By Dell Sweet
Copyright © 2018 by Dell Sweet
PUBLISHED BY: Dell Sweet; all rights reserved
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
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Cover art Copyright © 2018 Dell Sweet
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This preview has NOT been edited and contains language, situations and scenes in appropriate for children.
Copyright 2018 Dell Sweet, all rights
Friday Morning: Glennville, N.Y. …
David pulled the zipper and recoiled from the smell that came from the bag. April leaned close to see what was in the bag and then recoiled herself from the smell.
“What the fuck?” she asked.
David opened the bag wider, but saw nothing except crumpled up newspapers. Tentatively he pushed aside the newspapers and a pair of dead, dusty eyes stared up at him through the newspapers. He flung the bag away from him, reacting simply on impulse. The bag hit the wall and the head, along with a pair of hands, rolled out onto the floor.
“Oh, God,” April said. “Put it back in the bag, David, put it back in the bag and get it out of here!” She jumped off the other side of the bed and pressed into the wall as far away from the bag and she could get. David looked at her and then grabbed one of the shirts that had been in the other duffel bag; he lunged forward quickly, picked up the head so he wouldn’t have to think about it too long and tried to jam it back into the bag. It wouldn’t go. The shirt, or the head, or both kept catching the side of the bag and collapsing it. Finally he laid the bag down on one side and managed to hold one side of it open and kind of scooped the head back into the bag. Once it was in he quickly zipped up the bag. He stood quickly and started to walk from the room.
“David, where are you going?” April asked.
He stopped. He had been heading for the door, but he had no idea where he would go from there.
“David… The hands… David,” she pointed…
David Cross sat watching his television: An old war movie, boring, but it was three A.M. and there were only the local stations that he could get, plus the one from Canada when the weather was right, or what-ever-the-fuck had to be right for an antenna to work. Tonight it wasn’t working. Excuse me, he corrected himself, this morning. Whatever needed to be right wasn’t. It had looked like a foreign film with all kinds of nudity too, but the goddamn thing had kept fading in and out so much that he had gotten a headache trying to watch it. He’d finally settled for the old war movie on one of the local stations.
He was trying to nurse his last beer. He’d been sure that there was one more left, but he’d been wrong. Somehow he had miscounted and that was unlike him. He always knew how many beers he had to the can, but somehow he’d messed up the count tonight. There were no more. He’d even moved the green loaf of bread, which he had hated to do, but he had moved it only to find nothing behind it. He had hoped the one remaining can had rolled behind it, but it had not been behind the moldy bread. He had been wrong.
It hadn’t occurred to him to throw out the moldy loaf of bread while he was at it. Instead he had gotten one of the spatulas from the silverware drawer, levered it under the bread and then pushed it to the side only to find no beer can hiding there. He had then levered the loaf of bread back into the original position it had been in.
So he was nursing his last beer: Last beer and no money for beer. And it was Friday: That meant the rest of Friday, Friday night, and the whole weekend loomed ahead dry. It was too depressing to think about. He tried to focus on the movie.
His trailer was located at the end of Lott road, a dirt road on the outskirts of the city two miles beyond the county dump. Nobody really wanted to live on Lott road it seemed, except David, and if he were honest with himself he didn’t really want to live here either, he simply had no choice. His crappy job only paid him enough for a crappy place to live. This was it: The crappiest of the crappiest. In fact the morning before the cops had taken the body of a young girl out of the ditch just down the road. Found by someone driving by. She hadn’t been there very long either. Someone had killed her and dumped her there. It was definitely a crappy place to live. He knew that for a fact because he had gone looking. There were no crappier places. Except maybe the trailer park down the road, he thought, but that was part of Lott road too so it didn’t count.
He owned neither the trailer nor the lot. He did own the furniture, which had been easy. He had simply cruised every street in the city on garbage day: A chair here; another one there. The mattress and box springs he’d gotten from the Salvation Army. Thirty bucks and only pee stained on one side, well mostly only the one side. There was some other stain on the other side, but he wasn’t sure what that stain was. It didn’t exactly look like pee. Anyway, it was barely noticeable and the guy in the store had sworn that they weren’t really pee stains, but water stains. David wasn’t too sure about that. His own brother had wet the bed until he was ten and they had slept in the same bed. He knew what a pee stain looked like and this looked like a pee stain. Still it had been a good deal and stains couldn’t hurt him. After all when his brother had been wetting the bed he had peed on him too. If he could live with that he could live with a little pee stain: If it was a pee stain. And if they were pee stains, they were on the other side of the mattress, he added optimistically. Besides, they disinfected those things. The guy said so: Sprayed them down with something that killed everything on them. He grinned, tipped his beer, nearly took a large swallow, took a small sip instead and then lowered the can depressed all over again about the long, dry weekend ahead of him.
