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Son of a Circus Clown-Fiction by Kip Hanson
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Run, Robby, Run, Part 1_Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
707-1900-Fiction by Sean Daly
Bloodbath in a Vegas Firestorm-Fiction by J. Brooke
Resolve-Fiction by Stephen Tillman
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The Woman on the Bed-Fiction by Justin Swartz
The Thing with Five Fingers-Fiction by Gary Lovisi
The Opposite of Dreams-Fiction by Beau Johnson
An Editor's Rejection Mistake-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Dig-Flash Fiction by Doug Hawley
Alibi, Inc.-Flash Fiction by Roy Dorman
A Slave to My Passion-Flash Fiction by Rick McQuiston
The Beckoning-Poem by Michael Keshigian
and so, naked us-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
fyi-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
last journal entry-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
the story to here-Poem by Meg Baird
Tom cat-Poem by Meg Baird
mon amie/my friend-Poem by Meg Baird
Ravens-Poem by John Grey
Tunnels and the Man-Poem by John Grey
His Body Dug Up from Your Garden-Poem by John Grey
Deuce-Poem by Sanjeev Sethi
Maxilla-Poem by Sanjeev Sethi
Resume-Poem by Sanjeev Sethi
Desperate for Entertainment-Poem by Michael Marrotti
Poetry in Need-Poem by Michael Marrotti
One Man Can Only Take So Much-Poem by Michael Marrotti
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

robbypart1.jpg
Art by Kevin Duncan 2017

Run, Robby, Run

Part 1

by Kenneth James Crist

 

 

Located on the grounds of Fort Meade, the headquarters for the NSA, the nation's premier covert intelligence gathering organization, is housed in two high-rise office structures, built and dedicated by Ronald Reagan in 1986, and in other structures on the base, including an estimated 10 acres of which are underground. At least 20,000 employees work for the NSA at Fort Meade, making it the largest employer in the county, one of the largest employers in Maryland, and the largest employer of mathematicians in the country. While the extent of NSA's technical facilities is guarded as a national security measure, the NSA's headquarters is believed to house one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. The NSA operates other computer labs, offices, and satellite interception posts around the world.

Four years almost to the day after Robby Metcalf received his honorable discharge from the United States Army, a small man in an equally small office read a memo on his secure computer at Fort Meade. The memo had to do with rumors about an ex-Army Ranger who had sustained a head injury in the Iraq war and, as a consequence, could now talk to animals.

In most government offices, the memo would have been shredded or perhaps filed away somewhere and ignored, as being too incredible to waste valuable time on, but not at the NSA. The small man in the small office, buried several stories below the main building, logged into the mainframe and began doing what NSA does best—gathering intelligence. . . .

 

Having rescued a 20-year-old woman from captivity, torture, rape and sodomy and perhaps eventual death the night before, Fuzzy and I decided we’d sleep in. At some point, I figured we’d have to deal with Detective Tambar, and, hindsight always being 20/20, I felt we should have skipped that step in the process and left him out of the loop. Too late now. But Tambar had a pretty strong sense of right and wrong, and I could probably tailor my story to make everything turn out okay.

I knew we couldn’t sleep too late, though, or we’d miss out on getting any kind of a decent breakfast. It was almost ten when I finally dragged my ass out into the daylight and brushed my teeth and put my boots on. Fuzzy went out and made some quick rounds and then we set off, headed toward downtown.

Most of the birds I always listened to for chatter about what might be going on had flown south for the winter. The exceptions were crows and pigeons. Crows are some of the world’s great bullshitters and you really can’t trust much of what they say. Pigeons, at least the city version, are horny bastards with mostly sex and getting handouts on their minds. They don’t pay much attention to what’s going on unless something really bad goes down.

We went by Castle’s on 3rd street, but our favorite cook was gone on vacation, so we headed on down to Punkie’s Coffee Shop on Cleveland. There, the menu wasn’t much, but they made huge cinnamon rolls and that would hold us until lunch. Turk Wilson was tattooed and looked like a swarthy Middle Eastern type, but he grew up in Boston. When he wasn’t supplying yuppies and millennials with their expensive coffees and lattes, he was the road captain for the local chapter of the Road Devils M/C. The Devils weren’t into crime of any kind, in spite of the name, and there was probably more legal talent in their ranks than in any other organization of bikers. They were mostly cops and lawyers.

