed to. He gave it too much gas coming out and the Plymouth got sideways on the dirt. The kid didn't panic, just turned the wheel in the direction of the skid and powered right out.

"Wow! This bad boy's got some juice!"

"All right, don't get us arrested now."

"I'm okay," the kid said, leaning into a curve. "Where do we go now?"

"We're done for tonight," I told him. "Just head on back."

The Plymouth reached the main road. The kid gave it the gun, the torque jamming him back against the seat. He adjusted his posture, a grin slashing across his face.

"Okay if I take the long way?" he asked.

I nodded. The kid pulled off the highway, found a twisting piece of two-lane blacktop. he kicked on the high beams, drew a breath when he saw they were hot enough to remove paint...

He had the Plymouth wailing by then, flitting over the surface of the blacktop. We might as well have been in the West Virginia mountains with a trunk of white lightning. I reached into the glove compartment, popped a cassette into the slot, turned it on. "Dark Angel" throbbed through the speakers, darker than the night outside, with more hormones than the monster engine.

"Jesus!" the kid yelled. "What's that?"

"That's Judy Henske, kid."

He gunned the Plymouth around a long sweeper leading back to the highway, a huge grin plastered across his face, Henske's sex-barbed blues driving right along with him.

"I gotta try some of that Chinese food." he said.

—excerpted from pages 78, 81-82 of the Vintage edition of Down In The Zero, by Andrew Vachss ©1994.

Check out Andrew Vachss (and Judy Henske)here.


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