Yellow Mama Archives II

Roy Dorman

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INTERVIEWING A NEW EMPLOYEE

 

Roy Dorman

 

 

“Damn! That’s gotta hurt,” said Marisa Turner as she finished pumping gas into her rental car.

Marisa was travelling east on Interstate 10, still a hundred and fifty miles from New Orleans.  She’d stopped for gas, fast food to go, and a potty break.

As she pumped her gas, she’d watched an eighteen-wheeler pull into the diesel side of the oasis.  After the driver got out of his cab, he’d walked around looking at the front of his truck like they always do, and then headed into the McDonalds.

As soon as the trucker was inside, Marisa saw a man drop from the undercarriage of the trailer onto the blacktop.

The man who looked to be in his early thirties picked himself up off the pavement, brushed himself off, and walked in her direction.

“You okay, guy?” Marisa asked.  “Need anything?”

Marisa already knew something about this handsome tag-a-long from his clothes.  She’d seen the cheap outfits prisons gave to inmates upon release.

She’d been given clothes like that.  More than once.

“Yeah.  I’m hungry, thirsty, and could use a nap,” he said with a smile.  And after looking Marisa up and down he added, “And if ya had a mind to — "

“Let’s work on the hungry and thirsty for now,” said Marisa.

They both turned and watched as a State Patrol cruiser pulled into the parking lot.

“Why don’t you get into the front passenger seat so you don’t attract any unwanted attention,” Marisa stage whispered.  “I’m going into Mickey D’s.  Burger, fries, and a Coke?”

“Beggars can’t be choosers.”

Marisa returned with the to-go food and drinks and was pleasantly surprised to see her new friend sitting in her car.

“So, you wanna ride with me for a while, or is this the stop you were lookin’ for?” she asked, leaning in the front window.

“I’ll ride for a while.”

“What’s your name?”

“Jeremy.”

“Jeremy what?”

“Ya don’t need my last name.  But I already know you’re Marisa Turner from the rental paperwork in the glove compartment.”

“You went through my car while I was in getting food for you?”

“Found yer switchblade under the driver side floor mat too,” Jeremy said with a smirk.

Marisa handed Jeremy his McDonalds and put hers on the console between them.  She then took a .22 from an ankle holster and leveled it at him.

“Give me my knife,” she said through clenched teeth.

“I said I found it; I didn’t take it.”

Marisa stared at him for a few seconds. “Are you a tough guy?” she asked, putting the .22 back into its holster.

“Yeah, I’m pretty tough,” said Jeremy.  “That important?”

“I need to employ a tough guy for a couple of jobs I’ve got comin’ up.  Interested?”

“Well, I — "

“I know you just got out of prison back there someplace.  If you don’t wanna get involved in anything right away that might — "

“It was the clothes, wasn’t it?” said Jeremy, laughing.  “Ain’t we a pair?”

“We’re not a pair yet, but we could be,” said Marisa.  “I’m gonna eat while I drive.  Go ahead and nap after you’re done.  I’ll wake you up when we get to New Orleans.”

“It’s Weston,” Jeremy said around a mouthful of fries.

“What’s Weston?” asked Marisa.

“Me.  I’m Jeremy Weston.”

“Well, I seriously doubt that,” said Marisa.  “But it’s okay, I’m not Marisa Turner, either.”

“See,” said Jeremy.  “I told ya we were a pair.”

Marisa kept her eyes on the road as she ate her burger.  Though she thought Jeremy was cute and could maybe fill the bill for what she needed as far as hired muscle for a while, she decided it would be best for now if she didn’t believe a word he said.                                                                                        

And those prison clothes?  She figured she knew why he hadn’t tried hitch-hiking instead of riding under the trailer.  Those clothes may have been given to him at the time of his release, but more likely he’d commandeered them in order to make a successful escape. 

There was probably an alert out for him up and down the Interstate.  That State Trooper who pulled into the truck stop hadn’t been a coincidence.

Jeremy would need some careful watching during his probationary period.

***

They spent the night at a mom-and-pop motel in a little town thirty miles outside of New Orleans.  Rising early, Marisa gave Jeremy a twenty-dollar bill and sent him up the street to a café for some breakfast for the road.

After he left, Marisa gathered her things.  She’d paid cash in advance for the room the previous night, and was ready to go.  Jeremy made her laugh, was good in bed, and he may or may not have worked out in New Orleans.  But the job was too important to risk using an unvetted partner. Especially somebody as loosey-goosey as Jeremy.  She’d do it alone.

Marisa sighed.  Sometimes she had thoughts of what could’ve been.

Reaching into her purse for her keys, she was brought up short.

No keys.  Pulling back the drapes, she looked out the window at the parking lot and saw her car was gone.

Stepping out the door, Marisa laughed.  “Damn!  Ain’t we a pair?” she said to the quiet morning.

A car pulled into the driveway of the parking lot.  Her rental.  Through the windshield, Jeremy gave her a big smile and a thumbs up.

Marisa smiled back and returned the thumbs up. 

But she had a decision to make before they got to New Orleans.  What she needed was a back-up she could trust with her life. 

And Jeremy didn’t fit that bill.

He was the type who did well at the interview, but turned out to be a problem employee once he got the job.

***

Two Louisiana State Patrol cars put on their flashing lights as they pulled onto the shoulder of the road, scattering a flock of turkey buzzards. 

Traffic on Interstate 10 slowed and starting moving single file into the far-left lane.

“Looks like he could be our boy,” said Trooper Lester Higgins.

“Sure does,” answered Trooper Bonnie Mae Lapierre.  “Got himself quite a ways before he ran into somebody meaner than him.”

“One shot from a small caliber pistol to the forehead,” offered Lester after rolling the body over onto its back.  “Might’ve been ridin’ with somebody who tired of ‘em.”

“Or maybe he was standin’ here hitchin’ a ride and said the wrong thing to the wrong person.”

“I’ll call New Orleans for the EMTs,” said Lester, walking back to his squad car.

“Tell ‘em they don’t have to rush.  This one here ain’t gonna be needin’ all that much of their expertise.”

 

THE END




BAD NEWS OUT OF ATLANTA

By Roy Dorman

 

“This place looks like it might be open already,” said Gordy Stone.  “Let’s go in and have a couple to celebrate, and then find a place for an early dinner.”

“Sounds good,” said Don Pickens.

It’s a little after two-o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, and Clarissa McFadden had just opened the doors of Mickey’s Tavern.  She often chooses a couple of weekdays to open the place herself.  It gives her bartenders time to do their personal stuff.

The first two customers to come in and sit at the bar are middle-aged men who look professional. 

Professional like her friend, mob boss Arnie Bate’s hired help look professional.