Turk fixed us up and when he got a break, came out back to talk for a few minutes. “There were a couple of suits around yesterday, askin’ about ya,” he said.

“Suits? What, tax people? Cops?”

He shrugged and said, “Government types. Plain car with about forty antennas all over it, kiss-me-quick haircuts, shiny shoes.”

“You tell ‘em where ta find me?”

“Shit yeah. Drew ‘em a fuckin’ map. Asshole!”

“Okay, sorry, I shoulda known better that ta say that. They say what they wanted?”

“Pretty close-mouthed, for guys who wanted citizen cooperation. They used the old ‘matter of national security’ rap. Just lookin’ for ya, is all.”

“Hmmm. Can’t say I really like that. . . .”

As Fuzzy and I were walking back, I asked, “Did you get any of that back there with Turk?”

“Not really, but I can tell you’re not happy. What’s the deal?”

“I’m afraid we’re gonna hafta move.”

“You mean find another bridge? Or a house nobody’s usin’?”

“Maybe worse than that. We may hafta leave altogether.”

Fuzzy stopped and just stood. I stopped and waited, thinking he was looking for a good pee spot. But when I looked back he was just sitting, staring at me. Finally, he said, “You mean leave town. And then I’ll never see you again.”

“No, I said ‘we.’ I won’t leave you behind. Wherever I go, you go too.”

“How will that work? I can’t go on a bus or a plane. . .  They’d want me to go in a crate. . . ”

Fuzzy understood crates and he loathed them. I never asked, but I was sure he’d had some bad experiences with being crated at some point in his past.

“No. We won’t use public transport. Nobody’s goin’ in any crate. I’ll figure something out.”

We walked on in silence and we were getting close to our bridge when I saw Fuzzy’s nose come up. “We got trouble, Boss,” he said.

I looked across the end of the block, our position still hidden by trees and parked cars, bushes and the corner of a house. There was a slick-top Dodge Charger under our bridge and it wasn’t Julius Tambar’s ride. I could see two white men in suits and they had all my worldly possessions dragged out and scattered all over.

“Okay,” Fuzzy said, “this is just wrong. Who the hell are those guys?”

“Government. FBI, CIA, NSA. Who knows? But we gotta split and I mean right now.”

“Did we do something wrong?”

“No, but I don’t think that matters. They’ve probably found out about my ability. . . ”

Fuzzy looked up at me and said, “You have an . . . ability?”

“Being able to talk to animals, dummy.”

“Oh, yeah. Is that against the law?”

“No. But I’m sure it’s something they think they could use.”

“Use it for what?”

“C’mon, let’s walk before they spot us. This way.” We began cutting back through alleys and back yards and soon we were several blocks away.

Soon, Fuzzy asked again, “Use it for what, Boss?”

“Spying, probably. If you’re in a foreign country and you can talk to the animals, it would be an advantage. Maybe they think I could teach spies or soldiers how to do what I can do.”

“Could you? Teach them?”

“Nope. I don’t know how I can do it. So how could I teach anyone else?”

“So, just tell ‘em that and yer good.”

“Not that easy, Fuzz. Why would they believe me?”

“Where we goin’ now?”

“Gonna hafta find some money.”

“Okay, the ATM, then what?”

“No, not the ATM.” Fuzzy had seen me use the ATM card dozens of times, so he had picked up the term. “Gonna need a different kind of ATM this time, Buddy.”

~   ~   ~   ~   ~

My name is Robby Metcalf. I was a soldier and I fought in Iraq. It was tough duty, but I was okay until my squad’s Humvee was blown up by a roadside IED. I was up top in the gunner’s seat at the time and I was blown clear and when I landed, I still was clutching the M-60. I survived along with my medical corpsman. I was sent stateside to recuperate and eventually got my Purple Heart and my discharge, along with the ability to talk to animals. Something in my head causes it and I have no control over it. If I take enough meds to turn my head into mush, I can make it go away, but then I can’t talk to my friends, like Fuzzy and Lucille. . .  

We walked about fourteen blocks north, getting into sleazier areas all the time. I had abandoned all my stuff, but it was just that—stuff. Nothing I couldn’t replace or do without. But if we were going to head out and disappear, we would need money—cash and quite a bit of it.

