Featured

Metal Memento

I pulled my ringing phone from my pocket and checked it- Glew. I flipped it open. “What’s up, killer?”

Glew took a few breaths. “Hey, stud. I need your…assistance.”

“Shoot.”

He took a long breath. “A client of mine has a pest. This guy has stolen two packages off her porch. I swung by a while ago and watched it for her since she’s at work. I had a Nutty Buddy. You know, I think they’re making them bigger these days. They usually leave me feeling a bit-”

“Glew. What about the thief?”

Glew coughed. “Oh right. He just ripped off two packages I put there. Now she’s missing an I-pad and an Elvis Presley painting that he swiped two days ago. The idiot hit the same house in the same week. I’m on his tail on the highway. Gear up and call me back.”

“You got it.”

I hung up my phone and locked up my shop and house. I filled my thermos with coffee and jumped into my car. I called him back twenty minutes later and caught up to him. When he pulled into the driveway located one house up from the thief’s, I pulled onto the shoulder of the road and climbed out with my phone pressed to my ear. “All right. I’m circling around back. Just give me five minutes.”

Glew said, “Work your magic. He’s too busy putting up his loot to pay us attention just yet.”

The neighbor’s house sat vacant as far as I could tell. So I cut through their yard and pressed my back up to the side wall of the thief’s house. I hunkered down near the corner.

Glew pulled into his driveway ten minutes later. He sported a pair of coveralls and removed a seeder from his trunk. Then he pulled a baseball cap on his head with the words “Lonny Lawn Service” adorned on the front. After placing ear buds into his ears, he made three rows across the yard with the seeder before the thief stepped out of his house. He yelled, “Hey! What are you doing here?”

Glew kept at his seeding. The front door closed. I took a look at the neighbor’s house. A woman who looked around sixty watered a plant in the backyard. “Damn it.”

The thief came back out and walked onto the lawn. Glew kept at his seeding like nothing else in the world mattered. The thief looked back at the house. When he turned back toward Glew, I jumped over the porch rail and crept inside.

The living room looked standard- flat screen TV, sofa, love seat, a few pictures on the walls. He’d already stashed the loot somewhere out of sight. I peered through the window. The thief shook his head while Glew spoke to him. I darted into the hallway. A twin bed sat in the first bedroom. I checked the closet but found nothing. I slipped out.

In the second bedroom, I checked the closet and found two large brown packages. Right there on the floor beside them, the Elvis painting leaned against the wall while the I-pad lay on the floor, still in the box. I scooped them all up and crept out of the room.

One peek out the door revealed the thief pointing ahead while Glew scratched his head with his jaw gone slack. Sometimes Glew played the idiot part with too much conviction.

I rushed into the kitchen on to the dining room where I found the biggest window in the house. I slid it open and tossed the packages outside. Then I eased myself down and closed the window. I picked up the packages and stepped around to the side of the house where I bent down low, watching Glew still argue with the thief whose voice reached higher levels. “If you don’t leave, I don’t want to call the police. I don’t want to do it, man, but you best go now before I change my mind.”

Glew scratched his head. “Aw, you wouldn’t do that to me. Would you?”

The thief stood shorter than Glew but he squared up to him and pointed his finger in his face. “Get your ass off my lawn!”

Glew looked my way as he bent down and picked up his seeder. Then he turned his cap around to where it sat backwards on his head and got back in the guy’s face. “I’m going to take my business elsewhere, bub!”

A laugh escaped me. “Damn you, Glew.” A look toward the neighbor’s house choked me. The old woman pointed at me. She yelled but I couldn’t hear her. Damn, lady. Not now.

Glew loaded his seeder back into his trunk. The thief marched back into his house. When Glew turned on his ignition, I bolted across the neighbor’s lawn. By the time I got the packages loaded into my back seat, the little old woman made it to her front porch, pointing at me and yelling “Timothy! Timothy!” When I took off down the road in front of the thief or “Timothy’s”, house, he sprung onto the front porch, looking around. He looked over at the old woman and then at my car. He yelled at me and then ran back into his house while I pulled on down the road and turned left.

Glew pulled over a few streets down. I stopped and got out of my car. Glew popped his trunk. I moved the packages to Glew’s trunk and rapped on the fender. Glew took off. Then I popped my own trunk and removed the spare and the tire jack. I had the jack up under the car and the tire raised up off the ground when Timothy’s truck stopped behind me.

When Timothy reached me, I waved a hand. “Thank you, friend, but I’ve got this under control.”

Timothy spat at me when he said, “Where’s my shit?”

I picked up my tire iron and stood. After a twenty-second stare, Timothy averted his eyes. He took a few steps toward his truck and then peered back at me, squinting. I stared back at him until he found his way back into his truck and drove away.

After tossing the tire and tools back into my trunk, I took off down the road and called up Glew. “Howdy, partner. Looks like another job well done.”

Glew sighed. “I wish it was so, stud.”

“Damn. What is it?”

I stopped at a red light.

Glew said, “It turns out that she wanted a particular item back. A watch that her father gave her when she was a kid.”

“Aw now, Glew-”

“He gave it to her before he departed for Iraq. He never made it back.”

I sighed. A horn blew behind me. I took off in time to make the yellow light with the driver behind me stuck back there. I said, “We’ll wait a month and then hit him again.”

Glew said, “Looks like she needs it back by this weekend. Her mother’s visiting and it would break her heart to see that she didn’t still have it. And she will ask about it. She only visits now and then. In fact, she’s thinking her mom might have bad news.”

I said, “That’s a lot of conjecture.”

“I know it’s ridiculous, Fairfax. But we have done stuff like this before. What do you think?”

I scoffed. “Give me an hour. I’ll think of something.”

Night fell over Timothy’s house. I didn’t see any cop cars pull up or lingering around. The old lady neighbor might call a cop but Timothy wouldn’t. In fact, his truck did not sit in the driveway. Still, she could have called and warned the police and given them my description. A cruiser could be rolling around as we speak. I rode with Glew this time. He said, “I did a little digging. Timothy is Tim Moore. His folks ran a renovating business for years before retiring to Florida. Tim worked with them here and there but more or less seems content with doing nothing, along with the occasional theft. Maybe mommy and daddy are sending smaller checks these days.”

“Wow.”

He said, “Yeah. At least we’ve got the darkness covering us this time.”

I said, “If darkness doesn’t cover us, we always find it.”

Glew chuckled.

I said, “Circle around but don’t go far.”

“No, sir. I’m going to play interference. That old lady next door could be a problem.”

I said, “You know…I think you’re right. I’ll be up by that bush when I’m done.”

“You got it, stud. Should be out of there within an hour.”

I stepped out of Glew’s car, pulled on my mask and gloves and walked to Tim’s house. His gravel driveway sat empty. With no lights on inside, I figured that I could do as I pleased. However, I stepped around to each window first. Even a determined fellow can get bored enough to play on his phone and phones light up. After peering through every window, I saw nothing.

I removed my pick set from my belt and picked the back door lock with no trouble. I crept onto the third bedroom. Then I pulled out my own phone and cast the light across the floor. I searched the closet and then under the bed- nothing.

I returned to the living room where I looked under the sofa and the love seat and then I searched through his china cabinet. Still, I didn’t see anything.

In the kitchen, I searched through the cabinets and the pantry and then up under the sink as well. I’d been inside for fifteen minutes and turned up squat. So I eased the attic door down. I climbed the stairs but I paused at the top of them. A look outside revealed nothing. So I climbed on up. The attic sat as bare as the day he moved in. I shined my flashlight across the plywood slats all the way to the ends of the roof. This fellow sure knew how to hide a watch. That is, if he even still had the thing. He could have moved it by now without any problem. I climbed back down and eased the door on up. I leaned on the hall wall. Then I pulled my mask from my face and drew in a deep breath. I shifted my weight a bit. Then I felt it.

A bump protruded from the hall wall. A tiny imperfection in the drywall let me know all I needed to know. After all, Tim had a background in renovation. I removed a wallboard saw from my belt and felt around near the bump. I sawed through the wall until I formed a five inch by five inch square. I pried the mesh out and reached inside the hole. When I pulled the object out, I shined the phone light on it-the watch.

