Run, Robby, Run
Kenneth James Crist
and Tommy Beans got a call on Pappy Ray’s cell phone from the dealer, and he
was not happy.
“I just got
word that a white dude and a German Shepherd dog got picked up by the Feds in
San Antonio. Where the fuck you guys at?”
that far away,” Tommy answered. When the phone had beeped, Pappy had handed it
to him. One of Pappy’s pet peeves was fuck-heads that talked on phones while
they were driving. “We just comin’ outta Austin on I-35.”
it up, muthafuckahs, the name a the place is the Traveler’s Rest, and it’s
right on the highway. Call me!”
told Pappy Ray the news and the antique titty-pink Imperial kicked its fuel
consumption up from its normal ten miles to the gallon to eight. Pappy figured
his badge and retirement card and a tsunami of bullshit would take care of any
trooper that might stop him.
out the window of the Gulfstream for about ten minutes, then he curled up in
his seat and didn’t bother looking out again. One of the agents asked me, “Is
your dog nervous about flying?”
all,” I said, “he’s not my dog. We’re friends, but nobody owns Fuzzy. Second,
he’s not any more nervous than if he was in a car or a boat, but when you’ve
seen one section of Texas from thirty thousand feet, you’ve pretty much seen it
all. Fuzzy and I believe you should eat when you can, because the next meal is
never certain and you should sleep when you can, because you may not get
another chance for a while.” With that, I kicked my seat back and took a nap,
one hand resting on the dog that wasn’t mine.
Antonio, an hour later, the pink Imperial pulled into the lot at Traveler’s
Rest and Pappy Ray and Tommy Beans got out. Pappy was pulling his slacks out of
the crack of his ass as they walked toward the office.
#34, Alice Ann Ackerman picked up the phone, dialed nine and then another ten
digits. After a moment she said, “This is Ackerman. The two idiots in the
Imperial just showed up. I’ll be making contact. Start me a backup.” She hung
up the phone, pulled on her cowboy boots and unbuttoned another button on her
blouse, grabbed her keys and stepped out, walking toward the office.
walked in, both the big dude and the little faggot came to attention like bird
dogs on a scent. Evidently, they weren’t as gay or bi as they thought. She
swung her ass a little more as she walked across to the cooler at one end of
the office and pulled out a bottle of water, then came back to the counter and
handed the clerk two bucks. She smiled at the two idiots and batted her
eyelashes and swung back out.
watched her all the way down to #34, then went back to questioning the clerk.
In another forty seconds, they learned from the clerk that Metcalf had spent a
goodly amount of time in #34 with the cowgirl chick and they headed down there.
Knocked on the door.
Just as the
door was opened, a voice behind them said, “Step right on in, gentlemen.” Pappy
Ray glanced over his shoulder and saw a white guy in chinos and a leather jacket.
He was holding a Glock 9mm with a suppressor and it was pointed at Tommy Beans’
neck. Pappy said, “Oh shit!” and the blonde cowgirl produced a silenced weapon
of her own.
Tommy stepped into the room and Pappy said, “What? What do you want?”
“Nothing,” and shot him in the heart. He fell back across the bed. Tommy stared
for one second and then turned to bolt for the door. He took a round from the
other agent’s Glock through his forehead. Alice dug around in Tommy’s pockets
and found the keys to the Imperial. Tossed them to the other agent and said,
“Go get that pink piece of shit and back it up here.”
later, Pappy and Tommy were in the Imperial’s trunk and the agents were headed
south, she in her Jeep, and him driving ol’ pinkie. They would meet a contact
at the border, at Hidalgo, who would take the Imperial, dispose of the bodies
and keep the car. It would soon be repainted and sold, probably to some Mexican
politician or drug lord.
