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Just a Small-Town Boy: Fiction by Roy Dorman
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Roy Dorman: Just a Small-Town Boy

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Art by Hillary Lyon 2023

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


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. 





Hillary Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big EasyThuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern Arizona.  https://hillarylyon.wordpress.com/

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2023