Fourteen million dollars in a burned suitcase. Parts of a dead man in a duffel bag. Two hired killers, a drug dealer, and two organized crime kingpins; all chasing two white trash kids from New York into the Deep South as they head for what they think will be safety in Mexico. Adult orientated. Sex, language and Graphic Violence… 18+ No preview is available due to the Adult Content. Drug Use…
“I was in the woods. I ran. I didn’t know what those guys would do. I knew you lived here. I was heading here when I saw you come out. I wouldn’t have done that… I couldn’t have. Especially when you fell inside the car. It made me gag.”
She paused and met his eyes for a second, then looked away once more. She closed her eyes like she was remembering the scene, or it was playing out again behind her closed lids. David supposed it was. She continued in…
By Dell Sweet
Copyright © 2018 by Dell Sweet
PUBLISHED BY: Dell Sweet; all rights reserved
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
This novel is Copyright © 2018 Dell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the authors permission. All rights are retained by the Author.
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Cover art Copyright © 2018 Dell Sweet
This excerpt has not been edited for content
Friday Morning: Glennville, N.Y. …
David pulled the zipper and recoiled from the smell that came from the bag. April leaned close to see what was in the bag and then recoiled herself from the smell.
“What the fuck?” she asked.
David opened the bag wider, but saw nothing except crumpled up newspapers. Tentatively he pushed aside the newspapers and a pair of dead, dusty eyes stared up at him through the newspapers. He flung the bag away from him, reacting simply on impulse. The bag hit the wall and the head, along with a pair of hands, rolled out onto the floor.
“Oh, God,” April said. “Put it back in the bag, David, put it back in the bag and get it out of here!” She jumped off the other side of the bed and pressed into the wall as far away from the bag and she could get. David looked at her and then grabbed one of the shirts that had been in the other duffel bag; he lunged forward quickly, picked up the head so he wouldn’t have to think about it too long and tried to jam it back into the bag. It wouldn’t go. The shirt, or the head, or both kept catching the side of the bag and collapsing it. Finally he laid the bag down on one side and managed to hold one side of it open and kind of scooped the head back into the bag. Once it was in he quickly zipped up the bag. He stood quickly and started to walk from the room.
“David, where are you going?” April asked.
He stopped. He had been heading for the door, but he had no idea where he would go from there.
“David… The hands… David,” she pointed…
David Cross sat watching his television: An old war movie, boring, but it was three A.M. and there were only the local stations that he could get, plus the one from Canada when the weather was right, or what-ever-the-fuck had to be right for an antenna to work. Tonight it wasn’t working. Excuse me, he corrected himself, this morning. Whatever needed to be right wasn’t. It had looked like a foreign film with all kinds of nudity too, but the goddamn thing had kept fading in and out so much that he had gotten a headache trying to watch it. He’d finally settled for the old war movie on one of the local stations.
He was trying to nurse his last beer. He’d been sure that there was one more left, but he’d been wrong. Somehow he had miscounted and that was unlike him. He always knew how many beers he had to the can, but somehow he’d messed up the count tonight. There were no more. He’d even moved the green loaf of bread, which he had hated to do, but he had moved it only to find nothing behind it. He had hoped the one remaining can had rolled behind it, but it had not been behind the moldy bread. He had been wrong.
It hadn’t occurred to him to throw out the moldy loaf of bread while he was at it. Instead he had gotten one of the spatulas from the silverware drawer, levered it under the bread and then pushed it to the side only to find no beer can hiding there. He had then levered the loaf of bread back into the original position it had been in.
So he was nursing his last beer: Last beer and no money for beer. And it was Friday: That meant the rest of Friday, Friday night, and the whole weekend loomed ahead dry. It was too depressing to think about. He tried to focus on the movie.
His trailer was located at the end of Lott road, a dirt road on the outskirts of the city two miles beyond the county dump. Nobody really wanted to live on Lott road it seemed, except David, and if he were honest with himself he didn’t really want to live here either, he simply had no choice. His crappy job only paid him enough for a crappy place to live. This was it: The crappiest of the crappiest. In fact the morning before the cops had taken the body of a young girl out of the ditch just down the road. Found by someone driving by. She hadn’t been there very long either. Someone had killed her and dumped her there. It was definitely a crappy place to live. He knew that for a fact because he had gone looking. There were no crappier places. Except maybe the trailer park down the road, he thought, but that was part of Lott road too so it didn’t count.