Five or six garbage runs and one trip to the city dump, where they didn’t mind if you took half the dump away with you, and he had been furnished. It was amazing the things people threw away. He sipped carefully at his beer, pulled a crumpled cigarette from his pack and lit it with a long, wooden kitchen match.
There was an old fashioned wood stove store in town and he stopped there once or twice a week for kitchen matches. Not that they gave them away for free, but they used them for the stoves so there was always a box or two laying around that he could help himself to.
Day old bread and doughnuts at the bakery twice a week: Those cheap ten pound bags of chicken and what they had called Crack Head soups in Jail, noodle soups to the rest of the world, and there was his weekly food budget. The only other things he needed were gas and of course beer and cigarettes.
The rest of his paycheck went for the rent and utilities. Sometimes it was close, but he always made it somehow. The real bummer this morning was that he had today off and the whole weekend too and he’d have to stay here watching the crappy T.V. … Sober…
His job Monday through Thursday was cleaning for a maintenance company. They only required that you showed up. They ran you all over the city to clean supermarkets; banks; mall shops that were closed. He worked the nights away pretty quickly. Go to work at five P.M. Next thing you knew it was one thirty in the morning and they were through for another night. He kept telling himself that he would have to get a better job if he ever wanted to be better off in the world. A job that paid more than minimum wage had to be in his future. He was sure there were plenty of them out there he just didn’t know where to look. Some day, he told himself, some day.
He took a deep drag off his cigarette and then sipped carefully at his beer. He thought about the girl’s body and realized she could have been killed while he had been sleeping. He shuddered. He hated this place.
He set the beer down carefully on the coffee table. It was scared with cigarette burns and missing the tip of one leg, but it had been free and an old paperback novel held up that corner of the table well enough. As he looked back up from the coffee table lights swept across the living room wall, bouncing up and down and back and forth. Because his was the last place on the road, every car that came down the road lit up his living room. These headlights however seemed a little frantic, bobbing, darting across the wall and then a second set shot up onto the wall too, jittering and jumping across the cheap paneling.
Twice now cars had come down the road, shot right across the bare dirt of his front yard and into the woods before they had been stopped by the trees. David had a fear about some car, some day, hitting the bedroom wall while he slept. So far it had just been the woods, but you could never tell. He got up quickly and walked to the window.
It was immediately obvious that this was something different than just some drunk not realizing that the road was about to end. The lead car was flat out. He could hear the whine of the engine now as it came. The car behind was trying to stay close, tapping the back bumper of the lead car, causing it to slew all over the dirt road. Apparently that wasn’t good enough because a second later the passenger leaned out of the car’s window and opened up on the lead car with what looked to be some sort of a hand held machine pistol. David let out a startled squawk, ducked below the window and then popped right back up.
The shots had taken out the rear window, traveled through the car and taken out part of the front windshield too. And from the large red stain on the spider webbed remains of that window David guessed it had taken out the driver too. Maybe even the passenger had there been one. There was a lot of red.
Shit, David thought. That meant that the lead car was not going to be able to stop. David calculated quickly and realized the car would miss the trailer. At the same time the driver of the rear car locked up his brakes, suddenly realizing that he was on a dead end road, and the car began to slide in the dirt. David’s eyes shifted back to the front car which hit the end of the road, jumped up over the drainage ditch and roared through the front yard just missing the edge of the trailer, shaking the thin walls; engine still screaming. It was out of sight for a split second before he heard the crash. The big oak in the back yard, he thought.
His eyes came back to the second car long enough to see it slide down into the drainage ditch at full speed, catch its nose on the opposite edge and then flip end over end across an empty lot before it crashed down on the edge of a cement slab that was trailer-less and had been since he, David, had moved out here. David crouched down quickly to the floor, grabbed his boots and wedged his feet into them. He ran to the kitchen, grabbed a flashlight off the counter and headed out the front door at a run…
The smell of hot metal filled the air. David looked to the car on the cement pad first: The trunk had popped and all manner of stuff that had been inside now lay scattered across the ground. Hot oil and antifreeze dripped from under the hood and onto the concrete. The front roof line was smashed flat to the top of the driver’s seats. The backseat area seemed untouched.
He slipped around the end of the trailer and looked at the other car. A newer Ford: He could see the badge on the rear deck. The front end of the car was wrapped around the oak in the backyard just as he had thought and steam was rising up into the air. The Ford first, he decided. The car across the road would have to wait.
The Ford had hit the tree and climbed it a few feet before it came to a complete stop. David had to stand on tip toe to peer into it. The driver had no head left, which explained the huge stain on the windshield. He was past dead, he was dead bad. There was no passenger. Looking out from the inside it was not just red, but gray and black too: Bone, hair and brain matter. His stomach did a quick flip and he began to close his eyes as he turned away.
