A little Fairfax & Glew for your weekend…
Apples & Pears…
Glew rolled over in bed and placed his arm around the warm body beside him. He gave her a kiss and sniffed her hair. It smelled like…it smelled like…dog?
He woke up and looked at the back of the beast’s head beside him. A German shepherd leaned back and licked his lips. He smirked and patted the dog’s head and said, “Hello.”
The dog licked him some more. He said, “Okay, boy. You’ve got to try a different toothpaste.”
He rolled over and placed his feet on the floor. The previous night rolled through his mind. He’d gone home with the woman from Gil’s. They came home and drank some whiskey. Then they came back to the bed and did…other things. Then what happened? He must have fallen asleep.
Why didn’t I just leave? Oh damn. I guess I rode home with her. Why? I never do that. It’s the easiest way to get trapped. I need to come up with an excuse and get out…wait a second. Do I smell bacon?
As if reading his thoughts, the German shepherd bolted out of the bed into the kitchen. Glew said, “Right, boy.”
He entered the bathroom and urinated until a dizziness took hold of him. He sat on the toilet for a minute and then he remembered that her home was a trailer. Now there’s nothing wrong with living in a trailer but he’d never left a bar and gone home to a woman’s trailer. It was always a house or apartment or the occasional hotel room.
Am I losing my edge?
He returned to the bedroom while a good sweat oozed out of him. He found his pants and socks but no shirt or shoes.
Does that mean no service?
He inched his way to the door and peeked out into the hallway. He tip-toed toward the kitchen. The woman stood at the stove, tending to the bacon. The dog stood behind her with its tongue out and its ears perked up. So he walked on in and said, “That smells wonderful.”
The woman turned toward him.
Goodness. She’s pretty for her age but what age is that exactly? I’ve got to get a hold of myself.
She said, “Come over here to mama.”
He crossed his arms and said, “You wouldn’t know where my shirt is. Would you?”
She motioned him toward her with her index finger which featured a long nail with pink nail polish that was nearly worn off. He walked over and kissed her cheek. She kissed his mouth, shoving that tongue back to his wisdom teeth. He didn’t feel too wise right now. Then she slapped his rear end and said, “It’s in the washer.”
“The washer? Why?”
She turned back to her cooking and said, “You spilled whiskey on it. You don’t want to wear that out and get pulled over. The cops around here won’t bust a thief but they hand out DUI’s like candy.”
He wiped his forehead and said, “That’s true. Thanks for looking out for me. Should I put it in the dryer?”
“The dryer’s busted.”
“What? How can I dry it?”
She turned and ushered him into a lawn chair by the dinner table. When he sat down he hit something with his feet. He looked down. Two worn-out boots sat there spaced apart like a ghost sat the table and has its invisible feet in them. She said, “Go on.”
He looked at her and said, “What?”
She said, “Get them in.”
She scoffed and then got down and forced his feet into the boots. He tried to move them but he couldn’t. Were they glued to the floor? She said, “Sit your butt there and get ready to eat. What’s your hurry anyway? Don’t you want to be here?”
He said, “What’s with these boots?”
“They were my husband’s.”
“Why do you want-
He stroked the frayed threads on the lawn chair and said, “I got some things I need to…”
Hold on. That’s right. That guy left a note on my jeep about helping me out on a job!
He searched his pants pockets but he came up empty. He said, “Hey, did you see a note anywhere?”
She brought a plate with bacon and eggs to the table and said, “Eat.”
“Whatever your problem is, it’ll keep until after breakfast. Besides, you need some meat on your bones. Now get to eating.”
He sighed. Besides the bacon being a bit burnt around the edges, it smelled great. The eggs smelled nice too but they had a rotten taste. He choked the breakfast down, shifting his feet in her dead husband’s boots but it did no good. She handed the dog a few bacon strips and then she sat across from him and sipped her coffee while watching him eat. He coughed on a hunk of eggs and said, “You’re not eating?”
She said, “I already had a cinnamon roll. I like to stay sweet.”
She said, “I’ll hang your shirt up on the line. It’ll be dry in a few hours. In the meantime, I like staring at your chest. What do you think about that?”
“Nessy. I didn’t figure you’d remember my name.”
“Nessy. That’s right. I’m sorry. I-
“Don’t tell me about how you’re not good with names. I’ve heard it all before. I’ll let you know something. I don’t remember your name neither. Now what do you think about that?”
He kept on eating. The German Shepherd whined.
She said, “The simple fact is that I got nothing to do today. So you’re going to entertain me.”
“But I have things to do.”
She tapped her fingernail between her teeth and said, “That’s too bad. I got your shirt and your phone and we ain’t even close to town. I don’t have any neighbors neither. You’re going to show old Nessy a good time.”
He stopped eating and said, “Why are you doing this?”
“Because I can. And because I’m not no fast woman. I want to get to know you and meet your family and pick out gravestones.”
He narrowed his eyes and said, “You don’t even know my name.”
She winked at him and said, “Are you afraid of commitment?”
He winked back and said, “I really am.”
He shifted in the dead husband boots and said, “I don’t know. I like to have a good time and then leave. I’m a busy man. I don’t have time for a relationship.”
“That’s all right. Old Nessy just needs one day from you.”
“But what will we do?”
“Hang out on the couch and watch TV. Drink a little more whiskey. Put on some music and dance. I got more food in the fridge and we can play cards. And I want to eat dinner by candle light. Never done that before.”
“You really haven’t seen any note? I need that.”
“You left it in my car.”
“Can I see it? I need to make a call. Speaking of which, I need my phone, too.”
“No, no. No contact with the outside world. That ain’t romantic and I need romance.”
“It’s important, Nessy. Please.”
