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?
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!
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
Hooper shifted in his chair. We’d been sitting on his porch for half
an hour. Just when I thought he’d shift his way into comfort, he’d
turn again. He noticed me watching him. He said, “Sorry, George. I
just. Ah. I don’t know.”
gulped some chicken soup from my thermos. “What is it, Woodrow?”
frowned. “Trips like this. I don’t know.”
you’ll be fine. Drive up to the mountains and hang out with your
son-in-law and your daughter.”
said, “My daughter ain’t the one that bothers me. I’ll have to
listen to that yokel talk my head off about how the Vols can have a
winning season this year. Hell, I don’t give a rat’s-
Woodrow, I think something else is bothering you.”
turned his white head of hair away from me. In his seventy-three
years, he’d lost a brother to a car wreck, a wife to cancer and his
best friend to suicide but every single strand of his hair remained
on his head. He said, “It’s this house to be honest.”
took a look through the windows into the living room of the
two-bedroom abode. “Hey. It’s paid for. Right?”
said, “Kids. Last time I left, some kids from the college over
there came in and ransacked the place. Beer bottles and cigarette
butts and the smell of dope and God knows what else. Hell, one of
them hurled in the corner. Just an awful damn mess. Spray-painted
stuff on the walls. Obscene stuff. I’m only glad my dear wife wasn’t
here to see it. And who do you think cleaned it up?”
said, “That’s why I try to keep these trips to the summer time when
that fine university is empty. But my daughter insisted I come up
pulled his jacket off the back of his chair and shoved his arms into
it. A chilly wind passed by us like a stalker.
said, “Well, if I was you, I’d just go up there and have a good
said, “I’ll try.”
closed up my thermos and shook his hand. “And just buy you a
Crimson Tide cap and wear it up there. That should shut your
gave me a sneaky grin. “I’ll do that.”
drove away and called up Glew. He left his office and met me over at
the book store. We walked through, flipping through magazines until
we made our way over to the cafe. I bought a regular coffee while he
ordered one of those cappuccino frape crappay drinks or whatever. He
flirted with the little curly-haired chick behind the counter and
secured her phone number before we made our way outside.
said, “You remember Woodrow Hooper?”
sipped his drink and squinted. I waited. He pointed at me. “Got
that full head of white hair?”
told him about my conversation with Woodrow. Glew said, “Man, I
hope those kids leave him alone.”
said, “Hell, I don’t.”
blew on his drink and then grinned at me.
hour after Woodrow left that night, Glew drove us over to his house.
I picked the lock and we stepped inside from the dropping
temperatures. I opened the curtains and turned off the light Woodrow
had left on. Then I opened up the garage door. Glew popped the trunk.
We loaded Woodrow’s tools into it and I placed the bigger valuables
down in Woodrow’s attic and shut the door. Then we left with the
garage door down and the front door cracked open.
and a half hours drifted by. The orange and red sky faded into the
crisp, starry night. I sipped my coffee. Glew had been toying with
his phone, most likely texting that curly-haired girl at the book
store. However, I looked over and found him sleeping. I rolled his
passenger side window all the way down. That’s the great thing about
the cold. Keeps me awake.
group of kids walked by Woodrow’s house. They looked about college
age but I couldn’t be sure. They paid the house no mind. I yawned. A
bat flapped its wings against the backdrop of the moon. I yawned
again. The college kids walked back by the house and huddled
together. They were forming their plan.
said, “Damn, stud. Turn down the AC.”
slapped his arm.
What are you doing?”
said, “We’ve got some customers.”
wiped his eyes. “Oh yeah?”
guys and three girls made up the group. One of the guys stood over
the huddle. He stood tall enough that he towered over the others,
despite hunching. I remembered guys like that from school. They
always hunched like they were plotting something. The guys hovered
around the guy, releasing plumes of breath or vape breath into the
air. The girls stayed close by them with their gloved hands in the
pockets of their vests and coats. Lips trembled. The hunching guy
ushered them toward the house. One of the guys walked up and checked
the front door. He turned back with a smile. The huncher danced
around. The girls giggled. The group walked up the street.
said, “Huh. False alarm. Roll that window up.”
said, “They’re going to get their beer or weed or whatever and then
they’re going to party in there. Window stays down.”
yawned. “Shit. I guess you’re right.”
minutes later, the gang took a few looks around. Inside of ten
seconds, they’d all entered the house. Their cell phone lights shined
through the windows, hovering around like neon ghosts. Music blared
from one of the phones. I made my way to the side of the house with
Glew opening his trunk and pulling out several Lowes bags. Then he
made his way over to me and set them on the ground. The music got
louder. Laughing took over. Beer bottle caps came off. We let the
kids enjoy themselves for an hour. A few folks walked by, taking
notice but walking on through the cold. No one noticed us.
said, “Let’s go.”
crept inside the back. I walked around and entered the front door,
shutting and locking it behind me. The huncher shotgunned a beer. The
girls vaped on the sofa with candle light dancing over their laughing
faces. Two other guys cheered the Huncher on while the fourth guy
watched me, turning to stone. With the music blaring, I stood by the
door watching everybody. Glew’s shadow flickered down the hall. I
watched the guy in the corner who hadn’t moved. He could have been an
old painting, placed in the corner of a condemned house. I looked at
the living room. Beer bottles littered the floor along with candy
wrappers. Tampons hung from the lampshades. A roll of toilet paper
had been thrown across the entire living room. Someone had
spray-painted the wall in the image of the local college mascot along
with other drawings of more lewd objects. One of the messages read:
“Got you, old man!”
looked at me. The huncher stepped toward me. “Hey man. You lost?”
shook my head.
of the other guys said, “Who invited denim dave?”
of the girls snickered. The other one froze, her eyes so wide that
the whites looked like two mini-globes. I peered down at my jeans and
denim button-down shirt with the sleeves missing of course. I wore a
leather jacket over the shirt at least. I looked back up.
