Unicorn lamps and other confusing things and a free look at Rocket

So I woke up yesterday morning about 3:00 am because my cat insisted that I wake up. He does that. I guess he gets bored sometimes and wants someone to bug so he comes and wakes me up, meows a few times and then leaves. If he continues to meow it means … “Get up you fat %^&$#@& and let me out right now!” I understand cat relatively well.

So about three years ago my mother bought me a lamp. One of her summertime rummage sale romps and she dragged back this touch lamp with glass shades, and all the shades have pictures of horses grazing next to a field and a stream. Very pastoral, peaceful, made me think good things. I used the lamp on my desk for about a year and then installed an overhead lamp so I can see to type better on my monitor… Did I really just say that? Yes, I did.

So my excuse was that I wanted to see better as I typed, but the truth was I couldn’t see much of anything on my desktop, it was all murky and indistinct so I installed an overhead fluorescent light and nearly blinded myself, yanked that out and screwed one side of a clip on lamp to the wall above my router and called it good… Ahhh, the things you can get away with when you don’t have a wife.

A few days later I noticed the touch lamp sitting forlornly next to my desk so I picked it up thinking … “I need a bedside lamp.” And there it went and stayed.

So the cat comes into the doorway at 3:00 am and meows, I awaken, look at the shadow, wonder if it is a cat or that damn raccoon that has been hanging around: The raccoon in the television commercial that follows the woman to bed because she calls it thinking it is her cat bugs the hell out of me and I am probably blind enough to make that mistake. Don’t ask me when I would have let the raccoon in… So I click on the lamp to better see the cat and make sure it is a cat and I’ll be damned: My horses grazing next to the stream and field are not horses at all I see as the light comes on and nearly blinds me; they are bright glowing white unicorns… Yes, unicorns grazing next to that stream and the field. I look at the cat, the cat looks at me as if to say “I could have told you they were unicorns, Susie.” The cat is a real wise acre. I blink but it is still 3:00 am and the horses are still unicorns and the cat is still meowing so I get up, pad to the door and let him out. I return to bed thinking I must do something about this. After all this is the same mother that bought me A pink high heel shaped tape dispenser that my visitors picks on me about all of the time.

“Hide it in the basement.” I say aloud… No good. We don’t have a basement.

“Well, the pantry then.” Uh, no, we don’t have a pantry either.

I make it back to bed. Look at the lamp carefully and yes, this is no mistake every damn horse in the field on all six glass panels have spiraled unicorns on their narrow heads. I sigh, turn out the lamp so I don’t have to see them, but there is no sleep for me, the cat and the disturbing unicorns have awakened me so I pop on Netflix: LOST season 5 episode 8 and watch it. After all, if it is going to be weird I may as well enjoy it… Geo


This is the short story that turned into Rocket. I will leave you with this, enjoy the weekend, Dell…


DYING WORLD

Dying World is an unpublished short story by Dell Sweet.

All rights are reserved by the author. Copyright 2018 Dell Sweet

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person dead or living is purely coincidental. This work is licensed to this blog only. You may not copy, transfer or quote this text; excepts verse of two paragraphs or less strictly for critiques. Anything more requires author permission.


DYING WORLD

Earth

Los Angeles district

2:00 am

My hand reached across the bedside table searching for the headset as it buzzed. Petra moved beside me, mumbled, obviously displeased that the buzzer was still going off. “Wake the babes,” she said, as coherently as she could.

My hand finally closed on the headset. I untangled my head from the sheets and jabbed at the on button as I bought the device to my face. I mumbled into it.

“Mike? … Mike?” The voice sounded excited. Over excited. I opened my eyes fully in the semi darkness, got up and out of the bed. I was barely used to sleeping off ship, it was only my second time. But I had missed Petra and the babes so much. The gravity was horrible. I felt overweight, out of shape. Petra said it passed, but I hated the waiting and the truth was that for me, with only short stays it never would pass.

“Brother… Brother. Listen to me, brother, listen to me… Can you hear me? … Are you there?” The voice was my oldest friend, Tom Richards.

“Tom… Tom, calm down. What is it.” Do you know,” I looked at the clock: A thing I rarely ever worried about shipboard, “time it is? Petra’s upset, you could’ve waked the babes

babes!”

“You’ll have to wake them anyway,” he said bluntly.

“What?” I asked. I made my way out of the bedroom quickly, stumbled to the kitchen and pulled a stool from the serve through and sat down.

“I said you’ve got to wake them… And Petra. This is serious!”

“What is serious, Tom? You’re scaring me more than a little. What’s wrong? … Has it? …” I couldn’t bring myself to say it.

Tom had worked at one of the biggest penal colonies on Mars for the last several years. Three years before he had fallen in with Petra and I when we had decide to buy our own Star Cruiser and seek our fortune. He kept close contact when the men and women he had come to know, including some that were part of the Federal Planet Association that controlled all of Earth and all the other planets as well. When things had gone sour for the FPA the year before Petra and I had decided now might be the time to start a family. My wish was to get Petra off the ship, she had wanted to have children before it became too late. Bring them shipboard in a few years. After all  a Star Cruiser might not be a bad place to raise a family. They were protected after all. The Feds had dozens of cruisers of their own that patrolled what they considered their borders to keep us safe as we delivered supplies and more to distant outposts.

Star cruisers were protected, but with just so few ships to protecting hundreds of private cruisers it was becoming a hard job.

We were docked on Earth. More properly put, we were docked at UPT fifteen, twenty-two miles above Earth. I was on the planet with Petra.

“We lost a big chunk… A big chunk,” he was whispering now.

“A big chunk?” My mind was beginning to focus.

“A big chunk… The Feds are pulling out… Right now, they’re pulling out. They’ve done their calculations and we just slipped past the point of no return… I got a shuttle on the way, but believe me when I say this is no easy deal… You got to get them ready… Move fast… You there?” He whispered.

“How much time,” Mike heard himself say. His face felt numb. He stood and trotted back to the bedroom on autopilot.

The end had been coming for generations, but it had been suppressed, kept from the public in the best possible way, ignoring it. After all someone was always yelling about the end coming. There was always some doomsday prophecy being rolled out. The Feds had found out long ago that shaking your head with a crooked smile on your face was the absolute best way to fight it. It said exactly what words could not say. Words that affected the same thing would have fanned the flames. The nod and he crooked grin worked.

And that had been their tactics for the last year since the voices had begun to shout louder and louder. Nod, smile, move on to something else. Meanwhile the atmosphere had been leaking from the planet Earth faster and faster. Tonight it had passed the point of no return. He and Tom had discussed exactly that scenario. In fact he had intended to discuss it with Petra on this visit. Maybe it was time to pack up the babes and go ship board… But they had never found the time. It seemed there were so many other things that crowded in and so little time before Star Dancer had to leave dock again. Time with Petra, time with the babes, talks of the new crew manifest with Tom. The year before Tom and Marva had become full partners and they had moved up several notches on the cargo drops for the Feds. Large contracts: Full time work. No or little time off. In fact they had discussed the possibility of another ship, maybe even bigger than Star Dancer. It was incredible to think it, but collectively they were worth trillions and they could easily handle the loans they needed. And then Earth had taken a sudden turn for the worse. And a turn is what had started it.

For millions of years the Earth had wobbled in her orbit. Many had thought that was an unfortunate occurrence in the early years of civilization, but they had come to learn that without the wobble there would probably be no way to sustain life. They hadn’t predicted that the hole that had been in the ozone layer, growing wider and wider  would suddenly begin to vent atmosphere. The venting of atmosphere was small at first, but life a small hole in a raft the constant rush of atmosphere widened it.

The Feds had known and suppressed the information. The news agencies that were still owned by free stations broadcast it and for once the nod and grin failed them. Even so it was far too late. By the time everyone realized just how late there had been a complete clampdown on the news sources. Tom had feelers out and the news had been trickling in that the situation was untenable. Still, Mike thought that meant years. Apparently it had not.