Clarissa took the bar’s .38 from the drawer and put it on the shelf under the bar for easy access.

She had a feeling about these two.

“Afternoon, barkeep.  Two dry martinis, please.”

“Comin’ right up,” Clarissa said with a smile.

The men talk in low tones, but Clarissa can hear bits and pieces of the conversation from where she’s preparing the drinks.

“Think she’s Mickey?” asked Stone.

“Nah,” answered Pickens.  “From the looks of the architecture of this place, Mickey’s probably been dead for fifty years.”

Clarissa set the drinks in front of the two.  Pickens put a twenty and a ten on the bar.

“Thanks,” he said.  “Change is for you.  First tip of the day.”

“Thanks much,” said Clarissa.

“So, is Mickey around?” asked Stone.

“Mickey’s been dead for over fifty years,” Clarissa said with a smirk.  “I’m Clarissa.  I own this bar.”

“Nice to meetcha,” said Pickens.  “I’m Don, and this is my, ah…, partner, Gordy.  We’re celebratin’.”

“What’s the occasion?” asked Clarissa.

“Two occasions,” said Stone.  “We both retired this week, and we got married an hour ago.”

“That’s great.  Any more drinks are on the house.  Stay as long as you like.  And if you’re not from around here, I can tell you about some good restaurants in the Central Park area.”

Before either man could reply to Clarissa’s hospitality, a third man walked in the door.

Clarissa moved up tight against the bar and picked up the .38.  She held it out of sight at her side.

“Well, well, well. Stone and Pickens,” the rough looking character said, ignoring Clarissa.

Of course, there’s no way he could know this, but Clarissa really hated to be ignored.

The new guy drew a Glock from a shoulder holster and leveled it at Pickens and Stone.  Neither of the men moved.

“You don’t retire until the boss says you can retire.  You know the rules.  He sent me up here to make a lesson outta you two for any others who may think they’re their own bosses.”

Clarissa raised her .38 and said to the newcomer, “Drop the Glock or you’re a dead man.”

The guy turned toward Clarissa and she fired, hitting him in the forehead.  Falling back, he managed to get off a reflexive shot that hit Clarissa near the heart.

“Let’s get outta here,” yelled Stone.

“Fuck that,” said Pickens.  “Call 911.  I’m gonna try and keep her alive until they get here.”

“What???”

“Call 911, goddammit!  We’re done runnin’.  You and me started a new life together this morning.  We’re joinin’ the ranks of the regular folks.  Call!”

Stone dialed.  “Shots fired at Mickey’s Tavern near Central Park.  Bartender down.  Need an ambulance.  Now!”

Pickens grabbed a handful of clean bar rags and pressed them onto Clarissa’s wound.

“Missed her heart, but it’s gonna be close,” he said between forcing air into her lungs.

EMTs came pouring through the door and took over for Pickens.  Uniformed cops followed the EMTS.

“What happened here?” asked Ritchie Byrnes, the officer in charge.  “Damn, that’s Clarissa McFadden.” And then, “Who’s that?” pointing at the dead man.  “And who are you two?”

“I’m Don Pickens and this is my husband, Gordy Stone.” 

That was the first time he’d said that and it felt good.  “We were havin’ a drink and chattin’ with the bartender when that guy on the floor came in, probably to rob the joint.  The bartender had a .38 behind the bar, and while this guy was lookin’ to relieve us of our wallets, she told him to drop his piece.  He turned to shoot her and she shot him.  That’s about it.  It happened pretty fast.”

“Okay if I pat ya down?” asked Officer Byrnes.

“Sure, go ahead,” said Stone.

Stone and Pickens had decided to start their retirement and married life without carrying the tools of their trade.  They were clean.

EMTs hurriedly wheeled Clarissa past Stone, Pickens, and Byrnes, and out the door.

“You did a good job,” said one of the EMTS to Pickens.  “You in the business?”

“Retired,” Pickens hedged.

“Well, you almost certainly saved her life.  Nice work.”

“We’re gonna need you to come to the precinct for statements,” said Byrnes.

“We can do that,” said Pickens.  “Lead on.”

Byrnes left an officer at the bar to wait for someone to come in and either take over or close the place.

***

Pickens and Stone had saved Clarissa’s life.  But before they’d done that, she’d saved theirs. 

After surgery, Clarissa told her husband, Carl, everything that had happened, including her thoughts as to why those two had been targeted. 

But she hadn’t shared all she suspected with the police.  Pickens and Stone would be looking over their shoulders for the rest of their lives, and didn’t need any additional scrutiny from the NYPD right now.

When visitors were allowed, Mickey’s bartenders came in with flowers and cards to cheer her up.  The bartenders were handling the scheduling, and things were once again fine at Mickey’s.

Carl was just leaving Clarissa’s room to go find coffee when he spotted two big men, one carrying a huge bouquet of flowers, heading his way.

“Are you Don Pickens and Gordy Stone?”

The men tensed.  “You a cop?” asked Pickens.

“No,” said Carl, extending his hand.  “I’m Carl Monroe.  Clarissa’s husband.”

The two shook hands with Carl and visibly relaxed. 

“Your wife saved our lives,” said Stone.  And nodding at the flowers Pickens was holding, said, “We wanted to thank her.”

“I understand you saved hers.  And I want to thank you for that.”

“Yeah, well, if we wouldn’t’ve been there, she wouldn’t’ve been shot,” said Pickens.  “We feel bad about that.  From that little bit of time we had to get to know her, we got the idea she’s a great person.”

“That she is,” said Carl.  “And you didn’t shoot her, that wiseguy did.  Come on.  I’ll take you to her room.”

“How’s she doin’?” asked Pickens, following Carl down the hall.

“She’s recovering.  It’ll be a while before she’s her old feisty self, but she’ll be back to giving me grief when I screw up before too long.”

“Don and Gordy.  Long time, no see.  And flowers.  They’re beautiful.”

“Hi, Ms. McFadden,” said Pickens.  “We wanted to thank you for what ya did for us.”

“I don’t like people pulling guns on my customers,” said Clarissa.

“And when they do, she shoots ‘em,” Carl said, shrugging.

“Hey, I told ‘em to drop his piece, didn’t I, guys?”

“Yes, you did,” said Stone with a chuckle.

There was a pregnant pause until Pickens spoke again.

“Gordy and I would like to ask your permission to continue with something we’ve been plannin’ to do for some time now.  We have plane tickets to go to Paris out of La Guardia tonight.  We’re plannin’ to live there in our retirement.

“You’re a smart woman, so you’ve probably guessed from what you heard the other day as to what we’re retirin’ from.  We’re hopin’ to put some distance between us and that old life —”

“What our old selves would do,” Stone cut in.  “Is go after our boss for sending Walter Dean to execute us, and almost gettin’ you killed in the deal.  If you think we should, we will.  But we sorta promised each other at our wedding the other day that we wouldn’t go back to that.”