We landed at
Baltimore-Washington International Airport at about one in the afternoon. Lunch
on the plane had been ham and cheese sandwiches and bottled water. I ate one
sandwich and Fuzzy ate three.
stepped off the plane, a black limo with red and blue lights in the grille was
waiting for us. We were ushered into the back, along with one agent, and the
other sat up front. We went out a side gate and onto a minor service road, then
onto a highway and things sped up.
By my watch,
it was eighteen minutes later when we pulled into Fort Meade, Maryland. As we
pulled in past the military at the gate, the agent in front turned around and
asked, “Does Fuzzy normally stay in a kennel?”
“No, he sleeps
with me. We live under a bridge. And by the way, whenever it’s convenient for
you guys, I’d like all my stuff back that you took. That’s all personal
property. I especially need my meds.”
“What are you
being treated for?”
and I have PTSD. I also have pain meds for when my headaches come.”
“Do you get
“Are you a
“No need to be
hostile. I’ll get it taken care of.”
now we have a meeting.”
~ ~ ~ ~
Fuzzy was a bit nervous in the elevator. I could never remember us
using one before. They had elevators at
the VA hospital, but Fuzzy always waited for me outside when we went there.
We had passed
through security quickly and I had been issued a visitor’s badge. When we got
on the elevator, it was crowded, and it made several stops before we got where
we were going.
After the first
stop, Fuzzy asked, “How do they do that, Boss?”
everything so quick. The doors close, the doors open, and everything is
explained to him that the room we were in was moving down and we were seeing
each successive floor as the doors opened. When we reached the proper floor,
the agents stepped out first, then Fuzzy, then me. “How far underground are
we?” I asked.
The older of
the two agents smiled and said, “That’s classified.”
forty feet down a plain poured concrete hall. The walls were a light green, the
ceiling suspended white tile, the lighting fluorescent. The agent rapped on a
door and went in, stepping aside to allow the rest of us in.
It was a small
conference room containing a table large enough to seat eight people. There was
one man in the room. He was short and partially bald and he was wearing an
off-the-rack suit and a tie with a gravy stain. He stood and reached across the
table to shake my hand and waved me to a seat. He introduced himself as Clyde
Jensen and said he was the project director.
“So, now I’m a
project?” I didn’t care for where this was going.
correctly,” he said, “your extraordinary ability with animals is the project.
We will study what you do and how you do it and perhaps we will find ways to
replicate the effect.”
exactly, would you want to be like me? Do you realize what it’s like to wake up
in the morning to what you would perceive as birds chattering and be able to
understand everything they say to each other? Bird talk gets to be boring as
shit after about five minutes. And have you ever had a rat scoot around a
corner and tell you your shoe’s untied?” Mr. Jensen’s smile was beginning to
fade a bit.
“Don’t get me
wrong, sir, I love the relationship I have with Fuzzy, and I even have a friend
who’s a snake and we get along fine. But until I learned to control this, it
very nearly drove me bat-shit crazy. I really wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
Metcalf, why don’t you just relax and work with us a while and we’ll see where
it goes, okay?”
going to be held here against our will for however long this takes. Is that
interest of national security, Mr. Metcalf, I’m afraid that’s how it has to
just come back a couple times a week and meet with you guys and work on this
Mr. Metcalf. We’ve already had to chase you more than halfway across the
country, and people have died for this. Now that we have taken an interest,
there will be people from other countries interested, too.”
what—people have died? Who? Who has died over this?”
concern you, Robby. Mr. Metcalf.”
was a woman, back at that motel in San Antonio . . . did you fuckers kill her,
just because I—”
Metcalf, Alice Ackerman is fine.”
“So you know
her name. You checked her out. You people are amazing! I can’t believe this
shit. . . .”
Ackerman is one of ours, Mr. Metcalf. Not her real name, by the way.”
“She’s . . . what,
she’s an agent? You had her move on me, and all that was part of your
“She did . . .
whatever she did, in order to keep you there, until other agents could arrive.