Plop.

I slipped the watch into my jacket pocket and bent over. I picked up a necklace from the floor there. A diamond dangled from it. This piece could bring a grand with ease. He went to all the trouble to hiding these but why? He could have moved them by now, I would think.

I slipped the necklace into my jean pocket and then slipped out the back door. Before I pulled it all the way to, the old woman’s voice creaked. “That’s right. Walk yourself right to us, young man.”

I turned. The old neighbor stood there with a revolver aimed at my stomach. Tim held Glew’s arm twisted up behind him. The old lady said, “Now you step yourself back inside, boy. You two have got yourself a heap of trouble now.”

Tim shoved Glew toward me. “They sure do, Aunt Rosa.”

Rosa said, “Get inside now!”

I stepped back into the kitchen. Glew followed behind me, whispering, “Sorry.”

I patted his back and stepped into the living room. Rosa said, “Uh-huh. Don’t you go any further than that. Turn on the light, Timothy.”

Tim did as she ordered. I stood there in the living room with my black mask covering my face and black gloves covering my hands but I’d never felt so naked. I said, “What’s the plan?”

Aunt Rosa took a seat at the dining table, keeping the revolver aimed at Glew. Tim crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall. “Look at you two now.”

Rosa lit a cigarette. “Show us what else you planned to steal off us.”

I said, “I didn’t-”

She aimed the revolver at my groin. “Just do as you’re told, young man.”

I swallowed. Then I blinked a few times. After a sigh, I removed the watch from my jacket pocket. Rosa snapped her fingers. Tim snatched the watch from my hand and gave it to her. Rosa examined the watch. “Oh my. This is a nice piece. You’re such a good boy, Timothy.”

I said, “This is a surprise. I thought you might call the police on me.”

Rosa chuckled and shook her head. “Shiiiiiiiiiiiiett.”

Glew and I shared a laugh. Tim’s smile faded. Rosa waved a hand. “The only time I called the law, that boy they sent out just tried to interrogate my bloomers. Law ain’t no law.”

She handed the watch back over to Tim. Then she smiled at me. “Now, young man. Give me the other thing you took.”

I opened my mouth.

She said, “Don’t give me that. There’s always something else. What else did you lift?”

Glew swallowed. I shrugged and removed the necklace. When I handed it over, Rosa paused. Tim brought his hands out of his pockets but he didn’t get any further, like a man walking through the arctic who’s just figured out he’s now frozen. Rosa stamped out her cigarette and clasped the necklace to her chest. She turned to Tim. “Timothy…oh Timothy…”

Tim said, “Aunt Rosa, I was keeping it safe. It was just-”

She set the revolver on the table. Then she peered at me and winked. I winked back. She smiled so big that I could swear twenty years left her face. A few seconds later, she gripped the necklace and the years all came back. She said, “You boys get on down the road.”

Tim said, “What? No way.”

He reached for the revolver but Rosa grabbed it first. “Go to your room, Timothy.”

“Aunt Rosa-”

She aimed the revolver at his foot. “Get to your room, boy. I won’t repeat it with words.”

Tim wore that same look from earlier in the day, like he wanted to do something but he knew he faced an opponent he would not defeat. With his head hung, he walked to the last bedroom and shut the door.

Aunt Rosa picked up the watch and held it in the air. “Give this back to whatever poor heart he broke.”

I walked by and grabbed the watch. When Glew and I reached the back door, she said, “Don’t you ever come back around here.”

We both said, “No, ma’am.”

In less than an hour, we reached Glew’s client’s house. She didn’t mind having late visitors. She still wore a shirt and jeans and smoky circles around her eyes. When we gave her the watch, she jumped and gave us each a kiss on the jaw accompanied with huge hugs.

She said, “Oh you men. You’re the best. But you can’t know how much a metal memento means to a lady.”

Glew said, “Well, um…”

I said, “Oh, ma’am. I’m pretty sure we do know.”

Thank you so much for reading!

Check out five more Fairfax & Glew tales in this collection…

Featured

The Green Storm

Shawn Tanner showed up to the party with his green hat on and without question, some illegal substances flooding his veins. After a year in the county lock-up, one could feel for the guy. After digging up how he put his girlfriend in the hospital for three weeks before going in, sympathy becomes a bit more difficult. Glew installed motion cameras in each of the four bedrooms of the party house. Shawn had to cut loose like an Irishman. After all, Saint Patrick’s Day brings that out in people. Everyone could be Irish for one night.

Glew sent me a text message that indicated Shawn chose to take his pleasure in the back bedroom upstairs. I already had the ladder set up leading to the back window. Call it the luck of the Irish. I climbed my way to the window and slid it open.

Between the punk rock music and the disco ball, Shawn didn’t notice me. He salivated over the girl who lay on the bed. His friend kept the door cracked, watching the hallway. His other friend undressed her. The girl slept with her head turned to one side and her arms spread out. Green ribbons held her wrists in place. The doorman smiled at Shawn but Shawn kept his eyes on the girl and his hand down his pants. The other friend slid the last of her clothes off and then bound her ankles to the other bed posts. I drew a breath, leaned back and then dove into the bedroom.

When I rolled to a standing position, the friend on the bed turned around in slow motion as if he saw a friendly ghost who he could engage in a deep conversation about life and death. I nailed him on the jaw with a right hand. He dropped to the floor in a heap.

The doorman lunged at me. I ducked his right handed shot and then drilled his gut with a left uppercut. He stumbled but grabbed onto me. So I tossed him into the wall. Shawn slipped out of the room like a man on parole leaving a crack den. The doorman jumped into me but I made light steps backward until he fell to his knees where I drilled him with a right hand to the chin. I shoved him into the closet. After pushing a recliner against the closet door, I bolted out of the room.

Glew held onto Shawn’s ankle who kicked at him. A trickle of blood oozed at Glew’s right nostril. He’d tried to take him down himself, poor guy. I ran toward them. Shawn peered back at me and then kicked Glew’s hand away and ran downstairs into a crowd of green hats. His own hat fell off, revealing his shaved head. I knelt beside Glew. “You all right?”

He leaned up and dabbed at his nose. “I’ll make it…I mean, yeah…I’ll make it, stud…”

“The girl’s tied up in there. Go set her free.”

I helped him to his feet. He patted my shoulder. “You got it.”

I ran downstairs. Shawn caught sight of me and bolted through the patio door. I followed him out there until we got to the center of the backyard. Shawn stopped and turned toward me. I stopped. He shouted, “Hey, guys! Hey, guys! Who wants to see a fight!?!”

A sea of green hats and clover shirts turned toward me. A few guys yelled, “Yeah!!”

Shawn cupped his hands over his mouth. “Who wants to see me fight this guy?”

Everyone cheered and raised their green solo cups into the air. I shook my head. Shawn said, “What? You backing down?”

I shrugged and stepped toward him with a pawing jab. Shawn circled me with leopard speed. When I turned, he caught me with a quick right. I threw a wild right in return but missed. I stepped toward him, tasting my own blood. Shawn ventured a left up high. I swung a right hand over the top and caught him but he fired back with his own straight right hand.

Bop!

The blow caught me in my eye. I reached out for his arms but he kicked my shin and then pivoted and kicked my calf. I stumbled. He dug a right uppercut into my gut. I grabbed his arm but he wrestled free of my grip. I shot a few jabs and then another right hand. Shawn backed his way out of range.

The beer-fueled crowd roared at us. One fellow there yelled for Shawn to kick my rear end. A heavy red beard protruded from his face. Glew pointed him out to me earlier. This fellow had one sister- the girl upstairs.

Shawn caught me with a quick jab. I retaliated with a right cross. He stumbled. So I drove a left hook into his gut. He doubled over. I kneed him in the face. Shawn fell back against the crowd. I stalked him but a few fellows got in between us. The red-bearded fellow pointed at me. “You stand your ass back. Who are you anyway?”

I stepped back. Glew emerged from the living room with the now clothed girl in his arms. He laid her in a lawn chair. Then he produced his phone from his pocket. He headed over to the crowd of cheering drinkers.

Shawn bolted toward me. I turned but he caught me in the gut.