“They think it will completely blow out within a year. Apparently once it hit this point it is all downhill from here.”

“My God, Tom,” I said “I meant how long do we have to get there… To make it?”

“Oh… Oh… Fast. Lift off in three hours. I can’t hold it. I had to fight to get a slot. They’re freezing any passenger flights solid. No one leaving at all until they say so; if we weren’t cargo… Still, I don’t know what traffic will be like… Delays… Boarding through the station, so I would just come directly to the ship… Put it in a cargo bay… Petra could do it. And… You’re under an assumed name… I had to lie, pretend to be you to push the flight schedule, so they believe you’re on board with Petra and the babes.  It seemed smart… The alternative would have kept you tied up for hours, maybe days, and the ship grounded.”

“I see. I see that… PETRA!” I screamed into the semi darkness. “Get the babes, get ready, we have to go now!” I spoke back into the headset, realized I was still holding it and dropped it to the floor. I tapped my wrist twice and turned on my personal link system. “Where will you be?” I asked Tom.

“Space gate ten. I had to move to the ready line… Fifteen ahead of us right now.”

I nodded, realized the camera link was off, ”We’ll be there in a n hour tops… Depending.” I clicked off and began stripping off my sleepwear so I could get dressed.

We had prepared for this possibility, although we had both believed the government propaganda. Both believed it would be solved. Still Tom had warned it might not be true. The people he had been in contact with said otherwise. The people he had spoken to said the hole could not be fixed, reversed, repaired, it was over. This had happened on many other planets, a few in our system. It was like the great reset button in the sky, and when it was over everything on Earth would die off. The atmosphere would leave completely. Then, a few million years in the future something would shift in the great mystery that was the universe and the whole thing would start over agin. The atmosphere would slowly reestablish itself, then life would reawaken from the frozen seas and it would begin to establish domain once more. Maybe. On some worlds that had not been the case. On Mars the atmosphere had been lost and they had not been able to reestablish it. They had nearly perished before they had managed to reestablish themselves on Earth. And Earth’s peoples had not known that had happened until the discovery of the ship that had bought the seeds of humanity from Mars to Earth all those years before, in the Ice of Antarctica.

Global warming. If not for global warming Standard would not have been in Antarctica exploring at that particular day when the warm winds had expose d the hull of Mayosythia from its frozen tomb. Mayosythia, the pictures and grainy video had been on the news channels for months and then suddenly the story had disappeared from the headlines and a few years later Standard had invented Starlight Drive. Probably not a coincidence, Mike thought now. He was surprised at the random thoughts running through his mind as he hopped, one boot on, one in his hand and finally made the bedroom door.

The bedroom looked like a hurricane had swept through it. The babes were both on the wide bed, quiet, well behaved, a new game they most likely thought. Petra’s eyes met his own, wide frightened.

“Tom has it worked out. We are prepped and on standby to launch. We have plenty of time to get there, Petra… We do.”

I went to a console in the wall, punched in the names Tom had given me and downloaded the ID we would need if we were stopped. I looked around, there was nothing else here that we needed. Petra gathered the babes as I grabbed the two backpacks she had stuffed full of essentials for the babes and we rushed through the kitchen and into the service port lights going on and off before and after us, tracking our progress. The babes wide eyed and babbling baby-talk as we went: Excited for the new adventure.

I checked the charge meter, three quarters, more than enough. I punched in the kill code and shut down the juice port on the old runner. Three minutes later we were hovering in the air, rising slowly up through the top of the service port, the port yawning wider as we rose, and finally breaking clear of the port and rising above the house into the darkness of early morning L.A. That was when I saw the pup I had bought home for the babes just two days before. The pup to raise with the babes, looking up at me from the rear yard area. Body wriggling.

“It’ll die,” Petra said as if reading my thoughts.

“I know.” I set the runner down on the lawn, levered my door-lock open and ran through the house to the rear yard attachment. The pup came running, her whole body squirming with happiness, as if she knew she had just won the lottery. I picked he up and tucked her inside my shirt. She curled against my stomach. Tucked her nose into her tail and seemed instantly to drift off into sleep before I made it back to the runner.

Petra looked at the small bulge in my shirt.

“Makes you look fat,” she laughed in spite of everything, the fear and tension she must have felt.

“Let’s hope so,” I said. I felt the pup move as I lifted into the air and accelerated into the dark skies.

4:00 am

Star Dancer

It had taken forever but we had made it to Space Gate ten with no incidents of note. Considering what we had expected and the shock we were operating under it was amazing that my flying, the unauthorized flight, none of it had caused suspicions or alerted anyone. The shock came when I saw what awaited us at Gate Ten. Not Star Dancer, the intra-crusier we owned and operated, but one of the larger, newer ships. A Fed ship. She was unmarked. No name graced the curve of her bow. Her viewports were black and rose stories into the air. My heart sank, but I tapped my wrist anyway.

“Tom,” I called. I had little hope. Tom was probably already in a holding cell waiting for the Feds to pick him up. Marva’s voice came to me.

“You will be coming around to bay sixteen,” her voice said. “We’ve been expecting this delivery… You’re a little late, be glad I don’t place you on report… Stand by… Disengage engines…”

I tapped the control sticks and let the runner drift momentarily. The digital tug line caught us and we began moving sideways and down the front of the ship. Marva said nothing else. Petra and I both sat silent as we were maneuvered around the giant ship. Her thoughts probably a mirror of my own, what next? What had happened to our own ship? Where was Tom?

It took more than twenty minutes to make the trip down and across one side of the ship. We finally slipped under one Starlight pod and a yawning chasm of a hanger opened before us. I saw no one.

“Shut down your engines please.” It was an automated voice. The ships computer. The runner slowed to a crawl and made its way inside the hanger.

“All passengers must remain on vessel until the atmosphere has been restored. Leaving your vessel at any time prior to the restoration of…” The voice stopped and then began again. “Atmosphere has been restored. You have been cleared to leave your vessel once ship personnel arrive to facilitate disembarking. United Planet Technologies thanks you for shipping with us.”

“First damn thing I’m going to do is gut that voice system,” Tom said.

I laughed. I had had no idea that I had been so scared, so nervous. Beside me one of the babes pulled away from nursing and giggled. Petra soothed her.

“Jesus, Tom… What happened. What is this ship? Where is Star Dancer?”

“Happoed,” the baby giggled.

“Terrica, you said a word!” I became all melted and soft at once. Something about your baby speaking will do that.

“Jerrica,” Petra corrected.

“Jerrica,” I corrected. I was not my first time making the mistake and it probably wouldn’t be the last. Hopefully I would get it right long before they were old enough for it to be a big deal. “Jerrica,” I said again. Terrica looked at her sister as if she knew perfectly well who she was.

I glanced out the window and saw a smooth wall part and make an opening into the interior of the ship. Tom and Marva came through with a half dozen others, all crew I remembered. I released the door-locks and we stepped from the runner onto the ship.

The conversation lasted well into the morning, concluding just before takeoff with me on the bridge with Tom and Petra at the navigation station where she had always been on the old Star Dancer.

Star Dancer Two

Bridge

The answers were not so complicated. Tom, Marva and Petra had signed the papers for the new ship weeks before. It was a surprise and would have come to us completely ready for flight had the world not taken a sudden turn.

They had moved her from dry-dock. Some interior work left unfinished: Her name as yet not on her bow. These were things that could wait, as far as the Feds were concerned. Wait for a time when things on Earth were not so volatile. They had commissioned her with nothing more than database entries, no official words or ceremony. As it turned out Star Dancer Two was the last ship ever commissioned from Earth. From anywhere in the Federated system, for all any of them knew.

She was preflight tested. Tom himself had captained her. She was loaded with Fed materials for a new colony. Star Dancer and nine other ships under command of Dancer Two had left the day before. Even though Star Dancer was a fast ship, with our speed difference we would catch her in a matter of weeks and assume command of the fleet. The shocking news had come later in the flight. The news of what our cargo and destination really was: The news that there had been no mistakes, no carelessness. The Feds had known we were off planet and they had made sure that we had made it back to the ship.

