Never Say Never
go of the cart! Hands!” Weller yelled.
It got very quiet
again. Like somebody hit the mute button. A couple of birds that had been chirping at each
other even stopped.
Bussey, the middle-aged hopper, was a seven-year veteran of Armada Security. He just
stared at Weller’s facemask and the gun being pointed at him. Bussey stole a quick
look over at his armored truck. The windows had been spray painted black and he saw two
other masked guys by the truck staring at him. One of them was watching the cab and the
other was standing toward the rear by the back door. They had guns too.
Bussey's driver was Ben Givens
and he had even more experience and knew the protocols better than anyone. There was no
doubt Givens had already sent the alert call and wouldn’t be coming out of that truck
for anything, or anyone.
So Bussey was pretty much screwed, halfway between the armored truck and
the backdoor of the Lonestar Savings and Loan of Abilene he had just exited. He was not
sure what to do, but he was also a born hard-nose. Always had been. He didn’t let
go of the two-wheel cart with the three coal bags and his right hand hovered over his holstered
hopper was still alive only because Weller was turning out to be all hat and no cattle.
Wes Coleman, who was standing over by the cab of the armored truck, was the only one of
the three that had truly pulled a job like this. He’d told Weller several times during
the planning, that if there was any delay or trouble, just shoot the fucker. Weller had
said he would have no problem with putting someone down. Said he’d done it before.
But that had
been in Weller’s apartment, doing a few lines and drinking beer. This wasn’t.
This was game time. The hopper wasn’t playing along and as Coleman watched, he realized
Weller probably couldn’t and wouldn’t do what needed to be done.
“Now!” Coleman yelled at both Weller and
the guard from where he stood beside the armored truck.
“Drop the cart dude...Hurry
up man.” Weller’s breaking voice barely carried over to Coleman and he was
dancing around too much.
him, goddamn it!” Coleman screamed at Weller. He kicked a spray can out of
the away and trotted over closer to the guard, but his gun was trained on the back door
of the bank.
eyes followed Coleman for a moment, but then he snapped his look back to Weller. There
was no surprise left in Bussey’s eyes and no real fear. Just a blank expression.
Seconds seemed to last minutes. The lazy, distant drone
of a small private plane high overhead broke the silence.
“Let go of
the cart and lay down,” Weller said again to Bussey, but his voice had no threat
to it. He jabbed at the air with the gun.
guard’s jaw muscles tightened up.
Weller’s gun started to shake.
Bussey finally decided that it wasn’t worth it. He gave Weller a disgusted fuck you
look, then the two wheeled cart and heavy bags dropped, clanging down to the pavement.
gotta go!” Angel Perez yelled from where he stood at the back of the armored truck.
Looking back at his watch, he yelled again, “They’re halfway fuckin’ here by
now!” He started to back away from the truck but kept his gun trained on the backdoor.
on cue, there was the sound of an approaching car coming hard around to the rear
parking lot. Tires squealed to a stop somewhere behind Weller. The guard’s shoulders
sagged, both hands went up and he went down to one knee.
“I said lay
down”, Weller said to Bussey and pointed to the ground.
dropped his other knee.
took three quick steps in and fired from about ten feet away. In the quiet of the morning
the shots were like bolts of lightning.
first shot hit the guard high in the left shoulder blade and it spun him around to
where he almost faced Coleman. The second shot took a ragged piece of the guard’s
forehead off. The body remained upright for a long moment, then flopped down to the pavement.
Weller shouted out in
shock and fear as he stumbled back two steps. His wide eyes stared at the dead guard from
behind his ski mask. He jerked a wild look over to Coleman.
“Move your fuckin’ ass!”
Coleman yelled at him.
go man!” yelled Perez, who was now covering the other two. He pointed at the bank,
then back to the truck, backing his way over closer to them.
The engine of their getaway car revved
loud, impatient but waiting.
in full panic mode now, managed to grab one satchel and Coleman took the other two.
They both headed for the stolen Ford Taurus.
walked backwards to the getaway car, still covering them. He stopped watching the bank’s
back door and kept his gun on the rear of the truck, just to make sure the driver wouldn’t
try to do something.