As he turned his eyes caught on the floorboard and a blue duffel bag that was jammed into the space with the drivers legs. There was no way that the door was going to open, but the glass was gone from the window. He balanced over the edge of the door trying to stay as far away as he could from the dead man as he did, leaned in and tried to snag the duffel bag. His fingers brushed the two plastic handles, but he could not get a grip on them.
David levered himself further over the window sill and nearly came down into the dead man’s lap as he lost his balance and his feet left the ground. His hand shot down quickly, bounced off the dead man’s thigh and hit the seat, stopping him just a few inches above the man’s lap and a small splattering of bone and blood that was there. His hand slipped, but he pressed down harder and held himself.
He could feel the slick blood and splinters of bone under his hand, but he pushed the knowledge out of his mind, took a deep breath, braced himself and then reached down with his free hand and snatched the handles pulling the heavy bag free.
He pulled back, but the bag was so heavy that he had to hold on tight and push off the seat with his other hand. For one alarming second it seemed he would fall forward into the man’s lap. After a second of indecision his body dropped back down to the ground, the bag in his hand. He thought about the trunk as he started to turn away, reached back in, shut off the dead ignition, pulled the keys free and hurried around to the trunk.
The trunk held nothing but a black suitcase. He debated briefly, then reached in and took it. He went back, put the keys back into the ignition, and turned it back to the ON position. What else! What else! His mind asked.
His heart felt like it was beating a mile a minute, skipping beats, and his breath was tearing in and out of his lungs so quickly that it was painful. He could think of nothing he had forgotten. He told himself there was nothing else, and then immediately he thought of the glove compartment. He ran back around the passenger’s side of the car, dropped the bags and pushed the button on the glove box. A small paper bag and a dull, black pistol rested inside.
He took a deep breath, thought for a moment and then took both, slammed the glove box shut, picked up the bags and ran for the trailer. He booted the door open, threw the bags inside, slammed the door and then started for the other car down the road. He stopped mid stride, bent double, and nearly threw up. He caught himself, forced himself to take several slow breaths and stood experimentally. It seemed as though his stomach had decided the remains of the beer could stay for now and so he trotted off down the road to the other car.
This was an old Toyota, not one of the small ones though, one of the ones that seemed almost as big as an American car. He stopped thirty feet away. Two large plastic garbage bags had fallen from the popped trunk. They were both crisscrossed with gray duct tape, bound tightly. Two black duffel bags were jumbled in a heap nearby, along with what looked like a cheap foam, ice-chest. The ice-chest had ruptured and splintered when it hit the ground spilling beer, soda, and packages of lunch meat and cheese out onto the ground. Mixed in, and what had really caught his attention, were small brick sized packages, also bound with duct tape.
His heart was still racing hard. There was no one anywhere yet. No sirens. The nearest neighbors were nearly a mile back down the road… No car lights… Nothing at all.
He tried to carry both bales, but they were too heavy. He had to make two trips. The duct taped bricks, which could only mean one thing to his way of thinking, both duffel bags and two six packs of the beer that hadn’t ruptured went next. He had debated about the beer, but decided he could not leave it. He came back one more time, looked at a few more cans of beer and the packages of bologna and cheese and decided what the hell. He quickly picked them up and took them too. It would be something to put into the ‘fridge except the moldy loaf of bread he told himself.
He walked back to the car down the road once more. He reached the car where it lay flipped onto its roof and had just started around the hood when he heard a soft pop. He stopped as the hood suddenly burst into flames. The sharp smell of gasoline hit his nose and he jumped backwards just that fast. The car didn’t blow, but he stayed clear watching as it began to burn, allowing his thoughts and breathing to begin to slow down. It had seemed like a log-jamb of thoughts all trying to be expressed at the same time. He thought back as he watched the flames begin to build from under the hood.
Not long ago a car had plowed into that same oak in his back yard where the other car was now. It was just the way that oak lined up with the road. That driver had not hit as hard. He had jumped from the car and run for the woods that began in back of the trailer at a dead run. David had come out to look over the wreck a little closer. The jimmied ignition told him the story. The car had been stolen. He had heard sirens in the distance and said to hell with it, reached into the car and grabbed a cheap 22. caliber pistol from the front seat, and an unopened, and miraculously unbroken bottle of whiskey from the floorboards. He had barely stashed them before the cops had shown up.
He had stood on the sidelines and watched as the cops had popped the trunk to expose a large collection of electronic gear. Flat screen televisions, game consoles, DVD players, a shotgun and several more bottles of whiskey too. He had kicked himself over that one and vowed not to let something like that happen again should providence ever grace him with a second chance: Here was that second chance.
He had no phone, but the way the flames were leaping into the air he was sure someone farther down the road would be calling the fire department soon. The heat was already intense.