huncher said, “This ain’t your party, man. Move it on. Huh?”
said, “This ain’t your house…man.”
girls stepped behind the guys, except for the scared one. One of the
other girls ushered her up with them. She grasped onto them and shut
her eyes. “He’s going to rape us.”
huncher said, “Don’t make us kick your ass, man.”
said, “Were you kids really just going to desecrate this man’s
house and just leave? I mean, I understand wanting to have a beer or
two and listen to a little music. But all the stuff on the walls?”
huncher laughed and high-fived his friends. Then he turned back to
me. “It doesn’t matter what you understand, man. All that matters
is that you’re killing our buzz. We’re not even on campus.”
stepped toward me.
said, “That’s right. You’re in the real world.”
huncher stepped too close.
fainted a jab at his face. He paused which gave me plenty of time to
douse him with my pepper spray. The huncher groaned and fell to the
floor, holding his face. Two of the other guys darted into the back,
but Glew cut them off. The girls huddled together on the verge of
tears. The frozen guy lowered himself to the floor, saying, “No.
This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening.”
grabbed the huncher and dragged him to the nearest closet. After
shoving him inside and locking it, I looked at the others. Glew
corralled the other guys into the living room. Then he brought the
Lowes bags out and dropped them on the floor. I said, “All right.
It’s real simple. You folks spray-painted a bunch of obscenities on
this kind old man’s walls. You littered here as well. All we want is
for you to paint over the drawings and then clean up the place. After
that, you’re free to go.”
of the girls looked toward me. “That’s it?”
spread my hands. “That’s it.”
of the guys said, “Bullshit. We don’t have to do anything. I’m
calling the police.”
said, “So you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong?”
kid typed on his phone. He swallowed and looked back at me. “Not
said, “Not really?”
kicked the wall. “We don’t have to!”
friend said, “That’s right!”
said, “If you don’t want to help, that’s fine.”
two guys swelled with confidence. “That’s what’s up. We’re walking
out of here.”
clicked my teeth. “No. You’re not walking out of here.”
one guy said, “I’ll call my Dad. He’ll get this straightened out.”
said, “Let me make the call. I’ll tell him all about it.”
guy said, “Yeah. Tell him about how you’re holding us hostage.”
said, “Along with the fact that you came in here and ruined this
man’s home. He’ll have to hear about that, too.”
guy said, “He won’t care.”
sure about that?”
guy said, “I don’t think he would.”
of the girls said, “Look, let’s just clean this stuff up.” To me:
“That’s all you’re asking. Right?”
said, “Yes, ma’am.”
scoffed. “Ma’am? What am I? A granny?”
said, “You will be one day. This is something you can tell the
offspring about. Maybe they won’t bust into houses.”
stared at me. The two guys hung their heads. The scared girl got down
and pulled the cleaning items from the bags. The others followed
suit, one by one, except for the one guy who threatened to call his
dad. He sat on the sofa and crossed his arms. Glew and I stood by
watching the clean-up. The huncher banged around in the closet,
demanding to be let out. I banged back and said, “No! Now shut up.”
kids wiped off what they could from the wall. The “Ma’am” girl
turned and said, “Well? Is this good enough?”
shook my head. “Pull out the paint bucket, brushes and drop cloth
over there. Don’t spill on the floor either.”
guy jumped off the sofa and stepped to me. “What if we do? Huh? I
know you can’t touch us.”
said, “That’s right. You can’t touch me either.”
threw a right hand at my face but pulled back just before making
contact. I stared into his eyes. He swallowed and drew the fist back.
Then he returned to the sofa. Glew opened a box of Goobers and ate a
couple. He dropped one on the floor. “Good work, kids.”
said, “Ahem” and pointed to the Goober on the floor.
rolled his eyes and picked the Goober up and slipped it into his
girls got a little paint on their clothes and whined about it. The
guys just did as they were told and got the wall painted. It was half
past midnight when the walls looked like new. “Ma’am” girl said,
“So? Is this enough?”
walked over and took a long look. “It could use another coat.”
said, “Aw, come on! We have to be up early tomorrow!”
said, “Won’t take you long.”
Girl tossed the brush into the wall and stormed toward the door. I
stepped in her way. She said, “What? You can’t touch me. What?”
said, “Same for you. I thought we’d been over this.”
said, “Why do you have to be like this? We did what you said.”
pointed to the wall. “Job’s not done.”
said, “So? Big deal. Some old dude gets a little paint on his wall.
So what? This is illegal!”
said, “Oh, well if that’s the worst thing that goes on, I think the
world will keep spinning.”
said, “But it’s not the worst. Thefts, rapes and murders happen
every day and night, ma’am.”
said, “Well go after those people, then.”
shook my head. “It’s funny how you commit a crime and all I ask is
that you make it right but then you deflect to other criminals.”
pulled out my phone. “One call on this bad boy and you would be.
You’d be arrested. All of you. Did you consider that?”
paused. Then she looked to her friends. They wore dumb expressions.
She turned back to me. “Another coat.”
we can leave.”
returned to her work. Her friends joined in. The scared girl painted
over the spot where Ma’am Girl had thrown her brush against the wall.
She didn’t get half-way through before Ma’am Girl stopped her and
volunteered to finish it. After that, she turned to me. I nodded to
her. She swallowed and helped them finish.
one-thirty, I said, “All right. You’re all free to go.”
guy on the sofa stomped his way outside, followed by his friend. The
frightened guy made it to the door and turned back. Pointing to the
closet, he said, “You going to let him out?”
reached over and opened the closet. The huncher fell to the floor. He
jumped up and stepped toward me. “You better watch your back. I’m
coming for you, man. You won’t see it but you’ll feel it.”
he stormed out of the place, he flipped us off with both hands. The
scared girl and her friend sped by us. They urged Ma’am Girl to hurry
up. She stopped though and looked at me. “Thanks for sticking to
said, “Always do.”
put his arm around my shoulder. “This guy’s good as gold.”
he tossed the empty Goober box onto the floor.
said, “Damn you, Glew. What did I tell you?”
started to pick up the box. Ma’am Girl bent down. “I’ve got it.”