“Nope. You can make your call tomorrow.”
“So you’re…kidnapping me?”
She shook her head and said, “You’re here because you wanted to be here and you still do…right?”
He swallowed. “I…
They watched Gunsmoke reruns for most of the day and followed it up that evening with a candle lit dinner consisting of frozen pizza and then they played dozens of hands of spades with his feet getting sore from the dead husband boots but several whiskey shots eased the pain a bit. He shivered without his shirt through most of it. Her German shepherd whined whenever she spoke. She yelled at the poor animal to be quiet and then led Glew back to the bedroom where she showed him a collection of pictures of her husband from years past. They were taken at several different angles and times during their marriage but the dead husband was lying on his back in every one of them. Whether he was in the bed or on the sofa or on the floor or passed out in the yard, he was lying down facing up. In some of them, he looked like he might be dead already. Then she jerked him into the bed where she had him cuddle with her until they fell asleep. When he woke up the next morning, he found the bed to be empty.
He found Nessy on the couch with her German shepherd seated next to her. She said, “Howdy, Mr. Romance. You ready to get out of here?”
He said, “I really should be going.”
She got up and kissed him and said, “Thank you for the day. I can’t remember the last time I spent a whole day with a man. And never one with a man so handsome. I wish I’d fallen for a private detective twenty years ago instead of the old thief that I married. I bet you’ll make somebody a happy woman. Now, get you a shower and I’ll bring your stuff to you and run you back up to Gil’s.”
Glew showered and dressed and found his note and cell phone. She rushed him out the door and drove him Gil’s. Before he got out, he said, “You don’t want to know my name?”
She said, “Nope. Get on, Mr. Romance. I’m at Gil’s a lot. I’m sure I’ll see you again.”
“For more romance?”
“Nope,” she said. “We had a good thing. We can leave it at that. Don’t go getting jealous when you see me hugged up on another man now.”
“I’ll definitely try not-
She said, “Now, git.”
She turned in her seat and kicked like a dog paddling up a river at him until he fell out of the car. Then she sped off.
Glew climbed into his jeep and blinked at the Gil’s Bar & Grill sign which seemed to smile at him, like it was saying, “We guarantee that we’ll get you to make a bad decision in here.”
Oh alcohol. How many strange adventures have you caused in this world? Hold on. That guy. I gotta call him.
He pulled the note from his pocket and dialed the number. When the guy answered, he said, “Hey…um…”
He checked the note again and said, “Fairfax. Hello, Mr. Fairfax?”
“Hey, man. Thanks for leaving the note. Sorry for the delay. I was tied up with a lady friend.”
“You know, there were no ropes involved but pretty much literally.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Fairfax said. “I’m on my way to the bus station anyway. Going to find me a place in the mountains.”
“What?” Glew said. He adjusted his hat and said, “Come on, man. You can’t. I was serious. I need your help.”
Fairfax didn’t respond.
Glew said, “I looked up your address. Altoid? I can’t tell you how cool that is that you’re named after a breath mint.”
Fairfax still didn’t respond.
Glew cleared his throat and said, “Hookville is in the dumps, man. We can clean it up. What do you say?”
Glew said, “I’ll tell you what. Meet me at Shaky Wayne’s coffee house and we’ll talk things over.”
Fairfax didn’t say anything.
Glew said, “My treat?”
Fairfax said, “I’ll meet you there. And Dutch treat is fine.”
Glew said, “That’s great. I-
Fairfax hung up.
So Glew drove over to Shaky Wayne’s Coffee House where a sign stood tall and read ‘We will do anything to Serve Your Hot Needs’. Since the Cindy Lake affair, he’d stayed clear of Bakey, Lakey Bakery and preferred to get his coffee and bear claws here although their pastries paled in comparison. When he arrived, he saw no sign of Fairfax’s Chevy Bonanza. So he walked inside and ordered a coffee and a bear claw and then returned to his jeep. He gobbled up the bear claw, checking his mirrors for any sign of Fairfax. He got the last bite down and gulped his coffee. A cat strolled up to the dumpster in back and stared up at it. Something hit his passenger window. He choked on the bear claw and opened his eyes. Fairfax stood by the window. He unlocked his door and washed down the bear claw. Fairfax climbed inside with his own cup of coffee from some gas station. Dil’s Slow Drip Gas Station maybe? Glew got his bearings and then said, “Hey. How’s it going?”
“Okay,” Glew said. “I haven’t found much work. I mean, I have a few possibilities but I haven’t found any real work like you did the other night.”
Fairfax said, “What’s that?”
“You know, where you went after that Yowder guy.”
“I loved how you not only took that guy down, but you also returned the goods to the other guy. What’s his name?”
Fairfax didn’t respond. The cat climbed up the dumpster and pawed at the closed door.
Glew said, “I thought we’d hunt down the real low-lifes here since it seems to me like the local cops don’t do their jobs.”
“I know they don’t.”
Glew said, “So do you know anybody we could go after? Somebody that the cops don’t go after?”
Fairfax drank his coffee and kept his voice even when he said, “I don’t know.”
This guy sure isn’t offering much. I need to try harder. Or maybe I should sit here until he talks.
The cat clawed its way up and then jumped on top of the dumpster and leaned down where it sniffed the garbage inside. Glew rolled his window down. A pot-bellied man grunted nearby. He cursed as he got a jack into place under his car in front of a flat tire. Fairfax said something but the guy’s grunting drowned him out. The guy stepped closer to the jeep and apparently, he sweat a lot even in the cold. Glew thanked God it wasn’t the summer time. Pew. Pew. Pew.
A few minutes later the grunting settled down and Fairfax shifted in his seat and said, “I have found that hunting thieves down can be fun.”