Coleman reached the car first, but Weller bobbled then
dropped his gun and as he turned to pick it up, the rear door of the armored truck flew
got two quick shots off before the driver opened up with everything he had. What he
had, was a pistol grip Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun with super-heavy load shells. The consecutive
deep booms were not measured shots or that well aimed, but eight straight shotgun shells
filled the air with heavy buckshot. From only fifteen yards away, well aimed or not, it
was almost impossible to not hit something.
soon as the Mossberg fell silent, the faint sound of several sirens could be heard in
the distance. The driver of the truck yelled something. He heard Perez curse back at him
in Spanish. Smoke and the smell of spent rounds was hanging in the windless morning air.
rose from the other side of the getaway car and returned fire. He fired three shots pinging
off and around the inside walls of the armored truck. The driver was knelt down pushing
new shells in as fast as he could. He was fumbling them a little though and showing too
much of himself.
The fourth shot from
Coleman found home just as the guard was bringing the shotgun back up to fire. The man
was hit in the neck and fell face down on the truck floor, his hands gripping a throat
that had instantly started spurting blood.
The hood of the Taurus
was heavily pocked, and the grill had a few holes in it with thin wisps of smoke curling
out, but it was still running. Laying on the ground next to Coleman was the passenger side
rear view mirror which had been blown entirely off. The car's front windshield was cracked
and splintered in some places but at least it was still in one piece.
Somehow Coleman hadn’t
been wounded. Weller and Perez weren’t so lucky, both were hit during the barrage.
Weller was worse off, Coleman had seen him go down hard by the front of the car.
Truth is Perez was
probably in about the same shape as Weller, but Perez was a badass, there was no denying
that. He had gone down with a chest wound after firing his two shots, but he got up, only
to get hit again in the back. He was still on his feet though, on the other side of the
car trying to lift Weller up.
Perez threw Weller’s limp arm over his shoulder, grabbed a wrist, and started
dragging the man.
dead! Drop his ass!” Coleman shouted again while the faint wail of those sirens got
a little closer. “We gotta go.”
“I got him, man.” Perez shouted throwing the front
door open. He threw Weller into the front passenger seat and shoved his legs in, then slammed
the door. Grabbing Weller’s dropped coal bag, Perez swung the back door open and
piled inside, shouting out in pain as he closed the door behind him.
the other side of the car Coleman threw his two bags and himself in the back seat.
Before he had shut the door, he was already yelling, "Go, Go, Go!" Luis Duro’s head
came up in the driver’s seat. He was a very young nephew of Perez but had come highly
Taurus lurched forward. There was no attempt to miss Bussey, who was sprawled where
he’d fallen in the parking lot. They thumped over him, banged the money cart to the
side and then accelerated past the armored car.
“Ir rápido….Ir rápido!!” Coleman yelled at
Duro as he put a new clip in his Colt.
Doing a wild and
sharp half circle in the lot, they almost spun out, but Duro recovered. They kissed the
bumper of a new Lexus hard enough to set its alarm off and then barreled toward the bank
parking lot’s back exit.
Ir!” Coleman shouted again.
ya sé!” Duro nodded.
Coleman ripped his ski mask off, stuffed it into the
back pocket of his jeans and looked over to Perez. He was moaning, eyes pressed shut and
his face was one big grimace. There were nasty buckshot wounds to the back of his head
and one ear, but his hands were clamped over his lower chest where the real damage was.
The blood flow was heavy, probably too heavy.
Duro cranked a hard left
turn as they came wheeling out of the parking lot, just missing another car trying to pull
in. Three houses down that street, they flew by some guy standing in his front yard, hands
on hips and trying to figure out what the hell all the noise was about.
Heading straight into
a sprawling residential neighborhood, they took the first right that they came to, then
the first left onto another street.
Coleman said in an even tone while looking out the back window. Softer still he repeated,
nodded and slowed down. Just as rehearsed, they stuck to the planned route, and made
several more turns, going down quiet streets of modest homes and yards that all looked
a stop sign, Coleman noticed some more smoke starting to curl out from under the
shot-up hood of the car. They didn’t have far to go, and it was a good thing.
was to exit the subdivision on the far west side, at Linden Ave. Then, four blocks down
Linden to where the shuttered gas station was. Do the car switch there and then head for
the highway. It would still work. Coleman had no need to change that part, but he started
thinking about the rest. The rest had turned to shit, thanks to Weller.
over at Perez again who was propped up a little now but still low in the corner of the
backseat. “Hey, Perez can you move?”
Perez met Culver’s eyes, “Fucker
blew a—" he took a stitched breath and finished, “a damn hole in me, man.”
His slick red hands were still clamped over his chest.
