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?
Folger raised his fist. Then he drew in a few breaths. A few blinks later, he tapped on the black door.
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?”
“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.”
Folger said, “I’ll buy it and give it a proper home.”
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
What was that smell?
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
“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.”
“Secrets don’t make friends, Walter.”
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.”
“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!
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.”
“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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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?
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?
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?
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.”
“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.”
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 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.”
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.”
“Say, you’re Jill’s grandfather. Aren’t you?”
“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.”
“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 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!
Fairfax pushed the garbage disposal up into the bottom of the kitchen sink. Chester and Glew yelled at the TV in Chester’s living room. The volume on the Titans game could run a body out of the state. Yet, Fairfax endured and screwed the new garbage disposal into place. They cut the volume down for half-time. Chester said, “Hey, boy! You got my disposal done?”
Glew laughed. “Yeah and get us a couple beers up here!”
Fairfax crawled out from under the sink. He pulled himself to his feet by the counter and placed his screwdriver back into his tool box. He said, “You boys deaf in there?”
The volume shot up above what it had been. Fairfax checked the fridge. A twelve-pack of Budweiser sat next to a twelve-pack of Coors which sat above a couple of Blue Moons. Fairfax grabbed a Blue Moon and walked into the living room. The volume died. Glew said, “Where’s our beers?”
Fairfax walked to the window and cracked open his beer. He looked at Chester. “Now remind me. Why are we here again?”
Chester looked up. “Um…to watch the game? Be worthless?”
Fairfax said, “No. Your neighbor complained about a robber in the area. We’re here to snuff him out.”
Chester used to work with Glew’s dad at a factory. He was now retired and had a generous pension but he kept his living conditions modest. After three failed marriages along with a son who lived across the country, he didn’t see any point in spending his life earnings on any kind of luxury just for himself.
A month or so ago, Fairfax and Glew had been hanging out with him just like now when they cooked up a good idea. They’d leave Chester’s garage open and make things seem like he wasn’t home. Chester’s tools and equipment would be there for the taking. Chester liked the idea at the time.
Chester said, “I don’t know. Do we have to? Do we have to, Glew?”
Glew grabbed them a couple of Buds and sat down. “I say we kill the TV and hang out and see if we get a bite. Really, Chester. This stuff can be pretty fun. Plus, you’ll know what kind of folks your neighbors really are.”
“I don’t want to know that.”
Fairfax said, “Why not give it an hour? It’s dark now and it’s prime time for folks to be passing by. Let’s have some fun, old buddy.”
Chester grinned. “All right. Let’s lock her down. Y’all did park up the street. Right?”
Glew’s brow furrowed.
Fairfax said, “Yes we did. Quit thinking so hard, Glew. You might have a good idea.”
Dudley left the grocery store at nine o’clock. He would have gotten out of there sooner if that one skank with the green hair had shown up. After putting in eight hours at the factory, he didn’t want to go into his second job but bills have to be paid. Don’t they? His stupid boss was never going to punish those idiots he worked with. A fellow works hard to move up but politics get in the way. It’s a vicious cycle.
He had a flat on the way home. He propped the old donut on there. How many times had it been now? Five maybe? He couldn’t afford a new one yet. Every dime he spent went to paying for that one mistake. And what a mistake.
He stopped by the store and stood in line for twenty minutes for gas. Those lottery players always hold up the line but this one knew the cashier and it was like a reunion. He shouldn’t have to do all this just to crawl home to an empty house. But then, what else could he do?
The mistake happened a year ago. He’d traveled to Tunica with a few buddies after work (back when he only had to work one job). They gambled and drank (they give them to you for free you know). He had a limit on gambling money set and he stuck to it.
When they dropped him off, he went inside his house and fell asleep in his recliner. Then he woke up.
He hurled into his toilet and sat there with a sweaty forehead and a gut turning flips. “Oh…oh lord…oh…never again…”
Someone knocked on his door.
Who in the world would be bothering him now? His buddies must have gotten bored. They can eat his socks after this shit.
He wiped his mouth and trudged to the door. When he opened it, he found a young woman standing there with her hands behind her back. She was shorter than Dudley’s five feet, one-inch frame. A midget maybe?
She whipped her hair behind her ear and smiled at him to the point that her white teeth gleamed in the darkness. Dudley sniffed the air. That perfume perked him up which didn’t seem possible after that bout in the bathroom. She talked but he couldn’t focus. So he reached inside and turned on the porch light.
“Well, uh…hello, there.”
The woman was the perfect height for him. Her blonde hair was thick and full. She wore a baby blue dress with matching high heels. She said, “Hello to you.”
He leaned on his doorway and said, “What’s going on?”
“I’ve seen you at work before.”
“You work at the plant?”
“I deliver supplies. I’ve seen you there a few times. I finally got up the nerve to ask your friend for your name and number.”
“Did you call?”
“No. I…used a little search app and found your address. You see, I prefer to meet people in person. I do apologize for it being so late.”
“Better late than ever.”
“I totally agree.”
Wow. He’d said ‘ever’ on purpose. Everyone corrected him on that, too. Except her. She just went with it. “What’s your name, darling?”
She said, “Dina.”
“Dudley and Dina. Now that sounds like a winning combination.”
“Oh, I definitely think you’re a winner.”
He stuck his chest out. The hangover shot right out of his mind. “Come on inside, Dina. You can check out my castle.”
She walked inside. She didn’t even try to step over the piles of clothes on the floor. She plopped down on his raggedy sofa and propped her feet up on a pile and then slid her shoes off. She sure shined in the midst of this hole. Dudley wiped his forehead and said, “Might I get you something to drink?”
She patted the sofa cushion next to her. “I only have a thirst for you.”
He grabbed the seat beside her. She draped his arm over her shoulder and snuggled up next to him. He said, “I’m sorry. I had a shower this morning but well…”
She sniffed his chest. “Oh you are all man. I like a strong musk.”
He pulled her close and kissed her lips. She said, “Oh my. Just like a plunger. I like you.”
“I like you! You ain’t no skank!”
They embraced in a long series of kisses, falling all over each other and then rolling in a pile of dirty clothes on the floor. She said, “Yeah. Get me dirty!”
Dudley took his shirt off and said, “Hell yeah! You ain’t no skank!”
She rolled around with him for half an hour. Then she pushed herself off him and dropped the blue dress. Dudley stripped off his jeans and drawers. She looked at the stained white socks on his feet. “Oh you have two toes sticking out, too. What a man. Follow me.”
Dudley followed her into his own bedroom. She pushed him onto the bed. She said, “You know what I love?”
“You tell me and you got it!”
“I love to lick peanut butter off a man.”
Dudley paused. “You do? Like all of the man?”
“Every damn inch.”
Dudley said, “Hold on.”
He raced into his kitchen, rifling through the cabinets. “Come on, damn it. You got to be in here somewhere.”
He found a full jar of a generic brand(that dumbass at work complained about it missing the other day, the idiot). “Oh sweet mercy.”
He dashed back into the bedroom and handed her the jar. She said, “Now get down there and prepare for ecstasy.”
She took the peanut butter and rubbed it all over Dudley, from his chest to his privates to even his butt. She licked him here and there as she went. Dudley howled. “Tell me I’m the man!”
“You damn sure are.”
“Naw. Say it.”
She took a lick and said, “You, Dudley, are the man.”
She spread the whole jar onto his body. Then she said, “I love to start in that special place.”
“Uh-huh. Here I come, big boy.”
Dudley closed his eyes and waited.
The bedroom light clicked on. Something else clicked. He looked up. She stood there, snapping photos of him there naked with his gut and privates and butt and legs covered in peanut butter. He said, “Wait now. What are you doing?”
She kept on snapping pictures with her phone. He leaned up. “What are you doing?”
She blew him a kiss and then left the bedroom. He took off after her. She pulled on her dress in the living room. A guy stood by his sofa. He looked like he stood seven feet tall and weighed like, four Dudleys. Dudley covered his privates. The guy chuckled through the smoke from his cigar as he flipped through the woman’s phone. “Aren’t you a sight, stud?”
Dudley said, “What’s this all about?”
“A reputation, friend.”
Dina got her dress on and slipped into her high heels. She turned and said, “Dudley, we’re going to send those pictures to all of your friends.”
“But? But why?”
“Unless you pay us.”
“What? What the hell’s going on?”
The guy said, “Ten grand or everyone sees you covered in goober butter, which in this picture, looks like shit. Like you had a shit party in your own bed.”
“But this is just…how can you…naw, you wouldn’t…”
He looked at Dina.
“How did you know where my bedroom was, Dina?”
She smiled. “Your lock on the door doesn’t work. You’re too cheap to ever fix it, though. It’s amazing that you haven’t been robbed but then, this place is such a hole that no one has bothered. And Dina’s not my name. It’s my sister’s name. You remember my sister?”
“Dina. Looks like me but chubbier and taller with glasses.”
“Yeah. And how you met her at TGIFridays and then ordered a steak and cake and six beers and claimed you had to take a leak and then you ditched her?”
“But she was a skank-I mean…”
“Like you’re something special? My dog is taller than you.”
“You were going to slobber all over my body!”
“That body?” She chuckled. “You smell like week-old mayonnaise. And luckily, my taste buds aren’t the best.”
“But this don’t make anything right. Shaking me down? This won’t get me to go out with her again.”
The man stepped toward him. “And my sister?”
“Oh lord. What?”
“You got the biggest steak Chilis had to offer and margaritas and apple pie and then ran out on the check.”
“Hold on, now. I don’t remember.”
The man backed him to the wall. He showed him a fist the size of a coconut. “You need a reminder?”
“No. No, sir. I don’t.”
“And you did the same to a friend of mine. And that friend’s cousin. And a widow woman who trusted you.”
“All right. Well so what?”
“So, now you’re going to make up for all that. We calculate that you have ran up ten grand around town to all these females.”
The woman produced a list and handed it to him. Dudley studied over it, the names coming back to him one by one. Shit. His goose was cooked. If he let them share the photos, he’d be ruined. His friends would never leave him be. If he didn’t have his pride, what else could he have?
So he scraped up the money, draining his bank account and then getting a loan for the rest. All so people wouldn’t see him in his peanut butter suit. They’d stuck to the agreement. No one at work laughed at him. Not for that at least. They did wonder why he took on a second job. In a year or so, he might just be paid up.
So when he turned onto his street and caught an eyeful of Chester’s open garage, he stopped in the street. A car honked behind him. He drove on home.
Those tools were just sitting there. Chester’s dumb ass had left them there for the picking. Dudley might as well cash in since Chester’s just another asshole.
Dudley drove back by Chester’s. He parked next to the curb and checked around. No one was watching on the street. Chester’s house sat empty. No one watched through their windows. Yes, sir.