When I started seeing cars cruising slowly through the neighborhood, I knew we were getting close to what we needed. Cars full of white people only cruise areas like we were in during the daytime and then for only two things, illicit drugs or illicit pussy. I stopped on a corner and knelt to untie and retie a shoe. I told Fuzzy, “Go around to the front of those first couple of houses and come back and tell me what you see.” He sauntered away, sniffing, lifting, peeing a few drops here, a few there. In about four minutes, he was back.

“Second house has two big, mean-lookin’ guys on the front porch. And a pit bull. And kids runnin’ back and forth to cars that are stoppin’ in front.”

“Can you kick a pit bull’s ass?”

“Does a squirrel do weird shit with nuts?”

“Okay, you go tear up the pit bull, but don’t get shot in the process. I need a distraction so I can get in through the back. Make it real noisy, okay?”

“Kay. Be careful, Boss.”

Typical. The dog was going around front to lock asses with a pit and he tells me to be careful. When I heard the shit start, I ran directly to the back of the second house. There was a porch with an old wooden screen door, held shut with a granny hook. I snatched it open, the hook flying over my shoulder, and slid quietly inside. It sounded like Fuzzy was taking on all the dogs in the city out front. I figured I had three minutes. Dope dealers love a good dog fight, until their dog starts losing.

I found myself in a kitchen. I did a quick search, cupboards, freezer, under the sink. Nothing. I went left into a bedroom. Dresser, nightstands, nothing. Closet, under clothes, upper shelf, and—payday. A red Nike box with three fat rolls of money, one roll of hundreds, one roll of twenties and one roll of tens. I took them all, stuffed them in my pockets and shagged ass. When I made it to the alley, I woodchuck whistled, and presently Fuzzy came bounding around the house. I expected to see the pit bull chasing him, but he was alone. There was quite a bit of blood and none of it was his. We ran about eight blocks, expecting pursuit, but none was forthcoming. Presently we slowed and when our breathing settled a bit, Fuzzy said, “Think I may have killed him, Boss.” He was grinning and panting. Looked like he’d had a good old time for himself.

“I’m surprised the assholes didn’t shoot ya,” I said.

“Never saw any guns at all. Weird, huh?”

“Yep. I thought all the dealers had guns handy.”

“Where we headed next?”

“Better see if we can find someplace to wash the blood off you. Next, we gotta buy a car. Then we’ll go back by our place and see if the Feds are still around. I need my cell phone. It’s got some numbers in it I don’t wanna lose.”

“If the Feds went through all our stuff, why would they leave a cell phone?”

Sometimes the dog was smarter than me.

I didn’t feel we had time to do the whole dog groomer thing, so we stopped at a car wash. The weather was cold enough they had left the machines on winter settings, so there was a small stream of warm water coming out of the spray nozzles all the time, to keep them from freezing up. Fuzzy wasn’t too pleased, but he didn’t like smelling like blood, either. I washed him off while he stood patiently, giving me the stink-eye. I found one old towel someone had left behind and fluffed him as best I could. It would have to do. We walked on, toward Broadway, where the car lots were. Not the good lots, those were more uptown. I wanted the buy here-pay here lots, where I could make a quick deal.

We looked on six lots in about forty minutes. We kept ourselves to pickup trucks, bypassing SUV’s and regular cars. We also stuck to the smaller foreign trucks for economy reasons and ease of parking. I insisted on four-wheel drive because if things got bad enough, we might have to take to the hills.

We settled on a ten-year-old Mazda that had actually been a one-owner truck. I looked for signs of good care and a picky owner. The mileage was high, but the service records were all there and they were impressive. I remembered all the Mazda trucks I had seen in Iraq, carrying soldiers and machine guns and everything else one could imagine. They seemed to run forever with a minimal amount of care. The dealer wanted about a thousand too much, but with no trade-in and cash only, I didn’t have much wiggle room. I got him down five hundred and the deal was done. I waited while they put a 60-day tag on it and checked everything over, then we were on our way.