When she handed the box to Glew, she wore a trace of a smile. She
turned to me. “You’re really looking out for people?”
said, “We do. We’ll be camped out here until Woodrow gets back.”
Is he the owner?”
maybe you could tell him that one of us is…sorry.”
whispered the last word.
said, “He won’t ever know you all were here.”
swallowed. “Thanks for that.”
friends urged her to join them in the yard. She stared at me. “I’m
a…I’m a criminal justice major. I’m sure that’s hard to believe.”
I said, “Ha. Well, I’ve known a few guests of the criminal justice system. They would swear you’re upstanding next to the system.”
grinned. “That’s…surprising. I guess, people can be reformed.”
by a prison but yeah. It happens.”
friends called out to her.
said, “When does he get back? Wood?”
said, “I think she’s too young for you, stud.”
said, “Shut up, Glew.”
left shortly afterward and then I picked up the cleaning supplies and
placed them on the porch. Then I admired the clean wall for the rest
of the morning until Glew relieved me in the afternoon. I returned on
Sunday morning and waited things out until Sunday evening around five
o’clock when Woodrow pulled back up. Several folks walked by but no
one else made an attempt to break in. The huncher never showed up
locked Woodrow’s doors and replaced all of his valuables. Then I
sneaked out the back. I walked to my truck parked a few blocks away
and rode around for an hour before driving back by. When I did so,
Ma’am Girl stood on his porch with a plate of baked cookies. He
invited her inside. She peered back and saw me idling by. She
motioned for Woodrow to wait and bounced over to my window.
grabbed one and bit half of it. “Hell yeah.”
chuckled. “Thought I could do this at least.”
said, “You can do a lot more.”
guess so. Um…”
looked both ways and leaned toward me. “There’s a blue house around
the corner. That tall guy who was with us? He parties there sometimes
and always leaves trash and stuff. I was present a couple of times
I’m sorry to say.”
said, “That blue house?”
nodded. “I can…well, keep a look-out for you guys. I mean, you’re
not cops but you’re definitely helping people out. Maybe you’re what
the system needs.”
said, “Don’t need a system. Just need people looking out for each
other. People like you.”
smiled at me with the street light spreading over her face. I took
another cookie and said, “If you see anything else, just tell
Woodrow to call George.”
said, “George? That’s a great name. I’m Martha.”
gave her a sideways look. “Really?”
giggled. “I’m Andrea.”
shook her gloved hand. “Great to meet you. Keep those eyes peeled,
drove away, watching her wave to me through the side mirror. I called
up Glew. He answered sounding out of breath with the curly-haired
girl’s voice in the background, asking him what he was doing. I said,
“Get your drawers on. We’ve got a new job.”
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?”
cranked the spark plug wrench on the weed eater while Glew’s phone
played on speaker. I stopped and rubbed my shoulder. That catch might
not ever go away. I cranked the wrench.
said, “Easy with the wrench.”
feinted a jab toward Glew who backed up with his ear pointed toward
his cell phone which lied face up on my work bench. I set the weed
eater on the floor and pumped the fuel bubble a few times. Then I
grabbed the cord. Glew said, “Fairfax, please.”
cranked up the volume on his phone. He’d placed a bug in the back of
a dive bar that fed right into an app on his phone. We listened.
Voice: Yeah. For real. When we walked in, I thought that dude was
going to tip over and crack like a china plate.
Voice: Man, I know. I know. But you have to take advantage. I’ve been
telling you that.
Voice: Yeah. For real. We gotta take a week off and live it up now.
Voice: Nah. We should sell it, man.
Voice: Not me, player. That Chippendale’s wide open. We can hit him
again when we get low. What’s he gonna do?
looked at Glew and mouthed the word ‘Chippendale’. Glew nodded and
held his finger to his mouth.
Voice: Gotta play it smart, man. We can’t know that. And ain’t no way
I’m hitting him any time soon. You know how it’s done.
Voice: Yeah. For real. Let’s get to it. So we can get off and do our
thing. The green dragon gonna take us places!
lowered the volume. “Damn, man. I hope this isn’t true.”
said, “Who’s ‘Chippendale’?”
picked up his phone. “I’ll show you.”
tried the weed eater a few times. I’d replaced the old gas with new
and cleaned the carburetor and now I’d replaced the spark plug. The
old girl still wouldn’t come to life. I huffed a few times and then I
accompanied Glew for a country ride. Glew didn’t say much for a
while, dabbing at his temples and puffing a thin cigar.
“’Chippendale’ may and I stress that it may-
blew a smoke ring through the window. “It may be my buddy
‘Chipper’. I went to school with him. Really poor kid but he was
smart. His real name is Chase Powell, but he had these buck teeth and
everyone called him ‘Chipper’ like a chipmunk. He really didn’t mind,
but you know, I felt for him.”
said, “You would.”
waved a hand. “I know, Fairfax. Bullies are good. They toughen kids
up and yada yada.”
smiled. “All right. So he was a smart kid. Now he’s a dealer?”
pot. He works at some place out north on their computers. He’s a nerd
who lives by himself and likes to smoke a little weed. It’s legal so
many places now. Tennessee just needs to catch up.”
tilted my head back. “Civilization is so convenient…until they
attack something you happen to like. I mean, that’s what we’re
talking about, right? Chipper’s your dealer?”
turned up a Bob Marley song. I chuckled. Glew swayed with the rhythm
and puffed that cigar like he was in slow motion. What all did he
have packed into that cigar?