Coleman didn’t need to see the wound to know Perez was done.
“Almost to the switch, hang
in.” Coleman glanced out the back window again.
ain’t going nowhere. Where’s my gun man?” Perez tried to raise himself.
“Easy, easy, I’ll find it.”
Coleman said putting a hand on the man’s shoulder. He looked to the front passenger
side and could only see the back of Weller’s head leaning on the center console.
“Weller, you motherfuck, even if you’re still alive I'm leaving your
ass in this car." There was no response from the front seat.
was mid-morning on a school day, so the neighborhood streets were deserted and
quiet. A lady walking her dog down the sidewalk didn’t even look up as they glided
few more houses down from there was an old man who was putting a few envelopes in his
mailbox. He looked at them for a second and had to have seen the condition of the slow-moving
car, but he just put the flag up, then started trudging back up his driveway.
They finally turned onto
Linden Avenue at the light. Only four blocks away from the gas station now. Coleman scanned
the light traffic. Just a minute or so more and they’d be to the switch.
Duro glanced back over
his shoulder at Coleman and Perez.
fuckin’ road now, Luis. Almost there, baby.”
“Ehh okay, but ah…muerto,
met Duro’s eyes in the rear-view mirror. “Say what?”
just motioned with his right thumb towards Weller slouched in the front seat. “Your
amigo, man. His eyes. They are open, but there is no life in them.”
Coleman said as he stared straight ahead, through the cracked front windshield. He could
see the closed-down gas station coming up. The old carwash was around the back.
sangre.” Duro’s voice was low and almost in awe as he looked sideways over
to Weller. “Demasiado.”
bien,” Coleman said.
swung around behind the deserted station to a row of four carwash stalls. Duro pulled
in and parked in the second one, shutting the engine off. Coleman had caught a glimpse
of the white truck's front bumper that was still in the last stall on the end, right where
they’d left it two hours ago.
gotta talk, real quick.” Coleman said, catching the kid’s eyes again in the
of plans. Three choices, you pick. One, you leave with me right now in that truck. Two,
you stay here and try to find someone to help your uncle. The last choice is that you just
fucking bolt and you’re on your own. Up to you. We’ll all meet later and split
him came the voice of Perez, weak but pissed, “What the fuck you talkin’, chingada?”
Coleman ignored Perez.
“What’s it gonna be, Duro? This is the end of the road." He thumbed in the
direction of Perez. "I'm not draggin’ him around, all over hell and back. Not all
shot to shit like that. He’s gonna be dead by sundown.”
“Chingada…” Perez wheezed
again and shifted his position.
turned halfway around in the driver’s seat, “No, no, it’s okay. We go
with you. I take care of Tío. It’s good.”
Coleman nodded to the kid, “Okay, well…”
In a quick, smooth movement he brought his gun up and shot Duro in the temple. Blood and
gore splashed the front windshield, dash and console. A fine spray of blood speckled Coleman’s
forehead and cheeks. He swiped it away. His ears were ringing like a bitch and Coleman
could barely hear his own voice when he half shouted, “Sorry kid.”
back to Perez with the gun he felt a sudden lightning bolt of pain burn into his right
side, just below the ribs. Coleman's shot went wild, the round burrowing into the vinyl
padding of the backdoor.
felt the knife come out and go in a second time, still on the right side but more to the
front of him. His free hand was too slow to stop the second stab, so he grabbed the neck
every ounce of strength he had left, Perez put both hands on top of the knife and
tried to shove it in farther until his hands dropped weakly to the seat. The dying man's
teeth were bared and his eyes full of revenge.
Coleman’s face had no such look. His expression was still one
of total surprise and shock as he looked down at the pearl handle of the five-inch blade.
There was only a little bit of the blade still showing.
was trying to say something but couldn’t quite get the words out. Just dribbled and
bubbled some foamy blood out between his teeth.
easily pushed one desperate flailing hand of Perez away, shoved his gun against the
man’s chest and pulled the trigger once. Then he fired again although he really didn’t
need to. Leaning back hard into the backseat, Coleman squeezed his eyes shut, fighting
the pain and shock. He could either sit and wait to die or move while he was still conscious.
he opened his eyes and moved.
Getting the coal bags over to the
old F-150 was a struggle. It was one heavy bag at a time with his left hand, because he
had his right hand over the stab wounds. He ended up dragging the third bag over to the
truck. When all three were in the front passenger seat and floor he made his way around
to the driver’s side of the truck. Using the steering wheel and pausing twice because
of the pain, he pulled himself sideways into the cab. The front of him was covered in blood
and his energy was all but spent.