“And, hey, before I forget, we wanna thank you for not tellin’ the cops everything that was said during those few short minutes,” said Pickens.  “I’m assumin’ ya didn’t, because if ya had, we wouldn’t be free to try and live out our dream.”

“I give you my permission, guys,” said Clarissa.  “Carl and I wish you all the best.”

“Now, our former boss, Jackie Colgate, out of Atlanta, may not think this is over,” said Stone.  “Sometimes, things like this are never over.  We don’t like leavin’ you in that situation.”

“I’ve got this big, strong, handsome, lunk here to protect me.”

“As if she needs protecting—” said Carl.

“Also, Arnie Bates is a personal friend of ours,” said Clarissa.  “You may’ve heard of him. He just hates it when somebody from some other territory comes into his territory without checking in with him.  Walter Dean didn’t check in.  We’ll ask Arnie to give Colgate a call and tell him what’s expected in the future.”

“Arnie Bates, huh,” said Pickens.  “Heard he’s tough.”

“He is,” said Carl.  “And he’ll be glad to hear someone from Atlanta thinks he is.”

“Well, thanks again, Ms. McFadden,” said Stone.  “It was nice meetin’ ya even if the circumstances weren’t ideal.  You too, Carl.”

“Send us a postcard from Paris.  Maybe if Carl and I can pull ourselves away from our work, we’ll fly over and visit.”

THE END



THANKS FOR THE HELP

 

Roy Dorman

 

Private Investigator Charlie Richardson left two cars between himself and the black SUV he was tailing.  That was standard operating procedure.

But at the next light, his mark stopped for the red light for just a second, and then sped off, running the light, leaving Charlie stuck between those buffer cars.

“Damn!” Charlie shouted, hammering his fist on the steering wheel.

There were cars waiting for the green in the left lane next to him, so his only option would have been to take the sidewalk.  That would have attracted a lot of attention.

Sidewalks have lots of things that make driving a car on them difficult.  Sign poles, fire hydrants, babies in strollers, sandwich boards, bag-people pushing grocery carts full of their belongings.  Lots of deterrents.

He banged the steering wheel again.

A two-year old sitting in his car seat in the car to Charlie’s left had seen him pounding on the steering wheel and thought it hilarious.  Charlie managed a smile and a wave, but wasn’t in the mood for much more than that.

Simmering, he waited for the light.

He figured he must’ve been spotted.  After leaving the light, the SUV probably made a left or right turn off this main drag and had then taken an alternate route to wherever they were going.

When the light changed, Charlie debated trying to catch up to his client’s concern or heading back to his office to regroup.

He decided to see if he could catch up.

He drove for a while, checking his rear-view mirror for when he could no longer see the stoplight. 

When it was no longer visible, he took the first right and accelerated.  Charlie figured a right turn had been the more likely choice as there would’ve been no wait for making a left turn into oncoming traffic.

“Come on, come on.  Where are ya?”

He’d been driving for five or six blocks, looking back and forth at all of the cross streets, when he saw the black SUV coming up fast behind him.

An arm with a pistol attached to it snaked out of the passenger side window.

Charlie hit the brakes, hoping the driver of the SUV would also have to hit his brakes, spoiling the aim of his partner.

It worked.  Sort of.

Two out of four shots came through the back window and exited through the windshield.

Accelerating again, Charlie cursed.  “That’s the third time I’ve had to replace those windows in six months.  My car insurance premium’s gonna go through the roof.”

Within a block, the SUV caught up, this time pulling alongside of Charlie’s old Toyota.  As soon as they were even, Charlie hit the brakes again and made a quick left turn down a side street.

The SUV also screeched to a stop, but was hit head-on by a garbage truck.  They’d been in the wrong lane at the wrong time.

Charlie didn’t see that collision, and he continued on as if he were being followed.  He circled the block where his parking garage was located a couple of times before deciding he’d somehow lost them.

He parked his car and walked the four blocks to his office.

***

His insurance agent said they’d send somebody out to repair the windows.  He told Charlie not to worry about filing a police report.  They already had police reports from the previous incidents.  They’d just use one of them to satisfy the paperwork.

“I’m gonna set ya up with business insurance on that vehicle instead of personal insurance,” said the agent, Al Sanders.  “It’s cheaper and ya can write off the expense.  You are getting shot at during the course of yer business, right?  It’s not a personal thing, is it?”

“Yer a funny guy, Al.  Do whatever ya can.”

“I think ya should consider adding some life insurance too,” Al said.  “Got anybody you’d like to leave a little richer?  Just in case?”

Charlie got up from his desk and walked to the only window in the office.  He stared down at the street and thought.  Out of the corner of his eye noticed a fly on its back on the window sill slowly kicking its last kicks.  An omen?

“Nah, I don’t have anybody like that,” he said.  The thought saddened him.

“Well, ya could leave it to a charity of yer choice,” continued Al.  “The way you do business, ya could have somebody killin’ ya anytime.  Think about it.  I gotta go.  Watch yer back.”

Charlie ended the call.  He was still staring down at the street when the hairs on the back of his neck bristled.

Watch yer back,” his agent had said.

Charlie turned from the window to face his office door.  He watched as the knob was slowly rotated and the door opened an inch or so. 

That wasn’t the way clients entered his office.

He heard someone whisper, “One, two, three.”

The door flew open and two thugs rushed in, guns drawn, scanning the office.  Charlie’d already pulled his Glock, and he nailed them both before either had a chance to get off a shot.

Maybe tailing people wasn’t his strong suit, but he’d always been able to shoot straight.

He stared at the two men bleeding out on his cheap carpet.

“…. ya could have somebody killin’ ya anytime.”

***

“Yeah, Al, it’s Charlie again.  I guess I’d like to go with some of that life insurance you mentioned.”

“That was quick,” Al said.

“Those guys who shot out my windows?  They’re dead on the floor in my office.  I’m waitin’ on Chicago’s finest.  Set me up for $50,000.”

“I’ll have Maddie do up the paperwork for yer signature, and I’ll bring it over after lunch.  Who do ya wanna designate as beneficiary?”

“You, Al.  You’ve been takin’ care of me for years.”

“Ya sure?  That’s sweet of ya and all, but a little irregular.  Probably raise some eyebrows at home office.”

“Well, I don’t wanna get ya in trouble —"

Nah, that’s okay.  Give ‘em something to talk about.  Stuffed shirts.”

***

Things were quiet for the next few weeks.  There was enough business, but it mostly involved staking out hotel parking lots and taking pictures of wayward spouses meeting to do things with other people’s wayward spouses.