Dudley backed his car up to the garage. He scrambled out of his car and tripped and fell into the grass. “Shit.”
He got back up and checked around again.
He grabbed up the tools he could find and stuffed them into his trunk. When he got them all, he stuck his middle finger up at the house and then drove away.
At home, he backed his car into his driveway. Then he got on eBay. He could make a quick pile of cash and catch up on his bills. Hell, the world owed him a favor after paying for all those skanks.
Chester laughed until he spewed Bud onto his carpet. “Dudley. That asshole. Of all the people on this street, I’d bet on him.”
Fairfax said, “Really?”
“That idiot came over here one time and showed off his tattoo. It said ‘Dud the Stude’.”
Glew said, “Stude?”
“Yeah. The artist told him that stud didn’t have an ‘e’ at the end but he insisted on it. I laughed at him for a minute. Well, I ain’t gonna lie. I pointed and laughed for a long time. Should have known he might try a little revenge. Let me show you something.”
Chester pulled up a picture on his phone. He laughed so hard that he doubled over and handed the phone to Glew who spewed his own beer. Fairfax took a look at Dudley there spread out on the bed with peanut butter all over him. He grimaced. “Is that shit all over him?”
Chester said, “Oh lord. My gut’s about to bust.”
Fairfax said, “How did you get the picture?”
“I still keep in touch with some of them old boys at work. Dudley works at the same plant I retired from. They got the whole story from this little gal that delivers up there.”
Chester filled them in on the story.
Glew said, “Did they give him hell about it?”
“Dudley paid her off not to tell. So they’ve been playing along. Her last day is next Friday. She’s moving to Texas with her boyfriend. Big old boy. They’re going to drop the hammer when she’s gone.”
Fairfax said, “Man oh, man. I almost feel for the guy.”
“Don’t. He liked to dine and dash the ladies, leaving them stuck with paying the check. Did that to several of them, including her sister. So he had it coming. He also kisses the boss’s ass and has ratted out a whole bunch of guys up there to him. Makes it up and tries to get ahead. But I know his boss. He just shakes his head and gives Dudley hell like the others do.”
Fairfax said, “Well, like I said, I ‘almost’ feel for him.”
Glew finished his Bud and stood. “Let’s go get him, then.”
Chester said, “Hold on. This requires a special touch.”
Dudley chuckled. That idiot Chester finally made his big mistake. He’d come back and see that his stuff was gone. Now, he could point and laugh at him. He’d wonder why. He might even suspect him but he wouldn’t know. It was about time he knew how it felt.
His phone buzzed.
He checked the text message.
It read ‘I know.’
He scratched his head. Then he set his phone down. He swallowed and stood up. He checked the number again. He didn’t know it. He paced the floor. The phone buzzed again.
The text message read ‘I’m willing to trade’.
“Aw hell. Not now. No. Come on, now.”
He paced around.
Just wait it out.
The phone buzzed again.
‘What have you got to trade? Or I start telling people’.
Dudley texted back. ‘Got some tools’.
A quick and easy fix and he wasn’t losing any money on it.
Come on now.
The phone buzzed.
‘Okay. Headed over’.
He texted back ‘Now?’
No. Come on.
This has to be a joke.
They swore they’d never tell.
He paid them after all.
Someone knocked on the door.
Dudley answered the door and then clenched his fists. “What do you want?”
A man stood there. He had a well-trimmed beard and a shirt with the sleeves cut off. He’d be trouble in a fight. He said, “The tools?”
Dudley leaned back. “What do you got for me?”
The man showed him his phone. There lay Dudley on his own bed with peanut butter spread all over him. He winced. “How did you get that?”
The man smiled. “Give me the tools and it’s forgotten.”
The man said, “You got my word on that.”
Dudley sighed. “Follow me.”
He walked to his car and popped open the trunk. “There you go.”
The man said, “Hhmm. Where’d you get these?”
“Doesn’t matter. Just take them.”
“Fair enough. I’ll pull my truck up.”
The man walked to his truck parked by the curb in front of Dudley’s house and then backed it into the driveway. Dudley handed the tools off to him. Either way, old Chester would still get his.
The man loaded the tools up into his truck bed. Then he showed Dudley the picture on his phone and deleted it. Dudley said, “All right, then.”
The man drove down the street. Dudley backed up to his front door.
Wait a minute.
The truck stopped just down the street. Hell, that’s Chester’s house!
The man parked in the driveway. Chester’s garage door rose up. The man returned the tools to Chester’s garage. Footsteps approached from the side of his house. Dudley turned.
A lanky fellow said, “Hey, Dudley.”
Dudley backed up. “Who are you?”
The fellow said, “I know.”
The fellow showed him the picture on his phone of Dudley in his peanut butter suit. Dudley said, “Aw, hell.”
Someone else approached from the other side. Dudley turned. Chester held up his phone with the same picture. “Hey, Dudley. Pick up some tools today? Now is that crunchy or creamy anyway?”
Dudley screamed and ran down the street.
Chester and the other fellow laughed.
When he passed by Chester’s house, the bearded man waved to him.
Dudley kept on running.
A few months later, Chester told Fairfax and Glew that Dudley never came back. A foreclosure sign stood in his front yard. The boys at work never heard a peep out of him. One of the guys put the peanut butter picture up as his Facebook profile picture. This drew hundreds of comments. Then finally, a woman posted a comment at the end that read ‘Wow. I met this guy on a dating website and almost went out with him. Thanks for posting!’ Her profile indicated that she lived in Tunica.
So Fairfax and Glew took a trip to Tunica one night. They visited a number of casinos but never found Dudley. They did find a name tag on the sidewalk in front of one of the casinos that read ‘Dudley’ though.
When they got back, they discovered that a jar of generic peanut butter had been thrown at the front window of Glew’s apartment and Fairfax’s house and Chester’s house. The jars failed to break any of the windows. They searched Dudley’s foreclosed residence but found no sign of him. However, the world has seen him plenty. His picture in bed became an internet meme which most folks call Diarrhea Dan.
Glew slipped over the fence. When he got to the back door, he placed
his gloved hand on the handle. He turned it. The door opened. “Ah,”
he said. “Thanks, Fairfax.” He got inside and shut the door.
After taking a stroll through the house, he took a seat beside the
wall and set his club down. He picked at his sweater vest. “Oh,
groaned. The top button on his vest was gone. He just bought the
thing too. He puffed his stomach out. Could it be? No way. He
couldn’t gain weight if he tried. The vest was medium-sized. Maybe
they were making them smaller these days. That had to be it. Every
manufacturer makes them differently. All the buttons were there when
he put it on this morning. Right?
checked his phone. The Cowboys were ahead. He smiled and shut his
eyes. The turkey weighed on his bowels. Maybe he was gaining weight.
Or maybe one of his nieces pulled the button off when he wasn’t
looking. Yeah, that’s what happened. They were sneaky little devils.
They did it…
Fairfax slipped his lock-picking tools back into his pocket. He took a tour through the house. Standard stuff. An easy target for sure. These folks sat at a relative’s house eating turkey and just leaving this place wide open. They even left their laptop sitting right there on the table for God’s sake. All just so they could sit around and eat and talk and get on each other’s nerves. Stuff to be thankful for. No thanks. Where’s the sense of adventure? No sense in idling away this holiday when he could be busting a thief in the chops.
Cathy had called twice earlier. He answered when she tried the third time. Same old invitation to visit with the family. Sure, she’d be fun but the others would mock him like always. Why did she keep trying? It’s like an unconscious thing. You just keep doing the same thing every year no matter what. Well, Cathy might force herself to do that but Fairfax didn’t have to. He hunkered down and waited for a thief to show up. To hell with tradition.
Clay closed the front door. He opened his car door and tossed the bag inside before his mom called after him. He turned. She said, “You going to see your girlfriend?”
said, “Yeah, Mom.”
don’t you tell her to come here?”
came up behind her. He squeezed her butt while looking at him. She
responded with that goofy smile like she’d been caught at something.
Clay said, “See you.”
drove around with his bass thumping. Then he called up Rob. “Yeah?”
kept the volume up on his music. Rob did the same to him when they
spoke on the phone. They understood each other. Clay said, “Got
something coming. Cool if I stay over?”
said, “Bring the stuff. You down for the weekend? Got the crew
“Dope. I’m there.”
said, “Bring your girl, too.”
be like an hour. See you,” Clay said and hung up. He parked across
the street from the house. He pulled the pick set from beneath his
driver’s seat and then checked both ways. No traffic. No people. Just
the goods. Waiting to be plucked like a turkey. Clay laughed to
himself. Just like a turkey.
answered his phone. “Yeah?”
have a situation here,” Glew said. “This guy is breaking in. He’s
like three hundred pounds though.”
right,” Fairfax said. “Sounds like a good challenge for you.”
me? No, stud. This is at least a two-man job.”
protected a house that sat a few houses down. He could make it in a
couple of minutes at the most. The good thing about a three hundred
pound opponent is that he probably doesn’t move with a lot of
swiftness. So Fairfax had some time. Besides Glew should have to
fight the giant off for a minute at least. The boy has a lot to
walked to the back door.
ducked down. Someone approached the door. Fairfax hunkered behind the
dining table. The guy stood taller than himself and maybe taller than
Glew but he had the same skinny build as Glew. Some skinny guys can
knock your head off, though. He picked at the door lock. Thank God
Fairfax had thought and locked it back. He got into position. His
phone buzzed. He put it on silent.
returned the pick tools to his pocket. He slipped his gloves on and
opened the door. Standard dining room. Wow. That thing on the floor.
Clay picked it up. This isn’t a vase. It’s too heavy. Damn.
shook his head. So Mommy and Daddy and Junior and Sis all eat at the
table while Grandpappy’s dust sits over here in the corner. Clay
patted the urn and set it down. “Cruel ass world.”
walked toward the living room.
grabbed him by the collar.
person shoved him into the wall. Clay tried to shove back. The person
drilled him in the gut with a punch. Clay fell to the floor. A
flashlight beam took over his vision. So he closed his eyes. He
gasped. “Hey…listen…whoever you are…we can work
flashlight beam vanished.
opened his eyes.
dining room light came on.
closed his eyes. “Hold on. You’re going to get us busted, man.
my God,” the voice said.
rubbed his eyes and peered up at the figure. He must have been
shorter but he looked like Clay’s Dad. Ten feet tall right now. And
broader than his dad. Thick through the chest and shoulders. A beard
that was trimmed but not too much. A great hair-to-face ratio. The
man said, “Clay.”
wiped his eyes again. “Yeah? You’re…um…oh shit. You mowed our
yard last summer.”
man pulled a chair over to Clay and killed the dining room light. He
said, “Sit down, you idiot.”
sat in the chair and rubbed his stomach. Damn, he’d never been hit
like that. He said, “Um, Joe? Joe Dulcolax?”
man sat against the wall and turned on the flashlight again. It lit
up a patch of the floor. This nearly had a campfire feel. The man
said, “George Fairfax.”