arrived at Chase ‘Chipper’ Powell’s place. It was a quaint little
blue house in the sticks. Kind of like something you might see in an
old Claude Monet painting. Shrubs covered the windows nicely and the
front lawn could definitely use a trim. Who knows? Maybe I could put
the old weed eater to use once we got this done. After all this
marijuana talk, “weed eater” gave me a different image in my head
besides a lawn tool.
followed Glew up to the front door. He rang the doorbell. No one
answered. I peered through the shrub covering the front window as
best I could but I saw no movement. Glew rang the doorbell again but
nothing happened. I eased around the side of the house until I
reached the back porch. Shrubs and vines concealed the back wall of
the house, leaving a sliver of blue exposed. A sandal stuck out past
a vine. Glew walked up to me. I pointed toward the sandal. Glew took
off his hat and walked around. I followed.
sandal shot back. Glew threw up his hands. “Hey. Whoa! Take it easy
now, Chipper. It’s me, Wally.”
rubbernecked around a shrub at me. His auburn hair was trimmed very
short. His face looked like a boy’s-incapable of facial hair. A pair
of sunglasses with green rims covered his eyes. He stared straight at
me like a cornered cat. I scratched my beard. “How you doing?”
said, “Not…um…just not…not so good…not cool, man. Not
said, “Take it easy, Chipper. I was just out in the area and
decided to stop by is all. It’s been a while.”
stepped around for a better look. Chipper wore a long sleeve
pullover. He pulled his sleeve down in a hurry but I spotted a
bandage. Chipper kept his eyes on me. Glew said, “How’s it been
rubbed the back of his neck. “Not so…not good, man. What do you
said, “I don’t know. Maybe a little snack?”
pointed at me. “I don’t like this guy.”
said, “Chipper. Come on, man. This is George. He’s my friend. You
know a friend of mine is a friend of yours.”
looked off and lit a cigarette. I turned away from them, peering out
over his backyard and then up at the sky. Glew made small talk. After
ten minutes or so, Chipper said, “Hey, man.”
turned back toward him. He held his hand out. I shook it and he gave
me some kind of shake that required five moves. I went with it as
best I could. Chipper looked at Glew while pointing at me. “This
man right here needs a snack. Mellow him out a little.”
fell into a laugh that took off slow and sped up. Glew pointed at him
and winked at me. We entered Chipper’s humble abode. Glew handed him
some cash. Chipper studied me over. Glew patted his shoulder. “He’s
went to a back room, followed by Glew. Chipper came back out carrying
a dragon-shaped bong. Glew said, “Oh wow, man. Don’t you have two
didn’t answer. They sat and enjoyed some smoky intoxication while I
tapped my fingers on the arms of the plush chair I sat in. His house
contained no beaded curtains or posters of Bob Marley and I didn’t
see any Jimmy Buffet or Willie Nelson music although he did own quite
a few old records. With their business conducted, Chipper thanked us
and walked us out. With his sunglasses off, the sunlight revealed a
small bruise developing under his eye. When we got back into Glew’s
car, he said, “No doubt about it.”
drove over to the dive bar. After an hour at the bar, I had counted
two waitresses, one bartender and three fellows in the kitchen. Our
voices on that recorder had to be two of those kitchen fellows. The
bartender sounded like a grizzly bear with cold.
we returned to his car and waited it out. When one of the fellows in
the kitchen left, we walked over to him, putting on a drunk act and
asking for directions to a motel. The guy told us everything he
could. His squeaky voice did not match the voices on the recording.
So we thanked him and retreated to a spot behind the dumpster in
waited for over an hour. I moved my shoulder around, working out a
said, “Why so stressed, stud? You should have toked with us…man.”
shook my head and massaged my shoulder until it loosened up a little.
The back door opened. I ducked down.
other two kitchen workers headed for a white Camry. I pulled on my
black ski mask. Glew followed suit. We stepped around the dumpster
with only twenty feet between us and the thieves.
back door opened again. One of the waitresses ran toward the kitchen
guys. She jumped into the bigger one’s arms. They shared a long
barrage of kisses while the other one played on his phone. We ducked
back down. I removed my mask. Glew did the same. The two guys talked
for a while. Without a doubt, these were our guys. However, they
climbed into the Camry along with the girl and fired it up.
stayed hunkered down and ran to his car in the next parking lot. I
followed behind him, not looking at the kitchen guys. By the time we
got into his car, the white Camry turned out of the lot.
cut off a truck pulling in on his way out. The driver laid on the
horn and yelled a string of cuss words at us. Glew lit a cigar and
drove a comfortable distance behind the Camry. We traveled a few
miles down the highway until the Camry pulled into an apartment
complex on the north side of town. The shorter of the kitchen guys
got out and walked up the stairs. I slid out of Glew’s car and headed
on up. Glew followed the Camry back out onto the street.
took my steps with a gentle motion. The kitchen guy reached the
second story and walked to the first room on the right. I made it to
the door. The kitchen guy held the door open, staring at me. There
was no need in pretending anymore. I threw a jab at his face,
figuring he’d step back. I actually caught him with it though, and
then shoved my way inside. He drew back to hit me but I shoved him
into the wall behind him. He pushed back with the strength of a
mouse. So I gave him a big shot in his gut which dropped him to the
carpet. I turned and closed the front door. A set of keys dangled
from the lock. So I snatched them up and slid them into my pocket.
dragged him to the living room and shoved him down onto the sofa.