He owned neither the trailer nor the lot. He did own the furniture, which had been easy. He had simply cruised every street in the city on garbage day: A chair here; another one there. The mattress and box springs he’d gotten from the Salvation Army. Thirty bucks and only pee stained on one side, well mostly only the one side. There was some other stain on the other side, but he wasn’t sure what that stain was. It didn’t exactly look like pee. Anyway, it was barely noticeable and the guy in the store had sworn that they weren’t really pee stains, but water stains. David wasn’t too sure about that. His own brother had wet the bed until he was ten and they had slept in the same bed. He knew what a pee stain looked like and this looked like a pee stain. Still it had been a good deal and stains couldn’t hurt him. After all when his brother had been wetting the bed he had peed on him too. If he could live with that he could live with a little pee stain: If it was a pee stain. And if they were pee stains, they were on the other side of the mattress, he added optimistically. Besides, they disinfected those things. The guy said so: Sprayed them down with something that killed everything on them. He grinned, tipped his beer, nearly took a large swallow, took a small sip instead and then lowered the can depressed all over again about the long, dry weekend ahead of him.
Five or six garbage runs and one trip to the city dump, where they didn’t mind if you took half the dump away with you, and he had been furnished. It was amazing the things people threw away. He sipped carefully at his beer, pulled a crumpled cigarette from his pack and lit it with a long, wooden kitchen match.
There was an old fashioned wood stove store in town and he stopped there once or twice a week for kitchen matches. Not that they gave them away for free, but they used them for the stoves so there was always a box or two laying around that he could help himself to.
Day old bread and doughnuts at the bakery twice a week: Those cheap ten pound bags of chicken and what they had called Crack Head soups in Jail, noodle soups to the rest of the world, and there was his weekly food budget. The only other things he needed were gas and of course beer and cigarettes.
The rest of his paycheck went for the rent and utilities. Sometimes it was close, but he always made it somehow. The real bummer this morning was that he had today off and the whole weekend too and he’d have to stay here watching the crappy T.V. … Sober…
His job Monday through Thursday was cleaning for a maintenance company. They only required that you showed up. They ran you all over the city to clean supermarkets; banks; mall shops that were closed. He worked the nights away pretty quickly. Go to work at five P.M. Next thing you knew it was one thirty in the morning and they were through for another night. He kept telling himself that he would have to get a better job if he ever wanted to be better off in the world. A job that paid more than minimum wage had to be in his future. He was sure there were plenty of them out there he just didn’t know where to look. Some day, he told himself, some day.
He took a deep drag off his cigarette and then sipped carefully at his beer. He thought about the girl’s body and realized she could have been killed while he had been sleeping. He shuddered. He hated this place.
He set the beer down carefully on the coffee table. It was scared with cigarette burns and missing the tip of one leg, but it had been free and an old paperback novel held up that corner of the table well enough. As he looked back up from the coffee table lights swept across the living room wall, bouncing up and down and back and forth. Because his was the last place on the road, every car that came down the road lit up his living room. These headlights however seemed a little frantic, bobbing, darting across the wall and then a second set shot up onto the wall too, jittering and jumping across the cheap paneling.
Twice now cars had come down the road, shot right across the bare dirt of his front yard and into the woods before they had been stopped by the trees. David had a fear about some car, some day, hitting the bedroom wall while he slept. So far it had just been the woods, but you could never tell. He got up quickly and walked to the window.
It was immediately obvious that this was something different than just some drunk not realizing that the road was about to end. The lead car was flat out. He could hear the whine of the engine now as it came. The car behind was trying to stay close, tapping the back bumper of the lead car, causing it to slew all over the dirt road. Apparently that wasn’t good enough because a second later the passenger leaned out of the car’s window and opened up on the lead car with what looked to be some sort of a hand held machine pistol. David let out a startled squawk, ducked below the window and then popped right back up.
The shots had taken out the rear window, traveled through the car and taken out part of the front windshield too. And from the large red stain on the spider webbed remains of that window David guessed it had taken out the driver too. Maybe even the passenger had there been one. There was a lot of red.