I was close.”
Fairfax said. “Close to flushing your life down the toilet. What in
the hell are you doing in here?”
know what you’re doing. For God’s sake, why?”
phone buzzed. He read a message and then stood up. “All right. We
ain’t got time for a heart to heart. But we will later. Now get your
ass out of here and I mean, you don’t ever come back. You
nodded and walked to the back door. Fairfax killed the flashlight and
stopped behind him. “Go now.”
walked out. Fairfax walked by him. “Get moving, son.”
said, “Yeah. Sorry.”
turned onto the next street.
bit his lip.
stood behind the front door. The big oaf left it open and now
rummaged through the master bedroom. Glew had his club in hand. He
tiptoed through the living room.
oaf thumped, thumped, thumped, down the hall.
hid by the fireplace. He sucked in a long breath. Let it out nice and
slow. Easy, now. He imagined Fairfax’s voice calming him down. The
oaf carried a jewelry box through the living room. Glew clunked the
oaf on the shoulder with the club.
oaf turned and faced him. Glew said, “All right. Drop it.”
oaf smiled. One tooth showed. He said, “No.”
drew the club back. The oaf grabbed him by the throat and pressed him
into the wall. Glew dropped his club and kicked the oaf’s shins. The
oaf laughed and shoved him down the wall into the fireplace bricks.
He squeezed Glew’s neck. It would burst. Blood would fly everywhere.
Glew had eaten his last Thanksgiving turkey. Goodbye, Mom. Goodbye,
Dad. Goodbye, Sis. I tried.
plowed into the oaf. The oaf let Glew go. Fairfax unloaded with a
hundred punches, clonking the oaf over and over and buckling his tree
trunk legs. Glew coughed and patted the floor for the club. The oaf
chucked Fairfax into the wall. Fairfax bounced off the wall and
rolled across the floor. Glew found the club. He braced himself to
oaf grabbed the jewelry box and thumped to the front door.
clanged against the oaf’s head. He collapsed to the floor. Glew
forced himself to his feet. A guy walked through the front door. Glew
wiped his eyes. Fairfax rose and said, “Damn it, kid! I told you to
hit the road!”
“kid” held an aluminum bat. He glanced at Glew. Fairfax snatched
the bat but the kid pushed against him. “No! No, you don’t! This is
kid said, “My Dad gave this me on my birthday. You don’t take MY
held his hands up. “Fine. Shut the damn door.”
kid closed the door. Fairfax turned on his flashlight and shone the
beam on the oaf. The giant slept. A glob of drool clung to his bottom
lip. Ugh. No sign of blood. Fairfax looked at Glew. “I’ll pull the
walked toward the back. Glew said, “Hey. Who is this guy?”
got out through the back. Clay held the bat like he was at home
plate. “It’s cool, man. I mean no harm.”
me a favor,” Glew said. “Lower that weapon.”
looked down at himself. “Oh, right. Sorry about that.”
oaf snorted in his sleep.
mowed my Dad’s yard a couple of times. I never thought I’d see
him…I mean, what are you guys doing?”
exhaust rumbled outside. Glew wiped his nose. “Open the door. And
grab his legs.”
set the bat down. “Sure, Glew.”
rushed inside. He nudged Clay. “Grab a leg.”
grabbed a leg.
grabbed the shoulders.
shook his head.
grabbed the other leg and Fairfax grabbed the shoulders. They heaved
the oaf off the floor. God. What a sack of garbage. Glew could see
his own breath. Fairfax smiled but gritted down and kept on carrying
the big man. Jay held his end. Glew placed the big man’s boot on the
tailgate. Then he darted around to Fairfax’s side and got up under
the oaf and shoved. Fairfax groaned. Clay yelped. Glew kept quiet.
The oaf’s head bumped against the tailgate. Clay let off. Glew held
on and kept pushing at the shoulders. His face grew tight. Fairfax
took a breath. Was Glew working alone here? Fairfax shoved alongside
Glew. Clay joined in. They heaved the mammoth into the truck. Fairfax
shut the tailgate. He laughed and pointed at Glew. “You’re about to
bust a spring.”
sat on the ground and fought for breath.
said, “You going to make it, Glew?”
flashed a look at Fairfax and then left.
held his bat up. “Where’s Glew going?”
looked at him. Geez. What had it been? A year maybe? He said, “Boy,
what in the hell brought you here?”
looked at the ground. “Stuff happened.”
scratched his jaw. “Does your dad know about your new hobby?”
to hell,” Clay said. “He’s gone.”
spread his hands. “He took off?”
dead. Okay, smart guy? Three months now. They told him he had a
tumor. A month later, they put him in ICU and he never came out.
sorry. I didn’t know.”
well people always spout off and they don’t know shit. Besides you’re
here in the thick of things. Why are you trying to give me a speech?
Huh? Don’t you have a family? I bet you have a Dad. Huh?”
said, “Sort of.”
that supposed to mean?”
pointed to the truck cab. “Get in.”
if I don’t want to?”
climbed inside and started the engine. Clay got into the passenger
side. Fairfax drove onto the street.
said, “What if he wakes up?”
pulled to the curb of the next street. He got out and pulled a long
rope from behind his seat. “Whoa,” Clay said. “What are you
going to do with him?”
climbed into the bed and tied a handcuff knot around the oaf’s wrists
and ankles. Then he stepped down and wiped his hands. He got back
into his truck.
son,” he said. “I hate to hear about your dad. He was a good guy
as far as I knew him.”
was a great man,” Clay said. “And then Mom starts seeing Phillip.
Phillip the accountant. Son of a bitch acts like I don’t exist. He
gets all on her right in front of me and she lets him. Shit. Dad
never did nothing like that. He didn’t like Phillip either. I heard
them talk about it and here she goes and gets right with him. What a
looked around. Police cruisers rolled through here sometimes. He
needed to get. Glew was already waiting. He said, “You’ve been
dealt a shit hand. But you see, the world don’t care about any of
that. You got to get yourself together.”
so-called adult says that.”
true,” Fairfax said. “You’re lucky I caught you. The police would
have hauled you in. Is that what you want? End up in jail? What would
your dad think of that?”
Sure. Same old speech.”
started the truck and drove over to Clay’s car. He said, “This is
gave him a sideways look. “Yeah.”
Fairfax said. “You’re robbing a house and I’m the creep for
guessing at which car you drive. That’s some logic right there.”
not your dad. I’m not your step-dad. I’m not much of an adult either.
But I’m telling you this. I’ve got some cargo I got to unload and I
don’t have time for this. So you’re going to straighten your ass up
and stop doing this shit or you’ll go the same way this fellow is
going. And next time, I will take you down. You understand me?”
cut the engine. He walked around and opened Clay’s door. Clay grabbed
his bat. Fairfax dragged him out by his collar. Clay swung the bat.
Fairfax ducked and punched him in the shoulder. Clay sank to the
ground. “Ahhhh….damn, man. I think you busted my blood vessel or
propped him against his car bumper. “Now. Go home.”
kicked his foot. “What?”
said, “Yeah. I’m headed home. I swear.”
got up and rubbed his shoulder. He picked up his bat and twisted it.
The dents and scratches had piled up but he’d earned them. Dad must
have pitched that ball to him a hundred times.
Dad was gone.
walked back down the block with his bat and picked the lock on the
house. He entered and picked up the jewelry box on the sofa. Rob and
the crew would welcome him. When he got to the front door, those
words came back to him.
world don’t care about any of that.”
licked his lips. Then he hunkered down and called his girlfriend. She
made small talk. He said, “Listen, what do you think of Rob?”
friend Rob?” she said.
wouldn’t call him my friend.”
said, “Good. He’s not. He calls me and texts me all the time. I’ve
told him you and I are together. I would have told you but I don’t
know. You seem like you look up to him like he’s your role model or
something. Rob can do no wrong.”
set the jewelry box down. “God damn it.”
put the phone on his leg. Rob didn’t talk to him in high school. He
only got friendly after his dad died. She introduced them for God’s
sake. The world really didn’t care about his problems. Rob wouldn’t
be his dad. Neither would Phillip. Neither would Fairfax but Fairfax
didn’t bullshit him either. He placed the phone back to his ear.
she said. “You okay?”
you meet me tomorrow? I know you can’t tonight.”
can meet you tonight. How about the Waffle House? You want to meet me
stood. “Sounds great, baby. I love you.”
baby. I love you too. I’m on my way.”
hung up and left the house. When he got to his car, Fairfax sprang up
from the other side. Clay jumped. “Whoa, now!”
grabbed him by the collar. “What did you get?”
I picked up the jewelry box but I put it back.”
shined the flashlight in his eyes. “You sure about that?”
squinted. “Yeah, man. I’m sure.”
right. Keep your ass in line.”
said, “Is that big dude okay?”
in a ditch. Awake. And feeling very sorry for himself.”
of like me. Huh?”
You ain’t got a pop-knot the size of a boiled egg on your head.”
laughed. He said, “Hey. Hold on.”
turned back to him.
reached inside his car and then handed a him plastic bag. Fairfax
examined it. Clay said, “It’s just leftovers. Some turkey and
dressing. Happy Thanksgiving, Fairfax.”
mouth hung open.
said, “Okay. I have a date. See you.”
drove away, leaving Fairfax staring at his gift.
set the button down on his dining table. Then he removed his sweater
vest and placed it beside the button. He threaded his needle. His
doorbell rang. Glew answered the door. Fairfax stood there with a bag
in his hand. Glew said, “Stud. What’s up?”
wanted to stop by. Ain’t that what folks do on Thanksgiving? Stop by
and sit and talk and shit?”
pointed at him and resumed his seat at the table. “That they do.”
removed a plate from the cabinet and then dumped the bag’s contents
onto it. Turkey and dressing with a helping of English peas.
grabbed a fork and set his plate on the dining table. He watched
Glew. “What you got there?”
pulled the needle through. “Just mending. My nieces ripped the
they do the same thing last year?”
don’t think so.”
took a bite of turkey.
did you get that?”
swallowed. “It’s not bad.”
finished up the top button and tied it off. He held it up. “Like
put on the sweater vest. He fastened every button with care. Then he
sat straight in his chair. “There we go.”
said, “You’re quite the seamstress.”
make a fine wife.”
said, “Okay. Keep going.”
think you could put a darn in my sock, miss?”
a Thanksgiving. Huh?”
protected two houses. Now those folks’ll get home and they’ll have
all their stuff. Of course, the house you were in will look a bit
off. I did go in and set the jewelry box back.”
about Clay? He wasn’t still hanging around?”
swallowed. “Nah, he was gone.”
like he’s lost.”
be all right.”
put his feet up on an empty chair and placed his hands behind his
head. “That’s good. You know, it was okay eating with my folks
today but I don’t know. I never relax over there. I relax most after
one of these jobs. The adrenaline rush gets me keyed up but then I
just float on down, man.”
said, “Good lord.”
wiped his mouth and set the napkin on his empty plate. He leaned back
and placed his feet in the other chair. “I hear you, partner.”
sunk lower in his chair.
said, “Say, maybe we could do this every year. Like a late night
mean a tradition?”
no. Just like a meeting.”
good. Need to get some women here for next year’s…meeting.”
pictured it. A couple of women surrounding him and admiring his flat
stomach. Fairfax eating his turkey with his own woman maybe. He
opened his eyes. Fairfax slept. He looked a little like the big oaf
sleeping on the floor back in that house. What was it like to be a
big heavy-breathing mammoth? Glew didn’t want to know. It was best to
keep his trim figure. Ah, a nap sounded good. Glew narrowed his eyes.
boinked Fairfax in the chin.
said, “What the hell?”
