UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION
Where do they all come from?
Deke Eubanks is a redneck. He looks a like a guy who has lived a “Jerry
Springer” life of three-day drunks, ex-wives, and straight-drive cars with
burnt-out clutches. He is a big, fat guy with a big, fat beard who likes to
dress like a biker—black Harley-Davidson T-Shirt, black Harley-Davidson ball
cap, and a denim vest with a Harley-Davidson logo sewn on the back. Deke
Eubanks has never been on a motorcycle of any kind. But he sure looks the
Deke has two Marine Corps tattoos—one on each forearm. One is an angry
looking bulldog with the slogan, “Death Before Dishonor”, etched just below
the two front paws. The other is the famous Globe and Anchor with an eagle
perched on top with the letters, USMC, engraved along the bottom of the
world—just in case there’s any doubt. Deke Eubanks has never been in the
Marines or any other military outfit. Back when he was in high school, he did
stop by the Recruiter’s office once and pick up some pamphlets, which he
took home and never read.
On Friday nights, Deke drives down to “The Waterhole” in an old van that
belongs to the Carlisle Courier. He has a job dropping stacks of newspapers
at all of the convenience stores in Carlisle County. Deke will not go inside the
bar until there are a few motorcycles parked at the front door. Then he pulls
the van around back and walks inside.
After everybody’s had a few beers, Deke starts to tell war stories—what it
was like in Baghdad when he was there. Tales of Improvised Explosive
Devices detonated on every street corner, human bombs strolling into
government buildings and blowing themselves to smithereens to take out as
many people as they can, MedEvac helicopters kicking up dust as they land
to carry off the dead and dying, and he seems especially proud of the fact
that the Marines have taken more casualties than any other branch of service
Why is Deke Eubanks so desperate to be somebody? Because he knows that,
in America, that’s all that matters. To be well known, if only for a little while,
is the name of the game. If you’re nobody, you’re given the shitty jobs like
delivering newspapers to the Quik-Mart. No one that’s anybody shops at the
Quik-Mart. No one that’s anybody gives a fuck about how many winning
lottery tickets the Quik-Mart has sold.
Nobody cares that Deke Eubanks wants to be somebody. He would be totally
irrelevant, here in his hometown, if he didn’t pretend to be someone he’s
not. He cannot stand the thought of being anonymous in America. He has to
be part of the story. He is not strange or unique in thinking this way.
This harmless deception might have gone on indefinitely if Lydia hadn’t
shown up at “The Waterhole” one Friday night, looking for him. Lydia is
Deke’s first wife, and he owes her a few alimony payments.
Deke is on his way out of the bar as she is coming in. He sees her. She sees
him. They both freeze in their tracks. Deke tries not to come across as
drunk, but he has been in the bar for almost five hours. He makes a half-
assed attempt to look her in the eye, but he cannot focus.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” she says.
“Hey Lydia, what you up to?”
“My neck in debt, asshole. That’s why I came looking for you.”
“What happened to your boyfriend, the welder?”
“None of your fucking business. Where’s my money?”
“I don’t have any money.”
“No? Then how’d you get so shitfaced, Deke? On credit?”
“I’ve got a few friends here. Sometimes, they set me up when I’m broke.”
“So you think you’re gonna divorce me and do what you want to, when you
want to? Ain’t gonna happen, honey.”
Deke thinks about the stories he’s seen on the six o’clock news, the ones
where the husband kills his wife, then goes on a murdering rampage, killing
everyone who’s ever pissed him off. He knows this must be exactly how it
A small crowd has started to gather at the door. Some people who were on
their way out have decided to stop, look, and listen for a while—hoping for a
little Friday night distraction.
Deke has just made up his mind to get the hell out the door when Lydia lets
out with this high-pitched laugh. She points at Deke’s forearm, and almost
choking on her own laughter, shouts: “What the fuck is that? “Death
Before Dishonor”… who are you trying to shit? You were never in the goddamn
Deke charges out the door, derisive laughter ringing in his ears. But you
can’t outrun the grapevine in a small town.
And that’s how Deke Eubanks fell from grace in Carlisle, South Carolina—how
he became the “nowhere man” he has really always been.
Deke tumbles into a deep depression. For weeks, he lays low in the shadows
like a hurt animal—leaving the house only to deliver the newspapers or
to buy the necessary items to live. Most of the time, he drinks beer and
It was a PBS documentary that showed him the way.
It was the story of Charles Joseph Whitman, the Texas Tower sniper. He was
a student at the University of Texas at Austin, and a Marine. He had
ascended The University’s twenty-seven story tower on August 1, 1966, and
shot passersby in the city and on the campus below. He had also killed his
mother and his wife the night before. In all Whitman killed fifteen people and
wounded thirty-one others before he was shot dead by Austin police.
It came as a revelation. This was the way to get even—the way to break out
of this obscurity, and become documentary material at the same time.
Deke can now see that it’s better to shoot a few people and get your face on
television than to sit here watching a guy that’s been dead for more than
forty years getting all the air-time. And for what? Killing some totally
forgotten people decades ago—a bunch of nobodies from the past.
This will be his door to the big time. Tomorrow and many years from now,
they’ll still be watching the “Deke Eubanks Story”—the madman who still
holds the record for killing the most innocent people in a single massacre.
They’ll all wonder why. Why did he do it? Why is his story, the “American
Story”? Who is this man? Who are these people? Where do they all come
D.B. Cox is a blues musician/poet, originally from South Carolina. After
graduating from high school in 1966, he did a four year stint with the U.S.
Marines, then moved to Boston to attend the Berklee School of Music, where
he eventually found the blues circuit. He loves writing for the same reason
he loves playing the guitar-a way to communicate how he feels at a given time,
on a given day. He now resides in Watertown, Massachusetts. His writing has
been published online in Zygote In My Coffee, Remark, Underground Voices,
Dubliner Quarterly and others, and in print in Aesthetica, Snow Monkey, My
Favorite Bullet and Open Wide Magazine.
© 2007 Underground Voices