“Where’s the duct tape?”
leaned over, holding onto his stomach. I grabbed his black hair and
leaned his head back. “Duct tape?”
his mouth ajar, he pointed toward the kitchen. I let him go and
backed to the kitchen. Searching through the drawers with my hands, I
prodded along until I felt a roll of duct tape that was nearly used
up. I turned my eyes to it for a split-second. The kitchen guy rushed
to the front door.
bolted across the living room and grabbed his shoulder before he
could get out. He wrestled away from me. So I dove onto his back. He
went down just outside the door. He yelled, “Help! Somebody-
dragged him back inside by his belt and then placed my knee into his
back. From there, I took the duct tape and wrapped his wrists. My
shoulder ached when I wrapped his mouth. I placed him on the sofa and
pulled on the tape roll. It was empty. So I peered around the room.
The guy said something underneath the tape. I grinned. “Naw, naw.
You got rabbit in your blood, son.”
found a lamp in the corner and unplugged it and wrapped his ankles
with the cord. “I don’t blame you. If anyone tied me up, I wouldn’t
think of anything but getting free. However, I wouldn’t take what
isn’t mine either.”
anymore at least.
just point to the stash you took off of Chipper earlier today.”
looked at me like I spoke Chinese.
make a jerk out of me. Just motion with your head toward which room
it’s in and I’ll get on out of your way.”
didn’t change his expression. I sighed. “Okay. I’ll just tear the
place apart then.”
his mumbling and yelling beneath the tape, I entered the first
bedroom down the hall where I found a pipe and a bong and a Bob
Marley poster. Still, though, I found no stash.
I came out, he yelled at me through the tape with large eyes. I took
a few steps toward him. He nodded as if I were bringing him water
after a trek through the Sahara. I turned and walked to the back
I found a queen-sized bed with his picture beside it. Another picture
hung on the wall of him standing beside an older lady. A closer look
revealed an undeniable resemblance. This was his mother’s bedroom. I
chuckled. Ah, but he could have placed it in here. So I rummaged
through her chest drawers and her closet and underneath her bed. I
don’t see any need to tell everything I found in those places but I
didn’t find any weed stash there either.
I came back out, he beat his head against the sofa and stomped the
floor, still staring at me with bulging eyes. I walked over and
removed the tape.
Damn, man. That’s my mom’s room.”
said, “Yeah. Now tell me where it is.”
what are you talking about a stash? I smoke a little weed sometimes.
Yeah, but I haven’t ever stolen anything. I swear, man. You got the
wrong house, dude. I swear.”
replaced the tape over his mouth. He leaned back and rammed his head
toward my head with all he had. I drew back in time and then I jabbed
him in the jaw. He fell back and then shook his head, stomping the
checked the last closet in the place and under the sink and a few
other places. Glew sent me a text message, letting me know he’d
returned with a smiley face icon beside the message. So I walked to
the door and looked at the guy on the sofa. “We got you now. And
leave your dealer alone. Just smoke a little weed like a nice boy.
Because if I come back, I’ll take a lot more than the stash back.”
still gave me the same scared eyes like he didn’t know what I talked
about. I bolted down the stairs and climbed into Glew’s car. “So he
had it. Huh?”
swallowed. “It wasn’t up there?”
it. You got to be kidding me.”
rubbed his nose. “He went to the girl’s place and followed her
inside but he only stayed a minute. Then I followed him to his
apartment a few miles down the street. I searched the whole place but
I couldn’t find a thing. There was barely any food in there even and
the kid denied everything.”
said, “Mine did, too. Are you sure they did this?”
you saw Chipper.”
said, “And the bug you had on was the one in that bar? You’re
heard the voices. They match up.”
said, “Let’s hear it again.”
played the recording on his phone again. I shook my head and had him
play it another time. I cracked my knuckles. “Okay, they rob
Chipper. Then they have to stash it somewhere. In the bar you think?
The dumpster maybe?”
pulled out of his parking spot. “We’ll go check it out.”
fifties green Ford Fairlane passed us. The woman driving glanced our
way. I said, “Stop the car.”
stopped. “What is it?”
dragon. The one guy said that they’d get there with the green
snapped his fingers. “The dragon bong. They took the other one.”
said, “Did you see it at the guy’s apartment?”
Was it in there?”
shook my head. “The green dragon is that car. That’s the guy’s mom.
I saw her picture in there.”
pulled the guy’s keys from my pocket. There was one old Ford key on
there. The woman was nearly in the apartment. I ran out of Glew’s car
over to the Fairlane. I shoved the key in the trunk lock and turned.
When the lid rose, the street light illuminated the plastic that
encased the stash in the corner of the trunk. I grabbed it and then
shut the lid and tossed the keys across the lot. When I reached
Glew’s car, the woman raced down the steps. Glew made it to the exit
but a string of five cars rolled by. The woman raced toward us. Only
her eyes looked a hell of a lot scarier than her son’s did. “Damn
you, Glew. Get moving.”
woman beat her palms on the passenger window, yelling, “What did
you do to my son? What kind of animals are you? I’ll get you! I will
final car passed. Glew tore us on out of there. The lady yelled after
us and pulled out her phone, trying to take down Glew’s license plate
number. Glew said, “So they had green dragon take the stash to
them. That’s actually pretty clever.”
incredibly wimpy. Getting your mama to take all the risk.”
coughed. “Well, yeah. Man, look at it just lying there.”
turned my eyes to the brick of weed between us. “I reckon Chipper’s
going to be a happy man.”
said, “Shit. Like we’re giving it back.”
watched Glew. He peered at me out of the corner of his eye. “I can
take my cut. Right?”
grabbed the stash and held onto it. Glew said, “Ah geez, stud.”
rode out to Chipper’s house. At midnight, his house looked like a
hovel eaten up by black vegetation monsters. When we handed him the
stash, his mouth dropped. I thought he might have been having some
kind of spell. Then he jumped into the air over and over like he had
an invisible pogo stick beneath those sandals. He bowed before us
like we were gods. We tried to leave but he insisted on giving Glew a
cut of the stash. While he separated the portion, Glew wouldn’t look
at me. “Don’t say it.”
said, “Uh-huh. How do you feel now? The job is the reward itself,
geez, stud. We help a lot of folks. There’s no reason we can’t take a
little something for ourselves.”