He rubbed his chin. Then he inspected his chest. He picked up something and showed it to Glew. “Ain’t this your button?”
Thank you so much for reading!
For more Fairfax & Glew tales, check out this first of many volumes!
bit into a sugar cookie. Her guests chatted around her dining room
table. Five of her dining chairs sat occupied. When had that
happened last? A fine warmth radiated from these folks. Minnie closed
her eyes and smiled. She opened them. The end chair sat vacant. Three
months now. As of yesterday. She set the remainder of the cookie onto
her plate and wiped her lips with her napkin.
Her sister, Barbara and her brother-in-law Wilmer spoke to their daughter and Minnie’s niece, Fern, about what she needed to look for in a new house. Fern had finally saved up the money to get a loan all on her own. At thirty with two children and no husband or father in the picture, she hadn’t made the best choices. However, she’d earned her nursing degree and worked long enough that she had some money and could get out of her crumby apartment. Not that there’s anything wrong with an apartment. Some great men work hard so their wives can live in a nice apartment. Fern’s was just run down. The other guest present sat there peering at the China cabinet. Sy-Fern’s latest boyfriend.
Sy smiled at Minnie and had used no cuss words so far. He wore a turtle-neck sweater and kakis. According to Fern, Sy worked as a bank teller and looked to be manager. He looked like he stepped out of GQ. Barbara and Wilmer loved him. Wilmer had played golf with Sy’s Dad and uncle for years. “Good fellows” he called them. Minnie had no reason to not like him…except for that.
eyes drifted around the room toward the china cabinet and then to
Minnie and then quickly away. That’s the third time. This guy would
snatch something from here before the night ended. Her Moe would have
known it, too.
said, “Well, let’s move to the living room. What do you say?”
others nodded and started to stand.
Fern said, “Oh, Aunt Minnie.”
smiled. “Yes, dear?”
“Well,” Fern said. “I hoped you would…um…show Sy here…around your apartment?”
Minnie bit her lip. Barbara and Wilmer smiled toward her. Fern watched her. Sy glanced at the china cabinet again.
said, “Y-yes. Yes. Of course. What am I thinking? Young man, you
come right with me.”
Minnie walked to the kitchen entrance. Sy coughed behind her. She turned back to Sy. He smiled. She stepped around him. Barbara and Wilmer resumed the house discussion with Fern. They were in their own world without Sy. They could have fit into a snow globe. Sy could have fit into a prison cell. She sighed and turned. “Follow me.”
showed Sy her living room. He smiled the whole time. The TV and the
Blu Ray player and the laptop and the little robot vacuum cleaner.
Sure, add up all the potential loot in my home, you filth.
Minnie showed him her kitchen and the study. She returned to the hall and walked toward the living room where Fern approached. Minnie stopped. Sy said, “What’s this room back here?”
Fern smiled at Sy. Then she turned to Minnie. “Aren’t you going to show Sy your room, Aunt Minnie?”
Barbara and Wilmer walked up behind Fern. Wilmer said, “Who’s ready for a Sam Adams? Sy, old man. How about it?”
Barbara watched Minnie. Fern glanced at her mother and back at Minnie. Wilmer said, “What’s going on?”
exhaled. “I’ll show him. Of course, dear.”
Fern said, “Oh good.”
Then she blew a kiss to Sy who returned the favor. Then she went to the bathroom.
walked toward Sy who stood by her bedroom door. He wore that smile,
too. Wilmer asked him about the beer again. Sy gave him a nod. That’s
right. You don’t talk. Just keep plotting out the robbery.
showed Sy her bedroom. He looked at the bed and the walls. She
reached for the light switch. Sy said, “My, my. This reminds me of
my mother’s room.”
stepped back. “Oh really?”
what mental hospital does she inhabit?
Sy said. “She had the same color on the walls. That quilt is
similar, too. Her mother made it for her. She made one for me, too.
It’s good to pass things down.”
she reached for the light switch, he said, “Oh, hold up!”
stepped back and balled up her right fist. “What?”
stared into the aquarium on her dresser. “These guys. Oh my God.
African Pancake Tortoises. Right?”
she said. “Right.”
did you get them?”
picked at her blouse. “I…um. They belonged to my husband.”
stared into her eyes. Was that a tear on the edge of his eyelash?
said, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.”
did he do that? Did he carry a bottle of Visine in his pocket? Surely
he couldn’t really feel sorry for another person, being a low down
rat. “That’s all right, Sy.”
tapped on the aquarium but he did so in a gentle way, like Moe used
to do. He didn’t want to alarm them-just get their attention.
pointed to the aquarium. “He liked them a lot. I’ve been feeding
them since he…I never really liked reptiles. Or are they
you,” she said.
rubbed his index finger across his lip. “I can give you a hundred
bucks for them. Right here and right now.”
“Oh,” she said. “That’s very generous. But I don’t think so. I’ll keep looking after the little stinkers. Moe would have wanted me to.”
scratched his forehead. She turned the light off and stepped forward.
He didn’t move. She said, “Well…we should get up front.”
flipped the light back on. She took a step back. He said, “A
hundred bucks is a fair price. Believe me. I know.”
stared him in the eyes. He held the stare as if he’d just given her
some fatherly advice. God, the stare lasted ten seconds. No, twenty
seconds! She looked away and said, “I’m sure it is. I’m not
interested, though. Let’s go on back up front now.”
reached for the light switch. He covered it with his hand. Her heart
thoomp-thoomped. Oh, Moe. If only you could be here and take care of
Fern popped her head in the doorway. “Hey, hon. What’re you guys doing?”
fell into a big smile. Geez, those teeth. Her last boyfriend had held
onto three or four teeth in his twenty-five years. Sy looked like he
had fifty chicklets in there. Oh, the things the world does for a
They enjoyed beers and wine over several hands of Uno in the living room for the next three hours while a Titans game played in the background. Minnie watched Sy but he kept his eyes on Fern for the rest of the evening. She could tell Fern what she thought of Sy but her poor mother warned her about them all. Fern never listened. Maybe they would break up. If fate can be awful and take Moe away, maybe it can be kind and kick Sy out of their lives.
week later, Minnie lay in her bed at eight-thirty. She had broken
plans to meet Barbara at Chile’s for their weekly margarita with
chips and salsa. She didn’t know why. She closed her eyes.
door handle rattled.
slid out of bed and drew her robe from the hook on the bathroom door.
She wiped her eyes and tied her robe around her. Then she slid under
her bed and grabbed Moe’s .22 Remington five-shot revolver. She slid
the cylinder out. Five chambers and five bullets. She shut it and
tip-toed out of the bedroom. She kept low and stopped by her kitchen
counter. From there, she peered around at the door.
handle rattled again.
wanted in. Minnie had her cell phone in the pocket of her robe. Moe
would want her to call the police. But folks just think odd these
days. They want to call somebody who’ll take care of them. Why not
take care of yourself?
door handle rattled again. Minnie pulled the hammer back on the
Remington. Come on through. Just come on through and try to rob a
defenseless widow, you big upstanding citizen. Bring everything
would-be intruder ran.
front door of the building slammed.
had spooked her intruder.
pulled out her cell phone and keyed into the app that showed her
doorbell camera feed on her phone. The guy wore plain black clothes
but that face could not be denied. Sy had come back. He’d spotted
that doorbell camera and fled. He was the dirty scoundrel she knew
him to be.
sat at the table beneath the park pavilion. He munched on a Barbecue
sandwich but he sure took his time. Minne smiled. Moe’s tortoises
moved with more speed. She stepped out of her car and walked over to
him. He said, “Minnie,” before she got close enough for him to
see her. She stopped. “Wow, that’s creepy, George.”
wiped his mouth and held up a thick finger. “Is it creepy that I
knew you were there or is it even creepier that you sat there
watching me and waited seven and a half minutes before you approached
slapped his shoulder. “Hush up, now. I have something to tell you.
Something in your line of work.”
work? Roofing? At least, that’s what I’m doing this week.”
poked his arm. “Just finish that sandwich and listen to me.”
told him about Sy and the attempted break-in. He finished the
sandwich. He removed his sunglasses and rubbed the bridge of his
nose. “Who told you about me and Glew?”
sister, Barbara. I couldn’t believe it at first. She told me about
you two getting her jewelry back. I thought ‘My lord.’ I could not
picture old George Fairfax doing anything like that.”
am I? Satan?”
coughed and giggled. “No, you goof. You just, I don’t know. I
didn’t think you hardly even talked to anybody. Now you’re going
around and helping damsels in distress. It threw me for a loop. I
thought you would be a quiet hermit from here on out. Does your
mother know what you do?”
replaced the sunglasses on his face. “When did you say you’re going
out of town?”
“This weekend. He’ll try to get those tortoises. I told Fern. So I know she told him and he’ll try.”
grinned. “You told her on purpose. Huh?”
handed him an apartment key.
pulled into the apartment complex at six o’clock. He carried some
takeout food up the steps to the second floor and found number 224.
He inserted the key in the door and opened it up. Minnie said,
held a Remington revolver although she didn’t point it at him. He
said, “Easy, now.”
giggled and held it out to him. “For your protection this weekend.
Where’s your partner? Lou?”
set the Remington on the coffee table. “It’s Glew. We work in
shifts. He’ll relieve me sometime tomorrow unless I need his
picked up her purse. “I’m off then. I’ll be back Sunday night at
eight o’clock and not a minute later.”
fun,” Fairfax said.
kissed his jaw and then left, locking the door after herself. Fairfax
leaned back and listened to the sounds of the apartment settling.