He squatted down, shaded his eyes against the glare of the flames, and tried to see into the back seat: No one. If there was anyone else in the car he couldn’t see them, but he did see a large suitcase resting on the roof of the car just inside the shattered rear door glass. He debated for a split second and then ran forward and grabbed for the bag, pulling it from inside the wreck. It was heavy and hot to the touch: The imitation brown leather sticky on one corner and melting. Whatever was in it, he told himself, would not have lasted much longer. He was headed back up the road from the wreck when he spotted a grocery bag spilled into the ditch. It was mainly intact so he picked that up too and ran for the trailer.
Behind him he could hear the sirens now. They were on their way and that meant there would probably be neighbors on the way too… Any minute, he told himself. He got the trailer door opened, jumped inside and closed it. He set the grocery bag on the counter. His heart was beginning to slam in his chest once more. He picked up the suitcases and duffel bags and hurried them back to the bedroom. He came back, threw the grocery bag and the packages of lunch meat and cheese into the refrigerator, debated briefly about the loaf of moldy bread, but decided to leave it. He looked back into the fridge. It looked crowded: Beer, lunch meat, cheese, bread. It was the most he could ever recall seeing in there at one time before.
He stepped back letting the door swing shut and looked around the kitchen-living room area. Nothing looked out of place. He could not imagine that the cops would want to come in here for any reason, but if they did they wouldn’t find anything.
He looked down at his hands, grimaced at the blood and specks of bone. A smear of drying blood decorated one shirtsleeve. He looked down at the front of the shirt and saw it was streaked with blood and gore. He turned and ran to the bathroom stripping off the shirt as he went. As he looked down at his jeans he noticed they were gore spattered to. He peeled them off just as quickly, kicking his boots aside. He left the bathroom and went quickly to the bedroom where he dug a wrinkled pair of jeans from the basket there, a clean shirt from the dresser, and quickly got re-dressed. He sat back on the bed, pulled the jeans up and shoved his left foot into one of his sneakers lying next to the bed where he had left them the night before. He stood, jammed his right foot into the other sneaker, danced around unbalanced for a moment as he tugged the zipper home, buttoned the top and threw himself back down onto the tangle of sheets to work the sneakers on the rest of the way and lace them.
His heart had become a racing engine once again, all high speed and flat out, and he tried to calm down as he walked down the short hall, opened the door and stepped down the rickety steps and into the bare-dirt front yard.
He could not see the fire engines or police cars, whichever it was that were coming. Both eventually, he told himself, but the sirens were loud and a half dozen people were walking down the road towards his place and the car that was burning. They were still a quarter of a mile away. He forced his breathing to slow down for the second time, and sat down on the top step waiting. The smoke from the fire was thick and black, spiraling up into the air. The smells of cooking meat and burning plastic hung in the air, competing with each other, causing his stomach to flip once more. The smoke seemed to catch in the trees, unable to rise further: Pools of it snaked along the ground, drifting slowly.
The lights came into view within a few seconds. They were far down the road, but closing fast. Within a few seconds a City Police car skidded to a shuddering stop on the dirt road, followed by two Sheriff Cars. Two Fire engines came next, coasting to a stop behind the Sheriff Cars, then swung around them angling down toward the burning car. David Cross rose from the steps and began walking to the road to meet them.
All of the cops were calling on their radios at once it seemed to David. He broke into a run and the city cop looked his way.
“There’s another one in my back yard with a dead guy too,” he yelled.
The cop looked amazed for a moment and then went back to talking on his radio once more. He finished, threw the radio back into his car, and glancing once more at the burning car, he turned and followed David into his back yard.
“Jesus,” the young cop said. “That happened when he hit the tree? No way!”
“The other car was shooting at them,” David said. He immediately wished he had kept his mouth shut.
“You saw that?” the cop asked.
Providence again, David thought. “Well, no, I didn’t. I heard shots… I didn’t see ’em,” he lied.
“So there are people in that other car?” the cop asked.
“I think so,” David answered. He took a few moments to formulate a lie. He didn’t need a complicated lie: Something simple. Something close to the truth so he could remember it, but something that wouldn’t make him an eye witness. “When I got out I saw the car lying on its top. I didn’t know about the other one. I had to get dressed. Once I got out of the house and headed down the road the car made this little popping sound and flames shot out of the engine compartment. When I turned away I saw the other one in the back yard. I knew something had crashed, because a few months back another car crashed into that same tree, and this sounded the same to me,” David said.
The cop nodded. “You go near either car?” he asked.
“The one out back; I leaned through the window to see if the guy was okay… Had to catch my hand on the seat… It was gross… I realized the guy was dead and got away from the car as quick as I could… Waited for you guys,” David said.
The cop nodded, pulled a small notebook from his shirt pocket and wrote in it. He asked David for his name and the address and wrote that down too.
Stupid, stupid, stupid, David thought. He hadn’t wanted to link himself to anything, but he had been afraid that they would find the hand print on the seat: An area of the seat that had been covered with blood and splatter and was now noticeably cleaner in the shape of a hand. What else could he do?