It paid well, but it often left Charlie questioning his career choice.

It was often so boring.

After working late one night, he walked to his parking garage.  Whenever he walked to his car at night, he always had horror movie scenes playing in his mind.  He was alone, his footfalls echoing on the pavement were the only sounds, and he searched for the killer among the few remaining cars on the floor.

And there he was!  How exciting! Standing behind a pillar near his car!

Charlie reached for his Glock and fired just as the shadow stepped out from behind the pillar.

The assailant had gotten off a shot, but it hadn’t come close to Charlie.

Charlie walked over and kicked the Sig Sauer from the guy’s hand.  He turned him over to check for vitals.

It was Al!

“Shit, Al.  What are you doin’ here?”

Al didn’t respond.  He was dead.  Charlie called 911.

After talking to the dispatcher, he looked down at Al and gently nudged his shoulder with his foot.

“Thanks for the help over the years.  I don’t suppose you had a policy with me as beneficiary, did ya?”

***

“So, Maddie, I ain’t ever had any life insurance before.  What do I do now?  My beneficiary’s dead.”

“I can bring over a new beneficiary form for your signature.”

“I don’t have anybody.  Yer home office would have a hissy fit if I named you.”

“Well, there’s this soup kitchen for homeless folks over off Rush Street I volunteer at.  They’re good people.”

“Let’s do that,” said Charlie.  “And, hey.  Thanks for the help.”

“No problemo, Charlie.  Watch yer back.”

Charlie ended the call and sat back in his chair, staring at his office door.

“Watch yer back?  Really.”

THE END



JUST A SMALL TOWN BOY

 

Roy Dorman

 

Eddie Johnson listened with dismay as the techy voice of his GPS informed him of the accident on the Interstate twenty miles ahead that would cause an hour delay due to the back-up it caused.  It told him to take the next exit and offered an alternate route around the crash site and its delay.

Eddie had been travelling north on I-75 from Miami after finishing a job there.  He was headed back to his home base in Detroit.  It was almost 10:00 P.M. and he’d been planning to stop soon at a hotel off the Interstate for the night.

Now he’d have to see if the alternate route had anything, or wait until his GPS guided him back to I-75.

He’d just entered Kentucky.  He took the exit with a number of other cars who obviously also had their GPS giving them instructions.  A county highway took him through a couple of small towns, all dark for the evening, and he didn’t see any signs for hotels.

The route took Eddie back to his youth.  Though for the last twenty years he’d lived in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Detroit, and other big cities, he’d grown up in rural Wisconsin.

Driving narrow, twisting highways in total darkness came back to him after a bit and he relaxed.

But he was still dog-tired.  And he no longer was getting any Internet service.  No GPS.  So much for the alternate route.

He knew the odds of a hotel this far off the Interstate were slim, so he decided to stop in the next town and catch a few hours of sleep in a grocery store parking lot.

He’d only been asleep for an hour or so when he heard a tapping on his windshield.  Before he even opened his eyes, he could tell a flashlight was shining in his face.

Eddie sat up and let down the driver’s side window a crack.

“Yeah,” he said.  “What can I do for ya?”

“I’d like you to step out of the car.”

The flashlight still shone in his face, but Eddie could see that his visitor was a cop.

“Sorry, officer.  I was just catchin’ a nap.  I’ll be movin’ along.”

“This ain’t a Rest Area.  It’s private property.  And I asked you to get out of the car.”

Eddie took a second to compose himself.  He was tired and now he was also pissed off.  What he wanted to do was smack this pompous asshole in the face, but he knew that wouldn’t be smart.

And Eddie was smart.  He had to be in his chosen profession.

He got out of the car and faced the cop who now had the flashlight in his left hand and his service revolver in his right.

“Seriously?  I don’t think you really need that,’ said Eddie pointing at the pistol.

“I’ll decide what I need,” said the cop.

Eddie saw the name plate above the cop’s badge said “Clemmons.”

“Look, Officer Clemmons, I was on the Interstate and got rerouted here because of some accident back-up.  By tomorrow at this time, I’ll be in Michigan.  I don’t wanna cause you a lot of unnecessary paperwork —”

“Put both hands on the top of the car, feet back, and spread ‘em.  Pretty sure you know the drill.”

Eddie had a Glock in a shoulder holster and a small Smith and Wesson in an ankle holster. 

No more Mr. Nice Guy.

He figured Officer Clemmons would have to put the flashlight away before patting him down and he’d take control at that point.

But Clemmons skipped the patting down and hit Eddie on the head with the butt of his revolver.  Eddie went down and went back to the interrupted nap.

***

He woke up on a cot in a small cell.  It looked like it was the only cell in the town’s jail.

“Hey,” he called.  “Do I get my one phone call?”

After a bit, Officer Clemmons came in with his gun drawn and opened the cell door.

“The Chief says you get one call.  You can make it in his office.  Come on.”

The Chief, Ed Balistreri, according to the name tag, sat at his desk like a well-fed toad.

“Make yer call and make it short,” he said, pointing at the phone on the desk.

“No privacy, huh?” asked Eddie.

“Ya don’t need no privacy.”

Clemmons stood next to the Chief, smiling like a Cheshire cat.

It was an old dial phone and Eddie made the call.  Actually, he didn’t want privacy.  He wanted these two, and the dispatcher in the other room, to hear the call.                                  

“Yo, Jake.  It’s Eddie Johnson.  Yeah, long time, no see.  I’m here in Camden Station, Kentucky, in a bit of a bind.  It’s off I-75 on County Highway B.  I’m on my way to Detroit.  Got hit on the head and put in a cell for sleeping in my car in a grocery parking lot…., Yeah, yeah, long story.  Anyhow, I’d like ya to come and get me out.  Bring what ya need to raise some hell and don’t feel like ya need to use any restraint.  Except if ya run into an Officer Clemmons.  Don’t kill ‘em.  He’s mine.  Thanks, buddy.  Tell Arnie to put it on my tab.”

The Chief’s jaw had dropped and Officer Clemmons was no longer smiling.

The dispatcher, Mary Simms, poked her head into the office.

“Ah, Chief?  I need to take the rest of the day off and tomorrow too.  My aunt over in Briggsville died, and I have to go help out with family stuff.”

“Go,” said the Chief.

Clemmons opened his mouth to say something, then snapped it shut when Balistreri glared at him.

“Give Mr. Johnson his artillery, phone, and wallet, Clemmons.  He better get started if he wants to get to Detroit tonight.”

“But I haven’t seen anything of Camden Station except the inside of my cell and your office,” said Eddie.

“Get a twenty out of the cash box so that Mr. Johnson can get some breakfast at the diner before he heads out.”

“Sure thing, Chief.”