“Yeah,” Fairfax said. He seemed a bit more animated when he said, “I know a place. Ride with me.”
Riding with Nessy sure landed me in a mess on Friday night. Fairfax seemed cool but he’s different today. He’s a little too quiet for comfort. This is a bad idea.
Fairfax said, “Well? You coming?”
Damn. I do want this work, though. I need it. God, please give me a quick death if this is how I end.
Fairfax drove them to an old warehouse in downtown Hookville. Faded painted letters spelled out the words “Shiphead Distribution” on the warehouse walls. The place had shut down decades ago. No one had bothered to do anything with it. Despite this, the foot traffic appeared to be decent. Within a few minutes, five people walked by. Fairfax got out and pulled a bicycle from his truck bed and carried it over to the front of the warehouse where he stood it up beside the wall. Then he returned to his driver’s seat. Glew said, “So you’re waiting for somebody to steal it?”
“That is the idea,” Fairfax said.
“And then we go after them?”
“Isn’t that like…entrapment?”
Fairfax snorted and said, “What would the problem be? If the thief doesn’t try to steal it, then we don’t do anything. They have to do something wrong before we act.”
Glew rubbed his jaw and said, “That’s a fair point. I mean, even if you find a wad of money sitting there, it’s actually not yours. Who knows? It may be drug money and the dealer’s going to come after you. Maybe he shouldn’t have been careless with his money and maybe he did get the money in an illegal way but still, you don’t take what’s not yours. Right?”
“That’s the way I see it.”
“Hhmm. Have you ever found money on the sidewalk or on the ground and picked it up and kept it?”
Glew chuckled and said, “How do you justify that?”
“It’s apples and pears.”
“Don’t you mean apples and oranges?”
“No. It’s apples and pears. I never picked up a whole bicycle that didn’t belong to me.”
“So it’s a size thing. Like how apples are bigger than pears?”
“No. Pears are a lot like apples, especially green ones. But they’re a little different in taste and texture. They’re sweeter. It’s possible that a person with lousy taste could confuse the two. No one confuses an apple with an orange. It’s similar to finding a twenty-dollar bill and to finding a wad of twenty-dollar bills. But one is most likely the result of someone being dumb and losing it. The other is a pile of money put together. It means something to somebody. A twenty is not a giant loss. Whoever lost it most likely ain’t coming back. Heck, they may never realize it’s gone. So I find it and I spend it. They shouldn’t have lost it. If you misplace thousands, you probably deserve to lose it too, but I don’t know. Something’s wrong with that. That could be somebody’s whole year’s income. If I found a pile of money, I wouldn’t take it.”
“Would you turn it into the police?”
“In this town? Hell no. Those lazy bastards would divide it up among themselves and not think twice about it.”
“So what would you do? You’re really telling me you wouldn’t take it?”
“I’m really telling you that.”
“I don’t believe you. I know I’d take it.”
“That’s some moral code you got there.”
“I’m getting a headache.”
“Maybe you talk too much.”
Glew shifted in his seat. “Boy, you’re a salty fellow.”
“I’m not very sweet. I don’t eat many pears.”
A man walked over by the wall but he didn’t get close to the bicycle. He stood by the wall and stared up at the sky. After a few moments, he looked around but then he looked back up at the sky. Glew looked at the huge side mirror on Fairfax’s truck. A car pulled up to a four-way intersection with stop signs. Another care pulled up on the other side. The first car pulled up but stopped as the other car pulled forward and stopped. Then they did this again, easing forward but then stopping and most likely waving the other one forward. They didn’t make much progress. Glew shook his head and said, “How long do you think this will take?”
“Given that several folks have walked by and with night coming on, not long. This town stinks with thieves. I bet a few have walked by and thought about it already.”
Glew said, “I see.” He yawned. “I sure hope so.”
“Hell, we just got here, Glew.”
“I know. I guess I’m an action guy.”
Fairfax gave no response. Glew kept his hand on his thigh and ran his index finger back and forth. Then he scratched behind his ear. A few folks walked by and one of them must have worn something that smelled like vanilla, which Glew enjoyed. He peeked over at Fairfax who watched the bicycle and nothing else. It reminded him of a cat watching a closet door for a mouse to run out. He didn’t budge. He watched some more folks walk by and then ventured another look at Fairfax who hadn’t moved a bit.
This guy’s weird…but I don’t know. The focus is kind of impressive, too.
He leaned back and narrowed his eyes. A new potential thief strolled by every couple of minutes while the night started taking over. Maybe one of these folks would make a move soon. And Glew’s private investigator career could take off.
Fairfax shook him and said, “Damn. You’re asleep?”
Glew smacked his lips and said, “I guess I dozed off.”
“You’re the private investigator. You should be used to this.”
“My old partner in Memphis always got onto me for that. It’s not my strong suit. Maybe if I had a box of Goobers or something to snack on. Possibly some sunflower seeds might work or even a cigar to smoke.”
Fairfax pulled a recorder from his pocket and set it on the seat and hit play. The sounds of a crackling fire filled the cab. He said, “Maybe this will help.”
Glew said, “I think it just makes me want to sleep more.”
Fairfax returned to his death stare on the bicycle.
Glew said, “I appreciate you trying to help, though.”
Fairfax didn’t move.
“Really, I do,” Glew said.
Fairfax remained like a statue.
Glew wiggled his fingers and looked down the street and then up the street and fidgeted around. He found a hang nail on his middle finger. He picked at it, considering whether or not to pull it off or wait until he got back to his apartment and use the nail clippers. After two hours of waiting, he wondered if he’d ever got back to his apartment. But then Fairfax said, “All right. I don’t think we’re going to get a bite, tonight. We’ll try again tomorrow.”