Coleman had kept
the knife in until now in order to keep one of the wounds blocked or plugged, the best
he could. Whether that mattered or not he wasn’t sure, but he’d heard or read
it before. Depending on where the wound was…or something like that. He just knew
he'd read that before, maybe it was...
thoughts were floating and scrambled, getting worse by the second. He willed himself to
sit up straighter and try to focus.
When Coleman shifted his
body more upright, fresh pain surged through him. He just couldn’t stand the blade
being in him anymore. Didn’t give a shit if he should or shouldn’t pull it
out. He needed to get that son of a bitch out of him. It was all that seemed to matter
looked around the inside of the cab. Seeing nothing that would work as even a
half-assed bandage, he took off his already bloody shirt and unfastened his belt. With
this head swimming he looked at the shirt and belt, shaking his head in a half stupor.
He almost had himself talked out of it, but then he yelled with all the anger left in him
and in a sudden move, pulled on the knife.
The tortured scream that came out of Coleman didn’t
sound human. The blade was much tougher to pull out than he thought it would be. His strength
had gone to shit but the slippery handle and awkward angle he had to pull on it, made it
When it did come free, he dropped
it on the console with a shaking hand. He hissed air in and out, taking several shallow
breaths, then let out a painful low growl of rage.
wrapped the bloody shirt around himself the best he could and then cinched the belt over
both the wounds as tight as possible. Then he squeezed his woolen facemask in between the
shirt bandage and the worst stab wound in front. It was something, but not much.
He sat very still for a few minutes,
dizzy and lightheaded but determined to keep his eyes open. His heart was pounding hard,
and he knew he didn’t stand much of a chance unless he got help from someone soon.
Weller dead, their original plan of using his brother’s ranch house outside of Big
Spring was out. Coleman didn’t even know the guy. Didn’t know how the brother
would react with Weller being dead. Too risky. Didn’t matter anyway, he knew there
was no way he could manage that long of a drive.
His vision began to fade then, and
it scared him. He slapped himself hard with his good hand and tried to refocus the best
he could. There had to be someone, or somewhere.
course, there was. He couldn’t believe it took him this long to think of it. Might
not work, might get told to fuck off but he had to try. It was a chancy drive too, but
if everything worked, he could trust who would be at the other end. He nodded to himself.
It was the only chance he had.
he could just make it to Ballinger, which was also south of Abilene, but less than half
the distance to Big Spring. From Ballinger, he would head west into nowhere for about five
miles on Old Goddard Road, nothing more than a rough and winding one lane dirt road.
Coleman leaned sideways and struggled
to pull his phone out of his back pocket. He sent a quick text to the one person, the only
person he could count on. Four words…Alamo, tonight, herido. Ayúdame.
and close to going into full shock, he made a face, forcing his eyes wide open. Trying
to steady his breathing, he looked at himself in the rear-view mirror and the reality sunk
in. The surrender in his own voice surprised him, “Done. No way.”
He glared at the steering wheel with
half lidded eyes, thinking about the whiny ass tone of his words. What was left of his
rage and anger took over once more. A grin of pain appeared on his face as he shifted in
the front seat. He spoke out loud again, sounding delirious and pissed at the same time.
“Now, sit the fuck up and drive.”
Coleman straightened up a little more, pushed down a
yell that tried to come roaring up in his throat and then hissed the pain out. He put the
key in with a shaking hand and started the truck, then shifted into reverse.
Coleman took a long and
labored breath as he edged the white pickup out of the stall and drove around to the front
of the gas station. He had to go now, now or never. It would be about forty-five miles
to get there. They would be long miles.
He put on his blinker
to turn onto Linden Ave. and in his haze, he almost pulled out without looking. When he
did look for oncoming traffic, the cop was right there, right the fuck there on top of
Coleman could do was freeze and watch. The hard charging Taylor County Sherriff’s
car was all lit up, the siren whooping and chittering as it flew by. Following
close behind him was a solid black Abilene police car and it whizzed by in a blink too.
There was a
wide gap in traffic after they passed, and Coleman pulled out onto the road. Up ahead he
saw both of those police cars turn into the same neighborhood they had come from earlier.
kept it pegged at the speed limit on Linden, going past where the cops had turned and
headed for the highway. He glanced at the rear-view mirror and caught his own eyes again.