We don’t know what all that involved and we don’t care. Our agents often
improvise and use tactics that are . . . shall we say, convenient to the
the moment? Well, fuck!” I was beyond dumbfounded.
discuss that with her if you like. She’s on her way here now. You’ll see her in
the morning. For tonight, I’d advise you to get some sleep.”
with you, of course. Whenever he needs to . . . go out . . . an agent will take
him out and walk him. He’ll be fine.”
With that, the
project director got up and left. The agents walked me to my new home, which
was on the same floor, a few hundred feet from the conference room.
When we got
there, we found what looked exactly like thousands of motel rooms across the
country. There were two double beds, a table and chairs, a sofa and a nice
bathroom. All of my property was parked on one of the beds. I dug through it
and found my cell phone and turned it on. No signal. Probably jammed or blacked
out for the entire building.
There was a
phone on the nightstand between the beds, but there was no keypad on it. I
assumed it went to a switchboard somewhere in the complex. I wondered if there
was room service.
I spread the
sleeping bag on the floor, but Fuzzy said, “Nope. Think I’ll take this other
bed, since you won’t be needing it.” He jumped up and made himself comfortable.
I lay down on the other bed and stared at the ceiling for a while, then I
picked up the phone.
There was an
immediate answer. A low, feminine voice said, “Yes?”
“Um . . . this
is Robby Metcalf in . . . um . . .”
“I know who
you are, Sir, and I know where you are. What can I help you with?”
thinking about some supper and my dog needs to go out and . . . do his
“An agent will
be right there, Mr. Metcalf.”
I hung up and
in about thirty seconds, there was a knock, and an agent entered the room. He
had a leash in one hand and a restaurant menu in the other.
at the leash being held by a stranger and said, “Ahhh, Boss . . .”
“Let the man
walk you, Fuzz. It’ll be okay. I’ll be right here when you get back.” He
snorted and stood while the agent hooked up the leash to his collar.
He turned and
gave me The Look, and I said, “Don’t piss on the man’s foot, Fuzzy. Don’t even
think about doing that.”
He sighed, and
as they walked out, I heard him say, “What. Ever.”
~ ~ ~ ~
blocks from Robby’s old home at the 9th Street bridge, eleven agents
of the NSA and DEA assembled a half block from Levi Espinoza’s house. They had
already had their final briefing and the shooters had been designated, as had
the man with the door-knocker, the interpreter, the video guy and all the rest.
They moved on
the house at four in the morning, the time normal people are most vulnerable.
Once they stepped into the yard, radio and verbal silence were strictly
enforced, hand signals being the rule. There were no lookouts posted, the
dealer being closed for the night.
At the front
door, the team leader held up one hand, five fingers extended, then four, then
three, then two and finally one. When his last finger dropped, the ram guy
swung the door-knocker and, with one stroke, took the door completely down.
Eleven guys charged through the door, screaming “Federal Agents! Search
Warrant! On the floor! On the floor! Get down!”
met his end as he came up out of a deep sleep and reached for a Beretta 92F
that was laying on the nightstand. The designated shooter said, “Perfect” under
his breath and shot Espinoza in the head, killing him so quickly, he never knew
for sure what was going on.
The rest of
the raid was routine. Drugs and weapons were seized, lab people went over the
house top to bottom, and the house was sealed.
took his last ride in the coroner’s wagon as the sun was coming up.
~ ~ ~ ~
They started me
with rats. It was the following morning, and they already had seen enough of my
communications skills with Fuzzy. They wanted to see more. Alice Ann Ackerman
was the agent who took me to a lab on a different level, again, classified, and
introduced me to a PhD named Justin Phillips.
She looked very
different in a black suit and gray silk shirt and smart, low-heeled shoes. As
we left my quarters, I said, “Agent Ackerman, nice to see you again.”
“Not as nice as
the last time, though, right?” She grinned at me, flashing those pale blue, icy
eyes at me.
“No, I’m sure
this won’t be nearly as pleasant.”
worry, pal. They won’t saw the top of your skull off. I don’t think. . . .”