Glew said, “That’ll be fun.”
The next night, Fairfax called Glew and told him he’d pick him up at his place in Pardon You Apartments. Glew gave him the code to the front gate. Fairfax rolled through in his ’76 model Bonanza which was bound to draw looks since the vehicles here were all 2010 and above. One white-haired lady stared at him from her porch on the first floor. She kept her large phone to her ear while running her mouth. He stopped the truck and stared back at her. She stopped talking and stared back at him. He kept his expression even. She placed her hand over her mouth when she spoke as if he were trying to read her lips and she wanted to block him. He drove to Glew’s apartment.
Glew came down the stairs with a spry step and opened the passenger side door and said, “You care if we take my jeep this time?”
Fairfax said, “Yeah, I do.”
“You do…you do mind?”
“Oh,” he said. “I guess um-
“Are we doing this or not?”
Glew climbed inside. Fairfax passed by the staring woman who kept her hand over her mouth. Glew waved to her. She waved back to him and smiled. Fairfax shook his head and said, “She sure keeps an active watch on things.”
Glew said, “Yeah, that’s Urlene. Nice lady.”
They got back to the Shiphead Distribution warehouse twenty minutes later. Fairfax set up the bicycle beside the building again.
Fairfax sat inside for a few minutes before Glew pulled a box of Goobers from his pocket and started chomping on them. Fairfax said, “Do you have to chew so loud?”
Glew smacked a few times and said, “Sorry. It helps me stay awake.”
A tall fellow walked by the bicycle and stared at it as he walked along but he didn’t stop. He did walk back by a minute later. Fairfax said, “This could be something.”
Glew leaned forward and popped another Goober in his mouth which he started smacking on again. Then he peeked at Fairfax and said, “Sorry. I’ll be quiet.”
The tall fellow did stop and stare at the bicycle but then he looked around as if he was checking for folks watching him. When he spotted Fairfax and Glew in the Bonanza, he stared at them and then he glanced back at the bike and then he ran away.
Fairfax said, “Dang. It’s almost like he knew.”
“Yeah,” Glew said. “That’s kind of creepy. Of course, this truck does kind of stand out.”
“You think we should take yours, Glew?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Sure. A red jeep doesn’t stand out at all.”
Glew looked over at him. Fairfax met his gaze. Glew turned away and chomped on another Goober.
A few more folks passed by but none of them stopped although a few glanced toward the bike in between staring at their cell phones. He popped his neck. Something beeped in different tones and sounds. Such noise didn’t help his concentration. He turned toward Glew who played a game on some kind of handheld device. He said, “What’s that?”
Glew kept his head in his game but said, “House of Noir.”
“Damn you, Glew. You keep your head in that when there’s potential crime here. Hell, this whole thing was your idea. You came to me.”
“Nothing’s happening right now. I like to stimulate my mind.”
“I think you just get bored too easily. That’s not the best characteristic to have when hunting folks down.”
Fairfax smiled. “Is that right? Just whatever. Huh?”
“Damn it. You made me screw up.”
“How are we supposed to catch anybody when you act just like most of these sheep and keep your head up that game’s ass?”
Glew tossed the game aside. It bumped into Fairfax’s leg. Fairfax raised an eyebrow and looked over at him but Glew looked out his own window and popped another Goober into his jaw. He chewed on it with his mouth closed at least.
A new guy walked up and stared at the bicycle. He looked around and tiptoed over to the bike while wearing a guilty grin. He took out his phone and snapped a picture of himself with his back to the wall. Then he got close to the bike and snapped another picture. He even got on the bike for another picture but he took one and found that he’d cut the bike out of the shot. So he angled the phone up and maneuvered himself so that he’d be in the shot with the bike to the point that he fell over with the bike landing on top of him. Glew burst into a laugh and said, “What a dunce.”
Fairfax stared ahead.
Glew said, “He almost looks like a guy I went to school with back at Lurnem High. Did you go to Lurnem, Fairfax?”
“No, I went Snoots.”
“Snoots? Damn. How many millions does your family have?”
“I’d rather not get into that.”
“Wait a minute,” Glew said. He pointed his finger upward and said, “You’re not from the Fairfax family that owns the Glazy Mazy’s Donut franchise. Are you?”
Fairfax bit his fingernail. “Maybe.”
“Wow. I had no idea. How come you don’t work for them?”
“Like I said, I’d rather not get into it.”
“Okay. That’s cool, man. You know, I didn’t come from money but my Dad won the lottery a few years back.”
“I heard about it. Have you gone through all the money yet?”
“Definitely not. Why?”
“I always read that most folks who win the lottery tend to spend it all right quick. They don’t have any sense about money.”
“I read that, too, but that won’t be me. I bought this jeep flat-out and I spent money on a few things I shouldn’t have but I’ve still got most of my money. I’d like to make a little more with the private eye stuff, though. I always knew if I stayed busy, I should be okay.”
“I reckon so.”
“I know Memphis has more potential but I think there’s quite a need around here. If we can get going and busting a few guys, we might get some business. I mean, I’m sure you can rely on your folks if you need money.”
Fairfax rolled down his window and spat. Then he said, “I don’t think making money is the point of this. I’ve always wanted to do something about the crime around here. My Uncle Altoid kept me out of trouble for a long time but he up and left last week. So now, I figure I’ll do what I want.”
“I hear you, there. Family is great but I don’t know. Sometimes they hold you back without meaning to. My sister can be like that.”
Fairfax returned his focus to the bike where a new guy approached the guy who tried to take his own picture on the bike. This new guy took the guy’s phone and took a few pictures for him. The first guy seemed to be happy with them. They talked and then the first guy walked away. The new guy got on the bike and tried to take his own picture on the bike but he couldn’t get it right, either. Fairfax chuckled and handed Glew back his handheld device and said, “Go ahead. I’ll keep watch.”