“There’s not much to see in Camden Station, Mr. Johnson.  If you continue on Highway B for about six miles, take a left when you get to Sutherland Road. In another three miles there’ll be an on ramp for I-75.  We good?”

Eddie just stared at him.  Good?  Hardly.

“Ya wanna make another call?”

Eddie smiled.  “I could make another call.”

Balistreri pushed the phone over to him.

“Hey Jake.  Eddie again.  We got things taken care of all nice like here in Camden Station.  Yeah, I’m sure.  You know I’m just a small-town boy at heart.  No, no.  If I had a gun to my head, I’d tell ya and ya could still make the trip.  I’ll call ya later today when I stop for lunch and tell ya all about it. Thanks to you and tell Arnie hey from me.”

On his way out, Officer Clemmons handed him his things and the twenty.  He put out his hand for Eddie to shake and Eddie faked a quick jab to his solar plexus.  Clemmons jumped back and almost fell on his butt.

“See ya around, Clemmons.  Be cool.”

THE END


Bein’ Superstitious Don’t Pay the Rent

 

Roy Dorman

 

Eddie Johnson was glad to be back in Detroit. 

The job had gone well in Miami.  And except for that little snafu in Southern Kentucky involving an overzealous small town police force, the drive home had been pretty routine.

He parked his car a block from his residence as he always did.  He’s never experienced any trouble at this address, but in his business one never knows.

 The Corktown Neighborhood was the oldest surviving neighborhood in Detroit.  His one-bedroom apartment was on the second floor of a century-old house in the middle of the block on a quiet street. His landlady had the entire first floor and there’s one other apartment across from Eddie’s on the second.

Eddie walked a side-street until he came to the alley that led past the rear of his house. 

“Alleys are so cool,” he thought to himself, walking slowly, checking out the backs of the houses to his right and left.  “Wonder why housing developers don’t put them in anymore.  Pity.”

When he got to the back of his house, he looked up at the three windows that faced the back alley.  Not good.  He’d left the shade in the living room only halfway down so his cactus could have some afternoon sunlight. 

Now that shade was all the way down like its two neighbors in the bedroom.

Company?

As he walked around the house toward the front porch, plans were developing in his head.  It was possible he was being watched, so he’d just let himself in as he always had. 

Except to maybe be a little quieter in case he wasn’t being watched.  The element of surprise has its advantages.

He knew which of the stairs creaked the most and avoided them.  When he got to his door, he saw light under the space at the bottom.

“Made themselves at home,” he mused.

Now, did he want to kick in the door and go in shooting, or use the key and give his visitor a chance to explain?

He walked down the short hall until he came to the light switch on the wall.  He flipped the switch to off and went back to his door.  Crouching to the right of it against the wall in a hunkered down position, he noisily jangled his keys and muttered under his breath.

“Damn light’s burned out.  How am I supposed to see the stupid keyhole,” he said in what he hoped was a drunken voice.

The light under his door went out.

Two shots fired from a pistol equipped with a silencer pierced the center of the door about chest high, the slugs continuing into the door across the hall.

Eddie waited.

The door opened a few inches as if trying to draw him in, in the event the shots had missed.  After a couple of seconds, it opened all the way and a large somebody stepped out into the darkened hallway.

The door across the hall flew open, throwing light everywhere, and a shot from a large caliber pistol hit the guy in the forehead, sending him back into Eddie’s apartment.

“What the hell?” Eddie shouted.

“Well, hey, don’t mention it.  I’m sure yer very welcome,” said an older man dressed in his pajamas.  An older man with a Glock.

“Who are you?” asked Eddie.

“Claude de Pere.  Yer neighbor.  Pleased to meetcha.”

“Did ya call 911?”

“The few times I’ve seen ya around, ya never struck me as the 911-type of guy, so, no, I didn’t.”

Eddie stared at Claude.  “Wanna come in for a nightcap?” he said.

“Don’t mind if I do,” said Claude.  “Lemme get my robe on and I’ll be right over.”

After going through his would-be assailant’s pockets, Eddie propped him up against the living room wall.  He was sitting at his little dining room table when Claude knocked on the door.

“Come in.  It’s open.”

Claude looked at the body by the wall.  “Big son of a gun, ain’t he?” he said.

“Yeah, he is.  Driver’s license says he’s Rollie Dawson from Cincinnati.”

“Course that don’t mean it’s true, right?” said Claude.

Eddie stared at Claude again.  Who was this guy?  “Ya think ol’ Mrs. Connors heard yer shot?”

“Nah, it’s way past her bedtime.  She told me once she takes her hearing aids out when she goes to bed and sleeps like a baby until the sun wakes her.”

Eddie poured two tumblers of Jack Daniels.

“To us,” he said, lifting his glass in a toast.

“To us,” said Claude.

Eddie wondered where he was going to go with this. 

First, he’d have to get rid of the body.  There were a couple of guys in town he could trust with that job.

He’d also have to call his boss, explain the situation, and wait to hear back from them what they’d managed to find out about one Rollie Dawson from Cincinnati.

But what about Claude?

“Sorry about yer door,” said Eddie, sipping his Jack.

“No problemo,” said Claude.  “Gives it a little character, right?  And it matches yers.”

“That it does,” Eddie said, nodding sagely.

For a few minutes, the two sat and sipped, saying nothing as old friends are often able to do.  Except they weren’t old friends.

“So ya said I didn’t seem to be the 911-type of guy.  What did ya mean by that?”

“Oh, I don’t know.  Odd hours.  Parking down the street. Shoulder holster….”

“Hmmm.  How come I never saw you seein’ me?”

Claude smiled, but didn’t say anything.

“Well?” asked Eddie.

“I imagine you’ve got some calls to make,” said Claude, standing and finishing his drink.  “I’ll be up for about an hour if ya need anything.”

“Ya didn’t answer my question,” said Eddie.

“I used to be in the business,” said Claude.  “Good night.”

***

The next morning, Eddie knocked on Claude’s door.

“Morning, Claude.  After ya left, it occurred to me that I didn’t thank you for last night.  Here, this is for you.  Half of what was in Rollie’s wallet.  Figured he didn’t need it where he was going.

Claude looked at the three hundred-dollar bills in Eddie’s hand, but made no move to take them.

“Appreciate it, but no thanks.”

“Superstitious?”

“Might say that.”

“If I’m right about what ya meant about bein’ in the business once, ya must’ve had the occasion now and then to help yourself to money like this.”

“Many a time,” Claude said wistfully.  “But toward the end, when I was thinkin’ about gettin’ out, I started to give that kinda money away.  Just didn’t want it anymore.  Know what I mean?”

“I think I do, Claude.  And when it comes time for me to start windin’ down, I may do the same.”

Eddie folded the bills and stuffed them in his pocket.

