Everyone’s Fifteen Minutes
by Nicholas Rys

Now that there are these goddamn cameras all over the place everyone feels sorry for the Riggels, but let me tell you something. No one around here liked the Riggel family until they got murdered.

If I’m being honest, I can’t remember when it was. The days all run together here; fold in to each other to make one sprawling, midwestern weekday.

Everyone’s usually either off to school or work; on the farm if they’re lucky, at the Dollar General or Kroger more than likely. Some folks go to Cincinnati or really get off on kidding themselves and hop a bus to Columbus or Louisville but this really isn’t much of a town for those types. Most push through Crilton High ‘til about their second or third year before droppin’ out. Some even earlier cuz a lotta the farmers’ll pay the stalky kids fifteen bucks an hour to hose down chicken coupes or drive the baler. Of course there’s the pill heads, meth junkies and heroin bums, all tryin’ to hold down jobs at Goodwill or Sunoco or Burger King before nodding off counting pennies at a drive thru or some shit.

But the Riggels didn’t abide by any of that. They grew weed they would trade for meth. They were a rare breed of speed freak farmers. Some people thought they were selling weed to the hillbillies on Ligonier Mountain and high school kids from the next county over, but they really grew it in big batches to trade to some biker gang in Dayton for dirty meth. They smoked most of it and sold what was left in drive-thru windows and truck stop bathrooms off 68. They weren’t the meanest sons of bitches you ever met but that don’t mean shit cuz really, who is?

The day we heard about the murders was just like any other day; we all got up around five or so. Come to think of it, I can’t remember how I found out; if I saw it on the news or read it in the paper or what. Hank had gone out to see the chickens and Becky went to the garden with her coffee and there I was, sittin’ my fat ass at the kitchen table acting like I was reading the newspaper while Nora was on her goddamn iPhone looking at some recipe or phony news headline or whateverthehell she reads on that thing.

Now I don’t fuckin’ use ‘em cuz I’m a dumbass, but I think those tablets and smartphones in everyone’s pocket is great. Everyone around here thinks I’m full of shit for sayin’ so, but I’m the only one who realizes it’s the best thing to happen to Crilton County since the mill was open. No one dreams of the great life in New York or L.A. or whereverthehell because they’re busy watchin’ videos of concerts they’ll never afford and takin’ private tours of mansions they’ll never live in. It’s great. They just sit on their fat asses in a booth at Wendy’s and never leave. Crilton should really cut Apple a fat-ass check, if you ask me.

The sisters had decent lookin’ double wides. I remember Jolie’s place was nice. She kept her daddy’s furniture and antiques and it really looked like a home or something like that.

To be honest, the Riggels really kept to themselves and I think that’s what pissed people off the most. That and they couldn’t drink for shit. They rarely went to the bars and when they did they got too drunk or not drunk enough and either way ended up pissing people off.

I think I heard Jolie’s brother Pete was shooting his mouth off at the Arby’s or KFC, sayin’ they were coming into something big – some real cash, but I don’t know if that’s true. To be honest, everyone’s got somethin’ to say about the Riggel’s now. Everyone knows some detail about them that the news crews haven’t heard yet; everyone’s smoking their grandaddy’s big cigars and tuckin’ in their cleanest NASCAR-T for their fifteen minutes.

I don’t know why I’m so bitter; Momma says a real Christian would feel sadder for those poor goddamn kids. They saw the whole fuckin’ thing; their parents ripped from their beds in the middle of the night, lined up and murdered execution style, all right before their very eyes.

It definitely feels different here now. I heard they’re setting up a carnival at the edge of town, got a ferris wheel and funnel cakes and everything, but who knows. The truth is we don’t leave the house much anymore. Becky says she’s seen pictures with hoards of kids getting cotton candy and posing next to the Riggels’ trailers on the news or online, but I haven’t seen ‘em. I keep waiting to find out who did it but no one knows and it don’t look like any of this hysteria will go away until they do.

The sheriff said not to be afraid to arm ourselves so I’ve been insulating my home because when you don’t know who they are, you never know when they’ll come for you next.


Nicholas Rys lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio where he writes and makes music.  His essays, interviews and reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, Hobart, Fanzine, Entropy and PANK.  His short fiction and poetry have been published in places like Witch Craft Magazine, Literary Orphans, Maudlin House, Deluge, The Talking Book and many others.  He is an active member of Johnstown, Pennsylvania-based arts collective/archive, My Idea of Fun, where he releases music under the moniker Norma Desmond.  

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