We were less than two full days into our flight when Earth became a fireball and all communications with the planet failed. Subsequently all communications with colonies and bases in the Federated system failed as well. All of it had been routed through Earth or Mars. We had no way of knowing what had happened on Mars, but something serious enough to shut the relays down. Mars had gone silent: Communications became loose messaging systems between the other ten ships ahead of us….


Rocket: Smashwords | iTunes | Amazon | Nook | Kobo



 

Cats and birds, hunt training and a free short story

I love cats, don’t you?

My mother’s cat Cali is a special cat. No really, she is a training cat and has been since she was a kitten. She trains…. Wait for it… Me and mom to hunt.

She started this a few years back. She employs the catch and release method. It works like this.

She goes outside in the early AM or late evening while it is still dark. Apparently this is the best time to catch anything alive that does not have a handgun, switchblade or cat repellent to protect itself. Even a good lawyer might help, but alas, the wildlife around here can’t afford representation by a good lawyer or even a Saul Goodman/Slippin’ Jimmy.

So, dark out, and good ol’ mom has her bedroom window open so the cats can go in and out. Nice, otherwise they come over and wake me up by meowing until I get up and open the door. Man, you would think God would have thought of this when creating cats, right? Give them the ability to open doors…. On second thought no… I don’t want to have to go down to the local jail and bail my cat out a few times a week.

So, dark. Yesterday morning at 5:00 am training commenced for the spring season. Mom heard Cali come through the window doing her excited mumbling cat talk. Never heard that before? Get yourself a killer cat and domesticate it. Every time it is going to attack anything it gets all excited and does little spitting choking, talking stuff. Then it kills something. Either that or the cat is epileptic and no one knows.

So Cali zips past mom doing that spitting choking/talking thing and mom thinks ROH, ROH. Or something like that. I think nothing of it. Why you ask? Well because I am sleeping and when I am sleeping I rarely care about or mentally comment on cats or cat actions.

So in my dream I’m talking to someone and all the sudden … CRASH!!!!

“What the hell!” I ask the person in my dream, but they know nothing. Next thing I know I am awake and out of bed heading over to see what the crash is and I run into a vampire swooping from the ceiling in my shop trying to kill me. I scream, but of course I’ll deny that I did, and the bird, which is what the vampire was, squawks and flies the other way.

“Mom?” I yell. It’s a little house, but I was somewhat panicky.

She tells me her cat bought a bird in. No need to tell me because here it comes again. A blackbird, probably as big as the damn cat is. I duck and get to the back door and open it. Now if there is a grizzly bear out there it can get in and kill all of us. Hey, it could happen.

Ten minutes of chasing the bird around and it finally realizes the open back door is not another trap and out it goes. I close the door and glare at the cat who appears to be critiquing my hunting skills and finding them lacking, because not only did I not catch the bird I let it get away.

“Oh well,” I tell the cat on the way back to bed…


Here is a short story for you for dropping by my blog…

I wrote this short story more than thirty years ago. It was an idea I had in my head and couldn’t shake…


FIRE FIGHT

Copyright 1982 Wendell Sweet all rights reserved…

PUBLISHED BY: independAntwriters

FIRE FIGHT

Copyright © 1982 – 1996 – renewed 2013 by Wendell Sweet All Rights Reserved

This blog edition is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this with another person, please point them to the copy on this page. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

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. Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print..

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the authors imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

DEDICATION

Joe


FIRE FIGHT

 

 

“Stay down next to the friggin’ bank, Johnson!” Beeker yelled. Beeker could see that Johnson probably wouldn’t be hanging around for long. He didn’t have the sort of balls that Simpson had. And a fire fight was no fuckin’ place to have to baby sit. Why was it that he always ended up up with all the ass-holes any way? They had been pinned down in this particular position a sandy beachhead for fourteen days. Sand and water in front of them, Jungle behind them. The gooks were on the other side of the river, and if the man upstairs the man that pulled all the friggin’ strings, Beeker liked to think, didn’t do something damn soon they might not see fifteen.

The fire was just as heavy as it had been on the first day. Non-stop. Round after round of machine gun fire, and mortar rounds that came so fast it was hard to tell when one ended, and another began. But the man upstairs, now that was something to consider. What was it with him, anyway? Vacation? A little mental constipation? Just how long was long enough, for Christ sakes. Johnson crawled over, eating some dirt as he came. But at least he had crawled. The numb son-of-a-bitch had walked the first few times. Like he was out on a goddamn Sunday stroll.

“Sergeant Beeker?” he whisper yelled over the sound of the gunfire. “Shouldn’t we maybe oughta return fire, sir?”

“Hey, fuck you, if I say we lay low, we lay low. Now, shut up and crawl your white-ass back over to your position, mister, NOW!”

Johnson went, he didn’t have to be told twice. Beeker was one mean bastard, and he had absolutely no desire to mess with him. Even so this whole situation didn’t set well in his mind, and that was mainly due to the fact that it didn’t make any sense. And how in hell could it? he asked himself. There was no answer, because there could be no answer at all. Fifteen days ago he had been safe and sound in… In… It wouldn’t come. Someplace. He had been someplace, not here, and he had been safe, and he had been sound, he could remember that much. He could also remember waking up here with Beeker, Philips, and Ronson. In the middle of… Of… Where am I? He didn’t know that either, and they weren’t disposed to tell him. Other than waking up in the middle of this fire-fight, he couldn’t remember jack-shit. He made the outside perimeter, and curled up into a near ball as he pressed himself into the dirt embankment.

“About fucking time,” Beeker yelled above the roar of gunfire… …They had been pinned down for the last several hours, with heavy fire from the North Vietnamese regulars. It had finally fallen off somewhat. It was time to make a move, and Beeker was no fool, he had every intention of getting his men the hell out. They’d already lost four good men on this mission. He couldn’t see losing any more. He looked across the short, smoky distance, directly into Ronson’s eyes, and signaled left, away from the sand, towards the jungle that pressed in from behind them. A quick sideways flick of his own eyes told him that Johnson and Phillips had caught it too. Beeker signaled Ronson out first, then Phillips, and then Johnson. It was a slow go, belly crawl for the first few hundred yards. The bullets continued to whine above them, but they all made it one piece. Two hundred yards in they were able to stand. The jungle finally offering some protection. Beeker led the way quickly yet carefully, through the lush greenery. The others fell in behind him silently. Two miles further through the dense jungle, they finally lost the distant sounds of gunfire, and the jungle fell nearly silent. They fell silent themselves, moving as quietly as they could from tree to tree. Aware of the noises that surrounded them. A short while later when the gunfire had completely fallen off, the jungle seemed to come back to life. Bird calls, and the ever present monkey chatter. That was a good sign to Beeker, if the jungle was full of gooks, the birds sure as fuck wouldn’t be singing. They pushed on through the night, and morning found them… Morning found them…

… “Oh, man,” Ronson complained. “Fucker dropped the ball again,” Beeker agreed wearily. He was leaned back against the side of a burned out hut, smoking a cigarette he’d pulled from inside his jacket.

Johnson didn’t have the slightest idea where they were, let alone what they were talking about. Beeker had led them through the jungle and at first light they had come upon a small village. They had crept in warily, ready for whatever lay before them. There had been no need, it was empty, save a couple of dozen scattered bodies, busy gathering flies. He had thought Beeker would move on. He hadn’t. They were still here. But where here was, and how Beeker had found it, eluded Johnson.

“Sure as fuck did, he always does towards the end though,” Phillips agreed. “Gotta work it out… Make it just right. Set it up for the next one.”

“Yeah, well, we made it this far,” Ronson said. He grinned, and then the grin turned into a full fledged smile, and he began to laugh. Phillips joined him, and a second later, when Johnson was sure Beeker was going to open his mouth to tell them all to shut the fuck up, he started laughing too. “Oh… It’s good, look-at-him,” Ronson said, holding his side, and pointing at Johnson, “he don’t have a friggin’ clue.” That seemed to drive all of them into hysteria, Johnson saw. Including Beeker, who was usually hard-nosed and moody. He was doubled over too. Holding his sides. Tears squirting from his eyes.