“Tell ya what,” he said.  “How ‘bout we go out to dinner tonight?  I’ll buy and I’ll use my own money, not Rollie’s.”

“I’d like that,” said Claude.  “I don’t get out enough anymore.”

***

It was a nice night, so Eddie and Claude walked the four blocks to Mama Rosita’s Italian Restaurant.

Mama Rosita’s was a small family-owned place with secluded booths along a back wall that were just right for private dining.

After dinners of Seafood Tetrazzini for Eddie and Spaghetti and Meatballs for Claude, they were having coffee.  Eddie’s phone lit up with an incoming call.  Marty Paulson.

“Sorry, Claude, but I gotta take this.  It’s my boss.”

Eddie stepped away from their booth.

“Hey, boss.  What’s up?”

“Got some info for ya, Eddie.  Seems yer deader, Rollie Dawson, wasn’t after you after all.  Just using yer apartment.  Billy Larson in Cincinnati says Dawson was stakin’ out yer neighbor, Johnny Adams, one of their guys who took a powder about a year ago.  This Adams guy had taken the money for his last three hits, but had tipped off his targets instead of doin’ ‘em.  They managed to pull disappearin’ acts and then so did Adams.  Nuts, right?  Anyhow, yer neighbor is using the name Claude de Pere.  Be careful, he’s probably unstable.”

“Thanks, Marty.  Yer not gonna believe this, but I’m havin’ dinner with Claude as we speak.  He’s lookin’ at me kinda funny right now, and I don’t see the bulge under his sportscoat anymore.  I’ll call ya back.”

“Wait, Eddie, I already sent —”

Eddie walked back to the booth and sat down.

“Yer phone’s ringin’ again,” said Claude.

“I don’t wanna talk to him, Claude.  I wanna talk to you.”

“Yeah?”

“How long was Dawson in my apartment?”

“He got there early yesterday afternoon.”

“The call I just got told me he mighta been waitin’ for you, not me.  Is that about right?”

“Yup.  That’s right.”

“You have yer Glock in yer lap?”

“Yup.”

“Gonna use it?”

“Don’t rightly know.”

“Ya know they’re gonna send somebody else from Cincinnati to get you, right?”

“Somebody’s probably on the way.”

“I’ve got a place in Costa Rica and a couple a hundred thousand in the bank.  I could help ya get set up there if yer serious about retirin’,” said Eddie.

“Why would ya do that?”

“I dunno.  Maybe I see a little of me in you.  A little of me in ten years or so.”

“Let’s talk about it on the walk home,” said Claude.

They paid their bill and started back.

Eddie turned onto the side street and they headed toward his alley.

“Better safe than sorry,” he said.

When they got to the back of the house, they were startled by someone saying their names.

“Eddie and Johnny.  How ya doin’?”

Both men reached for their guns.

“Don’t,” the voice said.

“Alicia?” said Eddie.

A trim, thirty-something woman stepped out of the shadows, holding a Sig Sauer.  Her smile seemed genuine, but it was somewhat compromised by the pistol.

“Yeah, Eddie.  Long time no see.  Still like alleys?”

“What are you doin’ here?”

“Marty told his counterpart in Cincy that I would help you take care of cleanin’ things up here.  Said he owed the guy a favor.  And then to Johnny: “Sorry, Johnny, but ya know how it is.  Business is business.”  And then back to Eddie: “I’m not gonna have a problem with you, am I?”

“This guy, here, is a good guy.  He just wanted to retire.”

“Maybe he shoulda just gave his two weeks’ notice.”

Thinking Eddie was trying to distract Alicia, Claude started to back away from the two and reached for his Glock.  But Alicia was quick and she shot him.  Eddie went for his piece, but stopped, knowing he didn’t have a chance.

“We had a good thing once, Alicia.”

“True dat, Eddie.  We did.”

“Ya gonna shoot me too?”

“I’m thinkin’.  Turn around and put yer hands over yer head.”

Eddie turned around as told.  His mind was racing, frantically trying to find the right thing to say.  He and Alica had been lovers a number of times over the years when their paths crossed.

He’d try and go with that.

“I still have feelings for you, ya know,” he said.  “Don’t you for me?”

Nothing.

“Alicia?”

Eddie turned and… Alicia was gone.

“I guess she still had feelings,” he said, laughing.

Eddie called the two guys who’d taken care of disposing of Rollie Dawson.  He went through Claude’s wallet, and then tossed his apartment looking for anything of value.

Eddie wasn’t superstitious.

THE END




THERE’S MORE THAN ONE WAY TO CATCH A BANK ROBBER

 

Roy Dorman

 

SALLY  O’

Her name’s Sally O’Malley,

And she lives in the valley,

But doesn’t much care to go home.

Because when she gets there

She’s tied to a chair

To stifle her desire to roam.

 

Pub song possibly written by Sally’s husband, Tommy. 

Circa 1850, Dublin, Ireland

 

 

“I need you!  Need you!  Gawd, how I want you so much!”

Alison O’Malley held the wanted poster in front of her face, staring intently at Robert Weston.

Weston was wanted for bank robbery in four states and the District of Columbia and there was a hundred-thousand-dollar reward for information leading to his capture.

Alison planted a kiss on his photo and carefully placed it on the corner of her desk.

The O’Malley Detective Agency was going to experience a makeover soon, she was sure of it.

The agency actually did more car repossessions and bail jumper work than detective work, but Alison was a dreamer.  Since Robert Weston hadn’t robbed a bank in Florida yet, she figured he would soon. 

And Alison planned to nab him when he did.

***

It was getting on toward noon and Alison hadn’t really done any work this morning. 

Because she didn’t have any work to do.

She locked up her office and headed down two flights of stairs to the street.  She would have lunch at the St. George Tavern and then hang around there for the afternoon to see if she could pick up some business.  The St. George usually drew a pretty good Friday lunch crowd.  Snowbirds mixed with locals, and that in itself sometimes generated a client or two.

“Hey, Conrad.  I’ll have a Smithwick’s Red Ale and a burger and fries, please,” Alison said plunking herself down onto the last available bar stool and opening her laptop.

“So it’s gonna be Conrad today, is it?” answered the bartender, Connie Dugan, with a smile.  Connie was a big guy, over six-five, who ran a tight ship and enjoyed his quirky regulars.

“Yeah, I’m workin’ ‘till four, so it’ll be Conrad ‘till then.”

The handsome guy sitting on the stool next to her chuckled.  “Nice work if you can get it,” he said.  “Takes that working from home thing to a whole new level.”

“Yeah, I’m the boss and the only employee, so I get to make the work rules.  No pesky HR people keeping track of timecards, ya know?”

“I’m Paul,” he said extending his hand.  “You a writer or something?”