Thunk!

We hit the ground. He scrambled on top of me and drove a right hand down, but I dodged it. He grabbed my wrists with the amphetamines pumping through him. I struggled back until I yelled into the night. Shawn let my wrists go and punched down at me with both fists. I blocked most of them with my hands but the flurry got faster. His knuckles connected with my temple and my forehead and then my jaw. I parried his shots but they got closer and closer. This pumped up fool just wouldn’t stop throwing. His heart would have to explode before he’d stop. My hands and forearms ached. I tasted my blood again.

Thump!

Jeans and boots surrounded me. I kept my hands up in front of my face. The group smothered me, stepping all around me. I tried to inhale. Someone stepped on my toe. Another tripped over me, spilling beer on my shirt. Another icy cold gush covered my face. A hand grabbed my wrist and yanked me through the crowd.

Glew dragged me over by the patio. I let my hands down. He patted my shoulder. I shook my head. The whole crowd kicked and struck poor old Shawn right there. He didn’t have enough amphetamines in him to fight them all. I’ve seen a pack of hyenas with less brutality. Glew’s camera feed went straight to his phone. So he had shown the brother what Shawn intended to do to his sister. Glew lit a cigar. “Maybe we should step in.”

I spat blood onto the patio. “Maybe we shouldn’t.”

Glew helped me to my feet. I followed him onto the patio where I patted the girl’s cheek. She made a slight groan, followed by a concentrated purse of her lips. She’d be searching her memory bank later on. She’d never know for sure. That would be the worst part of it. I can rest easy though, knowing that we kept her safe.

When we made it out of the house, the crowd all stormed upstairs. I reckon Shawn’s friends would be dealt with as well. “Maybe we should recruit a few of those fellows. Lighten our load.”

Glew puffed his cigar. “The funny thing is that they’ll all forget about us. They’ll be heroes in their own minds. Still, though, it’s pretty sweet.”

Shawn crawled his way through the fence out back to the front yard. Blood streaked from his eye. Mud covered his head along with beer I’m sure. He checked behind him once but then he crawled on ahead. Glew popped his trunk open. I wrapped Shawn’s mouth and wrists with duct tape.

The next day, the girl must have wondered a lot about what happened to her but she had her brother and friends who could let her know that a few strangers kept her safe. Shawn, on the other hand, woke up naked and tied to his own bed with his blood smeared on the sheets and a few sex toys lying nearby. I can’t be sure what he thought at the site of all that. But I do know that he left town the same day. Now I’ll drink a green beer to that on any day of the year.

Making the World a Better Place

I write about a couple of guys named Fairfax and Glew. They seek to clean up the town of Hookville, Tennessee. They believe in justice and above all, helping people. And I have found no better way of helping this world than giving to Saint Jude Children’s Hospital.

Most of us are very lucky in our daily pursuits and lives. We have more than perhaps people ever have had throughout human history. However when a child has the terrible disease of cancer, it ripples through their lives and their parents’ lives onto so many others. Making the world a better place is all about helping others and I can’t think of any finer organization to do just that.

Please give today. Even the smallest amount provides a family with hope.

Thank you.

https://www.stjude.org/

250 and Counting…

Well, folks, I reached 250 sales for Fairfax & Glew Volume 1 yesterday. I’m very happy to reach this goal. I’m also very glad that 250 folks have enjoyed these Fairfax and Glew stories and I hope to entertain many, many more. Here’s to future sales and readers! Thank you all so much!

250!!!

A New Kind of Vigilante

I’ve read numerous books and stories about vigilantes. Some wear masks and fight crime as super-heroes. Others wear no cool costumes. They just go out and bust up criminals. Others even shoot criminals like Paul Kersey from Death Wish. And there’s Dexter who kills other serial killers in seclusion. All are interesting but well, they’re usually taking on pretty serious stuff. Batman’s villains are usually up to some very dastardly stuff, even involving murder sometimes. Kersey’s victims were thieves and murderers. Dexter’s were other serial killers. This is all well and good but what about a vigilante who goes after the more petty stuff?

In the normal course of a day, many things can get on your nerves. Litter bugs and rude people and so forth. I like to envision vigilantes who do something about these types of people. I’ve held the door open for folks at the store before. Most people are polite and thank me. Others are not so polite. Some are downright rude. This always gets me. I mean, I’m taking the time to help you out even though I don’t know you. Do I expect a thank you in return? I don’t expect it, especially now, but it sure would be nice to get that. I’d like a vigilante who opens doors and calls out those ungrateful folks who say nothing. It’s not huge but can it be good enough to hold a reader’s attention? I can tell you that it would grab my attention in a hurry and I’d keep reading.

Of course, now we get into the realm of vigilantes who take care of heavier stuff but they also do things like this during less tense moments of the story to keep it moving. I really like these smaller moments because I think they relate more to the common person. I’ve never been close to a murder but I’ve definitely had the experience of rude people. We all have. So I don’t know. Fairfax and Glew battle smaller thieves and more petty stuff which I love writing but I also can envision a vigilante who steps in and does the small stuff like this.

What do you guys think? Would stories about small stuff like this appeal to you?

Revised

Every new activity I do as a writer is another hill I’ve climbed. At least, that’s what I tell myself. Anyway, I have gone back over Fairfax & Glew: Volume 1. Instead of five stories, there are now eleven. Instead of no stories giving Fairfax and Glew proper introductions, I have now included one. And instead of a super-short read that you can finish off in an hour, this version might actually take you two hours. An hour and a half at least. I hope you guys enjoy!!

Coffee Twister

Folger raised his fist. Then he drew in a few breaths. A few blinks later, he tapped on the black door.

Wow.

The door creaked open just from a few taps.

The man greeted him and removed his glasses.

Folger said, “Stewart?”

“Stew,” the man said, putting on a warm smile.

“I’d like to…I mean…what I…it is your coffee maker.”

Stewart pointed to another part of the house which lay hidden behind the door. “The special coffee maker?”

“That’s right.”

“And,” Stewart said. “How would you know about my special coffee maker?”

“Oh darn. Yes. I haven’t told you. I believe you know my father, Tupper. You’re friends with him?”

“Yeah…yeah, I know Tupper. Heck, I didn’t even know you were grown now. Come on inside. How’s he been doing?”

Folger followed Stewart inside and sniffed the air. “Dad’s great.”

“Good, I’m glad to-

“Oh my God,” Folger said. “Is this the masterpiece?”

Folger descended on the coffee maker which sat on the kitchen island.

Heavens, what a thing of beauty.

Glass siphons comprised the top of the coffee maker. They held a green tint to them, giving the appearance that the coffee glowed green. The glass pipes leading down to the cup formed a credit card-sized dollar sign. A hot green river of deliciousness.

Stewart chuckled and poured a cup full and handed it over to Folger and then he filled one for himself and took in the aroma and enjoyed a long sip and said, “Ah. Now that is coffee.”

Folger smelled the coffee and then closed his eyes and drank. He grimaced and spat the coffee back into the cup. “What is this?”

Stewart frowned. “It’s a Robusta and Arabica blend. Quite delicious.”

Folger wiped his lips and shook his head. “No. You must go with pure Viatnamese Excelsa. This fine machine shouldn’t be filled with that crap.”

“Crap?”

Folger said, “I’ll buy it and give it a proper home.”

“Hold on.”

Folger held up his hand. “No. No. Despite your mistreatment, I’ll give you a fine price. You deserve it…for the machine at least.”

Stewart said, “It’s not for sale.”

“I will offer you double the price. Come, now. You are an engineer. You can produce another one.”

Stewart patted the fine machine. “I put a lot of work into this one, young man. I don’t want to make another one. This one is perfect for me.”

“We have connections, Dad and I. We can organize you a team to do the work. It will be great. I can’t wait to share a cup of this fine brew with him. He’s going to love it.”

“No,” Stewart said. “I won’t sell it.”

“Everything is negotiable.”

“Some things aren’t.”

Folger stroked the fine machine. Drool fell from his bottom lip onto his shirt but he didn’t touch it. The drool held a magical quality-the kind of drool that must have cascaded down Edison’s lips when he finally got the light bulb just right.