The back seat was a joke, the truck being early enough that it was not a true four-door. Fuzzy claimed the front passenger seat and I did not argue. I headed back to take a last look under the Ninth Street Bridge. It was a waste of time. The Feds were parked a block down with a good view of the place and all my stuff had been picked up and was probably in the trunk of their car now. I drove right past them and, since they didn’t know the truck, I didn’t get a second look.

“Well, Fuzz, I guess it’s time to make like a tree and leave,” I said. He didn’t get that one. . .

~   ~   ~   ~   ~

As we passed through the outskirts of town, I decided to stop at good old Walmart and spend some more of the dealer’s money. I didn’t plan to do any camping, but there is always the matter of survival. I bought a nice sleeping bag and some canned food, toiletries and such. I got a couple boxes of Milk Bones. I drew the line at actually purchasing dog food. Fuzzy had always eaten whatever I ate and it seemed to suit him. I got some candles and a couple lighters and a stainless steel water bowl for Fuzzy. A case of bottled water went into the cart. As I was about to hit the checkout, I saw a display of cell phones and, from the brochures, I realized I could use the same carrier I’d had before and probably download all the numbers that had been in the other phone. I had to buy a car charger, as it didn’t come with one, but that was a small nuisance. Twenty-five minutes later, I officially owned more stuff than I’d ever had since my discharge from the Army.

Almost as an afterthought, I pulled in at a sporting goods store and bought a handgun. I had trouble deciding between a used 9mm Beretta and a new Glock Model 22, but in the end, the Glock won out. The Beretta was blued steel and pretty, but the Glock had fewer parts to rust. I bought a box of .40 caliber shells to go with it and we left the city behind.

Some dogs get nervous around guns. Fuzzy just looked at it as I was loading it and stashing it under my seat and said, “I see you finally wised up.”

“What’s that mean?”

“The world’s a bad place, Boss. I feel better knowing we got a gun, that’s all. Especially since you’ve taken to ripping off dope dealers.”

“Hey, that was a one-time thing. Besides, dope dealers should be shot in the head and their money taken as a matter of course.”

“One-time, huh?” He turned around twice and curled up in the seat. “We’ll see. . . .”

 

The drug dealer’s name was Levi Espinoza, and he was pissed. It took several hours for him to figure out that the dog fight, in which he’d lost one of his best breeding dogs, was merely a distraction. Later that afternoon, when he went to the bedroom to add money into his stash, he realized what the deal was really all about. In the far distance, he’d seen a man join up with the German Shepherd and he’d sent a couple of his boys to find them, but they’d been unsuccessful. Once he realized the incident had been about more than just a dogfight, he made some calls, and among his contacts, he found someone who knew about a guy with a big Shepherd who lived under a bridge. . . .

 

I didn’t really start to relax until we entered Pennsylvania on I-84 at Port Jervis. By then, having seen nothing suspicious in the traffic around us, no one following us, I began to figure we were probably okay. It was getting late in the day and I was ready for some supper and a room with a shower, a bed, and a door that locked. We found a place with motels and fast-food eateries forty miles east of Scranton and we pulled in. I fed Fuzzy while sitting on the tailgate of the Mazda, in the parking lot of a burger joint. I filled his bowl with water and we ate and people-watched, maybe a little more intensely than we normally would. Nobody paid us much attention except one guy about thirty years old with a couple kids. They stopped and made a fuss over Fuzzy, and he ate it up.

I picked a fairly cheap motel, figuring they would be more receptive to having a large dog in the room. The place was built with cinder blocks that had been plastered over at some point with stucco and it was outlined in pink and green neon. Forty-five bucks got us a room. The guy was a short little prick with a large goiter on his neck that I was trying hard not to stare at. He wasn’t too happy about Fuzzy and wanted to know why the dog couldn’t sleep in the truck. I carefully explained that Fuzzy was a service dog and that I had PTSD from being in the war. I told him that without the dog, anything could happen. I could go off at any time and maybe hurt somebody. When the guy looked up at me, I gave him my most demented look and he bought it. Meanwhile, Fuzzy was staring at the guy’s neck and whining, “What the fuck is that thing on his neck, Boss?”

In the room, I showered and turned in. Fuzzy didn’t want any part of the bed, so I rolled out the new sleeping bag and he was happy on the floor. It was the first time either of us had slept indoors in a long time.