“You okay?” the cop asked.
“Not really,” David admitted.
“Go sit down… I’ll have somebody talk to you.” He looked intently at David for a moment. “How much you had to drink, David?”
“Uh… About a six pack… It’s my night off,” David explained.
“Easy, David… I’m not here to bust your balls. They’ll want to know… Impairs your judgment: It will determine whether they will take what you say or look for other witnesses, you see?” the cop asked.
“Yeah,” David agreed. “I do see.”
“So?” The cop asked.
“Oh… Right. I had about a twelve pack,” David said. He shrugged.
“Night off,” the young cop said.
“Night off,” David agreed.
“All right, David. Go have a seat and when the detectives get here I’ll send them over,” he told him.
David went and sat down on his front steps and waited for the rest of the cops to show up. He watched the lead fire truck drown the burning car in foam, and in just a few seconds the fire was out. The car sat smoking: Steam rising into the air; the smell of burned meat thick and heavy.
The cops were brief:
“I understand you had quite a lot to drink during the evening,” the big, blonde haired one said to him.
“Well, yes,” David admitted. “But it’s my day off,” he added.
“Easy, son. Nobody’s blaming you. You’re home. Day off. No reason why you shouldn’t have a few drinks. It’s not like you knew a car was going to crash into your back yard.” He smiled to put David more at ease. And although David knew that was why he smiled he felt more at ease anyway.
“You look familiar to me,” The shorter dark haired cop said.
“Did a little county time a few years back,” David admitted.
He looked at him.
“Possession with intent,” David added. “Eighteen months.”
“Out in a year with the good time though right?” the blonde haired cop said.
“Still fucking around with pot, David?” The dark haired one asked.
“No… Not no more,” David told him.
“So we could check the house and find nothing,” the shorter, dark haired detective said.
“Sure… Sure…. Go ahead,” David said. “There’s nothing there at all.”
“But we aren’t going to do that,” The blonde said. “Your past is your past, David. I said I am not here to bust your balls and I meant that.” He turned and looked over at the Toyota which had been lifted into the air. The roof had been cut away and two bodies had been taken out as they talked. They had set the car back down and were now winching it over onto its wheels so they could pull it up onto the flatbed wrecker that waited. He glanced back to the backyard. They were still working to pry the car in the back yard away from the tree. The body was long gone. They were using metal saws to cut the car away. Once enough had been cut away to move the car, it would go on a flat bed too. The cop’s eyes came back to David.
“You think of anything else that might help us?” he asked.
“The gunshots,” David said and shrugged.
The detective nodded. “We have an eyewitness to that. Says she was walking down the road when she saw the two cars coming: She jumped in the woods. Saw the passenger lean out the window and fire at the car ahead… The dude in the car in your back yard, David. That’s how he got dead.”
To David it felt as though his eyes had bugged out of his head, but he struggled to maintain his composure. She? Who was she? He had seen no one at all, but whoever she was she had described exactly what he had seen himself. So she must have been there. What else did she see?
“You okay?” the blonde asked.
“Tired… Sickened too, to be honest,” David said.
“Yeah… Pauls-that’s the name of the officer that spoke to you, Jay Pauls-said you leaned into the car to check the guy… Found a hand print there…. I assume it’s yours. I guess if I had found that I wouldn’t be feeling too good either.” He sighed. “We’ll be out of here in a few minutes,” he added.
He closed his own little notebook that he had pulled from his pocket and looked at the other cop. He shook his head.
“I guess we have nothing else, David. Like I said, if you think of anything else,” he reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card. He handed the card to David. “Give me a call, okay?”
David nodded, looked over the card and then shoved it into his pocket.
They all stood and watched as the Toyota flipped back over onto its wheels: Metal screeching, the car lurching from side to side on its ruined suspension as it slammed down. The men began hooking up the cables to winch the car up onto the flat bed truck. A few seconds later a second flat bed truck drove around the first and then backed down David’s driveway to the back yard: A steady Beep, Beep, Beep sounding as it backed up. They watched in silence as two men hooked up the remains of the Ford and then winched it backwards and up onto the flat bed.
A second later the two cops walked away without another word. David sat back down on his wooden steps and watched them get into their car and drive away. The trucks followed, and a few seconds later the silence descended once more on Lott road. David sat and watched the dust settle back down to the dirt lane.
There was a little gray seeping into the air and the sky was lightening above the tree tops. Dawn was not far away. David walked up the steps and into the trailer He took one of the beers from the refrigerator, went back outside and sat down on the steps once more.
She, whoever she was, was on his mind. If there had been someone else there, why hadn’t she let him know? Had she been afraid? Most likely, he thought. What had she seen? Had she seen him take the stuff from the Toyota? The Ford?