Shit, David thought. That meant that the lead car was not going to be able to stop. David calculated quickly and realized the car would miss the trailer. At the same time the driver of the rear car locked up his brakes, suddenly realizing that he was on a dead end road, and the car began to slide in the dirt. David’s eyes shifted back to the front car which hit the end of the road, jumped up over the drainage ditch and roared through the front yard just missing the edge of the trailer, shaking the thin walls; engine still screaming. It was out of sight for a split second before he heard the crash. The big oak in the back yard, he thought.
His eyes came back to the second car long enough to see it slide down into the drainage ditch at full speed, catch its nose on the opposite edge and then flip end over end across an empty lot before it crashed down on the edge of a cement slab that was trailer-less and had been since he, David, had moved out here. David crouched down quickly to the floor, grabbed his boots and wedged his feet into them. He ran to the kitchen, grabbed a flashlight off the counter and headed out the front door at a run…
The smell of hot metal filled the air. David looked to the car on the cement pad first: The trunk had popped and all manner of stuff that had been inside now lay scattered across the ground. Hot oil and antifreeze dripped from under the hood and onto the concrete. The front roof line was smashed flat to the top of the driver’s seats. The backseat area seemed untouched.
He slipped around the end of the trailer and looked at the other car. A newer Ford: He could see the badge on the rear deck. The front end of the car was wrapped around the oak in the backyard just as he had thought and steam was rising up into the air. The Ford first, he decided. The car across the road would have to wait.
The Ford had hit the tree and climbed it a few feet before it came to a complete stop. David had to stand on tip toe to peer into it. The driver had no head left, which explained the huge stain on the windshield. He was past dead, he was dead bad. There was no passenger. Looking out from the inside it was not just red, but gray and black too: Bone, hair and brain matter. His stomach did a quick flip and he began to close his eyes as he turned away.
As he turned his eyes caught on the floorboard and a blue duffel bag that was jammed into the space with the drivers legs. There was no way that the door was going to open, but the glass was gone from the window. He balanced over the edge of the door trying to stay as far away as he could from the dead man as he did, leaned in and tried to snag the duffel bag. His fingers brushed the two plastic handles, but he could not get a grip on them.
David levered himself further over the window sill and nearly came down into the dead man’s lap as he lost his balance and his feet left the ground. His hand shot down quickly, bounced off the dead man’s thigh and hit the seat, stopping him just a few inches above the man’s lap and a small splattering of bone and blood that was there. His hand slipped, but he pressed down harder and held himself.
He could feel the slick blood and splinters of bone under his hand, but he pushed the knowledge out of his mind, took a deep breath, braced himself and then reached down with his free hand and snatched the handles pulling the heavy bag free.
He pulled back, but the bag was so heavy that he had to hold on tight and push off the seat with his other hand. For one alarming second it seemed he would fall forward into the man’s lap. After a second of indecision his body dropped back down to the ground, the bag in his hand. He thought about the trunk as he started to turn away, reached back in, shut off the dead ignition, pulled the keys free and hurried around to the trunk.
The trunk held nothing but a black suitcase. He debated briefly, then reached in and took it. He went back, put the keys back into the ignition, and turned it back to the ON position. What else! What else! His mind asked.
His heart felt like it was beating a mile a minute, skipping beats, and his breath was tearing in and out of his lungs so quickly that it was painful. He could think of nothing he had forgotten. He told himself there was nothing else, and then immediately he thought of the glove compartment. He ran back around the passenger’s side of the car, dropped the bags and pushed the button on the glove box. A small paper bag and a dull, black pistol rested inside.
He took a deep breath, thought for a moment and then took both, slammed the glove box shut, picked up the bags and ran for the trailer. He booted the door open, threw the bags inside, slammed the door and then started for the other car down the road. He stopped mid stride, bent double, and nearly threw up. He caught himself, forced himself to take several slow breaths and stood experimentally. It seemed as though his stomach had decided the remains of the beer could stay for now and so he trotted off down the road to the other car.