“That true?” Beeker asked at last, once he had managed to get the laughter somewhat under control. “That your friggin’ problem is it, Johnson, you don’t have a clue?” he stopped laughing abruptly, and within seconds Ronson and Philips chuckled to a stop. “Do you have the slightest idea where your white ass is?” Beeker asked seriously.

“No… Well, a jungle, I guess,” Johnson answered.

“No… Well, it could be a jungle, I guess,” Ronson mimicked in a high falsetto.

“Is it?” Johnson ventured in a near whisper.

“Look…” Beeker waited for silence. “Take a break, it’s gonna get worse. Why don’t you have a smoke and kick back… Enjoy the break?”

“Well, the thing is that I don’t smoke, bad for the lungs. I’m pretty careful about my health.”

“Really?” Beeker asked politely. He chuckled briefly, lit another of his own smokes, and then spoke softly. “I would like your complete attention, Johnson, do I have it?”

“Yeah, sure…”

He cut him off, his voice a roar. “In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a fuckin’ war goin’ on, you pansy mother-fucker. A fuckin’ war, Johnson, you understand that, you ain’t gonna live much fuckin’ longer anyway. Get with the program mister, now!”

Johnson’s eyes bugged out, but as Beeker finished he forced himself to speak. “I know that… I can see that… It don’t mean I havta die though, not necessarily.”

“Man, Beek, don’t waste your time, he hopeless, same old shit, like Simpson. Like all those friggin guys before Simpson,” Ronson said.

Beeker drew a deep breath, winked at Ronson, and then spoke. “Yes it does,” Beeker said calmly. “It does because you ain’t a regular. You ain’t been here long enough, and you don’t mean a fiddler’s fuck to anybody. And that sucks, but that’s life, Johnson,” he paused and looked over at Ronson. “How long was the man upstairs gone the last time? Fourteen days, am I right?”

“As rain,” Ronson replied coolly.

“And where are we now?” “Seventeen?” Phillips asked.

“Uh uh,” Ronson corrected, “eighteen, man, remember? Seventeen was when Simpson bought it, and this ass-hole came into play. Replacement, supposedly.”

“Right!” Beeker said. “It is eighteen, and that’s why nobody gives a fuck about you, Johnson. Eighteen’s too far, we’ll be done at twenty, he never goes past that, and I’ll bet bullets to bodies you’ll buy the farm long before we’re done with eighteen. Depends on how long the man upstairs gives you, see?”

“No,” Johnson said slowly, “I don’t see.” Seventeen? Eighteen? What the hell was that all about? he wondered.

Ronson chuckled. “I think he’s confused, again, Beek.”

“I think he was fuckin’ born confused,” Phillips added.

“Seventeen? Eighteen?” Johnson asked aloud. He didn’t get it, not completely anyway.

“Have a cigarette,” Beeker told him.

“I told you, I don’t…”

“Yeah, right, fuck that noise, there’s a pack inside your jacket… Check it… See if I’m right.”

Johnson fumbled with the jacket snaps, and finally pulled the jacket open. A half pack of smokes resided in the inside pocket. A silver Zippo tucked in beside them. He looked up with amazement.

“So?” Beeker asked, smiling widely.

“One of you guys stuck them there, while I was sleeping, has to be,” Johnson said.

“And when was it that you were sleeping, Johnson? For that matter, when were any of us?”

Johnson thought about it. Had they been awake for fourteen days? Not possible, he told himself. He Looked over at Beeker. Beeker just smiled.

“None of us have. None of us have to, unless he makes us… Don’t you get it yet, Johnson?”

“Yeah, don’t you get the feeling someone’s putting words in your mouth?” Ronson snickered. He began to laugh once more.

“Can’t be,” Johnson mumbled.

“It is, and hey, it’s a bitch, ain’t it? But think of it this way. Us three have done this… Five now?” he asked to no one in particular.

“This’ll be six,” Phillips replied.

“Jesus, has it really been six?”

“This one makes it,” Ronson agreed as he stopped laughing once again. He leaned back against a nearby tree and fired up a smoke. His eyes twinkling as they locked on Johnson and Beeker.

“Okay, it’s six. You’re an extra, Johnson, you got wrote in to replace Simpson. You see the man upstairs figures it like this. You gotta kill somebody every once in awhile, right? Otherwise he’ll lose the readers attention. So he writes in disposable’s. Yeah, man, it’s a bitch, but it’s you. It sure as hell isn’t gonna be any of us. You don’t kill off the main guys, it don’t happen,” he softened his voice. “Look, it was hard for Simpson too. He kept him with us for better than ten chapters, and you know, I liked that sucker. He was all right for a white dude.”

Johnson swallowed hard, lit up one of the smokes from his jacket, and leaned back against the side of the hut. The silence held.

So,” Beeker finished quietly, ” you gotta deal with it man… You just got too… It won’t be long…


Hope you enjoyed the cat humor and the story! Have a great week, Dell…



 

Private Investigations by Dell Sweet

PRIVATE INVESTIGATIONS

Copyright Dell Sweet – 2015 by Wendell Sweet and his assignee Andrea Scroggs. All rights reserved. Dell Sweet is a publishing construct owned by Wendell Sweet, independAntwriters and their assignee Andrea Scroggs.
This preview is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This preview may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this preview with another person, please point them to independAntwriters at sotofo.com. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