“Alison.  I’m a private detective.  Drummin’ up business,” she said, taking his hand and giving it a firm shake.

“Private detective?  Cool.  I went with a corporate law firm straight out of law school five years ago and sometimes I feel a little….”

“Stifled?”

“I guess you could put it that way —”

“Private detectives can sometimes feel a little stifled too,” said the guy on the stool to Alison’s right.  Like Lawyer Paul, he extended his hand and Alison shook it.  “Carl Vincent.  Vincent-Showers Detective Agency, New York City.”

“Hey, guy, we were having a conversation here,” Paul said to Carl, puffing himself up.

“Oh, my bad,” said Carl.  “Didn’t know you two were together.”

Carl made like he was defusing the situation, but actually he was aware that the way he put it could cause trouble.  He enjoyed the small dramas in afternoon bar life. 

Carl was in St. Augustine for a month with his wife, Melinda, to get away from the New York City January weather. He was in the St. George Tavern, the oldest tavern in St. Augustine, which was the oldest city in the USA.  It was a great little bar for people watching.

“We’re not together,” Alison interjected.  “We just met.  Like you and I just met.”

All three now looked at each other in the back bar mirror and Carl was the first to smile.  Alison followed suit, but Paul remained stoney-faced.

Alison was enjoying the attention and said to the mirror, “So, Paul, Carl, your paths ever cross?  In business, I mean.  Not here at the St. George.”

Paul continued to stare at Alison and Carl in the mirror.  Carl turned to Alison and said, “My partner and I don’t get asked into corporate stuff, unless maybe somebody’s having marital difficulties.”

Paul took his left hand off the bar and let it drop to his side.  Alison and Carl saw Paul’s move to hide his wedding band in the mirror and both smirked.

They were thinking that Paul, or more likely Paul’s wife, might be a client sometime soon.

Connie brought Alison’s burger. Alison thanked him and turned her attention to it. 

Paul finished his beer and stood up to leave.

“Here’s my card, Paul,” said Carl.  “Give me a call if I can help with something.”

Paul looked at the card and then at Carl.  “No thanks,” he said.  And he walked out without another word to either Alison or Carl.

“So, you workin’ this afternoon too, Carl?”

“No, I’m down here on vacation.  I enjoy the neighborhood bar scene during the hours from noon ‘til about four.  Meet some interesting people.”

“Like our friend, Paul?” asked Alison with a shrug.

“I was thinking of people like you.”

When Alison stiffened and frowned, Carl quickly held up his left hand to show his wedding band.  “No, no, I’m not hitting on you.  Happily married.  Just meant it might be fun to talk a little shop.”

Alison relaxed and smiled.  She finished her burger and offered Carl some of her fries.

“A couple more beers here, please, Conrad,” Carl said as Connie walked past.

“Comin’ right up,” Connie said with a wink.

“Whatcha working on?” Carl asked pointing at Alison’s laptop.

“If I tell ya, ya have to promise not to laugh.”

“Something offbeat?  My partner, Julie, and I love the weird cases.  Beats the hell out of slinking around shooting Kodak moments outside hotels.”

“It’s a dream.  Maybe a fantasy.  Ya ever hear of Robert Weston?”

“The bank robber?  Sure, I’ve heard of him.”

“Well, I’d like to bring ‘em in,” Alison said, looking at the mirror.  “Nuts, huh?”

“Not nuts at all.  Somebody’s gotta get him some day. Could be you.  So, have ya got a line on him?”

“No, but I’m doing research,” said Alison.  “One thing I’ve found is that he doesn’t have a pattern.  Different times of the day.  Different days of the week.  Nothing I’ve found so far to help me anticipate his moves.”

“If he’s doing that on purpose, that in itself tells you something about him,” Carl mused.  “He’s a smart guy.  If he plans the times of his robberies that carefully he probably also plans his escape route closely too.”

“Yeah, I suppose so.”

“And there must be quite a few banks in the St. Augustine area,” said Carl.  “Can’t just stake out a different bank each day, right?  We’re gonna have to catch him after he does a job.”

“There are about 25 banks, including branches, in the area.  And what’s this ‘we’re gonna’ business?” Alison said, looking Carl in the eye.

“I’m not trying to horn in on your dream, Alison.  Just professional curiosity.  I always get enthusiastic at the beginning of a case.”

“Well, I guess I could use any help I can get with this if it’s gonna be more than a dream.  My little agency could really use the money and ….. Connie!  Connie!  Turn up the sound on the TV!”

“…. and Memphis Police say Robert Weston is now in custody.  He was captured after leaving a gas station on Interstate-40 outside of Memphis after an employee recognized him.  The employee, Tammy Sue Rogers, had this to say: “I saw this guy and right away knew it was him.  I don’t have any idea what I’ll do with all that money.  Assuming I get it, that is …..”

“No, no, no!” Alison yelled.  “He was mine!”

Connie turned down the sound and came over and patted Alison on the hand. “Don’t worry, honey.  There’ll be other bank robbers.”

Alison slammed her fists on the bar.  “I don’t want another bank robber, goddammit!  I wanted him!”

On her way to the restroom, Alison knocked over a couple of bar stools.  From the restroom came a crash as the waste basket was the recipient of her wrath. 

It would be a while before she was fit company.

Carl put a twenty on the bar and nodded good-bye to Connie.

He felt bad for Alison’s lost dream.

***

Back in New York City, Carl was at the office catching up on paperwork with his partner, Julie Showers.

“Didn’t you say you ran into a private detective in St. Augustine when you were down there with Melinda?” Julie asked.

“Yeah,” said Carl.  “A young woman named Alison.”

Julie held up her phone.  “Listen to this,” she said, reading from her phone.  “St. Augustine Police say they have captured Ronnie Dawson after he robbed the Chase Bank on King Street in downtown St. Augustine.  Police say Dawson robbed the bank and was headed out on the A1A Byway.  At a stoplight, he rear-ended the car belonging to St. Augustine Private Detective, Alison O’Malley, who recognized him and drew her Glock when he stepped out of his car to survey the damage.  O’Malley held him there until police arrived to take him into custody.  O’Malley is eligible to receive the fifty-thousand-dollar reward for Dawson’s arrest.”

“Alison’s dream came true,” said Carl.  “I’ll have to send a note of congratulations.”

“Catching bank robbers pays pretty well,” mused Julie.  “And the publicity from catching one has to be great for business.  Maybe we should devote one day a week trying to snag one ourselves.”

“You’re a dreamer, Julie,” Carl said laughing.  “You and Alison would work great together.”

THE END


DEAD IS DEAD

 

Roy Dorman

                                                                                                         

“I was in a neighborhood tavern with a tumbler of Irish whiskey and a Mickey Spillane paperback for company when the heart attack hit.  You?”

