Scott Lott sold all kinds of boats over the years. Along the way, he’d ran into some trouble with a few thieves. In the past, he’d conceded that he wasn’t seeing the boats again but when he told Glew about his latest loss, we ran the thief down and returned Scott’s inventory to him.
A month later, I got home and took a shower after a long day of roofing and sat in my rocker where I dozed.
“All right, damn it,” I said.
I stepped out and looked at the tree line across the road where a pink sun blazed forth. Yes, sir. Thank you to whatever woke me up. This is the best time for staring over that way. I blinked a few times. A truck sat in my driveway. A boat sat on a trailer behind it. Scott popped up beside my porch rail. . “What’s up, rough and ready?”
“Not much, slick and sissy,” I said.
Scott pointed to the boat. “What do you think of that little number?”
I whistled. “Just get it?”
“Nope,” he said. “Had it a while. To tell you the truth, I’m tired of it. How about you take it?”
I held up a hand. “Ain’t got the funds at the moment.”
He spread his hands out. “After you guys getting me back my other boats, you think I’d make you pay for this?”
I swallowed. “Well, I mean…Glew told me about the job and all. He should get it before I do.”
“I agree,” he said. “Only, he didn’t want it.”
“What? Why not?”
Scott shrugged. “He told me to bring it over here. So…here.”
I smiled. “Dang, Scott. This is real nice. Thank you. Really.”
Scott shook my hand. He backed the boat off the driveway into the yard beside my shed. We got her unhooked. He got back in his truck. I said, “Stay a spell if you want. It’s a good day to watch the sun set.”
Scott shook his head. “Got to get back to it. Enjoy the boat.”
He drove to the end of the driveway. Then he backed up toward me. I stepped aside. He stopped a few feet from me and handed me a cigar. “This goes mighty good with sunset watching.”
I took the cigar and grinned.
He said, “I really should. I’ll have my wife make me some tea and I’ll take it easy one day next week. I’ll think of you when I do, George. How’s that sound?”
I placed the cigar between my teeth. “Like a million dollar idea, Scott.”
He took off down the road.
I set up my lawn chair and stared at the gray fourteen-foot Polar Kraft Jon boat with a forty-inch bottom, sitting on a sixteen-foot trailer. I toyed with the cigar between my lips. The setting sun floated back there, like an early moon looking to peak through and keep me company. I rolled the cigar around. A Coors would hit the spot right now.
I placed the cigar on the porch rail and then walked inside. I grabbed my keys and then backed my truck up to the boat trailer. I hooked it up and then I rode on down the road a good piece, shifting my eyes between the road and the boat.
Maybe I could have a little fun here.
I drove to a little cove in the northern section of town. Some of these places sat vacant. None of them looked lived in. Don’t expect folks to answer within minutes of you knocking and if you’re expecting Halloween decorations, you need to drive away. I like to call it a blind street. Theft lingered in the air like week old trash. So I backed the boat up into the driveway of a vacant house near the dead end and then unhitched it. I slapped a GPS tracker onto the boat and parked down the street.
Glew sent me a text message, asking me about my whereabouts. I told him. Twenty minutes later, he stepped out of his car all decked out in his white suit and fedora. The guy looked like Colonel Sanders’ rich grandson. When he climbed inside my truck, the Polo cologne found my nostrils. I rolled down my window. He said, “So what’s going on, stud? Meeting your date here?”
“Yeah,” I said.
He snickered. “Yeah, right, like you’d have a date on a Friday night. That’s what weird folks do. Right?”
I said, “I suppose you do, of course.”
He smiled wide. “This one. Oh, man. My greatest conquest.”
“I’m happy for you two.”
“No, stud. Look,” he said. He showed me her Facebook profile on his cell phone.
I said, “She’s-
He tapped my arm. “I know. And it’s not just that. She just passed her bar exam. And her dad is loaded and already bought her a new house for passing the test. And she’s very attracted to my work. And she’s not looking for a husband. Career woman. No interest in kids. I mean, there is nothing wrong with her. You may never see me again, man.”
“I don’t know.” I scratched my chin. “You might miss out on all the fun we have running around.”
“Pshaw,” he said. “Did you not hear me? This lady will keep me plenty busy. I mean, don’t get me wrong. Maybe she’ll let me fight crime one night a week and give you a thrill.”
He chuckled. “Aw, don’t be jealous, stud. You’ll find a life one day. I’m headed out, though.”
He stepped out of the truck and walked around to my window. “I got to say, you’re on your own here. I can’t mess this date up. So unless you’re dying, don’t call. Okay?”
I peered in my rearview mirror at the boat. “Aw, I wouldn’t expect much, Glew. Go get her, buddy.”
“You bet, you son of a gun.”
He drove to the end of the street. Then he honked his horn twice and squealed his tires in the turn. I took a few slugs of coffee. Something landed on the power line up there. An owl?