~1~

Nine Fifty-Nine A.M.
I lowered my wrist to my side, settled myself back into the shadows of the treeline and raised my binoculars to my eyes.
I swept the back deck and rear entrance, shot across the fence to the next house in line: Nothing; and nothing. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I had been wrong all along.
Being a private detective isn’t all thrills. Most of the time it’s doing exactly what I was doing: Sitting and waiting. For hours sometimes, with little to show Other times you just happen to walk into the middle of something, get everything you need in those few seconds and feel a little guilty about even charging for it, let alone keeping the retainer… If there was a retainer… But of course I always fight past that. After all money, making a living, is why I do this job.
Apparently this job wasn’t going to be one of those kinds of jobs, but what kind of job was it going to be? Hard to tell.
I was watching the house of Paul and Melinda Fields. At Melinda Field’s request. She was a friend of my wife Joan. So you would think that the request would have come from my wife to help her friend, but it had not. It had not come that way at all. It had come instead in the form of a phone call to my office. Melinda had called and asked me to meet with her, and she asked me to keep it quiet. She didn’t want her friends to know, meaning my wife too, I concluded.
I was okay with that. You get a lot of that sort of thing as a private eye. People think odd things, maybe they’re even a little paranoid. If a woman or a man thinks his or her loved one is cheating on them they sometimes want to keep the information as quiet as possible. They want to know. You’re the private dick so it’s okay if you know, but they don’t want anyone else to know.
This was day two and I was about to burn up the retainer. I had nothing at all to show for it. But as I said that is the private detective game most of the time. Waiting and seeing. I simply hadn’t seen anything. Well, almost nothing. Apparently Paul did keep things from his wife. Right now for instance he was supposed to be at his office. He wasn’t of course. Joan had left for work, but he hadn’t. And more than once he had checked the windows as though he were expecting someone. Peeking out of the drapes, sliding the deck door open and peeking out before he stepped outside sipping his coffee as he looked around and then quickly stepped back inside. Odd.
Odd, but not exactly indicative of much of anything at all. He had done nearly the same thing yesterday and I had wasted nearly four hours watching him pace the deck, check the windows, pace the kitchen, refill his cup, pace the deck some more, and then finally get in his car and drive to the office in the early afternoon.
Paul Fields was a contractor. Not one of the big ones, but not one of the small ones either. They lived in a nice subdivision. Melinda sold real estate. Between the two of them they did very well. She drove a nice BMW and he drove a new Ford pickup. One of the big ones with the big price tags. It looked as though it had never hauled anything in its life. All shiny black and chrome. Lots of chrome.
The man lived in Jeans, work boots and button up chambray work shirts. He was in his early forties, looked thirty five. Fit, attractive in some ways. I could see why she might think he was screwing around. I just didn’t see any evidence of it if he was. Maybe, I thought, I should have run it past Joan. Maybe she felt this same thing a few times a year, once a month. Who knew. The only thing that had stopped me was that Melinda had made it a condition of hiring me. And so I hadn’t.
I lowered the glasses, slipped a cigarette from my pack and lit it, and then settled back to smoke as I watched. I know, they’ll kill me, but isn’t life killing us all every day? I know, I know, excuses. I got a ton of them.
I took a deep drag and blew the smoke out my nose. I glanced at my watch. Another hour and that would be it.
It was about then that things got interesting. Paul had, had the drapes open on the rear sliders. They suddenly swept shut. My first thought was that he was about to leave for the office, but out of the corner of my eye I caught a taxi drift up to the curbing a few houses down and stop. It sat idling for a few moments and then the back door popped open and a woman stepped out and hurried off down the walk toward Paul’s house.
I got the camera up and snapped a few dozen pictures before she was out of my line of sight, but who knew what they might be worth? She was moving fast and her face was not fully turned toward the camera. She had one hand up, brushing at her hair as she walked. I changed the card and slipped the other into my pocket. I hated to be short when I needed to shoot.
There was a gap in the drapes. I couldn’t see much through the shadows as I focused with my binoculars. The digital camera didn’t offer much better on zoom, but I clicked a few shots off anyway. Many times I had found the money shot in the pictures I didn’t think would be worth anything at all. I then began to scan the second floor bedroom drapes for movement. There was a set of sliders there too that opened onto an upper deck.
A little movement caught my eye so I kept the lens focused there. Something or someone brushed up against the drapes, they stuttered open for a brief instant and I clicked off another dozen shots out of habit. You just never knew where the money shot was going to be, or if there was even going to be one, but if you didn’t shoot you couldn’t get anything.
I put in another hour, but there was nothing much to see. I had just about made up my mind to shift my cover to the front of the house just in case she slipped out earlier than I thought she would, when a Yellow Cab rolled up to the curb of the house next door, and then coasted to a stop, presumably, out of my line of site in front of Paul’s house. I cursed under my breath. Piss poor planning on my part. No other way to see it. I could have gotten a clear shot of the woman, whoever she was.
All in all it made no difference though. The retainer was shot, and most people never went past the retainer. He was fooling around with someone, most likely, and maybe one of the shots I took would even be enough for Melinda to recognize who the woman was. If though, proof was all she was after, she had that.
I retreated back into the woods and made my way to a dead end service road where I had parked earlier, tossed my gear onto the front seat of the beat up old Dodge I used for surveillance, and followed it in. A half a day shot. I had another case to look into, a simple straight forward process serve. I had some good information on where the person should be, hopefully she would be. Maybe it could be a slam dunk kind of day. Well, except for missing the exit shot. I cursed once more under my breath as I keyed the old Dodge and headed back into town.
~2~
Nine Twenty-Seven P.M.
I shifted into park, dropped the keys into my coat pocket and levered open my door. At the last moment I turned and retrieved my binoculars, camera and the small .380 I usually carried when I was somewhere where unexpected things might happen.
The process serve had been a bust, I was tired and grouchy. I palmed the small gun in one hand. I had found myself in the woods more than once on surveillance jobs. Bad neighborhoods a few times too. The .380 was small in my hand, but a large comfort in my head.
I had started with the gun after a friend of mine who worked for the PD and moonlighted as a private eye, small stuff, mostly process serving, had been ambushed by an angry husband he had been trying to serve divorce papers on. He’d been shot four times and had barely survived the hurried ambulance trip to the hospital emergency room. The PD career was done, and the private eye stuff too, although a few of us threw him a bone when we could: When he was sober. I decided I’d rather have something to show.
I had nearly bought a .44 caliber, but one test fire had convinced me to leave that for something smaller and hopefully non fatal. I know, I shouldn’t really be concerned with that. After all if I am going to have to use a gun to defend myself it should be capable of laying someone down. I just haven’t been able to believe in it yet. I have flashed the .380 twice and ended violent confrontations right there. My ex-PD friends say don’t pull it unless you mean to use it… Maybe… Someday.
I dropped the camera and the gun into my other coat pocket, wound the binocular strap around my hand and walked around the back to where my office is. Joan and I have a deal. I don’t track whatever I have been walking through all day into the house and she won’t divorce me. She was that passionate about it. I emptied my pockets, slipped off my boots I used for the woods, which did, I noticed, have something that could have been mud, bear shit or even dog shit that I could have picked up crossing my own back yard, on them. Joan’s poodle, Mister Tibbles. We’ve agreed to hate each other. I thought about a sniff test, decided to pass, I never could distinguish poodle shit from bear shit anyway, slid on my slippers and walked the shoes to the back door.
Joan called down from the upper level, probably the kitchen. More specifically the bar that was just off the kitchen. My office was on the lower level. You could translate that as basement and you would be correct. I would only add converted basement.
“Yeah… It’s me,” I called back.
“Be careful in the backyard. I took Mister Tibbles out and I couldn’t see where he went.”
That answered that question. “Uh huh,” I answered.
Nothing else floated down to me. I left the landing and walked down to my office. I transferred the pictures off the two cards, then opened my image program as I dialed Melinda’s number. She picked up on the first ring. Her voice low, sexy. It said Please buy this property from me, baby. Sexist, yes, I know. I try not to be. And I felt even worse about being one because of the bad news I was about to give her.
“Mike,” I said.
“Oh… Mike.” She sounded surprised.
I ignored it as I loaded the pictures and searched through them one by one. “Melinda, I have some bad news…. I’ll send you a report on this, but I thought I should call and talk to you just the same… Instead of you reading it in a report.” I searched through the thumbnails as they came up. “I have a few things left to do, but essentially… You were right, Melinda… There’s no easy way to put it, your husband, Paul is seeing someone.”
I continued flicking through the thumbnails and selected two that might be useful. One shot through the upstairs drapes showed a woman. I ascertained that from the dress she wore. Her face however was turned away from the camera, a blurry blob in shadow.
The second photo showed her hurrying from the cab. Part of her face was obscured by one hand. I would work on both photos as well as I could and try to get something that Melinda could identify. Melinda stayed silent on the phone.
“I don’t know who the woman is,” I admitted. “She outfoxed me and that doesn’t usually happen. Maybe she was being careful or maybe she’s a little paranoid… I…”
“I know who she is, Mike.”
I stopped. “You do?”
“Yes… I… I had hoped you would identify her though… I wanted to be absolutely sure.” She said sure, but she sounded very unsure.
I transferred the two pictures to some other software, started with the first one from the bedroom shot through the drapes, and selected the areas to work on.
“Mike,” Melinda said even more softly.
“I’m looking over a few photos I shot right now. Trying to get a good, clear face shot,” I told her. She sounded on the verge of tears. Like she was unraveling over the phone. It made me wish I hadn’t addressed it over the phone at all.
The face became clearer pixel by pixel. I have a good machine, it didn’t take long, and I didn’t have to bother with the other photo. “The picture’s coming up, Melinda,” I told her, but my words clogged in my throat as the picture finally came up, and I fell silent myself. She spoke into my silence.
“Mike… I would have told you, Mike… Mike?” She sounded panicked.
“What?” I managed.
“I wasn’t sure… Not completely, Mike.”
“But you hired me to find out? Me? Why didn’t you hire someone else?” A hard ball had settled into the pit of my stomach.
“I… I don’t know… I thought… I thought… I thought you would want to know… Mike… Mike I didn’t really think it through. I was angry… Upset… I wasn’t thinking straight, Mike. I wasn’t.” Now it was her turn to fall silent. I could just barely hear her breathing over the phone in the hardness of the silence.
“I’ll send the retainer back, “ I said at last into the silence. “You… You know maybe this was best… I don’t guess I would have wanted one of my friends to be the guy on this… Finding out. It’s just a little hard to think right now.”
“Sure it is,” She agreed. “I’m so upset.” She sobbed once as if trying to choke it back and then the soft sound of her crying came over the phone.
I was not at the point of tears. I was at the point of anger. That hard place where it’s brand new and you can’t seem to swallow it down. I was there, at that place. It’s a hard goddamn place to be and I realized she had been there too, maybe still was. It was also a dangerous place to be.
“I have to get the hell out of here,” I told her. Twice I had found my eyes locked on the .380 where I had set it on the desktop what seemed like a million years ago.
“Me too… It makes me sick to know it for a fact.” She was still crying but trying to get herself under control.
It was spur of the moment, but my mouth opened and with no artifice the words tumbled forth.
“I have a cabin… It’s nearly the weekend… Up in Maine… It’s a drive… Isolated… A good place to think.” Silence from the phone. “If you wanted to… Oh hell.”
She laughed a small laugh, followed by sniffles and a few seconds of silence. “I’ll meet you somewhere?” She asked.
“Airport? … You could leave your car in the long term lot… Pick it up Monday or so…”
“Let me get some things together…” She went back to crying for a few moments. “I’ll just… Just leave him a note.” She laughed again, sharply this time. “You know what, I won’t… I’ll be there in… An hour? An hour, Mike?”
I nodded and then realized she couldn’t see that. And so I told her I would meet her there in an hour. I clicked off, slid the phone into my pocket and just sat there for a moment. My eyes dropped back down to the gun and it seemed to hold me hypnotized for a length of time. Like a spell I had to break. I forced myself to look away. I got up and walked away from it. I went up to our bedroom and filled an old suitcase.
I half expected Joan to walk in, see what I was doing and stop me, but she didn’t. I expected her to say something when I came back down the stairs and crossed through the kitchen to the back door, but again she didn’t. If she was sitting there in the gloom of the bar area or had migrated farther into the shadows of the living room, I couldn’t say. She said nothing. Mister Tibbles growled lightly and that was it.
I moved the car, backed my Jeep out of the garage and out into the street. A few minutes later I was cruising the interstate through the darkness, heading for the airport…
…………………………………………………………………………