Chipper returned with Glew’s reward and insisted on giving me
something. I turned him down on pot, a cool rug and a few old records
but when he showed me his brand new weed eater, well, I gave in. Glew
dropped me off and said, “Feels good to get a little reward.
admired my new weed eater. “You know, it actually does.”
enjoyed a good night’s rest. The next day, I woke up at the crack of
noon and after breakfast, I took a look at the weeds protruding from
the ground around my shop and smiled. “It’s about to be all over
primed my new weed eater and massaged my shoulder for a moment. I
gave it a crank. Then I gave it several more cranks but nothing
happened. I sighed. “I knew it.”
client suspected Roger Oswell of swindling a few choice items from
his office. Glew tailed the sixty-something Roger to the park. I rode
along out of curiosity. We followed Roger along through the walkways
of the park, occasionally glancing at the large lake behind it all.
Roger pointed out the birds and other wildlife to his grandson who
appeared to be around five years old. Roger patted the boy on the
head and then pulled out his camera. He tried to take a picture but
it didn’t work out for him. When he fidgeted with the thing, a
figured dressed in a yellow jacket snatched the grandson up in his
arms and hurried away in the direction of the lake.
trailed after Mr. Yellow and the boy, followed by Glew. A group of
teenagers walked our way. I peered around them but I couldn’t see Mr.
Yellow. I worked my way through the group. One girl said, “Look
where you’re going, jerk.”
Some creep sneaks a kid right by you and you don’t notice that but
I’m the one who doesn’t look where he’s…never mind.
peered around the walkway which rose up five feet above the ground in
some places. I could go left or right but this guy got that kid gone
in a hurry. I peered through the boards of the walkway but I couldn’t
see any yellow. So I took a left. Glew caught up to me, asking, “How
did we lose him so fast?”
back up the other way. Let me know on the cell.”
said, “You got it” and sprinted away. I followed the walkway to a
dead end. After a long look around, I listened. Mr. Yellow couldn’t
have simply vanished.
turned. Roger walked toward me with the camera in his hand. “Mister,
you seen a little boy out here?”
opened my mouth. Then I saw it.
tiniest sliver of yellow caught my eye through the trees. Mr. Yellow
had removed his jacket in such a hurry that he popped up above the
edge of the canoe he’d taken from the lake’s bank. I jumped off the
walkway and ran toward the bank. Roger called out after me, “Hey
made it to the bank. One empty canoe bobbed in the water by the dock.
That same group of teenagers stood over it with the girl who deemed
me to be a jerk easing her foot down toward it. I jumped into the
water and swam with all I had toward the canoe. When I reached it,
the teenagers remained on the dock. I grabbed the edge of the dock
and pulled myself up high enough and climbed into the canoe. The girl
pointed at me. “What is it with this guy?” She turned. “Holy
had dove in as well. I paddled over toward him. He climbed aboard.
Roger yelled to us from the bank. “Hey there! Hold it right there!”
paddled away with Mr. Yellow’s canoe lost among a group of five other
canoes. Glew said, “Aw, man. Like a needle in a…”
I said. “Like a needle in a lake.”
man with a back as wide as a refrigerator paddled one of the canoes.
A woman with a silver ponytail steered the other. Similar-sized men
paddled the others. Each one wore a cap and sunglasses along with a
white T-shirt beneath a life jacket. I said, “One of them will
said, “We hope. Damn.”
looked back behind us. Roger waded into the water. I shook my head.
“What is it with this guy?”
turned back to the three canoe paddlers up ahead. They formed a line,
separated by ten feet each, almost in synchronization. I couldn’t see
any differences in them. The one to the right paddled away, turning
at a sharp angle. I slipped back into the water and pointed to it.
“Follow them, Glew.”
gave me a thumbs up sign. I swam toward the other two. The one on the
left stopped in the water while the other kept going. So I swam up to
the stopped one and took a look. A middle-aged man with a long goatee
stared at me with his mouth open. He waved. “You forget your
canoe?” Then he fell into a roaring laugh. So I swam hard toward
the other canoe. The paddler sped on like he knew he was being
chased. I pushed my arms until my muscles burned. Then Roger called
turned back to Roger who swam along, every bit of sixty-plus. With
each stroke, he pointed toward the forested hill ahead. “Up in
there! He’s there on the bank!”
wiped my eyes. The kidnapper dragged the boy along with the hand,
pulling that cap off his head with the fake silver ponytail attached
and shaking the water out of it. Damn, the guy couldn’t have weighed
more than a hundred pounds.
used broad strokes on my way to the bank. Then I bolted up through
the trees. I stopped and looked both ways. Then I looked ahead of me.
I stood, waiting and taking it all in. Still, no signs of the
kidnapper or the boy. Where could they have gone?
ran over to me. “Dead end?”
opened my mouth when Roger clapped me on the shoulder with a wet
hand. I turned back to him. The old guy huffed but to make it across
that lake at his age meant something. I nodded. “They’re close.”
I looked at Glew. “You go right and up.” I turned to Roger. “You
go straight up. I’ll take the other way.”
said, “You got it.”
took large strides up the hill but he tripped and grabbed hold of a
tree. I steadied him. “Maybe you should stay here. Keep an eye
shook his head while water and sweat cascaded down his red cheeks.
“No, sir. We find the boy. Nothing else matters.”
smiled and made my own way up the hill, pausing to listen every few
steps. I passed through the army of towering oaks. What was this
kidnapper’s plan? Obviously he thought this one out. It was not a
spur of the moment type of job. He had a plan. I pulled myself up by
the trunk of an oak. The hill dropped off into a gully. I yelled out,
“Hey, Rog…I mean, hey sir! What’s the boy’s name?”
yelled the boy’s name across the gully. Then I walked down to my left
until the gully dropped off, steadily calling the boy’s name out.