Stewart stepped between Folger and the machine.

Folger said, “What are you doing?”

“I’m keeping you from humping my machine.”

“Humping? Come, now. There’s no reason to use such a foul word for this occasion.”

“There is no occasion. You’re not buying my machine.”

“But I must! I love coffee. My price is more than fair. Dad will pay it. In cash even! Now, I’ll just take it back and show him.”

Stewart blocked the machine.

Folger reached around him.

Stewart pushed him.

Folger said, “What are you doing? If Dad saw this-

“I’ll be happy to talk to Tupper about it. Have him call me. Now you need to leave my house.”

“But why won’t you sell?”

“I already told you why. Now go.”

Folger swallowed. “Listen, civilization only exists because men can make deals with one another. Otherwise we become savages. We should be civilized about this for your…our, safety. Correct?”

Stewart started dialing on his phone. “You can’t have civilization without the police.”

Folger left.

When he talked to Dad, he almost told him about Stewart’s ridiculous actions but he decided against it. Dad often took Stewart’s side or anybody’s side over his. The old man made sense on a lot of things but he still looked at Folger as if he were a child. Folger would be twenty-three in ten and a half months. How can he be a twenty-three-year-old child? Dad didn’t know everything.

This required further negotiations or else civilization just might have to break down for a minute.

***

Fairfax parked his truck a few houses down the street from Stew’s home. Glew got out of his silver Taurus and walked over to him. He carried a small case. Fairfax pointed to it and said, “What’s that all about?”

Glew held up the case. “It’s my pool stick. Glew’s cue, my man. This stick has won many a billiard game. And more than a few dates.”

Fairfax shut his truck door. “We’re here to work.”

“Yeah, yeah. But Stew’s got a pool table. It’s in the center of the house and it’s not even visible from the street.”

“You start clacking them balls into each other…an intruder might sneak up on us.”

“I’ll take my time between shots. I need to work on my game. It’s been a while. You can play, too.”

“I ain’t ever been any good at it.”

“There’s only one way to get better.”

They walked to Stew’s house. It sat in the middle of a street in a decent part of town. Most of these folks made upper-middle-class money. Many of the houses stood two stories tall but they wouldn’t catch your eye. Stew’s mechanical engineer salary he earned at Rubber-Dub-Dub Specialty Wheels and Tires Company made him comfortable or as comfortable as a divorced guy can be. He’d asked Fairfax to watch over his place for the weekend. When you start house sitting and protecting folks’ homes from thieves, word gets around quickly. Fairfax preferred to sit in the dark of the home and just listen. When nothing happened, you got a lot of time to think and relax. When someone did break in, you got to bust him up and run him off. What’s not to like?

Glew did not possess Fairfax’s focus. His attention would collapse into news feeds or games on his phone or he would have to snack on some Goobers or fidget around which usually led to noise- not ideal for the official private detective of the duo.

After Fairfax picked the lock on the back door and got them inside, Glew walked in behind him and pointed to the security system. “Did he give you the code?”

“Stew disarmed it before he left which was about twenty minutes ago.”

“Thirty,” Glew said. “He pulled out when I parked.”

“I love an open house.”

“You think he’ll get hit? I mean the last two house jobs haven’t turned up anything. Maybe the thieves are figuring us out.”

“Stew grinned at me when he asked me to do the job. I think he knows something we don’t.”

“You don’t think he’s setting us up?”

“No, he’s always been a good fellow. His drinking got a little out of hand over the divorce but it’s been a couple of years now. I think he just has an enemy out there.”

“Don’t we all?”

“You and I have plenty at this point. I just hope they’re too stupid to figure us out.”

They climbed the carpeted stairs while shadows covered the coffee bean twist color. Glew turned on the billiard room light. Fairfax flipped it back off.

Glew said, “Come on, stud. What are you doing?”

Fairfax flipped on the pool table light above. “Only the necessary light.”

“I have a stick,” Glew said. “You? You are a stick. And you stand in mud a lot.”

“Shut up and shoot.”

Glew removed his cue from the case and screwed the two ends together, forming “Glew’s cue”. “You sure you don’t want to play?”

Fairfax sat on the floor with his back to the wall. “Maybe later.”

“Watch and learn then.”

Glew racked the balls for an eight-ball game. He shot and clinked off the cue ball which moved three inches to the right and rolled to a sad stop.

Fairfax said, “I’m no expert but I’ve heard you’re supposed to chalk the cue’s tip.”

Glew twisted the cue’s tip into a blue chalk square and said, “Your no-talking rule sounds good right now.”

***

Cathy shut her front door and she didn’t ease it shut either. Ham always wants her to stay close by him but half the time the big lug sleeps in his recliner with his keg belly hung out, looking like a freshly-glazed piece of hog in the oven on Christmas day. She wanted to stretch her legs and if he woke up and found her gone, then he could just deal with it. A good boyfriend wants to do things with his woman.

She walked up the street, dressed in overalls and cowgirl boots. The weather called for a light jacket but heck. Sitting around wrapped up in a throw like so many gals do never appealed to her. How could you have any fun wrapped up in a permanent straight jacket?

A car slowed down close to her. The driver leaned his head out of his window, gawking at her. That slug kept time with the easy chick who lived down on the corner. Did he know that five other dudes visited her on the regular? At this moment, he only thought of Cathy or so his eyes indicated. As low-down as that chick could be, she deserved something better than that ugly mug. Cathy stopped and stared at him. His little hint of a smile remained. She threw her hands up at him, wearing a stern expression. The driver dropped the smile and puttered away.

Yeah.

He got the message, the old buzzard.

She walked on ahead.

Well, hold on, now.

That truck- a bicentennial Chevy Bonanza- powder blue with some red and white and blue design on the doors, in celebration of the USA’s birthday.

That truck could only belong to one man in this town.

Let’s see.

He wouldn’t be at the house right there. He didn’t tolerate such snooty folks’ company long. He wouldn’t even be at the next house up either. The man who lived there didn’t allow any visitors ever. He probably hid something but he kept his secret so hidden that any chance of figuring it out remained hidden.

That next house up there, though.

Stew’s house.

Stew would be his kind of speed.

She stuffed her hands in her pockets and walked in a bee-line to Stew’s house. She peeked through the windows. It looked vacant. She tried the front door. It opened. She stepped back. Why would she just try the door without knocking? Was she losing it?

Well, she had walked in here a few times when visiting Stew.

Still, this house held that vacant creepy vibe and here the door just opens right up?

She pulled the pepper spray from her pocket and stepped inside and said, “Stew?”

***

Glew dropped the nine-ball in the side pocket. Fairfax whistled. “Man, at that angle, I didn’t think you could do it.”

Glew chalked his cue. “When are you ever gonna realize that doubting me is pointless?”

Someone opened the front door and called out Stew’s name.

Fairfax killed the light and hunkered down.

Glew got down as well, holding his cue by the top end so he could swing the broad side at somebody’s head…or shoulder…or well any body part really.

Fairfax peered into the hallway. Glew duck-walked to the other side of the doorway. Each man watched for movement. They gave each other nods. Then Fairfax slipped into the hallway, keeping low. Glew followed six feet behind him, holding his cue with both hands. Fairfax peeped around the corner.

The front door stood open. The intruder stood with his knees bent and his hands out. He held something in his left hand.

Pepper spray?

What was that smell?

Pantene?

A very alluring Pantene shampoo?

Was that a woman?

He looked back at Glew who raised his eyebrows at him.

Fairfax shook his head.

He called out, “Cathy?”

Then he stood up.

Glew’s mouth hung open. Fairfax motioned him toward the billiard room but Glew didn’t move. Fairfax leaned toward him and whispered, “Get back in there.”

However, Cathy drowned him out when she said, “George! Where are you at? Where’s Stew?”

Glew said, “Huh?”

Fairfax smirked and flipped on the light in the billiard room.

“I thought that was too much light,” Glew said.

Fairfax sloomped down the stairs until he met Cathy halfway.

“Little sis.”

She said, “Big bro” in a deep voice. “How are you?”