Check out the short story collection this story came from: Mister Bob…https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/mister-bob/id1197058839…



iTunes books from author Dell Sweet

Top Books from author Dell Sweet

1. Earth’s Survivors Apocalypse follows survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. A meteorite that was supposed to miss the earth completely, hits and becomes the cap to a series of events that destroy the world as we know it. Hopes, dreams, tomorrows: All buried in a desperate struggle to survive. Small groups band together for safety, leaving the ravaged cities behind in search of a new future…

2. The Zombie Killers are the men and women who keep the new settlements safe for the other survivors. Those in the Nation and those in the Fold, and the many independent colonies that would not be able to exist without their help and intervention. They are the ones who search out supplies, fight the Zombie Plagues so that the others can live in safety…

3. Earth’s Survivors Rising From The Ashes continues to follow the survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule. The small groups are growing, branching out in search of a new future. It chronicles their day to day struggles as well as their dreams as they search out new hope in their shattered world…

4. This part of the story really concentrates on the formation of The Nation and the people who will build it and carry it forward, but it also brings along the side story of The Fold and the people who will build that haven. It gives a more complete picture of Adam and Cammy, and picks up the Tale of Billy and Beth, Mike and Candace, Conner and Katie as they work to sort out their lives.

5. Home in the valley concentrates on the building of the first and most important settlement of The Nation. The valley settlement is where the people that run the Nation will come from. They will rise to leadership positions across the former United States. The first supply trip out for the Nation nearly turns to disaster, and more of the separate parties join and become one under the Nation Flag.

6. Major Weston read the report twice and then carefully set it back on his desk. Johns or Kohlson: One of the two had stolen samples of SS-V2765. It was not a question. No one else had the access, no one else the proximity or knowledge of where it was stored. Two of the virus, one each of the REX agents were missing. Enough to infect several million people, and that was just the initial infection…

7. Plague outlines the sudden rise of the dead, chronicling the spread across the country. It follows Adam, Beth, Billy and Pearl as they head north looking for an antidote that can bring the plagues to end. It also sees the first babies born to the Nation, the formation of both the Fold and Alabama Island, and the loss of one of the founders of The Nation without whom the Nation may dissolve…

8. When a catastrophic natural disaster looms on the near horizon, the government releases an airborne virus designed to make the human race better able to survive. Those that do survive are picking up the pieces of their world, and those that have died lay in their death sleep, but in their bodies the virus works on, mutating, setting the stage for a second catastrophe far worse that the first.

9. Star Dancer is an inner galaxy cruiser, transporting inmates and materials between the penal colonies on the Moon and Mars, as well as supplies and people to the bases scattered throughout the Solar System. Her captain, Michael Watson purchased Star Dancer right out of school, but the last few trips have left him longing for more adventure out in the wider expanses of space…

10. This book steps back to the beginning to bring you the story of the Fold. Jessie Stone, why and how Snoqualmie settlement came to be. It begins in present day and then falls back in time to the beginning of the Apocalypse. The Fold becomes the biggest challenger to the Nations power. The community that can force the Nation into compromise, or bring a war that may destroy both societies.

11. The summer of 1969 in Glennville New York had settled in full tilt. The July morning was cool and peaceful, but the afternoon promised nothing but sticky heat. Bobby Weston and Moon Calloway worked furiously on the go-cart they had been planning to race down Sinton Park hill, in the old garage behind Bobby’s house. Both boys had grown up in Glennville…

12. Crime Time is a collection of nine crime stories from author Dell Sweet. From short stories to near novel length… … When a man tells you he has the moral flexibility to include murder in his life if he deems it necessary this is probably not a man you should be hanging out with. Jeff Johnson had reminded himself of this fact about Robert Biel more than once…

13. L.A. Billy and Beth: March 11th Billy was up on the roof. Beth, Jamie, Winston and Scotty were standing at the edge of the building as he was, looking out over the city. Things were crazy, and they seemed to be getting worse as the days rolled by. The police precinct was still burning.No one had come to put it out. Gangs were rounding up survivors, never to be seen again: The world seemed over…

14. Earth’s Survivors SE 1 contains the complete text from the first two Earth’s Survivors books, Apocalypse and Rising From The Ashes. It includes a character bibliography. It follows survivors of a worldwide catastrophe. A meteorite hits and sets off a series of events that destroy the world as we know it. From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule.

15. Billy Only intended to go for a walk downtown, look at the lights and the pretty girls, kill some time. It seemed the safest thing in the world. He bent to take a look in the window of the car, two dead men, he had thought, but the driver was not dead, he raised his gun and leveled it on him. 24 hours later as he dug the hole in the desert hard pan he was wondering how it had all gone so wrong.

16. An apocalypse of epic proportions has shaken the Earth to it’s core. In the bigger cities the dead are growing quickly in numbers. Growing intelligent as they continue to change and mutate. They have one thought in their rotting brains, take over the world, and destroy those that live in the process. Billy Jingo leaves Los Angeles hoping there might be something better on the other coast…

17. The Zombie Killers are the men and women who keep the new settlements safe for the other survivors. Those in the Nation and those in the Fold, and the many independent colonies that would not be able to exist without their help and intervention. They are the ones who search out supplies, fight the Zombie Plagues so that the others can live in safety…

18. Gabe Kohlson moved away from the monitors. “Heart rate is dropping, don’t you think…” He stopped as the monitor began to chime softly. “Dammit,” Kohlson said as he finished his turn. “What is it,” David Johns wheeled his chair across the short space of the control room. “Flat lined,” Kohlson said as he pushed a button on the wall to confirm what the doctors already knew. Clayton Hunter was dead.