“You got this...One mile at a time.” His voice didn’t sound so crazy
to him anymore.
in the truck seat that was now full of congealed sticky blood, Coleman roused and
tried to lift his head. He barely got his chin off his chest at first. It was completely
dark outside, and he realized that he’d been sitting here for hours. His headlights
must have come on at some point, but they were very dim now. The old truck’s battery
was almost dead.
engine had quit running and the gas gauge was on empty. He could partly make out the familiar
flat expanse of long grassy weeds. He slid his eyes over to the barely lit dash clock,
but his vision was very blurred. He guessed it read about nine thirty.
Moving his head slowly
to his left he looked out the driver’s side window. He squinted and saw the curved
dark shape of the old Winnebago. It was maybe thirty feet away. Coleman wished he’d
gotten closer to it but even if he was only ten feet away, he knew it was too far.
believe he’d made it, but he had. He should be dead. “But I'm fuckin' here”, he
said in a weak raspy voice. He didn’t remember most of the drive. He recalled the
cops flying by him at the garage, then reaching the edge of town and getting onto 83 South.
That was it.
A steady but soft rain was tapping
on the roof of the truck cab. He thought of the text he'd sent when he was leaving Abilene
and realized he was still holding the cellphone in his left hand. Dried blood had basically
glued it there.
Having no strength in either arm
anymore, he curled his wrist to where he could try to see the phone. The screen was blank,
and blood smeared. With one loose sticky finger he clicked the power button on, off and
on again. Nothing.
weak smile came to his face as he looked back at the dark outline of the Winnebago.
This place, this old trailer, was the Alamo. It was a nickname the three of them had thought
up long ago. It had been their own private world, all through high school and even for
a few years after.
sixty acres of scrub oaks and mesquite had been in his dad’s family for five
generations. They’d done a lot of hunting
out here and fished the two deep tanks on the property too. She had hated fishing but had
been a damn good shot. Lots of drinkin’, lots of good times. At the beginning, it
had just been the three of them, but sooner or later three's a crowd so Trev had to find
his own girlfriend.
mind started to flutter away from those memories and all at once the world tilted. His
head was swimming again. He stared blankly at the clock on the dash again and knew he was
watching his life tick away.
are ya?” he suddenly yelled out, looking around the dark cab of the truck. “You’re
supposed to come running whenever you hear the word Ayúdame…and the Alamo, those
used to be our secret code words, ‘member?”
weakly at that as he faded, and the laugh cost him dearly as several deep, liquid coughs
followed. He spat out a thick wad of dark red blood. Fresh hot pain put a new vice grip
on his chest.
didn’t let up either. Coleman’s vision became even worse, and he was sure that
when he passed out this time, he’d never wake up. His time had finally come, and
he just gave up. Coleman closed his eyes just as an explosion of light filled the
inside of the cab.
strong flashlight beam scanned over him. It floated over the passenger side front seat
and the money bags, then went to his gun on the floorboard at his feet and the bloody knife
on the console. Coleman was able to raise his left hand for a moment before it dropped
back onto his lap.
The beam went back to the money bags and the light stayed there for
a long moment.
heard the door latch finally click open and the weak dome light came on. With the flashlight
on his face, Coleman got a blinded glimpse of an arm reaching in. His cell phone was pried
out of his hand and then there was nothing else for a moment.
the hell took you so…” was all Coleman could get out before being pushed back
into the seat and held there. He let out a painful groan as his makeshift bandage
was pulled away and down. Then the same knife that Perez had used on him earlier, went
into him yet again. This time in a fresh spot, much closer to the heart.
It had been
almost seven weeks since they found Coleman when Trev came into Landry’s late on
a Tuesday night. Seven weeks was long enough, and he was past giving a shit about waiting
long enough. He stood for a moment just inside the door looking around the near empty bar,
but all he really wanted to see was along the back wall, standing behind the cash register.
saw him too and froze. At first her look was one of confusion, which quickly turned to
disbelief. Then a big smile and a little wave. She walked down to the end of the old-style
mahogany bar to meet him. He smiled too as he walked towards her. Taking his hat off, he
set it carefully on the bar.
Trev.” She motioned to the row of empty stools, “Take your pick.”