A Jeep Wrangler rolled by at twenty miles an hour. The driver turned around in the dead end and passed back by the boat. Its tail lights disappeared in the growing darkness. I rubbed the back of my neck. I took another shot of coffee. The Jeep pulled back around and stopped behind the boat.
Here we go.
I ducked down, keeping a watch on my GPS device. Ten minutes later, the boat pulled away. I waited five minutes and then I got on the move.
The Jeep transported my boat twenty miles into the country to a property that had two acres of front yard with a white fence that stretched at least a couple of acres on back. Two men held the gate open while another one backed the boat through while a fourth man stood watching with his hands in his pockets. I slowed down. Then I shifted into neutral. The man with his hands in his pockets turned toward me. I killed the engine. One of the men at the gate pointed toward me. I rolled into the long paved driveway. The two holding the gate abandoned their position and ran toward me. The pockets man walked toward me but he pulled his hands out of his pockets. I waited. They jogged on. I turned the ignition but pulled back before it cranked. The men got closer. I banged on the steering wheel.
The two men slowed down but kept on toward me while Pockets walked on at the same pace. I shook my head and hit the steering wheel again. One of the men walked toward the passenger side of my truck while the other eased his way toward my window. I said, “Damn it all to hell, boys. I’m sorry for pulling over here, but she’s up and quit on me.”
The men looked at each other. Pockets walked onto the driveway. I nodded at him. He stared straight at me. I said, “I gotta call me a tow truck. One of you fellows have a phone?”
The two gate boys stared toward Pockets. He gave them one nod. The one near my window wore a buzz cut. He handed me his phone. “Thank you,” I said.
Buzz Cut said, “Not a problem.”
I tapped on the phone. Then I said, “You fellows mind if I step out? My back’s killing me.”
Pockets said, “Go ahead.”
I stepped out and then placed the phone to my ear.
“Yeah,” I said. “Yes, sir. I got a problem…”
Buzz Cut and his friend watched me. Pockets looked away but he glanced back a few times. The man in the jeep got out and walked toward us.
I said, “The problem? What’s my problem? Is that what you’re asking me?”
Buzz Cut and his friend inched toward me. Pockets took a step back while the other fellow quickened his pace toward us.
I said, “I got four assholes here who stole my boat.”
Buzz Cut and his friend rushed me. They pushed me against the truck and pulled their fists back. I lowered my face and then squeezed the button on my pepper spray can. They stumbled back. Buzz Cut fell down. The other guy leaned on my truck. Coughing and retching took over any other noise. The jeep guy ran toward me. Pockets said, “Stop!”
Jeep lunged at me with a kick as if he were kicking down a door. I sidestepped his attack. He bounced off the truck. I smashed him in the jaw. The impact sent him sprawling into the yard.
Pockets held up his hands. “Hold on, now. You can take the boat back.”
“Yeah?” I said.
He nodded while his eyes darted back and forth between me and his fallen men.
I said, “All right, then.”
I tossed Buzz Cut’s cell phone to Pockets. Then I climbed into my truck and backed it up to the gate. I secured the trailer hitch to the ball on my bumper. I drove to the driveway where Jeep and his friend remained on the ground. Pockets watched me. I waved.
Buzz Cut popped up at my window from behind a bush. I aimed my pepper spray at him. He pointed a pistol at my face. I stopped the truck.
Buzz Cut said, “That’s our damn boat. You’re leaving it.”
Pockets said, “Don’t do that, son!”
Buzz Cut kept his pistol aimed at me. “It’s our boat. You leave it.”
“Actually, it’s not,” I said. I stared at Buzz Cut. He wiped sweat from his brow and switched the pistol to his other hand. “But,” I said, “you do have the gun. Unhook it and I’ll go.”
Buzz Cut grinned at Pockets. “Unhook it.”
Pockets unhooked my boat.
Buzz Cut stared at me. “Just don’t come back around here. We don’t stand for thieves out this way.”
“Yes, sir,” I said. I drove down the road.
I turned around a mile up the road and parked the truck. After ten minutes, I cranked it back up and took off back toward the thieves’ house. When the place came into view, all four men stood in the front yard while the boat remained in the driveway. They toasted beer cans together. I bounded through the ditch and then cut across the yard toward them. The group scattered like a flock of birds do when a cat leaps at them. Even Pockets dove for cover. I spun around in the driveway. I stomped the accelerator and left a track of rubber on the concrete. Then I parked and stepped out with my own .32 revolver in my hand.
When I walked toward the yard, Buzz Cut patted the ground for his weapon. I fired the .32 into the night air.
Jeep and the other man hunkered down. Pockets stood with his hands slightly raised. Buzz Cut placed his forehead to the ground. I kept the revolver aimed at him. “This is my damn boat. Does everybody understand that?”
No one moved.
I shot into the air again.
“Does everybody understand that?”
Pockets said, “Yes! Yes! We do!”
The others raised their hands and nodded.