 

The NSA agents had decided Metcalf wasn’t coming back. They were also aware that there were some other people looking for him, but they didn’t know why. Levi Espinoza hadn’t called the cops. What would he say? “Hey, a guy killed my dog and ripped off my dope money stash?” Dope dealers tended to take care of problems like Robby themselves. By nightfall, they began to realize he’d probably skipped town and they started making phone calls. He had to show up somewhere

. . . .

The NSA started looking at ways Metcalf could have blown town. They checked the airport, the bus terminal, the train station, talking to people and reviewing video from security cameras. Nothing. They had no idea what kind of resources he might have, although the only bank account they found showed a balance of under a thousand dollars and no withdrawals. They couldn’t see him trying to hitchhike, not with the dog. But if he did, he would eventually get stopped and checked by a cop somewhere, so they did the expedient thing. They entered him in NCIC and hoped for the best. As soon as they did that, they got a hit. He had purchased a handgun earlier that day at Jake’s, a well-known gun store on the west side.

Agents made contact and, from the store’s video feed, saw the Mazda pickup as it pulled out of the lot, headed west. The tag was a temporary and they were unable to get a number. Agents started checking car lots about the time Robby and Fuzzy were eating burgers on the tailgate. They started with car lots that were within walking distance of Metcalf’s bridge. By nine-thirty, they knew the year, color and VIN number of the Mazda and how much Robby had paid for it. The mystery deepened: Where did Metcalf get the money to buy a truck and skip town?

 

Fuzzy got me up at 2 A.M. to go outside and pee. When we stayed under the bridge, he would just get up and go do his business, and I’d often sleep right through it. I was glad he had sense enough to wake me. Once back in bed, I was restless and antsy. I had the thought of pursuit in the back of my mind and I was no longer tired. About two-forty, I sat up and said, “Fuck it. Let’s roll.” I didn’t have to tell Fuzzy twice. I think the restrictions of being indoors bothered him. I rolled the sleeping bag and put it and all our other stuff in the truck, dropped the key in the night box outside the office, and we headed out, again travelling west and south, down to Interstate 80.

 

The dope dealer had the best luck of anyone, so it seemed. There was a Mexican cleanup guy who worked at the car lot where Robby Metcalf had bought the Mazda, and guess where he bought his dope? In the process of bullshitting their way to a transaction, he and the dealer talked about what had been going on lately. When the dealer got down to “that god-damned white boy and the big fuckin’ German Shepherd,” the lights went on. In three more minutes, the dealer knew the make, model, and color of the truck Metcalf had bought. He didn’t have the VIN number, but he didn’t need it, either. He sold the cleanup guy his heroin for half off and got on his phone.

 

Interstate 80 runs more or less straight west across Pennsylvania and Ohio, where it joins I-90 and goes to Chicago. Fuzzy and I made routine fuel stops and got chow whenever we were hungry and just rolled on. I knew at some point, we were going to have to get off I-80. I had no desire to see Chicago or go anywhere near it. I figured the more rural we stayed, the better. Fuzzy was restless and seemed to spend a lot of time sleeping or just lying on the passenger seat. I finally asked him what was bothering him and he said, “Boss, I’m ready to go home.”

It seemed hard to believe he could be lonesome for a bridge underpass in the middle of a fair-sized city, one that was also inhabited by a six-foot black snake, but there it was. I knew in a couple of days, he’d get over it, but I hated to see him so down.

 

The dealer called his “best boy,” a large, black ex-cop and high-powered skip tracer who went by the handle Pappy Ray. Pappy Ray happened to be gay and his best boy was a diminutive Puerto Rican named Thomaso Angelino Rodriguez, AKA Tommy Beans. They dropped what they were doing at that moment, which was fairly disgusting and involved rope and water-soluble lubricant, and jumped in Pappy Ray’s pink antique Chrysler Imperial and made a beeline to the dealer’s.

The dealer got them lined out on Robby Metcalf, the German Shepherd, and the Mazda pickup, and launched them west like a big pink cruise missile. . . .

 

In four days, we were in Texas, and the weather had turned downright sultry. I think it was beginning to dawn on Fuzzy that the bridge part of our lives was over. He had settled in much better and he was enjoying seeing the cattle and pronghorns and oil wells and anything that was new and different. It had become an adventure, and I had begun at last to relax.