The Ford he found hard to believe. She would have pretty much had to have been in plain view to have seen the Ford in his back yard, but the Toyota was a different matter. He had been exposed. She could have been anywhere, but if she had seen what he had done why hadn’t she told the cops? She couldn’t have or they would have confronted him and taken those items back: Probably arrested him too.
He sipped at the beer, remembered that he had eleven more: Wished he had had time to check the one guys wallet, maybe there had been money it; in fact probably there had been money in it; then he tipped the beer and chugged it. Got up, went back inside, got two more beers and then came back out and sat down on the steps once more.
He really wanted nothing more than to go back inside to the bedroom and see what he had gotten, but he was too worried about the witness the cops had told him about. Who could it be? Would she eventually tell the cops? Had she and they were just playing it cool to see if he would lie? Questions and questions and no answers.
He popped the top on one of the beers and took a deep drink. His mind seemed to clear a little.
The big bags were almost certainly pot. That wasn’t cash money, but it could be soon. The two bricks that had been hidden in the ice chest were probably cocaine. That was scary, but it was also money. And he knew who to go to, to get rid of all of that. That would be a very large sum of money. He sipped at the beer and thought about it, playing it over in his head.
The two bags of pot were huge: Too heavy for him to carry both bags. That was a lot of pot. A lot of money… The guns… And what else was in the other bags? More drugs? Money? Guns? Dirty gym clothes?
He reached to pop the top on the beer, was surprised to find it was already open, and took a deep gulp. As he lowered his hand he caught movement down the road. A shadow at the side of the road, but it quickly turned into a shape: Someone walking down the side of the road.
David pulled out his cigarettes, lit one and watched. He knew it was a young woman long before she got to his driveway and started up it. Nineteen… Twenty, give or take. A little younger than himself. Dark hair, slim; jeans and a Baby-T that showed a lot of skin and a pierced belly button. She walked up and stopped in front of him.
“Got another smoke?” she asked.
And suddenly David was not sure she was that old. She sounded even younger. He shook out a cigarette and lit it for her. She reached down, picked up the second can of beer, popped the top and took a deep drink. No, David told himself. She must be even older.
“April,” she said. “I’ve seen you around. I live down at the trailer park.
The trailer park was a worse dump than his place. “David,” he said.
She took a deep pull on the cigarette; blew the smoke out and then locked her eyes on his. “I saw you,” she said simply. “I saw you take that shit from the cars, but I didn’t tell the cops.” She smiled.
He held the door for her as she stepped into the trailer. Her eyes seemed to take in everything in one sweeping gaze.
“Hey,” she said as she walked to the couch. “This looks like that old lady’s couch. The one her husband died on… I heard,” she said as she turned to David, “he died watching one of those uncensored Canadian films…. Had himself a heart attack.” She sat down.
David snapped his mouth shut. He had been going to tell her how he had found it on the curb in front of old lady Johnson’s house. How it had taken him twenty minutes to wrestle it into the truck by himself, and nearly a half hour to get it through the trailer door, but how it was worth it because it was in such great shape. Now it didn’t seem like such great news.
He opened the refrigerator and checked the sack he had picked up from the ditch. Bread, crackers, two bags of chips, probably smashed, he told himself, and a broken jar of mayonnaise. He turned around to ask her if she wanted a sandwich and some chips, but she was right behind him.
“Too bad about the mayo,” she told him.
“Yeah… but we got bread. Cheese, bologna, and…”He picked up the other packs of meat, “Salami, ham and olive loaf too,” he told her. “Oh, and chips.”
“I’ll take the white bread for mine,” she said and laughed.
David looked at the green loaf of bread. “I guess it’s no good, huh?” he asked.
“It was probably no good two months ago,” April told him. She took out the new loaf of bread, the cheese and the olive loaf. “What kind do you want?”
“Salami,” David answered.
“I’ll make the sandwiches.” She picked up a squeeze bottle of mustard and looked at it critically, shook it and then looked at David.
“It’s good… Just bought it last week… “‘sides, mustard don’t go bad, does it?” he asked.
“Everything can go bad,” April said. She picked up the salami and the mustard. “You can get the beers and chips,” she said.
She sat everything down on the counter top and then dragged the steel trash can over to the refrigerator: Got the same spatula out of the sink, and levered the green bread into the trash can. She took everything else out of the bag with the broken mayonnaise and then carefully dropped the bag into the can too. A cup that had something that seemed to be growing black hair. An expired container of milk, and that was it. She dragged the can away, pulled out the bag and looked at David.
“Under the sink is fresh bags,” he told her.
After she had taken the trash out to the steel bin down by the road, she came back, washed her hands, and made the sandwiches. She carried the sandwiches over and handed one to David and then settled down on to the opposite end of the couch.
He looked at her funny as he ate his sandwich, a question in his eyes.
“You want to know about the stuff from the cars?” she asked.