She stirred a heap of southern sweetness into those last three words. Fairfax embraced her. She kissed him on the jaw and then gave him a little shove. “Where have you been keeping yourself?”

“I don’t keep. I move around so I won’t spoil.”

She cackled. “You nut.”

He swallowed and glanced at the front door and then back at her. “How did you know I was here?”

“Please,” she said. “You’re the only one on Earth that owns that truck.”

“Oh. Right.” He shut the front door. “You live kind of close to here?”

She rolled her eyes. “You might know if you paid me a visit sometime.”

“I…have been…busy and um…”

“Save it for your wife, if you ever get one. Anyway, Ham’s laid up on his worthless butt. So I went out for a walk. Where’s Stew?”

“Um, he’s out of town.”

She shrugged. “You’re just house sitting for him?”

“Yeah. Pretty much.”

She scanned the room. “Are you allowed to have light?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, but I’ve just been hanging out in the pool room upstairs.”

“I got time for a game. I always could whoop your butt.”

Fairfax returned to the billiard room with Cathy trailing behind. “That sounds good,” he said. He pointed toward Glew and said, “But you’ll have to beat him first.”

She stepped in just as Glew pulled the rack off the balls. Fairfax picked out a cue from the rack on the wall and offered it to Cathy but she slapped it away and picked out her own. Then she stared at Glew. “So big boy, you like a challenge?”

Glew smiled at her. “I sure do.”

He proffered his hand toward her.

She slapped it away.

“We’ll shake when it’s over. How does that sound?”

“I like it.”

Fairfax said, “Cathy, Glew. Glew, Cathy, my sister.”

Glew kept his eyes locked on her. “You’re related to Fairfax? I’m sorry. That must be painful.”

She sunk the five ball and smirked at Fairfax but spoke to Glew when she said, “You have to just make do with what you’ve got.”

She dropped the three and then the four and then the six. She chalked her cue and said, “I guess you should sit down. You won’t be getting a shot.”

Glew kept standing and said, “You’re about to miss.”

“Is that so?”

“You said you ‘guess’ I should sit down. You’ve got doubt, little lady.”

She got into position for a shot on the one-ball. She drew the cue back.

“Go ahead,” Glew said.

She shifted her gaze from the ball over to Glew.

The front door opened again.

Fairfax killed the light.

Glew got down with his cue in position.

Cathy opened her mouth but Fairfax covered it and whispered, “Take it easy. We’re protecting Stew’s house from intruders. Be quiet. Okay?”

She spoke behind his hand.

Fairfax shook her. “Quiet. Okay?”

Someone stirred downstairs.

She patted his hand. When he let her go, she got her own cue into fighting position.

Thank you for reading! For the rest of this story and four more Fairfax and Glew tales, follow the link below and check out Fairfax & Glew Volume Tew! Thank you again and happy reading!!!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08F5HT77T?ref_=dbs_m_mng_rwt_calw_1&storeType=ebooks

What a Book!

What a book!

Good pacing, solid structure, developed characters, corny names…very corny names.
Relaxing and yet stimulating…
This may not end well but I want to keep reading…
Woohoo! What a read!
Aw, dang, piggy.

If you’ve got an hour to kill, I recommend this book, along with a pot of coffee.

Axe Kick

Fairfax stirred his fireplace with his poker. The birch logs crackled. Sparks flew up. Glew slept on the sofa while an episode of Archer played on Netflix. Glew had insisted on watching something even though Fairfax rarely turned on his TV and had no subscription to any streaming service. So Glew started Fairfax an account and tacked it onto his monthly bill. Considering he was worth millions, he would probably be okay.

Fairfax stared out the window. The snow fell hard on his yard and on his truck and of course, on Glew’s car. Glew mentioned nothing about spending the night. He never checked the forecast either. Now he would pay for this. Fairfax smiled to himself. The city boy hated being stuck in the country. He could wake Glew up.

Yeah.

He could.

A pair of headlights made its slow way along the road. It couldn’t have been going more than twenty miles an hour. Good harsh conditions show people their own toughness or well, lack of toughness. He’d been stuck in the cold plenty of times. Of course, snow was not common in Tennessee- even in January. As a kid, a couple of dudes locked him out of a sleep-over one time. They giggled inside in the warm comfort of the house. Fairfax managed to build himself a small fire with a match he found on the bottom of one of his friend’s shoes. From there, he had a pretty good time for himself. Hours later, they checked on him and invited him inside. He smiled and slept like a baby while a few of them woke up with colds the next day.

From then on, Fairfax tended to spend some time out in the cold whenever the temperature dropped in a big way. Why not? He could gauge his own toughness. If nothing else, it’s so peaceful.

Glew grunted. “Oh, man. Archer’s at it again. He…hey! What’s that?”

Glew sat up and wiped his eyes. “That’s not…oh, man.”

He drew the “man” out for a few seconds.

Fairfax said, “You’re stuck with me, old buddy.”

“Aw, man. I was going to go out tonight. A client was getting out. This guy has all kinds of friends and lots of ladies hanging around. He invited me out and yet, here I sit with a blizzard on the way.”

Fairfax poked at the fire. “Sounds like a good time.”

“Yeah. Damn. Maybe I could call a wrecker. He could hook my car up and drive me to the bar. What do you think? Want to go?”

Fairfax set the poker down. “I had another idea.”

***

The two twin four-wheelers sat there side-by-side. A pair of cammo beasts ready to ride off into the night. Fairfax and Glew had protected a lady’s house from a couple of bums. She rewarded them with the four-wheelers she acquired in a divorce which stemmed from another bum trying to get into her house after numerous affairs. That man’s loss is their gain. One look at the machines switched Glew’s priorities like a light. Fairfax pulled his gloves on. Glew shook his head. “You wear gloves but no sleeves?”

Fairfax climbed onto his four-wheeler. “It’s called style.”

Glew slid onto the seat of his beast. “If you say so.”

He took off through the backyard.

Fairfax followed.

The snow pelted Fairfax’s face. Glew wore a baseball cap but Fairfax wore nothing on his head. He’d never gotten into wearing a hat of any kind. The icy breeze covered his arms as he sped through the yard on into the woods behind them. He slowed his pace, picking his way through trees. Glew took a different route and got stuck by a frozen creek at one point. Fairfax waved to him and kept on going.

Once he got out of the woods, he crossed the snow-covered road to the other side where he passed through a field as the snowfall increased. The flakes covered his eyebrows and nose. He licked some flakes off his top lip.

He passed through another stretch of woods. Then he stopped and killed the engine.

A two-story house stood just beyond the woods. People talked and yelled and laughed. The lights blazed forth from the windows. Plumes of his breath floated up into the sky and then vanished. Glew rode up behind him. He revved the engine. “Get a move-on!”

Fairfax motioned for him to kill his engine. Glew did so and listened. “Wow. There’s a party after all! Let’s check it out.”

***

Micah walked upstairs to the first bedroom on the right. There were eleven folks present at this little get-together, including his friend Colton who kept watch. Micah peeked inside. The light was off. So he turned on his phone’s flashlight and kept the beam aimed at the floor. He walked through and searched until he found the goods- a Playstation 4 and an Xbox.

Yes.

He detached them from the TV and slipped them into his bag. He bumped into the bed frame. He put his hand over his mouth. This would stifle any noise. Colton kept a good watch. He had these people where he wanted them. The snow provided the perfect cover. This is where his weather app paid off. He scanned the room with his light until he spotted an LG laptop.

Right on the money.

He scooped it into the bag.

Colton coughed downstairs.

Micah left the bedroom and shut the door behind him. Then he placed the bag in the hall closet. Colton kept on coughing. Someone walked around downstairs.

Micah walked down the stairs. Colton glimpsed at him and then walked into the kitchen. Micah followed him. Two of the women cracked open a bottle of wine and toasted to the two handsome men in the room. Colton grabbed his own glass and toasted to himself and Micah. They offered him a glass but Micah turned it down. He still smiled, though. It is best to keep these people at ease.

The women giggled and looked at them. The one said, “We’re not talking about you two dorks.”

Colton said, “Sure you are.”

The one said, “There’s two studs outside that pulled up on four-wheelers.”

No.

This wasn’t part of the plan.