On day six, we stopped early at a motel just outside San Antonio and we did the takeout thing as a late lunch. I also stopped at a package store and got a six-pack of Millers to put in the fridge. I was seated in a white plastic stack chair outside Room 37, drinking a cold one, when an absolute vision pulled around from the office driving a yellow Jeep. I noticed the machine first. It was lifted three or four inches and sported white-letter mudder tires. It had no doors, but it had a black canvas surrey top, strictly for shade, and a roll bar, a light kit, and a winch.

Looking where the driver’s side door should have been, I saw a long, tanned leg and a black cowboy boot. My attention was suddenly riveted. I watched her as she took her time getting out. Her shorts were Daisy Dukes, raggedy as hell. The boots looked like they might have belonged to her grandfather. A red blouse was rolled up and tied just under her boobs, which were considerable. Her face was a bit angular, with pronounced cheekbones and pale blue eyes. Her ash blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail, held in place by some kind of sparkly elastic thing. I glanced at Fuzzy and he was staring, too.

“Don’t suppose you got another-a them beers, do ya?” She smiled, revealing dimples and teeth so white, I figured they were capped.

“Fuzzy, would you get the lady a beer?”

Fuzzy sprang up and shouldered his way into the room. I didn’t have to watch him do his beer trick. I knew he would nose open the fridge and very carefully ease out a bottle, then set it on the floor, and push the fridge door shut. In a minute, he was back, the cold beer held carefully in his teeth. He approached the Jeep lady and she squatted down to pet him and take the beer. That afforded me a brief look down her blouse. I liked what I saw.

She cracked open the cap and took a hefty gulp of Genuine Draft and said, “How long did it take to teach him that trick?”

“I never taught him anything. He learns stuff on his own. His name’s Fuzzy.”

“Well, thank you, Fuzzy.” She ruffled his neck hair, then stood and said, “Thanks for the beer.”

She walked back down toward the office and unlocked Number 34 and went inside without so much as a glance back.

“She’s quite a package, huh Boss?” Fuzzy said, “Hey, you think she might wanna . . . you know . . . make puppies with ya?”

“Probably not, Big Guy, but ya never know.” It was getting hotter where we were sitting, which was on the west side of the building. I was debating whether to go back inside, but if she came back out, I didn’t want to miss the show, so I sat and waited a while.

In about twenty minutes, the door of Number 34 opened, and a bare arm holding an empty beer bottle slid out. “This beer is empty,” I heard her call, “and I think I need one more.” This time I went in and got it.

I walked down to the room and the door was standing four inches ajar and the arm was still there with the empty bottle. I took it out of her hand and replaced it with the full one, already opened. The arm disappeared back inside, but the door remained ajar.

 I gave it a minute, waiting for an invitation, then finally just slowly eased the door open. She was seated on the end of the bed, naked, and as I watched, she took the ice-cold bottle and ran it slowly over her left breast, causing the nipple to pucker up and harden. Then she did the other breast. I was frozen in place and momentarily stunned. I could see the wetness from the condensation on the bottle, making the perfect tan of her breasts shiny. Then she spread her legs wide and rubbed the bottle on her shaved vulva, gasping as she did so. “It’s just too fuckin’ hot out there today,” she said. I stepped the rest of the way into her room and pushed the door shut and didn’t say anything for quite a while.

Sometime during the next hour, about the time I was doing her from behind and just after her fifth orgasm, I had the presence of mind to ask her name. She was huffing and puffing, straining to get off again and she said, “It’s Alice . . . Ann . . . Ackerman. . . . Oh, God . . . honey . . . what’s yours?”

I waited until we had finished that round and then said, “Robby Metcalf, at your service, Ma’am. . . .”

Holy shit. Alice Ann Ackerman. Triple A, for sure. About nine o’clock, I finally stumbled back to my own room. Fuzzy, who had been waiting patiently outside the door of Number 34, trudged along beside me. He made no snide comments. None at all. Unusual for him. He drank half a bowl of water and we fell into bed and slept like we’d been pole-axed.

In the morning, the Feds had the place surrounded.