There was that grin again.
was into all kinds of things, it seemed: behavioral science, abnormal psychology,
nonverbal communications, etc. He would be studying me and attempting to figure
out how I did what I did. I was looking forward to him giving up in despair and
being able to say, “Told ya so.”
We walked into a
lab room with three cages sitting on a table. Justin said, “Let me introduce
you, Mr. Metcalf, this is . . .” I held my hand up and stopped him.
“Don’t tell me
anything. Let them tell me.” Inside each cage was a standard white lab
rat, a common mutation of the Norway rat, known in the scientific community as Rattus
I slid one cage
to the side and hopped up and sat on the table between it and the other two
cages. I sat cross-legged and got comfortable. I started talking to the rats.
Gentlemen. I’m Robby. Who are you?”
“Fuck off, Man.”
This was from the male. It was clear he had an attitude.
Off.” This was the smaller female. Kind of an attitude there, too. The larger
female said, “I’m June. He’s Syd and she’s Lulu. The hell you want? Gonna stick
more needles in our ass?”
“Nope. I’m not
the needle type. I’m here just to talk to ya and see how yer doin’.”
The male stopped
pacing and came to the wire and said, “Would you like it if you lived in this
thing and in this place and they stuck ya alla time?”
“Nope. I don’t
think I’d like that at all. I’d spring ya if I could, but I’m a prisoner here,
“For real?” This
was the smaller female, Lulu. “They stickin’ stuff in ya that makes ya sick,
too?” Her whiskers were twitching in indignation.
“Not so far, but
it could happen any time.”
Syd said, “You
smell like dog, Dude.”
“Yeah, that’s my
friend, Fuzzy. I’m afraid he wouldn’t like you, either.”
“Is he a big
big. . . .”
said. “Tell me what you’ve learned so far.”
“That one is Syd
and he has an attitude. That one is Lulu and she’s the friendliest. This one
here is June and she talked to me first. They don’t like it here because you
keep sticking needles in them and making them sick.” I turned and looked at
Justin, and his mouth was hanging open. It was gratifying to see. Finally, his
mouth snapped shut and he said, “How do you do that?” There was a sense
of wonder and mystery in his voice.
“I really wish I
knew,” I said, “I guess you could try getting blown up in a Humvee. This shit
started right after I got my Purple Heart, and they let me outta the hospital.”
“We’ll need to
get some X-rays and an EEG for starters. . . .” he said, and then he seemed to
get lost in his own thoughts.
I wandered the
lab a bit and found a lot more rats. Some were friendly, and some were not.
Sort of like people. I found a couple guinea pigs, but all they wanted to talk
about was food. I wandered on.
In a few
minutes, Alice came into the lab and said, “I’m supposed to escort you over to
the clinic. I think they’re ready to look inside your head.” She grinned at me
evilly and said, “Maybe this is where they open up your skull.”
We started down
a long hallway and I said, “You just love fuckin’ with me, don’tcha?”
“As a matter of
fact . . .” She turned and reached up and slid both arms up around my neck and
pushed me back against the wall. She kissed me long and deeply and when we
broke apart, she said, “I’ve been assigned to keep you happy. I think they’re
afraid you’ll figure out how to get away or cause an animal riot. They want me
to keep you content.”
“I don’t think
you’ll have any problem doin’ that,” I said.
“Good. I’ll see
you at dinner tonight, then.” She reached and opened a door.
There were four
people inside and an X-ray table, plus an MRI machine. The tech said, “We’ll
need all metal objects off. Step in there and change into this gown, please,
and leave all your clothing in one of the lockers.”
I didn’t argue.
That would come later, when the shit started to get serious. I wanted them to
remember I’d been cooperative all along, until it got stupid. Then I’d raise
hell. Right now was too early to start screaming about my rights and all that.