Micah walked to the window. Colton joined him. One lanky guy rode a four-wheeler in the yard, carving out doughnuts. Micah could kick him right off that ride.

The other guy though was stockier and wore no sleeves out in this icy rural hell. He sat on his four-wheeler watching the lanky guy but still. He watched everybody else at the same time. He would be tougher to deal with if it came down to it. He probably wasn’t a cop but he had been in combat of some kind.

Colton said, “What do you think?”

Micah watched the two women in the kitchen pause by the door. He motioned toward them. Colton said, “Y’all ain’t running back out there already.”

The one said, “Yeah we are! Dorks!”

They giggled their way outside.

Colton said, “So?”

Micah said, “I do not know. They may be up to something. I have the merchandise in the hall closet, secured safely behind coats.”

“You want to head out now?”

“No. Let’s step outside and determine the risk factor.”

“Um. Sure, dude.”

“What?”

Colton chuckled.

“You’ve got to loosen up out there. You’re too like, business sounding. We’re here for fun. Right?”

“Fun. Yes. Yes. You are correct. Okay. I will blow caution to the wind and have a good old time with these people. Or these, folks. That is it. Folks.”

They put their jackets and beanies on and stepped outside on the now white front lawn.

***

Glew spun the four-wheeler around yet again. When he stopped, he looked around. The snow had stopped. He howled into the air. The others joined him. And that brunette gave him the eye. He gave her the eye right back. He drove over to her. Then he revved the engine a few times. She laughed. “You sure know how to make that beast purr.”

Glew adjusted his cap. “Yeah. That’s what I do.”

She smiled and directed her focus up to the house. On the second floor maybe?

Fairfax rode over. The brunette looked at Fairfax and then at Glew. “So who are you guys? I’m Lori.”

Glew said, “I’m Wally. That’s Fairfax.”

Lori’s eyes bulged. “Wally. I like that. Fairtax?”

Fairfax shook his head.

Glew said, “Yeah. He catches hell over it.”

The other folks all stood around bouncing a beach ball across the yard in a circle. There were four guys and two ladies. Two other women made snow angels on the other side of the yard. Glew pointed at them. “So y’all are having a beach party in the snow?”

Lori said, “We are. Want to join in?”

Glew said, “You bet. Come on, Fairtax.”

Fairfax grunted and stepped off the four-wheeler. Lori took Glew’s hand. Glew winked at her. She led him over to the circle. He looked back. Fairfax stood over by Glew’s four-wheeler. “Fairtax! What are you doing?”

Fairfax ambled toward them.

Lori said, “Isn’t he cold with no sleeves on?”

“Nah, he’s one hell of a man.”

She said, “Kind of like you. Huh?”

Glew said, “Well, I-

The beach ball bounced off his face. A few of the guys laughed. Glew studied the group. Now there were six guys and three girls, counting Lori of course. The two guys laughing were new. Where had they come from?

Fairfax came up behind Glew and said, “Great defense, Walter.”

Lori said, “Walter?”

Glew rubbed his cheek. “It’s Wally.”

They bounced the ball around the circle. The other guys seemed younger from the way they spoke. Maybe early twenties or even late teens. The two guys over there though seemed different. They kept watching Fairfax and himself. The other guys just bounced the ball.

Fairfax jumped in and protected Glew from getting beaned again. He nudged him. “Get your head in the game, Walter.”

Lori stood close to him. She was warming up which was fine, but he needed to let Fairfax know about those guys. He always picks up on this stuff and yet here he played along with his focus on the ball.

They played the bouncing game for a while with Lori moving closer to Glew. He bumped her hip with his own. She bumped him back and smiled. Any other time, this would be great.

One of the guys spiked the ball into the center of the circle and yelled, “It’s beer-thirty! Who wants one?”

From there, the group broke into small factions. The two women who’d been making snow angels bounced the ball between them.

Lori said, “Do you two live around here?”

Fairfax said, “A few fields away.”

She looked up at the sky. “The snow may be coming back. Y’all want to go inside?”

Fairfax said, “Sure.”

Glew watched the other two guys who stood by the porch talking. He said, “Lori, you go ahead. I need to ask Fairtax here a question.”

She paused.

“Secrets don’t make friends, Walter.”

Fairfax chuckled.

Glew looked at her. “So we’re friends now?”

She said, “If you’re lucky.”

Glew said, “I’m always lucky.”

Glew draped an arm over Fairfax’s shoulders. “Walk with me for a second, pal.”

Lori said, “Well since you two boys want to be alone…”

She walked toward the door, holding her hand out for fresh snow.

Fairfax said, “What’s up?”

“Those two guys by the steps. They keep watching us.”

“No shit. Why do you think I got these?”

He held up both sets of four-wheeler keys.

Glew said, “Oh. Good work. We should keep an eye on them.”

“Will do. You go on inside with the lady.”

“I almost want to stay out here.”

“You? Really?”

“I know. Maybe the winter is messing with me. I’ll head inside but I’ll keep my eyes open.”

***

Thank you so much for reading. For the rest of this story and for four more Fairfax & Glew crime tales, follow the link below and check out Fairfax & Glew Volume 1. Thank you and happy reading!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084LBRR67/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?keywords=fairfax+%26+glow&qid=1581192688&sr=8-2-fkmr0

The Christmas Pig

Clarence walked up the path toward his three-bedroom Colonial-style home. His spread included forty-three acres. He stopped at the fence and bent over toward the ground. Little torches burned his joints. He grabbed the string of red lights and propped his hand on the fence timber. A handful of groans left him before he managed to pull the stapler from the back pocket of his overalls and then lean over and pull that old trigger, reconnecting the lights with the fence. He groaned again when he tested the light string. He moved on up the path.

When he entered his home, his wife carried a tray of cookies into the living room. Clarence bellowed, “Who’s in my house?!?”

His sons and daughter and in-laws greeted him with smiles. He didn’t see them too much except for the holidays. The grandchildren started in on him next with hugs in between bites of gingerbread cookies. He embraced them one by one and bit into a fresh cookie. His daughter suggested he have a seat and visit. Clarence glanced into the kitchen where his granddaughter stood by the counter. He smiled to his daughter and said, “Gonna get me a drink of something.”

Between eleven grandchildren, this young lady was the fourth born. She was his oldest son’s daughter but she resembled Clarence’s mother more than anybody else. He stepped into the kitchen and said, “Jilly?”

She wiped her face and turned to him. “Hey, papa.”

Clarence leaned on the counter. Jill never did offer hugs. It just wasn’t her nature. Clarence’s mother was the same way. Anytime she was forced into a hug, she’d roll her eyes. She would work harder than any of those hug-happy folks, though. She’s got substance, that girl.

Jill mixed more cookie batter with Clarence standing close by her. He said, “You know, honey, there’ll be other boys.”

Jill stopped mixing. She closed her eyes. Then she dipped a spoon into the gingerbread batter and handed it to Clarence who took a lick.

“I know, papa.”

Clarence grabbed a mug of hot chocolate and offered his hand to Jill. She shook it with vigor. He said, “They ain’t good enough for you anyway.”

She smiled.

“And I’m glad you’re wearing normal folks’ clothes again.”

***

Brian hunkered low outside the fence. He took a swig from his flask. The Jack Daniels burned its way into his gut. He winced. The lights in the main house went out.

Brian slipped under the fence and made quick steps but he didn’t run. Any of these animals out here could get spooked anytime. With that houseful up there, he’d be done.

He quick-stepped his way by the hog pen. The Christmas pig rooted in the dirt. He wore a Santa Claus hat and a wreath around his neck along with a sweater that read ‘Christmas Wee’. Folks had marveled at this for twenty years. It’s ridiculous. Folks pay ten dollars a head to cruise through this Christmas village and at the center of it all, stood the filthiest animal known to man. Of course, they were also pretty smart when it got down to it, too, but still. They’d all be freaking out soon enough. And all over a pig. It wasn’t like they didn’t eat bacon and sausage and pork chops on the regular.

Brian eased into the pen. The Christmas pig didn’t notice. The current pig replaced the older pig last year. Yet, that old hog lay back there in the far corner. Brian would need to exit through there when he grabbed the new pig and that old retired hog wasn’t moving but it could. He had to step lively.