This was an old Toyota, not one of the small ones though, one of the ones that seemed almost as big as an American car. He stopped thirty feet away. Two large plastic garbage bags had fallen from the popped trunk. They were both crisscrossed with gray duct tape, bound tightly. Two black duffel bags were jumbled in a heap nearby, along with what looked like a cheap foam, ice-chest. The ice-chest had ruptured and splintered when it hit the ground spilling beer, soda, and packages of lunch meat and cheese out onto the ground. Mixed in, and what had really caught his attention, were small brick sized packages, also bound with duct tape.
His heart was still racing hard. There was no one anywhere yet. No sirens. The nearest neighbors were nearly a mile back down the road… No car lights… Nothing at all.
He tried to carry both bales, but they were too heavy. He had to make two trips. The duct taped bricks, which could only mean one thing to his way of thinking, both duffel bags and two six packs of the beer that hadn’t ruptured went next. He had debated about the beer, but decided he could not leave it. He came back one more time, looked at a few more cans of beer and the packages of bologna and cheese and decided what the hell. He quickly picked them up and took them too. It would be something to put into the ‘fridge except the moldy loaf of bread he told himself.
He walked back to the car down the road once more. He reached the car where it lay flipped onto its roof and had just started around the hood when he heard a soft pop. He stopped as the hood suddenly burst into flames. The sharp smell of gasoline hit his nose and he jumped backwards just that fast. The car didn’t blow, but he stayed clear watching as it began to burn, allowing his thoughts and breathing to begin to slow down. It had seemed like a log-jamb of thoughts all trying to be expressed at the same time. He thought back as he watched the flames begin to build from under the hood.
Not long ago a car had plowed into that same oak in his back yard where the other car was now. It was just the way that oak lined up with the road. That driver had not hit as hard. He had jumped from the car and run for the woods that began in back of the trailer at a dead run. David had come out to look over the wreck a little closer. The jimmied ignition told him the story. The car had been stolen. He had heard sirens in the distance and said to hell with it, reached into the car and grabbed a cheap 22. caliber pistol from the front seat, and an unopened, and miraculously unbroken bottle of whiskey from the floorboards. He had barely stashed them before the cops had shown up.
He had stood on the sidelines and watched as the cops had popped the trunk to expose a large collection of electronic gear. Flat screen televisions, game consoles, DVD players, a shotgun and several more bottles of whiskey too. He had kicked himself over that one and vowed not to let something like that happen again should providence ever grace him with a second chance: Here was that second chance.
He had no phone, but the way the flames were leaping into the air he was sure someone farther down the road would be calling the fire department soon. The heat was already intense.
He squatted down, shaded his eyes against the glare of the flames, and tried to see into the back seat: No one. If there was anyone else in the car he couldn’t see them, but he did see a large suitcase resting on the roof of the car just inside the shattered rear door glass. He debated for a split second and then ran forward and grabbed for the bag, pulling it from inside the wreck. It was heavy and hot to the touch: The imitation brown leather sticky on one corner and melting. Whatever was in it, he told himself, would not have lasted much longer. He was headed back up the road from the wreck when he spotted a grocery bag spilled into the ditch. It was mainly intact so he picked that up too and ran for the trailer.
Behind him he could hear the sirens now. They were on their way and that meant there would probably be neighbors on the way too… Any minute, he told himself. He got the trailer door opened, jumped inside and closed it. He set the grocery bag on the counter. His heart was beginning to slam in his chest once more. He picked up the suitcases and duffel bags and hurried them back to the bedroom. He came back, threw the grocery bag and the packages of lunch meat and cheese into the refrigerator, debated briefly about the loaf of moldy bread, but decided to leave it. He looked back into the fridge. It looked crowded: Beer, lunch meat, cheese, bread. It was the most he could ever recall seeing in there at one time before.
He stepped back letting the door swing shut and looked around the kitchen-living room area. Nothing looked out of place. He could not imagine that the cops would want to come in here for any reason, but if they did they wouldn’t find anything.