I had been dreaming one of those hard-on inducing dreams that you remember vividly for about three minutes. In it, I was in the process of marrying the hot Jeep-driving blonde and taking her to live happily ever after under the Ninth Street Bridge. Fuzzy was the ring bearer, carrying the rings on a pillow strapped on his back. The Jeep had a “Totally Fucked” sign on the back instead of “Just Married,” and there were a lot of clear Miller bottles tied on the back.

Pounding on the door, along with Fuzzy’s barking, brought me out of that one, and I padded barefoot to the door over carpet that was slightly crunchy from being shampooed about a million times. I cracked open the door to find two agents in suits aiming guns at me. My own gun was still under the seat in the Mazda. Oops.

Fuzzy’s low growl was not even very articulate, but I told him it was okay. I didn’t want him shot trying to defend me or himself. I merely stepped back, turned around and placed my hands on the back of my neck and waited.

“Agent Matthews, NSA,” the bigger of the two said, as he walked over to the table and pulled out a chair to sit. His partner stayed at the door. Fuzzy’s lips were still lifting and he was charged like a live wire.

“It’s okay, Buddy,” I said.

He snorted and it sounded very much like, “Bullshit!”

“Please sit, Mr. Metcalf. We’re all on the same side, here.” Fuzzy snorted again.

“If we’re all on the same side, why are you guys chasing me?”

“Why did you take off?”

“Let’s just say I love my country, but I fear my government. Rather than lock assholes with you guys, it was easier to just leave.”

“Mr. Metcalf, we’re going to take you into protective custody.”

“What are you protecting me from?”

“A certain drug dealer, one Levi Espinoza, who has now sent a team out to find you. Did you ever count the money?”

“Twenty-two thousand and change,” I said, “and I’ll take my chances, thank you.”

“No, Mr. Metcalf, we can’t allow that. You’re much too valuable to allow some dope-dealing shitass to have you killed.”

“Valuable? Me?”

“Yessir.” He looked very dedicated at that moment, and very emphatic. “You have a very unique talent that we want.”

~   ~   ~   ~   ~

I was impressed with the manners and the efficiency of the NSA boys. In forty minutes, they had the Mazda towed to a “secure facility,” had me and Fuzzy loaded into a car, and whisked away to the nearest airport that was big enough to take jet aircraft.

As we were being walked out to the car, I saw Alice Ann standing outside her room, watching. She called out, “Robby! Are you some kind of wanted desperado?”

I just smiled at her and left it at that. If she wanted to go the rest of her life believing she’d slept with the modern-day equivalent of Billy the Kid, it was okay by me. I figured I’d never see her again, anyway.

When we rolled onto the tarmac at the small airport, Fuzzy looked around and whined quietly, “Am I gonna get crated, Boss?”

“I don’t think so, Fuzz.”

Agent Matthews turned in his seat and asked, “Was that a conversation?”

“Yeah,” I said, “he wants to know if he’s gonna hafta ride in a crate.”

“No. Hell, no. No crates for that big guy. You and he are the stars of this little show.”

We rolled up to a Gulfstream 5, and in less than ten minutes, we were wheels up for Maryland. Fuzzy got a window seat and I got champagne. . . .

 

Continued in the next issue of Yellow Mama. . . .



Kenneth James Crist is a tired, broken-down old motorcycle cop from Wichita Kansas. He began writing a novel in 1994 as keyboard practice and has since written four more novels, several novellas and a butt-load of short stories. His publications have been seen in Bewildering Stories, Tales of the Talisman, A Twist of Noir, A Shot of Ink, Eaten Alive, The New Flesh, The Sink, The Edge, Skin and Bones, Twisted Sister and Kudzu Monthly, to name a few. Recently, he had three stories accepted by John Thompson at Hardboiled, for two anthologies that were published in April of 2014, The Undead War and Hardboiled, both available from Dead Guns Press.

He also has four books up in Kindle format, for sale on Amazon.com: Dreaming of Mirages, The Gazing Ball, Joshua, and Groaning for Burial, his latest zombie fiction. One of his novellas, Surviving Montezuma, is being serialized by Anne Stickel at Black Petals.

Having turned 72 last June, he still rides his big Harley every day that weather permits and is now completely retired. He volunteers as a blood services driver for the American Red Cross and he is also a member of the American Legion Riders and the Kansas Patriot Guard.




In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017