19. Donita’s Notebook March 1st (Night) Quakes, at least three. Warmed up fast, and all the dirty snow that was piled along the streets has melted. Torrential rains. Thunder and lightening in the snow storm that came after sunset. Didn’t last long; turned back to rain. Parts of the projects are burning. Jersey is burning. The sky is red-orange, everything across the river is on fire. No one has come.

20. Donita: The hunger was terrible, all consuming, and it came in crashing waves. The impulse to feed seemed to be the only coherent thought she had. It was hard to think around, hard to think past. It was all she could do not to rush from the trees, find the smell that tempted her and consume it. Eat it completely. Leave nothing at all…

Free eBooks this weekend and a free short story

Free eBooks this weekend and a free short story

Free eBooks for this weekend! Download them absolutly free from Amazon for the Kindle…

TODAY: Guitar Works six is a free download all day today, July 27th! Get it right now. Learn custom guitar work! #Luthiery https://www.amazon.com/Guitar-Works-Six-Seven-String-ebook/dp/B073ZKM7PH

FRIDAY & SATURDAY: Geo Dell’s Nation Chronicles: Zero is a FREE Download Friday and Saturday! The 28th and 29th #Horror #Kindle #ebook https://www.amazon.com/Geo-Dells-Nation-Chronicles-Fiction-ebook/dp/B0745LRWPR

SATURDAY & SUNDAY: The Legend of Sparrow is Free Saturday and Sunday, the 29th and 30th. Downloads it free! #Kindle #Amazon #Mythology https://www.amazon.com/LEGEND-SPARROW-Wendell-G-Sweet-ebook/dp/B06XRM98LP


Enjoy your weekend and here is a free crime story to cap off your Thursday…


Lucky Liv – © Copyright 2017 Dell Sweet Used with permission


This material is protected by copyright laws worldwide. It is used on this blog with direct permission of the author and publisher.

It is not edited for content.

Appropriate age: Over 18


Lucky Liv

Liv Spencer had never known Rich not to answer his door. She had called him twice and someone did pick up the phone, but had said nothing. She was worried, but more than that, she needed some heroin. She needed it. Rich always took care of her. Not only did she need his help, she had no idea where else to go for help like his… Caring like his.

She stood outside in the cold predawn rain for fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes. That had seemed like forever. Fifteen minutes was all the time in the world when you needed to fix. It was every clock, every watch in the world ticking away. Hell it was everything in the world. There was nothing else. Fifteen minutes and she finally started trying the doors. Front door, back door, locked. She hadn’t really thought about the garage door, but finally she tried it. It was unlocked and it was also badly damaged at the lock set. That had made her stop.

The rain had stopped. She stood on the wet blacktop by the door thinking what she could say…

“The door was unlocked, Richie… I found the door unlocked, Rich… I just touched the handle and it turned, Rich… It was busted… It was already broken, Rich. I turned the handle and it just sort of fell open… It fell open, Rich. I needed you, Richie, the door was unlocked…  I needed a fix, Richie, where the fuck were you?”

She practiced more excuses in her head, but finally it didn’t matter that the door had been broken. She shut down the little alarm in her head that had begun to jabber about that. All that mattered was that the door was not locked and she needed to fix. She finished turning the knob and stepped into the garage.

The garage was lit, but only dimly. She made her way to the door that lead into the house, nearly tripping over a bunched up section of carpet someone had left laying by the door, and tried the door to the inside of the house. It wasn’t even closed all the way and began to swing open as soon as she touched it.

“Rich?” she called. Her voice was a rusty croak. “Richie!” She stepped further into the shadowy kitchen.

“Richie? The door was open, man. I called… The door…” She stopped when she saw the bodyguards lying in the hallway. They seemed tossed aside like big overstuffed rag dolls.

“Oh God,” she moaned. And immediately two things began to fight inside of her. The need to turn and run, because something was definitely fucked up here at Richie’s house: There was absolutely no doubt about it. And, the second thing, the need to get fixed. To stop the itch, even if it was only a little: Even if it had to be coke to tide her over… Something… And it didn’t look like anyone here was going to try to stop her… No… Nobody…

Run?… Stay?… Run?… Stay?… She stepped into the hallway, took a shaky breath and stepped carefully over the bodyguards.

The exercise room was off the living room. It was glass walled, you could exercise and watch TV on the big screen, or you could watch TV and the exercise room too. No one used the exercise room except the bodyguards and Richie’s oldest daughter. But this morning the view through the glass was anything but normal, and it took some time for her mind to wrap itself around it. When it did she bent over and threw up on the deep pile rug of the living room.

She looked back up from the carpet, staring through the glass for what seemed like minutes to her, wondering who would do things like that to another person; to people who were walking around, breathing, talking, living their lives just a few days ago when she seen them last. She’d never seen anything like it. Not even in the horror flicks she liked to watch.

She bent over double and threw up again. She continued to heave until nothing came up, not that there had been much to throw up in the first place. She staggered back into the hallway, got one more look at the two bodyguards, Karl and Geezer, still dead she saw: Karl’s brains were leaking out of the side of his head like some gelatin creation. She looked away quickly and staggered into the kitchen. She sat down at the stools that lined a small counter. The place she usually found Richie sitting. She sat there for a few seconds and then remembered the small counter was also a bar and sometimes rich kept a little something else back there too.

She got up and went to the sink, ran the water, drinking right from the tap. She swished the water around in her mouth and spat, then did it a few more times. She bent closer and splashed the cold water on her overheated face. Pushing the excess off her face with her hands. She straightened and walked back to the counter which, from this side, was open and stocked with all sorts of bottles of booze. All high test. All the good stuff. No bad ones in the bunch. She grabbed a bottle of imported Russian vodka. The label entirely in Russian, all the printing too: All that writing that looked like backwards writing to her that she could almost figure out. She snagged a clean water glass from the top shelf and filled it with the vodka. Her eyes fell on the small refrigerator under the shelves.

He kept some shit there. In the top. In the freezer section, she thought… Sometimes… Most times in fact that she could remember… He had said, “Wait just a second,” and he had walked right over to the bar, opened the small refrigerator, and come back with what she needed… Was it every time or almost every time, she asked herself?… She couldn’t remember. She was usually too fucked up to think about it, but she thought it was nearly every time. And she thought it was the freezer because it seemed to be where he reached.

She sat on the stool and sipped at the vodka. Loving the fire that it ignited in her stomach. No one would know… No one would know at all… She had seen Richie’s BMW in the other stall of the garage. She could take that to get away… If the keys…

She looked over at the small hooks just inside the kitchen door. The BMW keys looked back at her. She could see the little BMW medallion on the leather fob. She licked her lips, took a deeper sip of the vodka, let it burn its way down into her stomach. And now she could feel it inside, working its way down further, making her thighs warm. Hot even. She looked at the small, compact refrigerator again. She licked her lips once more, got up and swung the small door open.

Her eyes bugged out of her head. She had never seen the inside. She had only assumed that it was a refrigerator, but it wasn’t. It was shelf after shelf packed tight with shit. Pot, cocaine, heroin, crack, crank and pills… Probably E, she thought. And at the very bottom stacks of money. She forgot to breathe and nearly toppled over off the stool before she remembered to take a breath again. She took several deep breaths and then went over to the kitchen sink and found the garbage bags underneath. This is not real, she told herself. It’s just not real… But it was. She knew it was. She could feel that it was. She took two bags, slipped one inside the other, and then loaded everything in the refrigerator into the bag. All of it. She hefted it and then went back and got a third bag and slipped it over the first two.

She was on autopilot now. She crossed to the rack, took the keys to the BMW and walked into the hallway. Gelatin, she told herself, just gelatin, as she stepped over Karl and Geezer and then started down the steps that lead down into the garage.

She nearly tripped over the carpet again, looked down, saw one slim dusky gray hand that had slipped out from under the carpet edge when she tripped over it, and quickly looked back up before it could cause her to lose her happy thoughts again.