Come on, Sy. Come on and bite, little fish.
walked up the apartment steps, counting each one as he did so. A wiff
of something tickled his nostrils. He looked up. Nothing. He looked
down. In between one of the steps, a vision gave him tingles. The
young lady stopped and looked up at him. “Wally?”
smiled. “Well, well.”
young lady said, “Oh my God.” She clapped her high heels up the
steps. Glew embraced her and inhaled the vanilla perfume. Then he
buried his face into her hair. She tapped his arm. “You can let go
He stepped back but kept his hands on her arms. She did not protest.
“Cindy. Where have you been?”
live here. You don’t remember. Do you?”
of course,” Glew said. “Through a rum haze, I recall that you
lived in an apartment. Not sure it was this complex, though. What can
I say? They all look alike to me.”
toyed with his shirt. “What are you doing here, anyway? Coming back
for round two? Only took you two and a half months.”
opened his mouth.
up here, you sumbitch!” Fairfax said.
looked up. His partner stood on the balcony. The bags wore heavy
under his eyes, even from down here. He turned to Cindy. “I’m sorry
but I have some work to do.” He leaned down to her ear. “I can’t
tell you which apartment I’m in but stay away from 224. Do not go in
She ran her tongue across her teeth. Then she took off. Glew galloped up the steps. Fairfax passed him and trotted down the stairs. Glew said, “Okay, partner. See you!”
strolled into 224.
hour later, Cindy met Glew at the door. He picked her up in his arms
and then carried her down the hall to the bedroom. Once he got the
door open, he carried her inside and tossed her onto the queen-sized
bed. She squealed. Then she sat up. “Wow, I think my mom has a
quilt like this.”
switched off the light and lit a candle. “Every mom has one of
kicked off her high heels. He jumped onto the bed beside her. She
said, “And what does every private detective have?”
secret,” he said. “And the answer is always right here.” He
steered her hand down low. She giggled and licked his lips. Then the
explorations began. Glew groped and moaned and gripped and squeezed
until Cindy shoved him over. He stared at her.
turned to the door. The aquarium with the turtles. Where had it gone?
No. Oh no. That quick? How was that possible?
sprang up. She grabbed his arm. He slung free of her grip. “Sorry!”
he said. He ran through the apartment.
he reached the steps, he slowed down and hobbled as best he could.
The guy wore a black jumpsuit. He jumped into a red sedan and sped
out of the lot. Glew tripped over his pants around his ankles. He
smacked the ground. “Shit!”
ugly truck pulled up beside him.
Glew said. He scrambled up inside the beast. Fairfax took off after
the sedan. “Pull your damn pants up.”
looked down. “Oh right. Sorry. I was watching but-
know and I will say, she is a looker but damn, man. Why didn’t you
lock the bedroom door?”
guess my urges just took me over.”
followed the sedan through lots of traffic on out to the highway and
through curvy roads until Sy pulled the sedan into a gravel driveway
that led to a trailer. Fairfax pulled over onto the side of the road
out of view of the trailer. He stepped out, followed by Glew. Sy
carried the aquarium up to the front door and knocked.
woman answered the door. She placed her hands to her cheeks. “You
found them?!? Oh thank you!”
closed the door. Sy stepped off her tiny porch and wore a wide smile.
Who was this guy’s dentist? Glew might have to pay him a visit.
woman returned with a boy by her side. The little guy looked like he
was around ten years old. He wore glasses and looked a bit chubby.
However, he probably didn’t get picked on in a physical way. He could
woman handed over a wad of bills to Sy.
tapped Glew’s shoulder. “Let’s go.”
handed the aquarium over to the woman. She thanked him. He walked
straight toward the sedan. Glew stepped in front of his door. Fairfax
grabbed him by the collar and shoved him back onto the hood. His
smile vanished. “Hey, what is this?”
woman set the aquarium down. “What do you two think you’re doing?
Get your hands off of him!”
boy watched the scene, grinning. He threw a few punches at the air.
turned to the woman. Sy punched Fairfax in the lip. The woman gasped.
Fairfax dragged Sy off the hood. Sy said, “I’m sorry” five times.
Fairfax got Sy on his knees and then placed his foot into the center
of his back. From there, he shoved him forward until Sy’s face was
pressed into the sedan’s fender. Fairfax kept his boot on his back,
holding him there. Glew turned away and chuckled.
woman said, “Take your boot off of him.”
do you try to teach your son right from wrong?”
placed her hands on her hips. “Yes, sir, I do.”
guy stole those turtles.”
what?” she said.
boy said, “Tortoises. Not turtles.”
stole them from a widow.”
She looked at Sy. “Is that true?”
dug the boot into Sy’s spine. Sy groaned and said, “Yes!”
woman kicked Sy in the butt. Glew walked away laughing. Fairfax let
Sy fall to the ground. Then he turned him over and pulled the woman’s
money from his pocket. He handed her money back to her. He said, “Six
hundred bucks. Good lord. Those are some pricey turtles.”
boy said, “Tortoises.”
woman took her money back. She pointed to her son. “Oh they’re
worth it. He loves them. He’s been looking for some forever.”
looked at him. “So? I just pay you and then you pay the widow?”
walked up beside Fairfax. He said, “That sounds like a good deal.”
He looked at the boy. “Ready to play with your new turtles son?”
boy smiled and said, “Tortoises! I’m ready!”
woman held the money toward Fairfax who held up his hand. “Now, I
and the woman stared at Fairfax.
said, “The widow didn’t tell me that she would sell them. So, I’m
afraid I can’t let you have them.” The woman frowned. Glew
looked at Fairfax. “Hey, come on, stud. I think the boy should get
them. Just look.”
boy hung his head and stuck out his bottom lip. Fairfax looked at
Glew. “It ain’t that simple. Get in the truck.” Glew said,
“Look, man.” Fairfax stepped closer to him. “Get in the
walked away. After kicking Sy in the back, he got into the truck.
turned back to the woman. “Listen, the widow woman is returning
tomorrow night at eight o’clock. You come by with your money and make
her the offer. She’ll probably say ‘yes’.”
boy let go of a tear. The woman hugged him and wiped his eyes. She
studied Fairfax who picked up the aquarium. “You think she will?”
said, “I do. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
his way back to the truck, Fairfax kicked Sy in the ribs. Sy crawled
into his sedan.
pulled on down the road. Glew shook his head. “That kid looked so
sad. We should have just let him have them.” Fairfax said,
“We’ll see tomorrow night.”
least one of us cares.”
you sure cared all the way down the steps with your pants around your
didn’t say much for the rest of the way back. When Fairfax dropped
him off he said, “And you can stay until seven tomorrow night.”
reached for the aquarium. Fairfax swatted his hand. “Yeah, right.”
am I staying for, then?”
a good question. Why are you staying? In fact, why did you even come
over to begin with?”
knocked on her own front door and waited. A voice spoke through the
door. “Who goes there?”
deepened her voice. “The master of the house.”
voice (also deeper) said, “This is an apartment.”
shook her head. Then she cleared her throat and got into her deepest
voice. “Open the door before I break it down.”
door opened. A man stood there, eating Goober candies. Minnie looked
him up and down. “So you’re the famous Glew?”
stepped inside and set her purse on the kitchen counter. She took in
a deep breath. Then she turned back to him. “So-
toilet flushed in the bathroom. Glew chuckled. Fairfax stepped out.
“Oh. Howdy, Minnie. About time you made it back.”
said, “I had a little traffic delay. So how did everything go? Did
Sy stop by for a discount on some turtles?”
motioned to Glew who told Minnie the tale. At the end, he said, “Now
you think the boy should have the turtles. Right?”
smile faded. She looked at Fairfax. He watched her with steady eyes
while seated at her dining table.
doorbell clanged. Minnie blinked a few times. Fairfax nodded to her.
She answered her front door. The woman from the trailer stood there
with her son by her side. Minnie invited them inside. The woman
confirmed Glew’s story. The boy hugged Minnie’s waist. Minnie turned
red. She hugged the boy back. The mom said, “So, name your price
and we’ll work something out.”
looked back at Fairfax. He kept those steady eyes on her. She said,
“Does your mama know what’s best for you?”
said, “Did it ever make you mad that she knew best and denied you
said, “You got over it, though. Right?”
did. And if I didn’t, who cares? That’s my problem.”
turned back and took a seat at the table. She looked at the boy and
said, “I won’t sell you the tortoises.”
woman said, “What? Hold on, now. Why not?”
see, I have-
boy stomped Minnie’s foot. Minnie drew back and yelled. The boy shook
his fist toward her. “You give me those tortoises or else! Or else,
grandma! You hear me? Or else!”
woman stared at her son. Could eyes get that big without bursting?
stood. “Don’t you ever be hitting a lady, son. Back up.”
boy raised his other fist.
said, “Back up.”
boy drew his fist back.
mother grabbed the boy’s fist and yanked him toward her. Tears
collapsed down his cheeks. His mother hunkered down and pointed in
his face, warning him with a low voice that escaped the others’ ears.
She pulled him to the door, moving like the boy was a whip in her
lion tamer grip. She turned back to Minnie. “My apologies, ma’am.”
massaged her toe. “That’s all right.”
woman looked at Fairfax and then at Glew. She shook her head and
looked back at Fairfax and said, “You a father?”
said, “Not yet.”
looked at Fairfax. “I think she’s right. Moe and I talked about
having kids. We tried but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for
motioned for Glew to sit down. Glew sat. Fairfax sat next to Minnie.
He took her hand in his and said, “Who says you’re not a mother?”
laughed and hugged him. Fairfax pulled Glew into the hug. He dropped
a Goober onto the floor.
ten o’clock that night, Minnie’s phone rang. She wiped the sleep from
her eyes and answered.
She said, “Hello, Fern.” “Um, what is this Sy has been telling me about you hiring some thugs to beat him up? Are you out of your mind? And don’t think I didn’t notice you giving him the cold shoulder at your apartment that night. I have to tell you-
“Fern, get your butt over here.”
what?” she said. Her voice shook.
rose up in bed. “Get over here. I’m going to talk. You’re going to
listen. Then we’re never going to talk about this again.”
if you don’t listen, fine, but I can say I tried.”
Minnie hung up on her. Then she made herself a cup of coffee in the kitchen. She blew the steam off the top and took a sip. Then she pulled the package of sugar cookies from the cabinet. She ate one whole and smiled at the chair at the end of the table.
Thank you so much for reading!
Here are more Fairfax & Glew tales for your reading pleasure…
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
month later, I got home and took a shower after a long day of roofing
and sat in my rocker where I dozed.
right, damn it,” I said.
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?”
much, slick and sissy,” I said.
pointed to the boat. “What do you think of that little number?”
whistled. “Just get it?”
he said. “Had it a while. To tell you the truth, I’m tired of it.