He looked down at his hands, grimaced at the blood and specks of bone. A smear of drying blood decorated one shirtsleeve. He looked down at the front of the shirt and saw it was streaked with blood and gore. He turned and ran to the bathroom stripping off the shirt as he went. As he looked down at his jeans he noticed they were gore spattered to. He peeled them off just as quickly, kicking his boots aside. He left the bathroom and went quickly to the bedroom where he dug a wrinkled pair of jeans from the basket there, a clean shirt from the dresser, and quickly got re-dressed. He sat back on the bed, pulled the jeans up and shoved his left foot into one of his sneakers lying next to the bed where he had left them the night before. He stood, jammed his right foot into the other sneaker, danced around unbalanced for a moment as he tugged the zipper home, buttoned the top and threw himself back down onto the tangle of sheets to work the sneakers on the rest of the way and lace them.
His heart had become a racing engine once again, all high speed and flat out, and he tried to calm down as he walked down the short hall, opened the door and stepped down the rickety steps and into the bare-dirt front yard.
He could not see the fire engines or police cars, whichever it was that were coming. Both eventually, he told himself, but the sirens were loud and a half dozen people were walking down the road towards his place and the car that was burning. They were still a quarter of a mile away. He forced his breathing to slow down for the second time, and sat down on the top step waiting. The smoke from the fire was thick and black, spiraling up into the air. The smells of cooking meat and burning plastic hung in the air, competing with each other, causing his stomach to flip once more. The smoke seemed to catch in the trees, unable to rise further: Pools of it snaked along the ground, drifting slowly.
The lights came into view within a few seconds. They were far down the road, but closing fast. Within a few seconds a City Police car skidded to a shuddering stop on the dirt road, followed by two Sheriff Cars. Two Fire engines came next, coasting to a stop behind the Sheriff Cars, then swung around them angling down toward the burning car. David Cross rose from the steps and began walking to the road to meet them.
All of the cops were calling on their radios at once it seemed to David. He broke into a run and the city cop looked his way.
“There’s another one in my back yard with a dead guy too,” he yelled.
The cop looked amazed for a moment and then went back to talking on his radio once more. He finished, threw the radio back into his car, and glancing once more at the burning car, he turned and followed David into his back yard.
“Jesus,” the young cop said. “That happened when he hit the tree? No way!”
“The other car was shooting at them,” David said. He immediately wished he had kept his mouth shut.
“You saw that?” the cop asked.
Providence again, David thought. “Well, no, I didn’t. I heard shots… I didn’t see ’em,” he lied.
“So there are people in that other car?” the cop asked.
“I think so,” David answered. He took a few moments to formulate a lie. He didn’t need a complicated lie: Something simple. Something close to the truth so he could remember it, but something that wouldn’t make him an eye witness. “When I got out I saw the car lying on its top. I didn’t know about the other one. I had to get dressed. Once I got out of the house and headed down the road the car made this little popping sound and flames shot out of the engine compartment. When I turned away I saw the other one in the back yard. I knew something had crashed, because a few months back another car crashed into that same tree, and this sounded the same to me,” David said.
The cop nodded. “You go near either car?” he asked.
“The one out back; I leaned through the window to see if the guy was okay… Had to catch my hand on the seat… It was gross… I realized the guy was dead and got away from the car as quick as I could… Waited for you guys,” David said.
The cop nodded, pulled a small notebook from his shirt pocket and wrote in it. He asked David for his name and the address and wrote that down too.
Stupid, stupid, stupid, David thought. He hadn’t wanted to link himself to anything, but he had been afraid that they would find the hand print on the seat: An area of the seat that had been covered with blood and splatter and was now noticeably cleaner in the shape of a hand. What else could he do?
“You okay?” the cop asked.
“Not really,” David admitted.
“Go sit down… I’ll have somebody talk to you.” He looked intently at David for a moment. “How much you had to drink, David?”
“Uh… About a six pack… It’s my night off,” David explained.
“Easy, David… I’m not here to bust your balls. They’ll want to know… Impairs your judgment: It will determine whether they will take what you say or look for other witnesses, you see?” the cop asked.
“Yeah,” David agreed. “I do see.”
“So?” The cop asked.
“Oh… Right. I had about a twelve pack,” David said. He shrugged.
“Night off,” the young cop said.
“Night off,” David agreed.
“All right, David. Go have a seat and when the detectives get here I’ll send them over,” he told him.
David went and sat down on his front steps and waited for the rest of the cops to show up. He watched the lead fire truck drown the burning car in foam, and in just a few seconds the fire was out. The car sat smoking: Steam rising into the air; the smell of burned meat thick and heavy.
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