Claire.” He pulled out a twenty and laid it down in front of him.
look at you. What happened to the sweaty white t-shirt, dusty jeans and worn-out
boots?” She smiled, shaking her head, and crossing her arms.
gave her a shy smile. “Just a cheap sports coat, a Cavender’s shirt that was
on the mark down table and boots that were on sale. Washed my jeans.”
Shiner out of the ice chest, she gave him that particular slow burn look of hers. That
same casual but tempting look that had grabbed him the first time he’d ever laid
eyes on her all those years ago.
the bottle down in front of him. “Sit yourself down there cowboy and talk to me.
We’re only thirty minutes from close but I’ll lock you in here if I have to.”
headin’ home, can’t stay long. I was going through town though, so kinda spur
of the moment and all, I decided to drop by. Took a chance on you even still working here
but I really wanted to see how you were doin’ and all.” He picked up the beer
but then set it back down without a sip. “I don’t know how long it’s
been since I’ve seen you Claire, but whatever it’s been, it’s been way too
years, four months and twenty-three days…and two hours.” Her smile and little
laugh melted him like butter in a hot pan. “Seriously though, I’ll bet it’s
been over 5 years.”
“Well damn.” He shook
his head slowly. “So, how’re you doing with everything that happened?”
well.” She met his eyes with a more serious look, “I gotta tell you straight,
it’s been hard Trev. Be honest with you, I don’t know if it’ll ever get
better, but I guess it might could.”
He felt awkward now,
so he held up the bottle and tried to loosen things back up, “You remembered my favorite
I remember everything.” She pointed at her temple.
but didn’t say anything.
leaned across the bar, “So, how ‘bout you, what did you think when you heard
sipped his beer and said, “To be honest, I thought about you Claire.” He looked
down and picked at the label on the bottle. “So, they still messin’ with you?”
looked at him for a moment before answering and he could see her mind rolling around
on how she should respond. “Nah, not really. They were all hell bent on it being
me at first, but it’s eased off now. On the other hand, I don’t think they’re
totally convinced it’s not me.”
I kept hearing they were trying to prove you were in on the whole thing somehow,
that you had the money. All kinds of crazy stuff.”
“They checked my laptop, my phone, house, car, everything. I had
lost my phone at the mall about a week before it all happened, so I had a new one. Nothing
on there at all of course. That lost phone thing sure perked up their ears, but it was
sure they grilled you about all kinds of things. Spouses, ex-spouses, family members
are always first on the list, right?” He pressed his lips together in a tight line.
“I’ve heard they can be pretty damn relentless too. Just keep asking things
over and over; where were you that night, when did you last talk to him, when did you see
him last…all of that. Just like in the movies?”
Claire nodded, “Yup,
all a that. At the end of the day though, the missing money is what it’s all about
and everyone is dead that had something to do with the robbery. So, you know.” She
stood there looking at him with a sort of defiant look that was somehow vulnerable at the
same time. Looking every bit like the tough ranch girl she had always been.
at his beer and waited.
one hand leaning on the corner of the bar and one on her hip, she added, “I don’t
know, maybe someday soon they’ll just say oops. Say hey, we’re sorry, we were
wrong. But I’m not holding my breath on that.”
for them to be putting you through all of that.”
She shrugged, “Ain’t right, but it is what it is.”
what I told you all those years back Claire…I always felt that way, always will.”
She didn't answer that but gave him
a small smile and tried to dodge, “I just miss how things used to be.” Her
eyes danced away from his hopeful look.
His thoughts flashed back to those times when all three
of them had been together and inseparable, before things had changed forever that senior
year of high school. Changed because she’d chosen Wes over him. Changed when him
and Wes were drunk one night. She hadn’t been there and the son of a bitch had told
him that he didn’t really love Claire.
“What I miss,
is you Claire.” He wanted her to look at him. Wanted so badly for her to feel the
stared down the length of the bar instead, saw a hand with an empty bottle get raised
up by the only other guy at the bar. “You know, over the last two years that him
and I were together, Wes just got crazy on me. Real crazy. I didn’t even know who
he was anymore. After the divorce last year, he got even worse. Trouble was, half of me
hated him, half of me still cared.”
didn’t even know you and him got divorced.”
and then finally turned her look to him. "I just can’t believe what he got caught
up in…where he ended up that night and the God awful way he died out there.”
his throat and searched for the right thing to say but he'd never been very good with words.
All he could come up with was, “I know. This whole thing is just a bad deal.”