Brian took one more swig from his flask and peered up at the house. One light shone in a window on the second floor.

He ducked down.

The Christmas pig kept at his rooting. Brian peered back up. The light went out.

Brian hopped over and picked up the Christmas pig. The piggy made no sounds. He’d been picked up no-telling-how-many times by old Clarence and countless others during this depressing season. So he thought nothing of it. So much for smart.

He bolted to the back fence where the retired hog lay. He stepped through the fence and chuckled.

The hog nipped his calf.

Brian covered his mouth.

Damn.

Did it break the skin?

He wiggled away and stumbled. The Christmas pig didn’t make a sound. The retired hog stood looking at him. Brian carried the Christmas pig to his car parked on the road and tossed him into the back seat. Then he got in and sped down the road. When he got a mile away, he howled in victory in between sips from the flask.

***

Fairfax rubbed his eyes. Roberta had come over and they’d had quite the adventure in the bedroom. However, now she snored to the point that Fairfax could empathize with the ex-boyfriend she often complained about. He had a sofa for a reason.

He walked to his living room. After sitting on the sofa for a few minutes, he grabbed himself a cup of coffee and stepped out onto the porch. He sat there, admiring the wreath Roberta had hung on his door. She brightened up every place she went and well, his house could use plenty of light out here in the midst of the darkness in the sticks.

A car buzzed down the road.

After midnight?

Fairfax knew all the regular cars out here. He had no visible neighbors but he kept tabs on all the folks within a mile or so. This car didn’t sound like any of them.

He sipped his coffee. The car weaved down the road. It was a newer model but very small. The driver swerved all over the road. He howled out his window. Maybe a little too much eggnog?

The car swerved into the ditch and then the driver stopped and backed up and got back on track. This could get bad. And did he hear a pig squeal?

Fairfax returned inside where he grabbed his keys and slipped into some boots and then jumped into his truck.

***

Glew flipped to the highlights of the Predators game. Then he wiped his nose. He checked his forehead. No fever yet but it was on its way. Ah, this blasted cold. He should have moved to Florida years ago. Maybe he could take a trip down there. Things had been slow anyway. What millionaire wants to live in the cold?

The Predators lost.

Damn.

Maybe he should be a Panthers fan?

To hell with this day. He poured himself a glass of water and shook a pack of Alka-Seltzer cold. Two tablets and then ten hours. Oh yeah. This cold would be gone. He’d be on the prowl again. Too many ladies awaited his return.

His cell phone buzzed. These late night calls spelled fun but tonight?

He set the Alka-Seltzer packet on the counter and checked his phone. He answered. “Fairfax? What are you doing, stud?”

“I was sitting on my porch and this drunk drove by. I followed him to a cabin. He got out and carried a pig into his house.”

“Wow. You know, I’ve thought of getting a pet pig myself. Name him Oscar Meyer maybe?”

“It’s the Christmas pig.”

“You’re on this one by yourself, stud. I’ve got a cold bringing me down. I thought I could shake it but you know how these things go.”

He dropped the Alka-Seltzer tablets into the glass.

“Glew. It’s the Christmas pig.”

“Germs are everywhere. I can see how a hermit would never…Christmas pig?”

“At the Christmas village. That old man Clarence owns it. You know.”

Glew watched the tablets turn the water orange.

“Oh, man. I haven’t been there in a while but yeah. I loved going out there when I was a kid. That’s the sweetest old man.”

“Right.”

“And yeah. Oh yeah! The Christmas pig! Wow, I can’t imagine that pig is still alive. How long do pigs live?”

“I don’t know, but I’ve got eyes on this kid who’s just taken the Christmas pig into his cabin. He stole it.”

“Why would he steal the Christmas pig? Like a prank?”

“I aim to find out. Why don’t you ride on out here?”

Glew had the Alka-Seltzer glass to his lips. Man, those were some good times, going out to the village. His Dad always smiled real big when they’d go. His Mom would get his Dad to buy her hot chocolate and pies. Even Molly had a good time out there. And somebody would rip the old man off?

Glew set the glass down.

He wiped his nose and snorted.

“Tell me where you’re at.”

***

Brian set the Christmas pig on the floor. The creature looked around. Was it smiling at him?

“That’s right, piggy. You go right ahead. Smile real big for Jill.”

He snapped a picture of the pig with his phone. Man, he’d tried to take dozens of pictures of his cat looking at the camera with a high failure rate. He’d spent countless times taking those pictures and getting them just right for Jill. She appreciated the effort at the time. She’d send him back “LOL” or smiley faces with cute little messages attached. Of course, that was before third parties got involved.

He gazed at the picture. It couldn’t be any better. He worked a crick out of his neck.

Just go ahead and send it.

The only way to make it in this world is to push back against those who push you. You can’t take anything lying down and expect to get what you want. Press send and let them all know who they are dealing with. Sometimes things are meant to be.

What was that smell?

Aftershave?

Perfume?

A mix of both?

The man stood in his doorway. How did he sneak inside without him hearing it?

Brian stood. “Who are you?”

The stranger had a stocky build and a shirt with cut-off sleeves, despite the cold outside. He watched the Christmas pig who stayed by the fireplace. The stranger turned toward him.

Brian said, “Are you one of Dad’s friends?”

The man said, “No.”

“Are you a cop? Answer me, man.”

“What are you doing?”

Brian picked up the pig and ran to the front door. He got it open but froze in place. The man held him by his shirt. He set the pig down and swung back at the man’s face with a right-handed punch. He missed. The man punched him in the gut. Brian hit his knees on the floor. He gasped. The pig’s hoofs clattered across the porch. The man shut the front door.

***

Glew pulled his car behind Fairfax’s truck on the county road. He breathed in the Vick’s VapoRub on his chest. He wiped his nose. “What am I doing out here? There have to be better hobbies for me.”

He stepped out of his car and ducked down. He wiped his nose and checked his phone. No new messages or calls from his partner. He scanned the area. Nothing but woods with a little asphalt dividing these giant trees that were probably planted when he was a teenager. The cabin stood twenty yards ahead. Smoke rose from the chimney. He closed his eyes. Maybe Fairfax would kick this guy’s ass. Then he could nap in there by the fireplace. So warm and toasty. What could be better?

Something crunched the leaves nearby. He looked toward the cabin. The crunching erupted again. The creature trotted down the hill.

It was the Christmas pig in full garb!

The white ball on the Santa hat bounced with his movements. Glew wiped his nose. “Damn it. Warm and toasty will have to wait.”

He crept down the hill, weaving through the trees. “Here, piggy, piggy…”

The pig wee’d its way along. Glew stepped with caution. Pigs can bite. Right?

The pig changed directions. Glew wiped his nose and followed. The pig reached the bottom of the hill and sat down. Glew stuffed his tissue in his pocket and stepped around an oak. If he could just get a few feet closer…he could scoop the pig…right up…and…

The pig wee’d and turned the corner. Glew hit the closest tree and then turned the corner. The pig bolted down toward a lake. Can pigs swim?

Oh God.

He’s always heard they can’t fly.

He had to cut the pig off.

Glew ran toward the pig now. No use in playing around anymore. If he gets bit, it’s okay. He once dated a woman with jaws of steel from constantly chewing gum. He’d taken her bites after all. He galloped toward the pig who sniffed the water and looked back at him. He leaped at the animal with his arms spread. “Here, piggy!”

The pig squealed and ran into the pond. Once the animal reached some depth, it swam its way onward. Glew said, “No! Come on, pig. What are you doing? I’m not that ugly. Am I?”

The pig swam on. Glew sneezed into his tissue. He pictured himself leaping at the animal with his arms spread and how that must have looked to the pig. He chuckled. The pig kept on swimming. “This is so stupid.”

Glew removed his jacket and boots. Then he looked into the sky. “I know. This is stupid. But hey, it’s the Christmas pig.”

Glew waded into the water. The pig swam ten feet ahead. The water chilled his knees. It’s just a pig. Right? He could turn back and wait him out maybe?

No.

Come on.