Glew took it and said, “You sure, man?”
“Pass me one of them Goobers?”
“You got it.”
Fairfax watched the bike for another hour while Glew played his game and looked back and forth a few times. Fairfax called it off at eight o’clock and they agreed to return the next day.
Glew sat on his sofa, talking on the phone to a young lady he’d met the previous night at the Dope Club. Watching out for thieves for hours with no results got him to feeling antsy. So he’d gone in and danced and bought the bar a round which drew her right to him. She seemed like a nice girl with her head on straight. So he got her number and left and they’d been texting since. He told her he would like to hang out tonight but well, he had business to attend to. So when Fairfax beeped in with a message letting him know he was downstairs, he wrapped up his conversation and then headed on down.
Fairfax sat in his Bonanza and watched him walk all the way to the truck. Fairfax’s focus is impressive but it’s kind of scary, too. A date with the lady sure would be more fun right now.
He opened the passenger side door and climbed inside. Fairfax said, “You want to take your jeep?”
Glew stared at him and said, “Why the change of heart?”
“Eh. I thought about it and I think my truck does stand out more. You were right…”
“Thanks a lot. I try to-
Glew smirked and said, “Right.”
So they loaded the bicycle into Glew’s jeep and then headed back over to the Shiphead warehouse. The area felt abandoned tonight except for a mouse standing on its back legs. Glew said, “Look at that.”
The mouse ran off.
Fairfax said, “What?”
Glew said, “Nothing.”
Fairfax sat there staring and didn’t say anything despite missing the mouse. Glew played his game. His phone beeped, signaling that he’ d received a text message. A wad of garbage rolled by like a tumbleweed. He shivered and said, “Man, I don’t know, stud. Who’d commit a crime in this cold?”
Fairfax sighed and looked away.
Glew’s phone beeped again. He sniffed the air and look down the street a ways where a window sat open with the light on. He focused and saw that a fresh apple pie sat there on that window sill. Glew said, “Man, just look at that. A fresh apple pie sitting on the window sill cooling. You can smell it. It was made with care and clearly she isn’t worried about it being stolen. Why else would she just leave it sitting there like that? What do you think, stud?”
Fairfax didn’t move.
Glew’s phone beeped. He read the last several text messages and smiled and said, “Now look at that. My new girl is texting me about what she’s doing which isn’t much. She’s lonely. She’d love to have me there. After all, there isn’t much going on here.”
Fairfax sat there like stone.
Glew played his game for a while.
Fairfax sighed a few times. Glew said, “What is it?”
Fairfax said, “You really ought to be watching people walk by. It gives you a sense of the place.”
“So you can’t watch and I play my game and then we jump on a thief when he strikes…if any actually ever do?”
“All right, then.”
“I just don’t think it’s best.”
Glew set the game down. “You know, I gave up a great date tonight to do this shit.”
“I mean, you could at least be cool about it.”
“I’m supposed to be cool with you half-assing things?”
“I’m not half…assing anything. I’m here. Geez.”
“You ain’t going to ‘whatever’ me. Are you?”
“God. Will you just relax? I mean, it’s not a big deal.”
“If we can’t even sit here without…what?”
Fairfax pointed ahead. A guy in a striped pullover shirt and jeans and white running shoes picked up the bike and looked around.
Glew said, “Uh-oh.”
The guy got on the bike and pedaled away.
Fairfax said, “All right. Let’s get to it.”
Glew said, “I can’t believe this worked.” Then he put the jeep into gear and pulled onto the street.
Glew kept at a steady speed, following the thief down a few streets and then on down an alley and on through to a road where set of train tracks crossed. The thief bicycled on through. The alarm sounded and the railroad arms slammed down like guillotine blades. Glew stopped the jeep and said, “Man. Of all the times for a train to go by.”
Fairfax said, “Yeah. What a pain.”
Glew said, “The damn thing will put us way behind and that guy’s going to get away with your bike and then we’ll have to start all over. Man, three nights of watching and this. It’s ridiculous.”
“It’ll be all right.”
“I’m canceling dates and I’m not even making money from this stuff. It’s like fate is working against the two guys who are trying to make things right. The stars are aligning for the hoods of Hookville and there’s not a damn thing a person can do. The decent people have no chance and we’re all doomed. I could die thinking about this. I could just die. What a world. It’s not fair and it’s not…”
The two-car train passed by and the arms lifted.
Glew swallowed and said, “Well…anyway…”
He stomped on the accelerator and spun his tires, leaving a squeal in its wake. Fairfax said, “Glew, what are you doing?”
“I’m sorry,” Glew said. “I’m sorry.”
Glew drove across the tracks and sped up but then he slowed since the thief rode ahead of them in plain sight. He kept the speed down while other cars passed him by.
Fairfax said, “Get in the passing lane.”
“Don’t underestimate him. Get in the other lane and pass him or he might figure us out.”
Glew switched lanes and sped on ahead down the four-lane road, leaving the thief way behind. When they reached the intersection, Fairfax said, “Turn into that church parking lot.”
Glew did so and they sat, waiting. A light came on in the church window. Glew watched it.
No. We woke somebody up in there. They’ll call the police and they’ll tail us and it will all be over. No more going after bad guys. There’s no cleaning up any town. The world can’t be changed.
The light in the church window went out. Glew took a deep breath. Fairfax said, “You all right?”
Glew said, “I wonder if he turned off somewhere. Aren’t there bike trails down through there?”
Fairfax said, “Yeah, but I see him.”
“I see. I guess we’re lucky that it came with a reflector.”