She opened the garage door. She had thought it would be so hard. She had been convinced it would be, but it was easy. Push the button, the door went up. She climbed into the BMW, set the black plastic bag on the passenger seat, backed the car out of the garage, and then came back and pushed the button to close the door. She stepped back out the side door, shut it as well as she could, then opened it back up, turned the knob on the handset to lock it, and swung it closed once more. It was broken, but maybe it would lock anyway, she told herself. She looked at the dented gold handle of the knob for a moment wondering what had happened here, and then turned and walked back toward the BMW. No going back, her mind said. No going back.

She was nearly to the BMW when she bent double and heaved. The vodka came back up. Burning her throat raw as it did. She slammed down onto her knees, skinning them, and retched until the nausea finally passed. She got up slowly, straightening her clothes as best she could, turned, and that was when she saw the kid standing on the sidewalk. She tried to smile as she staggered toward the BMW.

“You okay, lady?” the kid asked.

She looked at him. Sunday morning, before dawn. The newspaper carrier bag slung over one shoulder. Sunday papers. Maybe he was 16. Maybe 17. Well built. Healthy, unlike herself. She needed to dry out. Funny, a few minutes ago all she had wanted was a fix. Now she didn’t want to ever touch heroin or anything else again. Dry out, be normal. She’d been sixteen herself not so long ago.

“Are you?” the kid asked again.

She shook her head. “Probably not… But I will be… You got a girlfriend?” she asked.

The kid shrugged.

“You want to have an adventure?” She straightened up and looked at the blood running from one of the cuts on her knees. She raised her eyes to the sky and then looked back again.  “Maybe get out of this crappy fuckin’ town?” she asked quietly.

“With you?” the kid asked.

“Yeah, maybe I’m not so hot right now, but I clean up real well… Yeah, with me. There’s no one else here. Want to deliver fuckin’ newspapers the rest of your life? Or maybe get some shit-job flipping burgers someday?” she asked. She allowed a little laugh to slip into her low voice.

“No,” the kid answered.

“Can you drive?” she asked.

The kid looked at the idling BMW, the driver’s door hanging open. “Yeah,” he said a little breathlessly. He looked back at her. She smiled.

“I’m… I’m going to be sick for a while… Kicking the shit, you understand? The big H. The big H… I’ll need help… You’ll take care of me… Won’t run off and leave me?” She wobbled a little on her feet.

“Took care of my mother before she died… I can take care of you… You won’t die though, right?” His eyes looked worried, but he shifted the carrier sack from one shoulder and let it drop to the wet pavement.

“Nope,” she answered. “But I’ll probably wish I did…” She looked at him, “You’ll really stick it out?” She watched his eyes.

“Yeah… I’ll do it,” he said.

“Liv,” she said.

“Brian,” he said. He stepped toward her.

“Well, Brian, better get me into the fucking car before I pass out,” she said as her vision blurred. She wobbled, but he was right there. More substantial than he had looked. Stronger. He pushed the plastic bag off the passenger seat, belted her in, and then went around to the driver’s side. He backed out into the street.

“Where… Where to, Liv… Where are we going?”

“Down south… Stop and buy a map at a gas station. Take us south. Get a motel when you need to. When I… When I get crazy… Okay?”

He nodded as he drove. The BMW accelerating smoothly on the rain slicked streets. “I only have about 20 bucks,” he said.

She laughed, worked her way into the bag, drew out one of the stacks of money and handed it to him. She pawed through the bag taking out all the money, stacks of it: Slipped the bottom bag off, put the money in it and then tied the bag with all the drugs in it.

“You saw all the money? That bag’s got a lot in it. Take it wherever you go and be careful,” she said. “This shit?” She lifted the other bag and pressed the switch to roll down the window. The air felt cold, but good. She flung the bag into the woods that lined the side of the road. And then she burst into tears. It was gonna be so hard.

She pressed the button and the window whispered closed.

“Take care of me, Brian. Take care of me,” she said. She closed her eyes, rested her head against the glass and passed out.

~

“Liv… Liv… Come on, Liv, you got to do this on your own. There are people watching… They’ll think it’s funny if I carry you… Maybe call the cops,” Brian said.

“Oh God, I’m sick… I’m really fuckin’ sick… Leave me the fuck alone, I mean it,” Liv said.

“Liv?” he bent and pulled her upright from the car. They were in Pennsylvania. Near the Catskills. The night was not just cool, it was cold: The cold air brought her awake.

“Okay, Okay… Where are we… Where are we… Fuck… Lead the way… I’m okay… Not so goddamn fast… Slow… I hate to puke,” Liv said.

Brian had toed the door to the cabin open after he had unlocked it, and then edged it partially shut with his foot as he left to get her. He would get her into the bed, lock the door and set the alarm, then he’d get the stuff out of the car after he got her settled… Maybe a shower first too.

He had rented the cabin for three weeks. It was the best he could think of and he thought it was pretty smart. They would have privacy while she got better.

He asked himself a dozen times today why he was doing this, but he didn’t have any solid answers. Maybe because he had no family left. Maybe because he was tired of living in Foster Care with people who didn’t want him. Maybe because he had watched his mother die from this same shit. Crack had done her in instead of heroin, but it was all the same shit. Maybe it was Liv too. Maybe it was a little of both. He had never known anyone who had walked away from their life like this: Never, it was like starting over. Like getting a second chance. He had decided that, that was the main reason.

They passed one couple on the way to their cabin. He smiled politely, helping Liv along.

“A little too much to drink,” he heard the woman whisper to her husband after they had passed by.

He smiled. Good. Let them think that, by the next time that they saw Liv, she would be on her own two feet. He helped her into the cabin and laid her down on the bed. She instantly curled up into a ball holding her stomach. He got her into the bathroom just in time.

Once he got her cleaned up and into the bed, it was close to midnight. He made his way back out to the car, retrieved the stuff he had bought today: Leaving her sleeping in the car; panicking the whole time that she would be gone when he got back, but she had still been there. It had been okay. He grabbed the bag of money too, and carried everything back into the cabin.

It took a few minutes to get the loose cotton pajamas on her. The room had a huge bathtub, and after he had helped her into the bath and bathed her when she couldn’t stay awake to do it herself he was a lot less embarrassed. Besides, there was no one else to do it. He put antibiotic cream on her knee and bandaged it up. She drifted in and out while he did it, mostly to tell him to leave her the fuck alone, but he knew she didn’t mean it. He got some vitamins in her and got her to take a couple of aspirin and drink some juice: She was out cold a few minutes later. He turned the TV on low, smoothed her hair away from her brow and found something to watch.

~

Los Angeles, California

Liv and Brian

Liv sat next to the pool. Her skin was dark, healthy, and glowed under the hot California sun. She had never been to L.A. until now and it was beautiful. In fact she had never been straight long enough in her life to do much more than think about where the next high would come from.

That wasn’t exactly the whole truth, back in junior high school there had still been a real, vulnerable girl inside of her. That was only five years ago, but it felt like it was closer to five hundred years ago. Five million years ago. She almost felt young again, hopeful. Like the young girl she had been back then.

She looked over at Brian in the chair next to her. Somewhere in all of what had gone on in the first months: the sickness, the crying fits, the depression; she had stopped being so mad at the world and had fallen in love with him. He seemed so naive to her, but he wasn’t. The only other woman that had ever mattered to him had died a crack addict, still using, HIV positive with full blown AIDS for the last six months of her life. The two had used her up, what the crack didn’t kill, the AIDS virus had.

They had talked about it for hours. She had no idea how he had managed, he’d only been fifteen. Fifteen and he had taken care of her. And then when he should have been able to go on with his own life, the state had snatched him up and put him in Foster Care. Life had been tough, but she thanked God for him and the fact that his life had been so tough: Taught him such hard lessons. Someone else would have left her on her own. Not Brian. He had stuck it out.

His hand came over and touched hers. He squeezed lightly. She liked the feel of his hand in her own. She bought it to her stomach along with her own and held it as she drifted off to sleep.


I hope you enjoyed the free short story. You can get more in the Crime Time Collection this short story came from.

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