David nodded. “Like, how did you see me out back?”
“I was in the woods. I ran. I didn’t know what those guys would do. I knew you lived here. I was heading here when I saw you come out. I wouldn’t have done that… I couldn’t have. Especially when you fell inside the car. It made me gag.”
She paused and met his eyes for a second, then looked away once more. She closed her eyes like she was remembering the scene, or it was playing out again behind her closed lids. David supposed it was. She continued in a lower, measured voice.
“When you got done-I was surprised how fast you did it-I just stayed in the woods for a few minutes… Like I didn’t know what to do… I guess I didn’t,” she shook her head. “Then I walked down the road through the woods across from the other car. I was going to tell you… Call out… but you seemed so focused… I guess that’s the word: Intense might be better. And anyway, next thing you know you were done with that too. Then the cops… I came out of the woods when the cops got here. You didn’t see me ’cause you were talking to one of them…” She looked back at him and held his eyes with her own. That was pretty easy to do: David seemed unable to look away. “You mad?” she asked after a few moments.
“How old are you?” David asked.
“Huh?” she asked.
“You know… How old are you. I look at you and I keep thinking you’re younger. Then you talk and I start thinking you’re older,” David said.
“Fifteen,” she said. “Still wanna do me?” she asked and smiled.
“God,” David said, nearly choking.
“I’m kidding,” she laughed. “I’m eighteen.” She pulled out her driver’s license and showed it to him.
David looked from her to the license. “Doesn’t really look like you.”
She sighed, took the license and stuck it back into her pocket. “Now who else would it be?” she asked.
“That was mean,” David said. No one ever looked like themselves on a license photo.
“Yeah, but the upside is I’m legal and I bet that matters, doesn’t it?” April asked.
He opened his mouth to respond and then snapped it shut just as quickly. She giggled.
“So… You didn’t peek at all? Look in the bags?”
David cleared his throat and hoped his face wasn’t too red. “No… but you could tell what some of it was. At least I’m pretty sure. There are two huge bags of pot. I mean huge,” David told her.
“I know. I saw you had a hard time lifting them. You could only carry one at a time,” April agreed.
“You really were watching the whole thing?” David said.
“I told you,” April agreed.
“Yeah… Well anyway, I could only carry one bag at a time. I mean, how heavy is that? How much pot is that? A lot: A fuckin’ lot. And then there are two bricks of cocaine… Probably cocaine, but what else do you package like that and shoot other people over? They’re actually brick size. Like a real brick. That has to be worth a lot too.” He paused and looked at her.
“The rest?” she asked.
“The rest we’ll have to see. I didn’t have time to look at it,” David told her.
“When?” she asked. “When will we see?”
“Well… We should come to some sort of deal first, right?” David asked.
“Deal… What do you mean deal?” April asked.
David looked away and then turned back and met her eyes. “Deal as in I did all of the work,” he said.
She nodded. “And I kept my mouth shut or you wouldn’t have it. And you would probably be sitting in county jail right now too,” she told him.
David finished his sandwich and then licked his fingers. April finished and they both sat in the silence for awhile. The refrigerator clicked on and the compressor began to hum loudly from the kitchen. David drank down the entire can of beer waiting for her to speak, letting the minutes play out. When she didn’t speak he got up for another can, offered her one, but she shook her head and so he sat back down with the fresh can.
“So,” David said reluctantly. “What do you want? You want to split it fifty-fifty?”
“That would be the fairest… If you consider it all, we’re both in on it from go. I intended to look in those cars too, you just got there first. I kept my mouth shut. I would have yelled to you if I had seen someone coming… It was an equal thing… Equal risk, so it should be equal profit,” April finished.
“Really? You’re not just saying that?” David asked.
“What? Calling out to you if someone came? Going for the cars myself? Of course I mean it. I would have. I ain’t rich. I don’t have anyone that helps me. I don’t have shit. I could use some money too. I got a crappy little job. Life doesn’t seem to be going anywhere… It’s tough,” she said.
David finished his beer and sat it down on the coffee table. “Three things,” he said. “First, we’ll do fifty-fifty. I know someone who can take that pot from us… It’ll be good money… Probably take the coke too…” He paused and brushed at the side of his face.
“Second… We risk everything just like we share everything. Fifty-fifty. We put the same work into it, whatever there is to do… Cool?” he asked.
“Cool,” she said. “What’s three?”
“Were you kidding about me and you? … Just teasing?”
“Nope,” she said. “I think you do want me… I think you’re cute too.”
“You don’t think I’m easy, do you?” April asked.
They were in the bedroom. She had simply got up and followed him down the hall to the bedroom. She looked at the bed which appeared to be made. That was surprising: A guy making his own bed.
David looked at her confused, and then looked down at the bed. “Oh,” he said and turned red. “I put the stuff here. I put it here because I really couldn’t think of a better place to put it, and I heard the sirens coming… So I stuffed it under the bed.” He explained.