When I reached flat ground, I waited. “Eli?”
buzzard hissed from ten yards away. I spat and headed back up the
hill. When I reached the center of the gully, I called, “Eli!”
followed mine up with his own call. Glew followed suit a few calls
later. Then I found the end of the gully and walked on ahead where
the ground leveled out. Roger called out to the boy again.
bolted toward the voice up ahead. Roger did the same although he
trailed a good ways behind. Roger knew his grandson’s voice. If they
found the boy up ahead, the kidnapper was either with him or he’d let
him go and now hid somewhere. I took a few steps. Then I stopped. I
repeated this routine, inching my way along. Roger called out,
said, “We found him!!”
peered around, but I saw nothing out of place. I wiped my nose and
stepped toward them.
stopped. Ah, yes, sir. The spring brings heat and it also brings
allergies. I braced myself against an oak. I must have waited five
minutes, my nose running and fighting off the urge to sneeze.
walked ten feet to the oak. I stepped around to the hidden side of
it. It had been hollowed out. Inside there, sat the kidnapper
scrunched up with fear pulsing through his blue eyes. I studied him.
He smiled. I smiled back. Then I smashed him in the jaw with a right
kidnapper went out like a bulb popping. Roger carried the boy toward
me while Glew trailed behind. Roger huffed his way over and set the
boy down. He pulled up his pants and pointed to the kidnapper. “This
said, “Yes, sir.”
Glew raced up and took a good look at the kidnapper. Roger slapped the kidnapper around until he stirred although he remained asleep. Roger stood and spat on the man. “You fellows watch him. I’ll get the police.”
stopped Roger. “Actually, I think it’s best we don’t involve them.”
took a step back, pulling his arm back to strike me. I held up my
hands. “Listen, now. It’s best that we take this guy. We have a
place for him that’s much worse than prison.”
studied us over, one at a time. “Who are you fellows anyway?”
said, “We’ve been following you, Roger.”
stepped back, his hand on Eli. “And why have you been doing that?”
said, “You took a few items from your workplace. You need to give
looked at the ground. “Ah, hell.”
crossed his arms. “That’s right.”
pulled out his cell phone and tried to turn it on but nothing
happened. He scratched his head and stepped over a few feet and kept
his eyes on Eli. We stepped over with him, keeping our eyes on Eli as
well. Roger said, “Hell, boys. Times have been tough. If I can just
make my mortgage payment…”
said, “How much?”
tried to turn on the phone again.
said, “How much, Roger?”
shrugged. “Five hundred.”
said, “We can help you with that.”
looked at me. I cut my eyes at him and then back at Eli. He did the
same. “Well, I’d appreciate that.”
said, “Take Eli home. Give my friend here your address and we’ll
bring you the cash. But come Monday, you make sure those items return
to your boss’s office. We’ll put in a good word for you so you can
keep your job. If he fires you anyway, just let us know. We’ll help
wiped his face. “Thank you so much.”
looked at Roger. “But don’t you ever steal from that place again.”
bowed. “You have my word.” He pointed to the kidnapper. “What
are you going to do to him?”
Two weeks later, I rode with Glew out to a little two acre property he’d bought a year or so back. We walked through a forest until we came to a clearing. Glew unlocked a door in the ground and opened it up. I stood back, ready for whatever the kidnapper might be planning for us. After a moment, we climbed down into the hatch of the underground bunker with our pistols drawn. We shined our flashlights on the worthless lump in the corner. He sat there, holding his knees with a collection of empty water bottles, cracker boxes, bean cans and Goober boxes strewn around him. Glew emptied the waste bucket in the corner and placed bags of bottled water, canned goods and candy bars on the floor. The kidnapper shook, shielding his eyes. “What are you going to do to me? How long do I have to stay down here?”
said, “What is it with this guy?”
said, “How long were you going to keep Eli?”
kidnapper closed his eyes. I turned to Glew. “Do you think he’s
smacked his lips. “I really don’t.”
kidnapper looked up, his lips trembling. “Oh please. Please, let me
out. I’ll never do this again. I swear to you! Never!”
said, “Is that right? Do you pinky swear? Is that what you got Eli
to do to keep quiet while you were carrying him off to God knows
kidnapper shook his head. “I didn’t mean any harm.”
scoffed. “He’s not ready.”
shook my head. “No, he’s not.”
kidnapper yelled after us as we climbed out of the bunker. “Please!
I pinky swear! My sister must be going crazy worrying about me!”
leaned my head back in. “Yeah, that happens when you get kidnapped.
Everything just stops. I mean, the world doesn’t. Just your world.
Think about that. You got time.”
closed up the hatch. Through the sun roof, we watched him stay in the
same position, shaking his head.
returned the stolen items to his boss. Unfortunately, his boss gave
him two options- quit and finish out his two weeks or get fired.
Roger chose the latter and he’d sent out his resumes. We helped him
hang onto his house. I said, “What do you say we hire Roger to be a
prison guard out here until he can find new work?”
smiled. “Sounds good to me, stud.”
said, “We’ll let Roger decide on the length of the sentence.”
stopped off at a convenience store just as dusk fell over us. I
followed him inside and bought myself a cup of coffee and a package
of powdered donuts. Glew got his usual Nutty Buddy and a peach Nehi.