How about you take it?”
held up a hand. “Ain’t got the funds at the moment.”
spread his hands out. “After you guys getting me back my other
boats, you think I’d make you pay for this?”
swallowed. “Well, I mean…Glew told me about the job and all. He
should get it before I do.”
agree,” he said. “Only, he didn’t want it.”
shrugged. “He told me to bring it over here. So…here.”
smiled. “Dang, Scott. This is real nice. Thank you. Really.”
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
shook his head. “Got to get back to it. Enjoy the boat.”
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.”
took the cigar and grinned.
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?”
placed the cigar between my teeth. “Like a million dollar idea,
took off down the road.
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
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.
I could have a little fun here.
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.
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?”
snickered. “Yeah, right, like you’d have a date on a Friday night.
That’s what weird folks do. Right?”
said, “I suppose you do, of course.”
smiled wide. “This one. Oh, man. My greatest conquest.”
happy for you two.”
stud. Look,” he said. He showed me her Facebook profile on his cell
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.”
don’t know.” I scratched my chin. “You might miss out on all the
fun we have running around.”
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.”
chuckled. “Aw, don’t be jealous, stud. You’ll find a life one day.
I’m headed out, though.”
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?”
peered in my rearview mirror at the boat. “Aw, I wouldn’t expect
much, Glew. Go get her, buddy.”
bet, you son of a gun.”
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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?”
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.
Cut said, “Not a problem.”
tapped on the phone. Then I said, “You fellows mind if I step out?
My back’s killing me.”
said, “Go ahead.”
stepped out and then placed the phone to my ear.
I said. “Yes, sir. I got a problem…”
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.
said, “The problem? What’s my problem? Is that what you’re asking
Cut and his friend inched toward me. Pockets took a step back while
the other fellow quickened his pace toward us.
said, “I got four assholes here who stole my boat.”
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,
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.
held up his hands. “Hold on, now. You can take the boat back.”
nodded while his eyes darted back and forth between me and his fallen
said, “All right, then.”
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.
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.
Cut kept his pistol aimed at me. “It’s our boat. You leave it.”
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.”
Cut grinned at Pockets. “Unhook it.”
unhooked my boat.
Cut stared at me. “Just don’t come back around here. We don’t stand
for thieves out this way.”
sir,” I said. I drove down the road.
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
I walked toward the yard, Buzz Cut patted the ground for his weapon.
I fired the .32 into the night air.
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
shot into the air again.
everybody understand that?”
said, “Yes! Yes! We do!”
others raised their hands and nodded.
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.
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?”
house,” I said.
right,” he said. “I’ll stop by.”
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.
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.”
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?”
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
propped my leg on my knee and waited. After stewing a while, he said,
“You ever been stood up?”
course not. You’d have to actually get a date first. Right?”
waited a while longer.
chuckled. “Hell, maybe you’re right. Just sit and wait for some bad
guys. Anybody show up, anyway?”
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!”
smiled and unhooked the cam and gave the phone back to him. He said,
“Wow, man. I should have hung out with you tonight.”
wrong with trying to find you a lady friend, Glew.”
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
get things done,” I said. “I haven’t been acting alone this whole
time. You’re fine and you’ll do well.”
aren’t you disappointed in me? I mean, I feel like I let you down.”
said, “Nah, bud. You’ll ride with me on the next one.”
you?” I said.
nodded. “You bet I will.”
to hear it.”
stood and stretched. “Well, I guess I’ll be going.”
car came down my driveway blaring AC/DC. The oldies station must be
putting on a tribute tonight. Glew said, “What the? Who is…”
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
looked at Glew and smiled. “Wally Glew, meet Roberta.”
hugged Glew. He stared at me, stunned.
said, “Roberta here had a date a couple weeks ago at that bar out
on the highway.”
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.”
patted my cheek. “Speaking of which, I’ll be in your bedroom, baby.
See you in a few?”
squeezed her thigh again. She walked inside. Glew turned to me. “My
whole universe is shattering.”
stood. “That’s what I can’t figure.”
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?”
looked away. “No. I…I didn’t.”
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.”
rubbed his forehead. Then he frowned at me. I grinned. He shook his
head and pulled out his phone and started texting.
got to get inside.”
gonna be prowling tomorrow night?”
I said. “It’s usually best to respond to those who want you around
said, “I think you’re right.”
voice echoed through the house. “There’s no TV in here, Mr.
Fairfax. I need my entertainment!”
said, “Welp. I gotta go. See you buddy!”
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.”
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.
Shelly spent her Sunday afternoons doing yard work around her box of
a two-bedroom home. She left her front door unlocked during this
work. In over fifteen years of living there, she never had a problem
had done some spying on her nephew since Ms. Shelly’s sister
suspected the young man of embezzling from the family business. Ms.
Shelly called Glew up while we rode through town, looking for
trouble. We visited Ms. Shelly who told us that someone must have
entered her home while she worked in her backyard and stolen her
music box. She dabbed at her forehead. “I’m never going to leave
the front door unlocked again.”
said, “Oh no. You leave it unlocked.”
looked at Glew and then back at me.
said, “We’ll put another music box there and place a tracker on it.
Whoever stole the other one might come back and when they do, we’ll
know where they go.”
said, “It’s the only chance you’ve got.”
we bought a music box off of eBay that looked similar to her stolen
one. We placed the tracker inside. Ms. Shelly promised to stick to
her routine and leave that front door unlocked. She would call us if
the second box disappeared.
we left, I said, “Damn. Stealing is bad enough but stealing from
old folks. That’s low.”
said, “Yeah. I knew this one kid in high school. I’m pretty sure he
stole from this old man who lived on the other side of town.”
said, “Ah, but he told the funniest jokes. Always made everybody
laugh. We didn’t have any money growing up, you know. I had this one
yellow tie. It’s all we could afford. He told me it was the nicest
tie he ever saw. I mean, he did some things he shouldn’t have, sure,
but he sure made me feel like a winner.”
months rolled by.
Glew got the call.
rode over to Ms. Shelly’s house on a chilly afternoon. She met us
outside in her driveway. “Yes, boys. I was working in my yard and
left the front door unlocked as usual. I’d just about forgotten about
the music box but I had trouble getting to sleep and so I got up and
poured me a glass of water. I looked over. Sure enough, the new box
was gone. And I know saw it there earlier in the day.”
clicked his teeth. “So our boy came back to the scene of the
said, “It looks like it. Ah, lord. Excuse me.”
walked back inside. Glew brought up the tracker on his cell phone. He
said, “I haven’t opened this app in a month. Might take a little
looked around the neighborhood. Most of the houses looked similar to
Ms. Shelly’s house. The yards were maintained well. None of the
houses sat vacant. A couple of older ladies watered plants on their
porches. One older man waved at us from his rocking chair. A couple
of teens hung out a porch down the street. They spat into the yard
and stared at us.
Shelly came back outside. “So did that gadget tell you anything?”
said, “It’s still working. How you been?”
stood waiting like he hadn’t said anything. Her curly gray hair stood
away from her head. I smelled the air. Rain just might be on the
tapped on his phone. “Ah. Man. This thing.”
said, “What is it?”
said, “What’s going on?”
Glew said. “I’m sorry. It looks like we lost it.”
lost it? They got away again?”
rubbed his forehead. “I’ll keep trying. Oh, man.”
it easy. These modern gadgets are nice but they don’t always work,”
Shelly sighed. I stepped out of the car and walked around to Glew’s
side. I looked at her as she stood like she was on her last legs
after waiting hours in a line at Walgreens. I said, “You seen
anybody around who might do this?”
looked down at the ground. Had she heard me? I peeked at her ear but
I didn’t see any hearing aid. Of course, they do make them smaller
these days. She scratched her head. “I seen a fellow walking by a
few times. He looked kind of like you.”
turned his face toward me while keeping his eyes on the phone.
“Something you need to tell me, stud?”
said, “Kind of like me.”
held her hand up in an effort to show me the height of this man who
resembled myself. She thought he was a little taller by a few inches.
said, “Did he look over at you or your house here?”
looked at everything but me,” she said. “It was like he looked
around at the houses and the cars maybe but he wasn’t the kind to
look you in the eye which is rare for a big fellow. I thought it
said, “Damn. This worked just fine a month ago.”
tell you what,” I said. “We’ll try to get Glew’s gadget here back
on track. In the meantime, we’ll ride around and see if we can’t spot
this tall fellow. How does that sound?”
Shelly watched Glew. Then she pushed her hair back and glanced at me.
She said, “All right.”
she walked back into her house.
scooted into his passenger seat and kept fidgeting with his phone. I
drove us down the street. I’ll bet the yards looked no different
twenty years ago- same fences and green lawns made up of weeds. I’d
even bet that these older folks didn’t look much different twenty
years ago either. In fact, I do believe I rode through here as a
younger man and saw Ms. Shelly once before although I can’t be sure.
I think it was, though. Something about her demeanor brings up
memories of riding through here with my nanny, especially around
pulled into a driveway on the next street over. “Keep working,
paid me no mind, still lost in figuring out that blasted app. I left
him sitting there with the car idling. A man walked up the next
street over. He stood taller than myself and when he turned his
profile toward me, I could swear he might be a cousin of mine
although obviously, he didn’t possess my handsomeness nor my
ruggedness. Not even close. Not to insult the man, but…
I walked along behind him, keeping twenty feet between us. He kept
his hands in his pockets, stopping now and then and staring at a
house for a few moments. Then he’d walk on. He also wore a shirt that
probably cost him a lot of money. I don’t know clothing brands too
well but it smelled of money if that makes any sense. Bright colors
and a rare design maybe?
started to feel like following myself. I stopped sometimes and took
things in the way this guy did. Of course, a good burglar should take
things in but I don’t know. Maybe it’s pure instinct but nothing
happened in my gut that made me think he was up to something. He
seemed like a guy who just wanted to walk down the street and
observe. Houses. Maybe he was in real estate?
made it nearly to the end of the street when the man crossed over and
started up the other side. This guy definitely wanted to walk. This
wasn’t a necessary task for him. But lots of folks walk for pleasure.
Ah, I shook my head. Was I making excuses for the guy because he
looked like me?
had to focus. Someone stole Ms. Shelly’s music box. This guy could
easily be the one. He could be the type to walk into Belk and then
smile to the woman behind the counter and put everybody at ease
before slipping on that high-dollar shirt and sneaking out the side
door. Then he walks up and down these streets and sees her working in
her yard. Maybe he saw her enter her house without the key. He does
this a few times, making sure it’s a pattern and not just a one-time
thing. One day, she’s out there and the timing is just right. He
walks straight inside back to her bedroom where the music box sits,
waiting to be plucked. The guy slips out and walks home. He jumps on
eBay and sells the music box for half the price and pockets the cash
and then keeps on walking so that no one would think it could be him.