I climbed into the truck and pulled it back up to the boat. Pockets hooked me up before I could get out of my truck. I got back inside and left the boat thieves back in my rear view mirror.
When I got back home, I backed the boat into the shed. Then I returned the .32 revolver to my little hidey hole in my backyard, tucked safely beneath a patch of grass. No more than a minute walked by before Glew called me. “Where you at?”
“The house,” I said.
“All right,” he said. “I’ll stop by.”
Glew hung up before I could respond. I popped my neck and walked inside where I grabbed a Coors. I returned to my front porch and sat in my chair, drinking and resting my eyes. I nearly nodded off before Glew barreled down my driveway with AC/DC blaring through his windows. I wiped my eyes. He walked onto my porch and leaned back on the porch rail. I looked at him.
“Stood up,” he said. “I met her through a friend. The friend talked me up after I’d made a good impression. I mean, you know that I know what I’m doing when it comes to the ladies and yet, she stood me up.”
I said, “Well-
“I sat in that restaurant for an hour and a half, Fairfax. Ninety-three minutes of wondering. Just waiting. I mean, I felt like you I guess. Damn it. I can’t believe it. Me? Stood up? I love them and leave them. The finest women around and she’s going to stand me up?”
“No, man. I mean, she wasn’t even that hot, really. I called her after I left. Nothing. No excuses. She didn’t even try. I mean…I can’t believe it.”
I propped my leg on my knee and waited. After stewing a while, he said, “You ever been stood up?”
“Of course not. You’d have to actually get a date first. Right?”
I waited a while longer.
He chuckled. “Hell, maybe you’re right. Just sit and wait for some bad guys. Anybody show up, anyway?”
I removed the body cam from my chest and hooked it up to his phone. I played the tape of my boat adventure. He said, “Are you kidding me? I could have backed you up out there. Those guys. Man!”
I smiled and unhooked the cam and gave the phone back to him. He said, “Wow, man. I should have hung out with you tonight.”
“Nothing wrong with trying to find you a lady friend, Glew.”
“Yeah,” he said, “but I don’t know. I find them. I get tired of them. I leave them. It’s all a big cycle. You…you actually get things done.”
“We get things done,” I said. “I haven’t been acting alone this whole time. You’re fine and you’ll do well.”
“But aren’t you disappointed in me? I mean, I feel like I let you down.”
I said, “Nah, bud. You’ll ride with me on the next one.”
“Won’t you?” I said.
He nodded. “You bet I will.”
“Glad to hear it.”
He stood and stretched. “Well, I guess I’ll be going.”
The car came down my driveway blaring AC/DC. The oldies station must be putting on a tribute tonight. Glew said, “What the? Who is…”
The lady stepped out of the car with a smile. She waved to me and bounced her way up onto the porch. She brushed by Glew and kissed me on the mouth. I kissed her back and squeezed her thigh. She said, “Oooo.” She turned to Glew. Then she looked at me. “And who is this handsome fellow?”
I looked at Glew and smiled. “Wally Glew, meet Roberta.”
She hugged Glew. He stared at me, stunned.
I said, “Roberta here had a date a couple weeks ago at that bar out on the highway.”
Roberta said, “That’s right. The rat I was supposed to meet stood me up. And then in walked this stud. And let me tell, you, I’m so happy that rat didn’t show up. Because me and this gentleman have shared a lot…I mean a LOT of things since then.”
She patted my cheek. “Speaking of which, I’ll be in your bedroom, baby. See you in a few?”
I squeezed her thigh again. She walked inside. Glew turned to me. “My whole universe is shattering.”
I stood. “That’s what I can’t figure.”
“That woman,” I said. “She didn’t show up. And you come out here and complain to me? Where’s your spirit? When one doesn’t show up, you find another one. I thought every man knew that? Are you telling me you didn’t try to hit on any other woman in the place?”
Glew looked away. “No. I…I didn’t.”
“You get in too big of a hurry, Glew. Just take some time and stare at the sky. Take it all in and hold one thought in your head for a while. Slow it all down, buddy.”
He rubbed his forehead. Then he frowned at me. I grinned. He shook his head and pulled out his phone and started texting.
“I got to get inside.”
“Hey,” he said.
“You gonna be prowling tomorrow night?”
“Maybe,” I said. “It’s usually best to respond to those who want you around first.”
He said, “I think you’re right.”
Roberta’s voice echoed through the house. “There’s no TV in here, Mr. Fairfax. I need my entertainment!”
I said, “Welp. I gotta go. See you buddy!”
I walked inside and shut the door. Glew walked off my porch. I tore off my shirt and headed toward the bedroom. Roberta lay on my bed wearing next to nothing. I said, “Damn, woman.”
I held up a “wait a second” finger at Roberta and returned to the front door. Glew took a seat on my front porch and lit a cigar. He tossed his phone off the porch and stared off in the distance. I smiled. The old boy gets smarter all the time.