When I got back
from X-ray and all the other indignities, Fuzzy was all rested and ready to go
out and take on the world. When I told him he might as well get used to being
an inside dog for a while, he wasn’t happy with that. While I was trying to
explain the situation, there was a knock on the door and Alice Ann stepped in.
She was still in her professional clothes and she said, “Told you I’d see you
at dinner. Are you ready?”
“Only if Fuzzy
gets to come along. He’s restless and bored in here.”
She reached down
to pet him and said, “Okay. Done deal. We’re gonna get outta here for a while.”
She had a
typical government set of wheels. It was a black Ford Explorer with hidden red
and blue lights built in. She drove and Fuzzy had the backseat all to himself.
“Whataya think, boys? Burger night?” She smiled at us, as we cleared the gate
and headed out into Maryland.
I looked back at
Fuzzy and he was practically drooling. “I think that’ll work. But how do you
get to just take us off the base? What if we tried to escape?”
She nodded her
head toward her side mirror. “Another carload of agents right behind us. We’re
not really alone.”
“Dang. I was
hopin’ for some alone time.”
I’ve been designated as your handler.”
“Handler? Like a
dog has a handler?” I glanced in the backseat and said, “No offense, Fuzz.”
“Somebody has to
be responsible for you. And a handler gets a lotta leeway. Other agents know
what’s goin’ on, but they keep their yaps shut, because it may be them next and
they like to have their leeway, too.”
subject, I said, “How long until the dweebs decide they wanna take my head
Robby. They know that whatever causes you to be able to do what you do, it
could be ruined by messing around in there. You’re pretty safe.”
good to know.”
expect whenever they get done with their little tests, they’re gonna offer you
While I thought
about that, she found a fast-food joint and pulled in through the
drive-through. “How much can Fuzzy put away?” She asked.
“Oh, trust me,
you do not wanna know. When it comes down to burgers, he’s the world’s champ.
He will make himself sick. Get him two triples plain and he’ll still be beggin’
fries from us.”
I dug in my
pocket and pulled out two twenties. She said, “Let Uncle Sam get this, Robby.”
“Nope. It’s dope
dealer money. Might as well let them buy . . .”
being the case, we’ll let the dead dealer buy dinner.”
“The NSA and the
DEA happened to the boy. There was a raid and he went for a weapon, and
surprise, surprise, he got shot. Means there’s nobody gonna be lookin for ya,
We got our food
and Fuzzy was finished in about thirty seconds. Alice and I took our time,
chucking the occasional French fry into the back. Finally, she asked, “Does it
bother you? That the dealer died? Cause he’s not the only one.”
“No. You deal
that poison and fuck up other people’s lives, ya deserve whatever ya get.” I
was pretty casual and would never mention some things that had happened to
dealers before, because of me.
Later, when we
got back to the base, an agent took Fuzzy out for his evening stroll, and Alice
and I spent the night together. Fuzzy still had command of the other bed.
three more days of testing and experiments, after which I was taken “upstairs”
to an office in the middle of the complex, and I was “put on retainer.” It was
their way of keeping track of me, and keeping me handy for when they needed my
I was given a
salary and an apartment less than three blocks from my bridge and a new cell
phone to replace my old one. It was fancier and did a lot of shit I’d never
use. I was sure it would be monitored at all times. They also offered a car,
but I turned it down. Said maybe later. After we saw how things went for me.
The apartment came furnished. All I needed was a key.
The evening of
the day they turned me loose, I took a walk up to the bridge and sat down and
waited until Lucille finally came out to talk.
I explained to
her that I wouldn’t be living at the bridge anymore and told her where she
could find me. I even offered to let her stay at my place. She asked if I had
rats and I said I didn’t think so.
She slid off my
lap and said, “Come by any time, Darlin. I’ll be right here. You’re a good
friend, Robby. Be careful out there . . .”
Then she was
gone, back into a hole under a freeway overpass.
The walk home
seemed twice as long.
Part 3 in the next issue of Yellow Mama…