It was her turn to
feel awkward. Claire tapped her hands on the bar and said, “But those were some damn
good times Trev. Back when us three were hanging out. Good memories...we still have those,
right?” She gave him a grin, but it was sad and empty.
"Yup." He finished his beer and nodded, “I
guess we do have some memories.”
Claire's eyes welled up then and she looked up at the
ceiling, fighting the tears.
know what else to say or what to do. He stood up slowly and put his hat on, then adjusted
the brim a little. “Well listen Claire, like I said, you know how I feel.”
sadly and said, "I do.”
and I could have a good life now. I know it don’t look like it or seem like it, but
I have money Claire. More than you’d think. I’m a saver, always have been.
Got a good County job up there now.”
She didn’t answer
and pressed her lips together.
shrugged and plowed ahead, “I just don’t spend it. Got my eye on a piece of
land though. Up north of Amarillo, right on Lake Meredith. It’s just a drop-dead
beautiful place Claire but I haven’t made an offer on it or anything. Guess I’ve
always been waiting for you. I want to think that maybe you still have feelings for me?”
course I do." She let out a soft sigh, looked down and then back up again. “You
know I do.”
to Lubbock. Be with me, Claire.”
she reached over the bar and cupped his chin in her hands. “Oh hon', I can’t. I
touched one of her outstretched arms gently but when she dropped her hands from his
face, he let go too. Nodding at her, he forced a grin, "Right, I guess I've always known
that. Just wouldn't let myself believe it."
touched his hand softly and said, "You know I'll always love you. Just not in that
I'm awful slow on the uptake sometimes but you already know that. I should uhm...I
should probably go.” He turned and took two steps away but stopped, looking back
to her, “You need anything Claire, and I mean any damn thing at all, you call me
now. Promise me on that.”
will.” A lone and slow tear started tracking its way down her cheek. She turned away,
grabbing a bar napkin.
worked too, because when she turned back around, she caught just a glimpse of his back
as he walked out the front door. Her expression changed and her face showed little emotion
now. Them being together could never work right now, not after what had happened.
at the bar that didn't really need wiping and knew she'd done what she had needed to do
just now. She'd be a liar if she tried to deny that she hadn't thought about how it might
work for them, but she wasn't going to lead him on.
Then again, in a
year, maybe two, maybe less, things could change. One thing was for sure though, she'd
be hard pressed to find a man that loved her more. Never say never, as her mother used
to say, and she whispered that to herself.
Claire swung the cloth over her shoulder and made her
way down the bar to the guy who had signaled for one last beer.
drove on through the warm still night, and he was less than an hour outside of Lubbock
now. He had his window down and the radio turned off. The wind and his thoughts were all
he could hear, which is exactly the way he wanted it.
While driving he had gone from one extreme to the other. From thinking
he would give it all up and never try to see her again, all the way to almost turning around
and going right back to Abilene.
finally decided that he would do neither. When he got right down to the
heart of the matter, it was pretty damn simple. He loved her and always would, but like
she’d said, it probably wouldn't work right now.
happened at the Alamo had been a game changer for him in more ways than one. Money sure,
but with Wes gone, his chance with Claire had to be better at the least. He would wait
for her and leave that door open for as long as it took. She was everything to him and
always would be.
also knew that if push came to shove and they did charge
her, he’d do the right thing. He would have no hesitation on that. It had never really
been about those bags of money, anyway.
A few more dark
miles went by and Trev was done thinking about everything for tonight. He stared
at the white lines blinking by on 84 west and decided to turn the radio on. There
was no traffic, so he took his truck up to eighty. At the same time, he wondered
why he was in such a hurry to get home.
Jim Wilsky is a crime
fiction writer. He is the co-author of the Ania Series of books: Blood on Blood, Queen of Diamonds, and the finale, Closing
the Circle, as well as Harbinger, a prequel novel to the
Ania Series. He was a contributor to the A Grifter's Song series
and also has a published collection of short stories, titled Sort'em
His short story work has appeared in online magazines such as: Yellow
Mama, Beat to a Pulp, Flash Bang Mysteries, Shotgun Honey, All Due Respect, Fried Chicken
and Coffee, A Twist of Noir, Rose & Thorn Journal, Pulp Metal, Plots With Guns, The
Big Adios, and others. He has contributed stories in several
published anthologies, including The Odds Are Against Us, All Due
Respect, Kwik Krimes, Both Barrels, and Switchblade. He is
supported by a wonderful family and strengthened by many valued friendships made in
the writing community.