Who would be dumb enough to return to the scene of the crime?
man hunkered down behind a hydrangea bush. I paused. A young lady
watered her flower garden in her front yard. The man stayed low
there, watching her. Yes, sir. He’s watched a lot of folks just like
this. He’s probably seeing whether or not she locks her door when
going in and out of her house. If he’s our guy, this shouldn’t be
hard. He’s always walking around. He’ll have to lead us to his home
in the world?
young woman turns from her garden and steps around the hydrangea bush
with her water hose in hand and sprays the man!
did she know?
man shields himself with his hands. The young lady laughs and stops
spraying. Given the chill in the air, the guy has every right to be
mad. However, the man smiles and approaches her. She slaps his arm in
a playful way. They speak for a while. It all seems pleasant. The man
starts to leave but she tells him to hold on. She runs inside and
returns with a towel. He dabs himself dry. After she gives him a hug
and a kiss on the cheek that lasts longer than I expected, he goes on
about his walk.
sprays her garden, looking back over her shoulder. I walk by her
place. The guy is turns the corner up ahead.
turn. The young lady stares at me. I’m already looking back at her.
So I grin. “Howdy, ma’am.”
slides her glasses up her nose while she walks over to me. Her black
hair hangs to her shoulders. She’s still holding the hose, almost
like a potential weapon when she says, “How long have you been
look ahead. The man has turned the corner. I look back at her. “Just
today. His name is Bo?”
lowers the hose. “Super nice guy. He’s been walking by my house
here for months. Why are you following him?”
shove my hands in my pockets. “Why does he always walk around and
look at the houses around here?”
smiles at me. I smile back. She sets the hose down and then ties her
black hair back and picks the hose back up with the nozzle aimed
toward my boots. She says, “Why are you following him?”
look down the street. “Someone around here thinks that he may have
says, “I don’t think so.”
say, “I get that you like him. Maybe have a crush on him.”
leans her chin up.
say, “But we can’t let that interfere here.”
says, “A crush? Nah. I like him. He’s a nice guy but I don’t know.
I don’t think he wants anybody. He’s a loner.”
guy was too much like me. Maybe he is a distant cousin.
says, “And a thief? Nah. He has this really stressful job. I think
he’s a engineer maybe? He walks around down here to de-stress. I’ve
seen him have panic attacks so bad that he has to lie down.”
did you see that Gucci shirt?” she says. “No way he doesn’t make
sure you’re right. Thank you.”
sprays her hose near me. A collection of drops cover a spot beside my
now you answer me some questions, pal.”
hold my hands up like this is a bank robbery. “Yes, ma’am?”
say, “A music box.”
don’t think Bo would steal that.”
say, “I don’t either. See you.”
sprays again, making the wet spot double in size.
leaned into a step away but I stop.
says, “Who accused him?”
sigh. “It’s not important.”
on, now,” she says. “Tell me the accuser and I’ll let you leave.”
sprays again, covering the ground on the other side of my boots. “You
say, “Ms. Shelly.”
I say. “She lives on the next street.”
I know where that thing lives.”
nearly choke. I clear my throat and say, “What?”
sprays my boots until they’re soaked.
God for waterproof footwear.
says, “You’ve got some damn nerve, coming around here and accusing
poor Bo of something because of a bunch of lies that old harpy filled
your head with.”
say, “I didn’t mean-
sprays up into the air and then cuts the hose off, leaving a stream
collapsing to the grass. “What a world we live in where good people
get accusations and old bitches like her have apes like you running
around spying on the only decent guy left. Get away from me!”
sprays the crotch of my pants. So I take off. Half-way down the
street, Glew pulls up. “Wow. Go swimming?”
app’s working again. Hop in,” Glew said.
got into his car. “So what did you find out?”
said, “The tracker lands us right about…”
pulling back onto Ms. Shelly’s street, he reached the third house up
which sat about seven houses down from Ms. Shelly’s.
parked by the curb. I took a look. “So it’s in there? You run the
said, “Um-hhmm. Check it out.”
app produced the thief’s profile- Mrs. Ginger Rourke, widow, aged 68.
said, “Are you kidding me?’
said, “I looked up possible family but they don’t live around
here-not on record at least.”
this old lady stole the music box from Ms. Shelly. But why?”
picked her lock and entered the place. No one was home. So we took a
seat and waited. I snapped my fingers. Glew said, “What?”
we were kids, we rode through this neighborhood. It was Christmas
time,” I said. “We passed by Ms. Shelly’s house.”
picked his teeth, watching me.
wore this scowl when we passed by. I remember I waved but she stared
after us. My nanny cussed her when we turned off the street.”
sat there for an hour before she pulled her tiny car into her
driveway and walked inside. Glew flipped on the living room light.
She put a hand over her mouth. Glew waved at her. She looked at me. I
held up both music boxes. “So you like taking music boxes?”
looked back at Glew. “What are you doing in my house? I’ll call the
did you take the music boxes?” I said.
wouldn’t look at me. Instead she pulled out her cell phone and dialed
some numbers. She put the phone to her ear. Then she watched us. We
watched back. She spoke into the phone, “Um, yes. That’s right.
I…need the police here right away. There are two armed men in my
living room. They’re trying to rob me.”
slipped her phone back into her pocket. “Okay. We’ll see.”
sat in a chair and turned away from us. A minute later, she turned
back to us. “Well…she shouldn’t have that.”
said, “Why shouldn’t she?”
box plays ‘You Are My Sunshine’,” she said. “That old witch has
never been anybody’s sunshine. She’s a cursed moon. That’s what she
said, “Maybe but why steal from her? It’s wrong.”
Rourke shook her head. “She’s mean. She shouldn’t have nice things.
It should sit here in my house for me. I’m not mean. My family isn’t
mean. My friends aren’t mean. Pleasant things should be around
pleasant people. I can’t believe you two brutes would take it from
left her house. Glew followed me. We drove down the street to Ms.
Shelly’s house and knocked on her door. She answered a minute later.
She invited us inside. I sat at her kitchen table. She had her hair
in pink curlers and wore a brown robe. “What is it?”
set the music boxes on the dining table. She patted the original
music box. “There it is.”
said, “Doesn’t that make you happy?”
Shelly grabbed her purse. She handed over two one-hundred dollar
bills. We each took one. “Aren’t you happy now?” Glew said.
“Doesn’t that box bring you joy?”
placed her purse back on the counter. “Y’all should be going on
walked toward the front door. Glew stayed in the dining room. “So,
you aren’t happy that we got it back for you? Don’t you want to know
who stole it?”
said, “Young man, you did your work and I paid you. Now get your
tail out of my house.”
be grateful or anything.”
don’t have to be grateful. I don’t have to do shit,” she said.
on, Ms. Shelly,” Glew said. “Doesn’t having the music box back
make you a little happy?”
what difference does that make to anybody? I asked you to find it for
me. It was mine and I should get it back. You did and I paid you. Get
don’t usually do these things for money,” Glew said.
snapped her fingers. “Give it back then.”
just, you don’t seem like you’re happy about this. Or anything. Your
neighbors say you’re not that pleasant to be around. Your sister says
you’re never happy.”
said, “And what’s she going to do about it?”
She just wonders why you’re-
I’m a bitch?” she said.
stepped toward the door, pulling at Glew’s sleeve.
said, “Oh, I wouldn’t-
I know you wouldn’t.” She held up her hands. “None of you would
ever speak your mind. Well, I do. I was being nice to you boys but
even y’all won’t let me be that way.” She pointed to Glew. “I
think you’re a skinny nancy boy.” She pointed to me. “And you are
a filthy hillbilly that should live beneath a trailer park.” She
turned back to Glew. “Now, I didn’t say anything. I was being
cordial but you couldn’t leave it alone. No one leaves it alone these
days. You ask for it? You got it.”
I’ll tell you something, then,” Glew said.
leaned forward. “Just go right ahead, little boy!”
dragged Glew out of her house. He grabbed the handle but I pushed him
back and yelled through the door, “Thanks a lot!”
I guided him toward his car. We got inside. I drove us away, making
sure to lock the doors. Glew said, “Can you believe how hateful she
not a ball of sunshine.”
think she would show a little gratitude.”
said, “She did pay us. I mean, really, she’s right.”
people like that should get ripped off for spreading misery.”
shouldn’t be punished for their feelings or opinions,” I said.
“Hell, she didn’t do anything to you.”
but it’s like Mrs. Rourke said. Anybody that spreads misery like
that…shouldn’t have nice things.”
we go back and steal the music box and take it to Mrs. Rourke?”
Glew said. “Maybe. Well, I don’t know. Maybe we could just…throw
a baseball through her window.”
pulled over. “You know, that other lady sprayed me with a hose for
saying bad things. Mrs. Rourke stole from Ms. Shelly because she said
unpleasant things. Now you want to break her window because she
wasn’t happy to get her property back? When did words start hurting
you all so badly?”
just…we went through a lot to get that back. She could’ve at least
acted like she was happy.”
shook my head. “Bunch of sissies.”
is that right, Fairfax? Sissies huh? Maybe we’re just receptive. We
know how that negativity wears away on a person. You watch people all
day long but you don’t even notice how those hateful words can form a
cloud over a person. Geez!”
didn’t say a word for the rest of the way to Glew’s apartment. When I
pulled in, I looked at him. “You know something?”
looked at me.
pointed at his chest. “That’s the nicest tie I’ve ever seen.”
peered down at it. “Hey, thank…”
thought back to his story about the high school thief and noticed my
said, “Go to hell.”
placed my new hundred dollar bill in my wallet, got in my truck and
bit a good chunk out of my cheeseburger while Glew slurped his
milkshake. He focused on it to the point that I thought his head
might bust right there in the diner. We sat at a booth near the back.
A few other folks took up more booths while eight or nine folks
occupied most of the bar chairs. I washed my burger down with coffee.
“Don’t strain, Glew.”
kept slurping. Our waitress brought the check. I reached for it but
Glew beat me to it. I said, “Come on, now. You’ve got the last
let go of the straw and took a breath. “Well, you know how it is.