“In Folsom Prison doin’ life for murder when a dirtbag named Larry Sanders shivved me after he caught me cheatin’ at cards.”

“So, where the hell are we?”

“I’m thinkin’ you’re probably close with that thought, buddy.”

“Yeah? Ya think so?  Hey, I’m Richard Clarke.”

“Eddie Johnson.  Meetcha.”

“What say we look around a bit and see what’s up,” said Richard.

“I’m game, but I think we’re dead,” answered Eddie.  “And maybe it’s just the two of us.  If we’re lucky.”

It was close to pitch-black with just a faint light every fifteen or twenty seconds as something off in the distance flared.  The flaring coincided with a rumbling noise that was also in the distance.

There didn’t appear to be anything else at all in the near vicinity.

The two walked toward the light and noise.

In the brief flashes of light, Richard noticed they both had on matching t-shirts, jeans, work boots, and leather jackets.

“Odd,” he thought to himself.  “Who dressed us?  And why?”

He decided to let it go for now.

“That could be a volcano up ahead,” he speculated.

“What the hell do you know about volcanos?” Eddie snorted.

“Only what I saw in the movies when I was a kid.  You got any better ideas?”

“Yeah, we’re dead, that’s what.”

“You’re kinda stuck on that notion, aren’t ya,” said Richard.

Eddie stopped and stared at Richard.  “You sayin’ I’m some kinda nut-job?”

“No, no.  It’s just that….”

Eddie hit Richard in the nose with a sharp right jab causing blood to flow.

“Nut-job, huh?” said Eddie.  “Well, fuck you.  I say we’re dead.”

“You broke by dose,” Richard said holding his nose to try and stop the bleeding.  “What’s the matter with you?”

Eddie didn’t say anything as a look of puzzlement appeared on his rugged face.

“We’re not dead — ” he started to say.

“Oh, for chrissakes, knock it off with the dead business,” said Richard massaging his nose.  “And if ya hit me again, I’ll hit ya back.”

“No, listen,” said Eddie.  “Yer bleeding.  It hurt when I socked ya.  We ain’t dead.”

Just then a ring-tone went off in Richard’s jacket.

“You gotta phone?” asked Eddie with a look of suspicion.

“I guess I do,” said Richard, taking the phone from his pocket.

“Hello?”

A mechanical voice intoned:

Put this on speaker mode.

Richard shrugged and did as he was told.

“Done,” he said.  “Who’s this?”

Eddie still had a wary expression on his face.  He didn’t like this at all.

This is a recording that was activated from the future.  This is not a cell phone.  It’s a preset recording.  I won’t be replying to your comments or questions.  You are 45,000 years in the past in a territory that is now Southern France.  You will be given everything you need to help with a very complicated set of circumstances.

Richard and Eddie exchanged looks and shrugged.

You were chosen to be brought back to life because of your unique abilities.  Richard Clarke, you enjoy a good mystery and like to problem solve.  Eddie Johnson, you don’t care one way or another about mysteries, but enjoy solving a problem in more direct ways. 

You two are considered an assault team.  Eddie Johnson will be the leader of the assault team.  Richard Clarke will be his back-up and advisor in all things related to the assault. You are in a cave in a hillside close to a nearly inactive volcano.

Richard raised an eyebrow at Eddie and mouthed “see?”

Near the entrance of the cave there are supplies under a tarp.  Some of the supplies you will take with you, and some will remain under the tarp if you should need them later on.  There are two automatic pistols, both Glocks, and holsters for them for each of you.  Also, a sawed-off shotgun and hip holster for Eddie’s use.  There is more ammunition than you will need.  If you run out, it’s probably because the assault has failed. 

You may think you will be the only ones with that type of firepower in the time period of 45,000 years ago.  You are not.  As I will explain, there are others with weapons more advanced than simple spears and bows and arrows.

Richard and Eddie exchanged looks again.  Richard looked worried, but Eddie had a big grin on his face.  He was in charge of an assault team with more ammunition than he might need.  He was in heaven, not hell.

Cro-Magnon man has become a dominant species in this part of Europe.  and the Neanderthals, a dead-end offshoot of an earlier common ancestor, have been slowly dying out.  That is, until about a year ago when an extraterrestrial ship monitoring the Earth crashed in the vicinity you are in.  Of the sixteen crewmembers, eight females and eight males, ten survived the crash, and three of those were injured seriously.

“You believe this shit?” asked Eddie.

“I don’t know,” said Richard.  “Sounds pretty far-fetched.”

These alien visitors have taken it upon themselves to support the Neanderthals. It may be because they feel the less intelligent species of humans would be easier to control if their staying on Earth becomes long term.  Your mission is to capture these ten aliens and bring them back to this cave where they can be transported into the future. 

When the mission is completed, Richard, you will be returned to your time period and to a hospital where you will have recovered from your heart attack.  Eddie, you will also return to your time period, but will be given a new identity and be a free man.  That is the end of this message.  Good luck.

“Let’s go get the guns,” said Eddie.  “I’m ready to round up some aliens.”

“Remember, Eddie, the messenger said they’ll have weapons as good as ours.”

“Yeah, but they don’t have me,” said Eddie.

They found the tarp and gathered the weapons.  Eddie checked the guns out for both of them and declared them loaded and ready to use.

“Ready to rock ‘n’ roll,” he said with a big smile.

The two walked the few steps to the tunnel’s entrance and Eddie stopped Richard from going out.  It was nighttime and except for the occasional flare from the volcano, it was very dark.

“I’ll check to see if anybody’s waitin’ for us.  They may figure to ambush us.”

He cautiously stepped out and checked the immediate area.  Suddenly, a bright spotlight beamed onto the tunnel’s entrance and Eddie was blinded.  He drew the shotgun and fired it toward the spotlight as laser fire cut him in half.

Richard ran out from the cover of the cave entrance to help Eddie and was also cut down.

Eddie and Richard were dead.

Again.

***

Three Neanderthals stood with laser weapons in their hands.  There was some garbled vocalization and hopping around on their part signifying success.  They were led away by a tall, thin being who gave them pats on the back. 

It would have been helpful for Eddie and Richard to know that this was the fourth failed mission in the last three months.

Somebody far in the future needed to come up with a Plan B before this past became a part of their reality.

THE END



Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for over 65 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had flash fiction and poetry published in Black Petals, Bewildering Stories, One Sentence Poems, Yellow Mama, Drunk Monkeys, Literally Stories, Dark Dossier, The Rye Whiskey Review, Near to the Knuckle, Theme of Absence, Shotgun Honey, and a number of other online and print journals. Unweaving a Tangled Web, published by Hekate Publishing, is his first novel. 

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