“Yeah,” Fairfax said. “It’s not like I put the reflector on there in order to catch the guy.”
“Right…oh wait. You did? That’s good thinking.”
The thief turned right at the intersection. Glew edged toward the exit. Fairfax said, “Steady, Glew.”
“Shouldn’t I go now?”
“Let the light change.”
Glew pulled out and the light flipped over to red. A few cars pulled up behind him and the traffic died across the intersection but the light stayed red. Glew honked his horn and said, “Come on…”
Fairfax leaned over into his face and breathed hot coffee on him when he said, “Are you trying to sabotage us?”
Whoa. This guy is intense. And his head is bigger than I thought.
Glew said, “Sorry, man.”
Fairfax leaned back. The light changed to green. Fairfax said, “Take it slow now.”
Glew did as instructed. They drove on but the thief did not appear. Glew sped up a ways on by a few streets and said, “Damn. He’s gone.”
“No,” Fairfax said. “Turn around at the next street.”
Glew did so and then Fairfax had him pull into a driveway that wasn’t connected to any of the others on up the street. Glew said, “I can’t sit here in the guy’s driveway and not arouse suspicion.”
Fairfax said, “I know. Pull out and then pull down a little ways and park on the shoulder.”
Glew pulled forward but Fairfax said, “Stop.”
Fairfax said, “Stop now.” Then he pointed to his ear. Glew listened. A police cruiser raced by with its blue lights flashing. Once it passed, Glew parked and said, “Why are we here?”
“The driveway was made of clay. Real soft orange stuff.”
“The thief had on white shoes with orange clay on them.”
“He did? How could you notice that?”
“That’s why you watch and get your head out of that game.”
Fairfax said, “You sure you’re a detective?”
Glew said, “Okay. Good point. So what do we do now?”
“We get out and walk over by those trees and watch for the thief.”
“I just leave my jeep here?”
“What if it gets towed?”
“Then you pay to get it back. If you want to know things, you have to be willing to make sacrifices.”
“How about you go down there and I’ll drive around? You call me if he comes out.”
“No, Glew. Come on.”
“Glew, do you want to do this or not?”
Fairfax tilted his head at him.
Glew sighed and said, “But…now that we’re getting somewhere, I can’t walk away.”
“So, come on.”
Fairfax hunkered down by a tree while Glew sat behind a dead bush which didn’t matter much in the darkness. They’d been watching the house for over two hours. Glew popped a Goober in his jaw.
Fairfax said, “You ain’t getting sleepy. Are you?”
Glew got up on his haunches and said, “I’m really not. The guy could walk out of there any minute. It’s like when he grabbed the bike a while ago…I didn’t really think anybody was going to take it and then bam. It just happened and off we go.”
“Change happens quickly, Glew. You wait for it and think it’ll never happen and then it shows up and you ain’t ready for it. You didn’t ever get this thrill in Memphis?”
“We mainly did background checks and small stuff like that. I never got on anything exciting. I worked in a nice area. That’s why I came back here. I know thieves are everywhere in Hookville. Only, when I got back, I didn’t know how to get started really. How are you so good at this?”
Fairfax rubbed his chin and said, “I’ve always liked watching people. I’ve done it as far back as I can remember. I watched neighbors when I was a kid. I saw one of them steal some tools one time. I took off after them on my bike.”
“Did you catch them?”
“No. I can still see the guy’s face but he got away.”
“You never saw him again?”
“There was a guy coming out of the Waffle House one day. It could have been him.”
“You didn’t try and find out?”
“He had lady with him. So I let it be. I always watch people, though. You have to pay attention to their actions. You can usually ignore their words.”
Glew nodded for a while. Then he stared at Fairfax for a moment. He cleared his throat and said, “Do you think that of me? That I’m not trust worthy?”
“I don’t know yet.”
Glew scoffed. “That’s a heck of a thing to-
Fairfax pointed ahead at the thief leaving the garage.
I knew he had the clay on his shoes. I’ve passed by this driveway more than once. It’s the only one with a driveway like that within a few miles. Where else would he go? Glew couldn’t have known any of this, having been out of town for a while. I don’t think he’d notice if he did live here but at least he’s trying. That’s all a fellow can do.
The thief made his way down the driveway, kicking a pebble which bounced off of Fairfax’s shoulder. He studied it- limestone. Glew leaned toward him and whispered, “What are you-
Fairfax shushed him. When the thief walked by them, Fairfax leaped up from behind him and tackled him onto the clay, knocking the wind out of him. He held the thief on the ground while Glew ran over and said, “What do we do with him?”
Fairfax pulled a length of rope from the back of his belt. Glew said, “Hey, I didn’t even notice you were carrying that.”
Fairfax tied the thief’s wrists together and kept his knee in the small of his back. The thief raised his head and opened his mouth but Fairfax shoved his face into the clay and said, “Keep quiet now.”
Glew said, “Now what?”
We need to get him away from here. His boss might come out of there any minute if he’s keeping an eye on his boy.
Glew said, “Well?”
“I know a place.”
“Let’s load him up in your jeep.”
“In my jeep? I don’t…know…”
Fairfax heaved the thief up and dragged him down the road behind him. The thief stumbled along, spitting out clay. Fairfax loaded him into the back of Glew’s jeep and then Glew stuck an old sock in the thief’s mouth. When they got in, Glew said, “Where are we going?”
Fairfax said, “You know where Redemption Road is?”
Glew’s face lit up. He said, “I sure do. This will be so poetic. That’s the perfect name for what we’re doing.”
Fairfax frowned and said, “Go to Redemption Road. We’ll turn off onto Steeler’s Trail.”