“Oh,” she said. “I thought… Never mind.”
David turned a deeper red. He moved to the side of the bed and picked up the blanket that trailed onto the floor. The underside of the bed was crammed with duffel bags and suitcases.
“I’ll pick up the box springs and you pull the stuff out. It’s the only way I could get it under there quick.” He squatted, picked up one corner of the box springs and mattress and lifted it from the frame. April began pulling everything out onto the floor.
Outside a car door slammed.
“Fuck,” David squeaked.
April picked up bags and began shoving them back under the bed: Pushing them deep under the bed with her feet. David wrenched the mattress and box springs back up and she dumped the rest back in, struggling with the suitcases.
David lowered the box spring, starting to breathe hard with panic. He took a deep breath and forced himself to calm down. He smoothed the blanket over the corner of the bed once more, and then turned and headed out of the bed room.
As he walked into the living room someone began to knock on the front door that opened into the kitchen. David looked out the peephole only to find a young guy with thick, curly black hair staring back at him. A camera hung around his neck, a clip board was in his hand.
David took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and then opened the door.
“Mister Cross?” the young guy asked. He looked even younger than David was.
“Yeah,” David said. It was never any good when someone called you by your government name.
“Gotta take some pictures; you know, out back. That okay?” He held up the camera.
“Yeah… Go ahead,” David said, relieved. He started to shut the door.
“Uh… Hold on… You got to sign.” He smiled and offered David the clipboard, tapping with one finger where the signature should go.
David had let go of the door when he took the clipboard. The door swung open to reveal April who stood behind him. The young guy looked up at her from his place on the rickety wooden steps.
“Oh… Hey,” the guy said.
“Hey,” April returned. She turned on her best three hundred watt smile and the guy returned it.
David scratched out a reasonable version of his name and then handed the clip board back to him.
“Cool,” he said. He glanced at April once more. “I won’t be long.” He turned away and walked toward the end of the trailer and the back yard. David shut the door and they both sighed.
“Says he won’t be long… Hopefully he won’t… Want another beer?” David asked.
“Sure,” April agreed. She wandered over to the couch and sat down. David took a beer to her and then sat down at the other end of the couch. The T.V. was still playing low and it amazed David that it could still be playing after all that had happened. An infomercial for a new mini washing machine that washed just a few items at a time came on and caught his attention for a few moments. April pulled his attention away from the T.V.
“What was in the paper bag?” she asked.
“Don’t know. It was in the glove box of the Ford…. The car out back,” he finished.
“I can tell a Ford from a Toyota,” April said. “So, three duffel bags and two suitcases?”
“That one suitcase is heavy… The melted one?”
He nodded. “That’s the one I pulled out of the Toyota while it was burning… That blue duffel bag I pulled out of the Ford is heavy too.”
“That was crazy,” April said. “It could have blown up or something.”
“Yeah… I thought about that afterward,” David admitted. He got up and crossed to the T.V., pushing aside the curtain that covered the window that looked out over the back yard.
The guy was taking measurements, and both close up and distant shots of the tree with a digital camera. He looked up and saw David at the window and waved. David waved back and then came back over to the couch and sat down.
“Do you realize it’s almost two hours after the fact?” David asked her.
April looked at him.
“Just makes me wonder if we’ll ever look inside those bags today or not. And eventually I have to get hold of someone for that pot… Probably the coke too,” he added.
“Is that smart?” April asked.
“What do you mean?” David returned.
“Just that; that’s a lot of stuff: Somebody’s going to miss it… If we show up with it, it could be bad, right?” she asked.
“I thought about that,” David said. “We could just get rid of some of it… A little today… A little next week… Like that until it’s all gone. I only know one person who could take it all… I was going to do that, and then I thought about it like you said, and realized it could be stupid… Same reasons… I only know that the guy deals big time… Not with who,” David said.
“Could be money in one of those suitcases… Or duffel bags,” April said.
“I hope so… It makes sense, right? If they were doing a big drug deal that went bad and the drugs are there wouldn’t the money be there too,” David said.
“Or,” April said. “If it went bad maybe they were trying to rip the guy off… Maybe they had no money.”
“Maybe,” David agreed reluctantly. He sipped at the beer, got up and went back to the window. The guy was gone. He walked to the front door just in time to hear the door slam and the motor start on the car the guy was driving. He watched through the peephole until the car turned out of the driveway and headed down the road. He turned to April and shrugged.
“Try again?” he asked. She followed him back to the bedroom once more.
HELLUVA BOOK! August 11, 2019Format: Kindle Edition
Crime, drug lords, drug deals, drug deals gone bad, murders, twists and turns, modern day Bonnie and Clyde on the run, expect the unexpected, makes one helluva “I can’t put this book down” story! Damn that was awesome!
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