Given your clothes, you’re not worried about appearances. But when
you’re a ladies man like myself, you have to show them a little
something and every lady loves a man who will pick up a check.”
rubbed my chin. “You keep going and you’re going to be writing
child support checks…ladies man.”
swallowed. “Why do you say that? Did somebody tell you something?”
took another bite of the cheeseburger and shrugged. “I don’t like
studied me for a moment. Then he removed his credit card from his
wallet and placed it on the check. I said, “But…”
But what? What are you talking about, George?”
chuckled. “George? You must be worried. Ain’t nothing wrong with a
child. You can pass on your fine lineage of skirt-chasing.”
on, man. You don’t just open up that door and…oh…”
young lady scooted her chair up to our booth. She sat down as if she
were a nurse trying her best not to disturb her sleeping patients. I
almost her to be holding reading material. Her hands were empty but
they shook. She stared at her lap. I said, “Um…ma’am…”
waitress came by and got the check along with Glew’s credit card. The
girl kept her eyes down. I found myself playing along until the
waitress dropped the check off and carried a tea pitcher toward
another booth. I said, “So, um…what can we do for you, ma’am?”
mumbled something. Glew said, “How’s that, miss?”
girl looked at me. I stared into her eyes. She glanced over at Glew
and then back at me. Her bottom lip trembled. “Okay. You…you two
guys…I…somebody said that you guys could…”
waited for her to continue. After a solid minute, I said, “Ma’am, I
don’t know what-
leaned forward, keeping her voice low but loud enough for me to hear.
looked at Glew who snapped his fingers. “Just down the road a ways.
girl nodded. After looking Glew over a while, she turned back to me.
“My boyfriend has been selling power drills out of a unit there. He
got them from Roy’s Hardware.”
pointed at her. “I know that place. So you’re saying he-
nodded. “The number to his unit is 63. Here’s the key.”
slid a key across the table next to my hand. “Just set him right.”
said, “Ma’am, I don’t know who you’ve been talking to…ma’am?”
walked out of the diner. I looked over at Glew. “What do you
said, “That’s the power of reputation. Let’s go.”
said, “This ain’t good, man. The next thing we know, some blue boys
might get after us.”
stood and smoothed his shirt out. “Maybe. Come on. We’ll check it
shook my head. “I don’t feel too good about this. I mean, who was
she? How does she know? Who told?”
wiped a crumb off my shirt. “Take it easy, stud. When you help
people, others talk. It happens. We’ll just check it out.”
shrugged. “When they lock us up, you get bottom bunk.”
headed for the door.
said, “Fine. Now, what did you hear about me and child support?”
turned back to him. “Well, it’s probably nothing.”
come on. Probably nothing? What does that mean?”
drove us over to Joe’s Storage. We idled through the rows. The units
were about eight feet long apiece. Long rows of blue metal doors. I
figured they were filled up with old junk and maybe a few decent
pieces of furniture. We found number 63. I examined the key. Glew
said, “Well, we could check it out. There’s no tail or anything.”
scratched my cheek. “I don’t know, man.”
said, “It’s up to you.”
said, “Let’s sleep on it.”
dropped Glew off and took my time getting home. I stayed up, mulling
the idea over. The police didn’t scare me in this matter. I couldn’t
picture them being bent out of shape over us roughing up a thief. I’m
sure rumors had floated around about us but we hadn’t caused chaos in
the streets by any means. Any people we straightened out would not be
going to the police. So, I couldn’t picture any trouble from them,
although you never know.
who was this girl? And who told her about us? Was this a set-up? Did
we already have a run-in with the boyfriend? She didn’t give us much.
We could just walk away. Still, I knew Roy, owner of Roy’s Hardware.
Roy and his wife were pleasant people who always met me with a smile.
I could definitely beat this boyfriend down for robbing them. So I
called up Glew the next night. He picked me up and we rode back over.
We took a car Glew usually keeps parked at his parents’ house. It’s
an older model that he only brings out for such jobs now and then. I
mean, after all, the storage place could have cameras.
lights lit up Joe’s storage. We parked in front of unit 63 which
unfortunately could be seen from the road. Of course, how often do
passing cars pay attention? We zipped up our hooded sweatshirts,
threw our hoods over our heads and stepped out of the car. I inserted
the key the girl gave me into the lock and turned.
looked behind us. No cars or people approached. I stood and surveyed
the area. Glew said, “Wow. For real?”
hunkered down and tried the lock again-nothing. I scratched my head.
Glew said, “Maybe she got confused?”
could drive off. But then, Roy and his wife had lost some tools. They
didn’t deserve to suffer because this girl gave us the wrong key. I
reached into my pocket and pulled out my picking tools. Glew kept
watch while I worked the lock. Glew said, “We’ve got a visitor,
let go of the lock and untied my boot. After peering across my
shoulder at the car stopped at the entrance, I shrugged. “If it’s
him, he’s made us and he’ll do something.”
car pulled by our row and onto another. I got back on the lock until
it opened. Then I lifted the unit door. Glew shined his flashlight
inside. “Do what?”
lined the walls, all covered up with power drills. At least twenty
more sat in the center of the room on the floor. Glew said, “Wow.”
said, “Let’s get to it, then.”
popped the trunk lid and opened the back passenger door of the car. I
grabbed the biggest stack I could off the floor and placed them in
the back seat. We passed each other, loading up what must have been
fifty power drills. After ten minutes, the backseat sat full to the
brim as did the trunk. Then the white car roared up to our bumper. I
shut the passenger door and trunk.
boyfriend stood six feet five inches tall, wearing a white T-shirt
and white jeans. He sprung from the driver’s side and raced around to
his own trunk where he removed a wooden bat and brandished it in the
air. A passenger stepped out. The man wore gray at his temples but he
looked like an older, thicker version of the first man. He didn’t
carry any weapons but he filled out his brown shirt with a lot of
Shirt bolted at me with the bat, taking a wild swing. I took a quick
step to my left and ducked under the attack. From there, I tackled
White Shirt hard enough so that he fell back into Brown Shirt. Brown
Shirt did not budge. The both of us bounced off him. Brown Shirt
gripped my neck with hands that could wrap around a tree trunk. My
head tightened like it would pop.
pepper spray hit Brown Shirt in the face. He eased up on my neck just
enough. I wiggled free of his grip and laid into his square jaw with
a left hook. Brown Shirt’s head moved but my hand thumped from the
impact. White Shirt sprang up and jumped at Glew who sprayed the
pepper spray at him but missed, dropping the can. I dodged a slap
from Brown Shirt and retaliated with a right-handed punch smack on
his nose. Brown Shirt paused, blinking his eyes. I grabbed the pepper
spray off the pavement and gave him a second dose. Brown Shirt
stumbled back, rubbing his face and sneezing.
I turned to Glew, he and White Shirt wrestled on the pavement. I
grabbed White Shirt’s ankle and pulled him off of Glew. White Shirt
spun his body around and grabbed my…well…private area.
dropped down onto my knees and shoved White Shirt’s bald dome into
the pavement until he let go. Then I pressed down more, hoping for a
pop. Glew pulled me off of him. When I stood up, I kicked White Shirt
in the jaw. Brown Shirt grabbed me from behind. Glew pulled out his
club and caught the bigger man in the temple. He let me go and
stumbled back until he leaned on the car. Glew jumped into the
driver’s side of his car. I hobbled to the passenger side and slid
in. We took off.
checked the side mirror before we turned the corner. White Shirt
rolled around on the pavement, screaming and holding his arm. Glew
said, “What did we hit?”
groin throbbed. I winced. “Good job, Glew.”
that’s something I don’t hear everyday. To Roy’s?”
drove a little higher than the speed limit until I warned him to slow
down. With fifty stolen power drills in the car with us, I didn’t see
any intelligence in getting pulled over. Glew did as instructed. A
half an hour later, we pulled up to Roy’s Hardware. The place sat
empty and dark. Glew sighed. “Should we come back tomorrow?”
took a deep breath. “Pull around to the back.”
said, “Aw, man. I have a date later.”
onto my groin, I gave Glew a look.
said, “Come on, man. I need to work on my lineage…even if your
chances for a lineage just went down.” He glanced at my lap and
grinned. I shook my head. “Roy and his wife are good people. We
have to do this.”
threw up his hands in surrender and drove around to the back. We got
out and piled the boxes of power drills up against the back wall of
the store. Glew told me that he didn’t see any cop cars drive by. I
didn’t bother to look. Once we got them all out there, Glew drove us
to a motel across the street where we had a clear view of the drills.
Glew said, “You know, I could have her swing by and then we go to
her house and she has me back in an hour.”
said, “Go ahead.”
dialed some numbers on his phone. I kept watch over the boxes,
denying myself any looks at my watch. There would be plenty of
temptations for the next nine hours to do so but we didn’t steal
these just to see them go right back. White Shirt and Brown Shirt
could return and reclaim Roy’s property anytime.
shut his phone. I looked at him. He said, “You know, that girl. The
one who told us about the job. I never saw her before.”
mean there’s a woman within a thousand miles that you’ve never seen?”
said, “Right? And yet, she came to us to tell us about this. She
knows what we do. That means other people know now. Does that scare
you a little?”
shifted in my seat. “It was bound to happen I reckon.”
said, “What about enemies though? She could tell those two things
we fought back there. She could tell them our names. Where we live
shrugged. “We handled them back there. We can handle them again.”
but one against two?”
said, “That’s life.”
opened his phone. Then he shut it again.
do you mean?”
rubbed my nose. “Every one of us is supposed to fight more than one
thing every day. We got family obligations and work obligations and
friend things and recreation things. We’re hit from all sides. Bills
don’t stop needing to be paid. Girlfriends don’t stop worrying or
complaining. Bosses don’t stop demanding. It’s life, Glew. We’ve all
got numerous attackers day in and night out.”
you’re saying we’ll be okay?”
said, “I’m saying how it is. We will be okay until we ain’t and
then, if we have anything left, we’ll pick up and be okay until we
ain’t again. We’re going to do that over and over until it’s over.
Hell, let them come after us. I’m going to take their balls
let out a chuckle. Then he fell into a laugh. “I love your spirit,
stud! Yes, sir. To hell with her. I’ll camp out with you. We have
something going here.”
sun inched its way from the heavens, its rays lighting up Roy’s
Hardware store’s black and red sign. Roy himself and his wife pulled
up to the back at seven o’clock on the dot. When they spotted the
drills, they examined them and talked for a while, wondering how such
a thing could happen. They looked around the lot and eventually in
our direction. Glew scrunched down in his seat, but I just watched.
Roy took hold of his wife and hugged her. They must have embraced for
five full minutes, wiping each other’s tears away.
said, “Just like them, Glew.”
rose and looked at them. I said, “Things were not all right for
them a few days ago. Now they are again.”
wiped his eyes. “It’s a real sight to see.”
said, “I’ll drive home.”
yawned. “You sure?”
hobbled around to the driver’s side. Glew slid over. I drove us
across the street to Roy’s Hardware and pulled around back. Glew
said, “Hang on, now. What are you doing?”
pulled up a few feet from Roy who turned toward me with a couple of
drill boxes in his hands. I said, “Howdy.”
focused on us. “Hello? George?”
nodded. “You’re welcome.”
mouth dropped open. I drove us away. Glew said, “You think that was
a good idea?”