“Steeler’s? That sounds like thieves. That’s not poetic. That won’t work. Let’s go to Redemption Road instead.”
Fairfax said, “We’ll go to Steeler’s Trail. Move your ass.”
Glew drove them over twenty-five miles into the country. The thief moved around in the back. Fairfax pulled the mirror down on his side and kept an eye on him. The guy looked young.
He’s probably rattled out of his mind. To be used to stealing things and then caught all of a sudden by a couple of guys who didn’t look like cops and now to be taken out this far. He’s probably wondering what we’re going to do with him.
When they made it to Steeler’s Trail, Fairfax instructed Glew on where to turn in on a little trail, off the trail. When he did so, he had him drive on in a half-mile. Then they stopped, got out and Fairfax dragged the thief from the back and tossed him onto the cold ground. The thief waved his arms in the air before he hit. He’d broken the ropes. Fairfax said, “Damn it.”
He got the thief down and wrestled his arms back together but the ropes was still in two pieces. So he tied them into a square knot while the thief beat the ground and shifted around. Fairfax grabbed one wrist and wrapped it and then the other and pushed them together where he tied them back together. Glew walked over to him and said, “What good does this do?”
“He’ll think twice about stealing next time.”
The thief snapped the rope again. He reached into his pocket. Fairfax got down and wrestled with the thief who’d retrieved his cell phone. Fairfax got the phone from his hand. Then he stood and placed his boot on his back. The thief spat out the sock and said, “Hey, man! You can’t take my phone. That’s theft!”
Fairfax and Glew shared a laugh. Fairfax took the thief’s wallet and found the driver’s license picture where it looked like the thief was focused hard, like he was burning ants with a magnifying glass. “So, Chet…”
The thief or “Chet” sounded disappointed when he said, “Yeah?”
“This address here doesn’t match the address where we picked you up.”
“My mom’s already missing me. She’s a big worrier.”
“Shut up,” Fairfax said. “Now who lives there? Who are you stealing for?”
Chet spat a few times. No one could blame him for that. Orange clay and old sock doesn’t exactly build the appetite.
Fairfax said, “Look, Chet. If you tell us about the guy, we’ll take you back to your house.”
Chet looked at Fairfax over his shoulder, studying his face as if he were a statue and not a person who could study him back. Then he glanced at Glew. He sat on his rear. After wiping some clay off his face, he said, “So I tell you about him and that’s it. I’m free to go?”
Fairfax massaged his own neck and shared a look with Glew. Then he looked back at Chet and said, “That’s right.”
Chet chewed his lip and shifted his eyes to the ground. He rubbed his wrists and said, “Zipp.”
“Zipp?” Glew said.
“Mr. Zipp. He has me take stuff sometimes. And he pays me.”
Glew looked at Fairfax and said, “Do you know anybody named Zipp?”
Fairfax shook his head and kept his attention on Chet when he said, “What all does he have you steal?”
“Ah, bikes and ATVs. Stuff like that. I got him a golf cart a few weeks ago.”
“Has he moved all of it?”
“No, man. He’s still got all of the stuff I’ve got him. I think he’s letting enough time go by where people don’t get suspicious.”
“So he’s going to sell the stuff locally?”
“I think so, man.”
Glew smirked and said, “Not very smart.”
Fairfax said, “All right. We’re going to need you to ride back with us.”
“But my mom…”
“We’ll put you on speaker phone with her and you tell her you’ll be home soon. Right?”
Chet sniffed and said, “Yeah, I guess so. What are you going to have me do?”
Fairfax picked the old sock off the ground and sniffed it and looked at Glew and said, “Arm and Hammer?”
Glew whistled and said, “You have a good snout, stud.”
Fairfax told Chet what they wanted him to do.
Chet knocked on Zipp’s front door. Then he backed up to the edge of Zipp’s porch and whistled. A man with a lively face opened the door and stared at Chet who waved at him and took one step forward like he had something to say. Zipp wore a grin as he jogged toward Chet like he thought they were playing a game. Fairfax and Glew each grabbed him from opposite sides and wrestled him to the floor. Fairfax held him down while Glew found an extension cord and tied his hands. Then he shoved the old sock into his mouth. Zipp kicked and screamed in his own living room while a Roomba vacuum cleaner hummed its way across the hardwood floor.
Fairfax followed Chet into the shed out back where three bicycles and three four-wheelers and a golf cart sat. Fairfax said, “Chet, do you remember where you got all these?”
Chet sighed. “You’re going to return them?”
“It’s the right thing to do.”
Chet shifted from one foot to the other and said, “I know, but I did all that work for nothing.”
Fairfax said, “That’s why you put your efforts toward good things, son. Now, come on.”
They loaded up the bikes into Glew’s jeep. They placed Zipp into his closet for safe-keeping and rode around to the houses where Chet had taken the bikes, returning each one to the driveway and driving off. Then Glew ran by his apartment where they switched to Fairfax’s truck. He drove them over in the Bonanza and found that Zipp had nearly busted the lock on his own closet. So Fairfax opened the door and socked Zipp in the jaw. Zipp dropped to the floor. They closed the door back and shoved a bookcase against it.
They loaded up the four-wheelers where Chet revved the first one up on his way to loading it onto the truck bed. Fairfax told him to keep it quiet, but then he breathed in the exhaust fumes. Is there a bigger turn-on?
After returning the four-wheelers to two different residences, they took the golf cart back to the last stop. They got it unloaded down the road and then drove it up the driveway and walked back down the driveway before a man bounded out of the darkness and blocked their path. He wore a cap and a bandana over his mouth and said something but it was muffled.
Fairfax said, “I didn’t get that?”
The man said something else muffled but then he paused. He lowered the bandana and said, “Fairfax?”