Glew waded through until the water reached his chest. He coughed. “Here, piggy…”

The pig swam on but then it changed direction. Glew changed with it. Then the pig ducked its head into the water. That Santa hat stayed on along with the wreath around the neck and the sweater. The pig ducked its head in again. Glew followed it but it paddled on, keeping five feet between them. Glew reached for it. Just another foot and…

Glew sneezed. His throat ached. His eyes watered. “Geez. Come on, piggy.”

The pig dunked its head again. Glew paddled after him. The pig swam quick enough to stay ahead of Glew but it wasn’t in a hurry to get away from him. So maybe it wasn’t terrified of him at least. He reached toward it and touched its back. The pig swam back toward Glew. He stopped. It dunked its head. He smiled and patted its head. The pig swam in place and dunked its head again. This creature sure likes to dunk its head. Was it hot? How could it be out here? The pig swam in place with its mouth open. Glew examined the Santa hat. The pig stayed still. He pulled at it. A string kept it in place. Glew pulled the hat toward him. The pig closed its mouth. He pulled the hat off. The pig dunked its head. Its mouth fell open in what looked like a smile. He patted the pig’s head. “I see.”

He sneezed. “Oh, sorry.”

The pig stayed in place. He patted the pig’s head and then he removed wreath and the sweater. The Christmas pig now swam bare as the day it was born. It swam around in circles but not quick enough so that Glew couldn’t grab it. Glew steered the creature toward the shore and then picked it up. He sneezed and hacked his way up the hill and then got the pig into his car.

***

The man dragged Brian to the sofa and threw him on it. The cushions provided a concrete-hard landing. Dad had filled the cabin with old furniture on purpose. Here things were meant to be rough and tumble. Maybe it was to keep the nature of the hunt alive.

Maybe Dad was cheap.

Brian massaged his gut and kept his eyes on the man who walked back and stood by the door. Brian sucked in a few breaths. The man said, “Take your time, kid.”

“You…you saved the pig. Isn’t that all you wanted?”

“That was the main objective. When I see a kid like you doing something like this, I tend to wonder why, though.”

“Why?”

“You might have something going on in your head. Talking helps with the mental shit.”

“I don’t want to talk.”

The man sat in the chair by the fireplace. He stretched his legs and leaned back.

Brian said, “What are you doing now?”

The man checked his phone. He clicked a few buttons and then returned it to his pocket. Brian said, “Well?”

“Kid, it’s two o’clock in the morning. I’m sleepy.”

“You’re not sleeping here.”

“So you’re a thief and you’re hot even hospitable.”

Brian stood and pointed toward the front door. “Get out. I mean it. Now, get out.”

“And if I don’t?”

“I’ll call my Dad.”

“So you’re what? Fifteen?”

“Eighteen, pal. I’m eighteen.”

“Yet, you’re still wanting to call Daddy to help you out of a jam.”

“I don’t call him ‘Daddy’. And it’s just because this is his cabin and so…”

“The cabin that he paid for so you could use it. And now here you are and you can’t even protect it. This cabin was a wasted purchase. Your dad raised a weak kid.”

“What is your deal? I will call him.”

“Go ahead. I’ll tell him the whole story.”

Brian studied his phone. He could press send. He should have pressed send a while ago with the picture. Or should he?

He closed the phone and sat on the sofa. “Okay, scary man. Let’s talk then.”

The man kept his eyes closed with his head leaned back. “Why did you steal the Christmas pig?”

“It’s nobody’s business.”

The man raised his head up, staring right at Brian. Brian swallowed. “What?”

“It’s old man Clarence’s business. It’s his pig. I mean, damn. That’s how the Hatfields and McCoys got started. You don’t take another man’s property.”

“Yeah. I’m sure he’s already found out. He keeps a good watch over all of his property.”

“Such as?”

What was this guy’s problem?

Brian shoved his hands in his pockets. “When I first met Jill, she dressed like Clarence wanted.”

“This is his daughter?”

“No, man. How old do I look? His granddaughter. We’re both college freshmen. Anyway, she wore all this stuff that was homemade. The old man’s big on that. No point in buying already made clothes. He’s got this whole self-sufficient fixation. It’s weird.”

“So?”

“So when I met her, I got her to start dressing like she wanted. She wore jeans and T-shirts with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath on them. Stuff like that. She met some of my friends. The next thing you know, we were together all the time. She really liked being away and out with me. She’s been to the cabin fifty times I bet.”

“But not anymore.”

“No. She showed up at school a week ago, dressed in that crap again. She told me that Clarence insisted she stop dating me and that she focus on her studies. So she broke up with me.”

“And you were stealing the pig to get back at her.”

“No. The old man. I was going to send a pic of the pig to her and show them what I think about all this crap. You steal my girlfriend away? I’ll take your damn pig, then.”

“So it’s the old man’s fault.”

“Yeah. Who else’s?”

The man grinned. “Sounds like an excuse.”

“An excuse? No, I mean it.”

“From her. Did you see the old man say those words?”

“No. I’m never around him.”

“You ever met him?”

“No. Why would I want to? I know how he is.”

“Even though you never met him.”

“That’s right. She wouldn’t lie. I mean…she…”

Jill may be submissive to her family but she’d never lie. This guy was blowing smoke. That’s all.

“You just need to get out of here.”

The man stood. “My pleasure. Once I’m gone, you should go talk to the old man. Ask him about what happened.”

“Why should I care?”

“So you can say you tried.”

“I don’t need to try.”

“All right. I’m headed back to the village. We’ll return the pig. And we will be watching if you try again.”

“I…fine.”

The man opened the door. “Go ask the old man, son.”

Then he left.

***

Brian wiped his eyes. Thirty-five hours without sleep tends to wear on a body. He took a drink of coffee and then exited his car. He walked through the line at the village and paid the girl ten dollars. She gave him a ticket. He walked toward the trail. The main house stood to the left. He peered up at it. Some folks sat in rocking chairs on the front wraparound porch. One of them was the man from the night before. He leaned forward and watched him. Brian kept walking.

The first display was a manger scene. Candles lit up the scene like stars on a clear night. He smiled and walked on.

Tiny houses stood in the next display with fake snow covering the roofs. A Christmas tree shined in the center with ducks quacking around it. Clarence leaned on the post beside him. He took a deep breath and wiped sweat from his temple. “How about them ducks?”

Brian turned to him. The old man wore a light in his eyes. He stood several inches over Brian but he seemed like he was smaller in some way. Brian said, “Nothing better than a Christmas quacker.”

Clarence chuckled. “Yeah, buddy. Your first time visiting us?”

“Yeah. It’s real pretty.”

“Thank you.”

“Say, you’re Jill’s grandfather. Aren’t you?”

“I am.”

“She’s a great girl. Doesn’t she have a boyfriend?”

“Yeah. She mentioned that she was seeing a young fellow named…something. I can’t keep up with all that. Said he was a real nice fellow.”

“Oh yeah?”

“She spent a lot of time with him. Got to talking like him and dressing different. You know how people wear off on one another.”

“That’s true.”

“That’s what her mama told me. She decided that she needed a change and decided to break up with him. She had to get back to being herself. Do you know the fellow?”

“Yeah, I think I might.”

“I’m surprised she didn’t tell him that I disapprove and break up with him that way. I always told her she could use that excuse if she got in a jam. Just my way of looking out for her, you know. You got anybody you look out for?”

Brian leaned his head on the fence.

“You all right, son?”

He looked back up at the porch where the man from the night before sat. “No, but I have folks who look out for me. I think I need to listen to them.”

Clarence patted his back. “You sure should, son. Merry Christmas.”

Clarence ambled up the hill toward the house. Jill walked outside and greeted him with a tray of cookies. Brian smiled and walked by other displays until he reached the Christmas pig display. A few other folks stood by the fence. The pig sprang up from the back corner. Folks laughed and pointed and a few took pictures. A woman said, “Hey. He’s not wearing his hat or his sweater. Aw.”

Brian said, “Oh it’s all right.”

The folks turned to him.

He said, “He’s got to be himself.”

Thank you so much for reading!

Here’s the first of many volumes of Fairfax & Glew tales. Enjoy!