JUST A SMALL TOWN
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
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
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
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
He knew the odds of a hotel
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
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
side window a crack.
“Yeah,” he said. “What can I do for ya?”
“I’d like you
to step out of the
The flashlight still shone
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.”
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
the cop who now had the flashlight in his left hand and his service revolver in
“Seriously? I don’t think you really need that,’ said
Eddie pointing at the pistol.
what I need,” said
Eddie saw the name plate
the cop’s badge said “Clemmons.”
“Look, Officer Clemmons,
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
down and hit Eddie on the head with the butt of his revolver. Eddie went down
and went back to the
He woke up on a cot in a
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
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
short,” he said, pointing at the phone on the desk.
“No privacy, huh?”
“Ya don’t need
Clemmons stood next to the
Chief, smiling like a Cheshire cat.
It was an old dial phone
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
Clemmons opened his mouth
something, then snapped it shut when Balistreri glared at him.
“Give Mr. Johnson
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
“Sure thing, Chief.”
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
Eddie just stared at him. Good?
“Ya wanna make another
Eddie smiled. “I could make another call.”
Balistreri pushed the phone
“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
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.”
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.