Fairfax squinted at him and said, “Cloyd?”
Cloyd stepped off the four-wheeler and embraced him. He said, “Damn, man. What have you been doing with yourself?”
Fairfax said, “Man, I just-
Cloyd stepped back and put a hand on the pistol in his holster and said, “And what in the hell are you doing out here with my golf cart?”
“I’m returning it, Cloyd.”
“So you took it?”
“Who did then?” Cloyd studied Chet and Glew and said, “Which of these two did it?”
Chet lowered his head.
Fairfax said, “Neither of them. They were helping me return it.”
Chet looked up with his mouth open.
Cloyd said, “But where did you find it? And how did you even know it was gone?”
“You know how it goes,” Fairfax said. “I came across it and I’d heard you had it stolen and put two and two together. It is yours. Right?”
Cloyd nodded and said, “Hell yeah, it’s mine. It’s got that dent in the back. It’s got to be mine.”
“Now you have it back.”
Cloyd studied them all and said, “Well…thank you.”
Fairfax said, “You’re more than welcome. Glew, Chet, meet Cloyd Cleek, owner of Golden Stream Outdoors Store.”
The boys all shook hands. Cloyd thanked them, although he did return his hand to the holster when they left.
On the ride to Chet’s house, Chet said, “Man, I thought that guy was going to kill us back there.” He turned to Fairfax and said, “Thanks for covering for me.”
Fairfax bit into a stick of beef jerky and filled his mouth with meaty spices and said, “Sure. Cloyd’s a nice guy but there are other folks out there who would hurt you and hurt you bad, Chet. You’re young. Get out of this stuff now. Of course, it’s not like you got any choice now that Zipp knows you betrayed him. Do you think he’ll make any trouble for you?”
“I don’t think so. He knows where I live but his mom is friends with my mom. If he did anything, his mom would never forgive him and I don’t think he wants that. He’s not a good guy but he loves his mom. He mentions her a lot.”
They dropped Chet off a few houses down the street from his Mom’s place. Fairfax nudged Glew and said, “Give him some money.”
Glew drew back and said, “What? Why? He’s a thief.”
Fairfax said, “Yeah, a thief who just helped us return everything he stole for nothing. Give him something.”
Glew shook his head and handed Chet fifty bucks and said, “Here you go, kid. Keep your nose clean.”
Chet smiled at the money and then looked up at Glew. Glew said, “No, really. You have dirt all over your nose.”
Chet wiped the dirt away and said, “Zipp pays me way more than this.”
Glew said, “Well go work for him then.”
Fairfax nudged him and said, “Cough up a little more, man.”
Glew scoffed and handed the kid another fifty.
Chet did a back-flip and cheered. Then he said, “Thanks!” He wiped his nose again and ran for home.
Fairfax drove them toward Pardon You Apartments. On the way, Glew said, “Wow. Now this is worth doing, Fairfax. Man, you were awesome. Such a stud!”
Fairfax said, “Appreciate it, bud.”
“Man, we found a thief with the bait and then got the big boy Zipp, too. The cops around here aren’t doing what we do. But do you worry about Zipp? About him coming after us?”
“He’s locked up and he’ll figure his way out. He’ll be mad about it but he lost Chet and he’ll have to find somebody else to steal for him now. He has a pretty nice place. Obviously he does something else. He’s got to know how close he came to getting caught and locked up. Really, he got off easy.”
“He lost all of his merchandise.”
“He’ll get over it and if he doesn’t, that’s too bad. He doesn’t know who we are and Chet doesn’t either really.”
Fairfax stopped at a stop sign. A Siberian Husky stared at them from the yard beside them. When they started off, the beast ran alongside them for several moments. Fairfax slowed down and the Husky followed along even further and then it barked and ran back toward the house.
Glew said, “Man, this is so awesome! I do kind of wish we got paid for it, though.”
“Maybe one day, Glew. At least we can set some things right for now.”
“Yeah, man. I’m going to go call my new girl. I won’t tell her about this, though. I figure we need to keep this under our hats.”
Fairfax said, “For now and maybe forever. Folks can be funny about understanding sometimes. But sleep well. Heck, there are going to be some happy folks tomorrow thanks to us.”
He dropped Glew off. Glew said he was going to meet his new lady friend and then he popped a mint into his mouth and when he shook Fairfax’s hand, he breathed a minty cloud on him. Fairfax asked him for one and Glew gave it to him. Fairfax popped it into his mouth and sucked on it. Glew jammed out to Queen’s “We Are the Champions” when he drove away. Fairfax drove by Urlene who stared at him the whole time again. She also kept her hand over her mouth while speaking on the phone again. Fairfax honked his horn at her. She threw her hands up at him. At least someone’s paying attention to what’s going on. He smiled and left.
After returning home, he sat up on his porch for a while but then he slept in his bed. When he woke up the next morning, he put on coffee to brewing and peeked outside. He said, “What in the…”
He walked down to his driveway where a pair of Yamaha four-wheelers sat side-by-side. A Grizzly and a Raptor. A Card was attached to the Grizzly. He opened it up and a pop-up smacked his nose. The pop-up was of a man flexing huge muscles. He shook his head and read:
I never thought I’d see that golf cart again. My grandfather bought it for me before he passed. I’m awful sick of folks stealing around here. Here’s a little thanks for shining a ray of hope over things.
Fairfax called Glew and said, “You know, about our work last night…”
Glew said, “Yeah?”
“And how you think it wasn’t going to pay off?”
Glew groaned and said, “Yeah. Why?”
Fairfax said, “I’ve got a good feeling that it will.”
Glew said, “It’s fine, stud. I’m not worried.”
“No,” Glew said. “Because I just got a call about a paying gig.”