The woman behind us in line said, “What are you doing, oh brother
face lit up like a candle. I stepped out of the way and took his
refreshments and paid for them. Glew’s sister stood around six feet-a
couple inches shorter than Glew. She kept her blonde hair tied back
with her two daughters corralling around her. The youngest one peered
at me like I was a zoo exhibit. The oldest one hugged Glew. After his
sister brought him up to speed on her life and how a responsible
person lives, I inched toward the exit door when the oldest daughter
looked at Glew. “Why does a man follow a woman?”
chuckled. “That depends. Usually it’s a bad idea from what I’ve
found. Of course, we’re men. We tend to go for bad ideas.”
girl gave no reaction. Glew dropped his smile and said, “Why?”
girl pointed toward outside. I looked out at the parking lot. A woman
walked by, playing on her phone. A man followed behind her, staring
at her back with his hands stuffed into his pockets. Glew walked up
beside me and took a long look. When he turned to me, I nodded and
left the store. Glew bid farewell to his relatives.
followed the man out of the parking lot onto the sidewalk. The woman
couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred and ten while this man
could be two hundred and twenty easy. She walked along with her head
in her phone while the man’s focus did not shift an inch. We crested
a hill until we must have passed the fifteenth house on the right.
The woman stopped. The man paused, like a cat waiting for a bird to
fly down to the ground for some dropped seeds. I stopped as well. I
looked back. Glew’s jeep sat parked in a driveway twenty feet behind
me. I turned back.
woman slipped her phone into her purse and pulled out a set of keys
on her way to the next house. She bounced onto the porch. The man
followed along, still with his hands in his pockets. When she pulled
the front door open, he pulled a hand loose from the pocket.
walked toward the porch. The woman shut the door and locked it. The
man stood by the porch, watching the woman walk by her window. He
wiped his lips and then turned. He looked around and past me. Then he
took a second look at me. I watched him, wearing a trace of a grin.
He swallowed. I tipped my head to the side. He broke his stare and
walked away from her porch to the sidewalk. When he ventured a look
back at me, I walked toward him.
man crossed the street to the other side and walked back toward the
store. I followed along, keeping close. He crossed the street to a
grocery store parking lot. I crossed the street, keeping an eye on
him despite someone honking their horn at me. When he walked into the
grocery store, I stopped. Glew pulled up beside me. I got in and he
parked the jeep. I said, “Did you let the boys know we wouldn’t be
said, “Yeah. They sounded kind of sad.”
bet they would. I reckon I am a little, too. Nothing beats night
few patters of rain hit the windshield. I said, “Then again, maybe
this fellow’s got good timing.”
We watched a collection of folks straggle out of the grocery store, pushing carts and pulling hoods over their faces beneath the increasing downpour. After an hour, I walked into the store. I walked down the row of aisles, checking each one. Our boy did not appear.
I ran back outside where the rain had died off and hopped into Glew’s jeep. “Head back over to the lady’s house. He split on us somehow.”
started the jeep and pulled into traffic. A row of nine cars sat
between us and the street. I climbed out and jogged onto the
sidewalk. When I crossed the street, a car honked at me. Another
driver yelled out the window. I jogged to the other side of the
intersection and then crossed the street. I pushed myself until I
reached the crest of the hill. The front door of the house stood
I raced up to the porch. The TV flickered through the window. Yet, I didn’t see the lady. I moved toward the door.
The lady walked by the storm door into the living room. If she hadn’t been slipping heaphones on, she would have caught me. I hunkered down, stepping off her front porch.
I walked around the side of her house. Our boy might be inside, hiding in a closet. Maybe he gave up and walked home in the rain. I nearly got a little sad at that thought. Then I walked around to the back of the house where a carport covered a grill along with a push mower and a bicycle. I walked on in, watching for movement but I didn’t see any. Glew parked his jeep on the street. I took one last look at the carport and then walked toward the jeep.
turned back to the carport. White rails held the roof up. At the top
of the farthest rail, a spot of mud hung there, looking like it might
drop off any second. I smiled.
walked to Glew’s jeep. He rolled the passenger side window down for
me. I leaned in and said, “Open the back hatch.”
locks clunked. I opened the hatch and retrieved my fishing pole. I
switched my hook on the end of the line with my biggest treble hook.
Glew cut the engine and stepped out. I whispered, “Follow me.”
We eased up to the carport, keeping our eyes on the roof’s edge. I stood in the driveway and pointed underneath the carport. Glew walked in and stared up at the carport ceiling. I kept low with my thumb on the caster. Glew leaned his head back where his ear pointed upward. I watched the roof’s edge. Glew edged toward the far right corner and pointed up. I winked at him and swung back and cast the hook over the ledge onto the roof. Once I had it set, I yanked.
yanked on the line five times before our boy crawled to the ledge and
then high-tailed it down the same white rail where he left a muddy
track earlier. When he hit the ground, he bounced back up, charging
me. I stepped to the side and stuck my leg out, tripping him. Glew
pulled out the duct tape. I tossed the rod and climbed onto his back.
I shoved his face into the ground and tugged on the treble hook
lodged into the back of his head. He fought me, screaming. I said,
“Give me your hands.”
screamed louder and struggled.
pulled on the treble hook until tiny blood droplets popped out of his
head. “Give me your hands or this just gets worse.”
The stalker groaned and let his arms go slack. I wrapped five strips around his wrists while Glew wrapped the tape around his ankles. We carried him to the jeep. He moved less than a corpse. Once we had him loaded up, I closed the hatch. We hopped into the jeep. The lady inside opened her front door and stood watching us, holding one headphone away from her ear. I waved to her. Glew drove us away. I said, “I’ll call the boys.”
retrieved our boy’s wallet. Then we drove to his duplex apartment and
took him inside to his bedroom where we shut him in. An hour later,
we sat him in a chair in his living room. I said, “So, Mr. Darryl
Pudwell. Now that we’ve established that you do seek attention, we’re
going to make sure you get just that.”
stared at me.
opened his front door. Four men walked inside. Glew closed the door
after them. I said, “Yeah. These fellows right here have been
needing something to do. They love to fish but well, fishing gets
boring for any of us after a while. Instead, they’re going to keep
you company from here on out. You can bet that at least one of them
will be with you, sitting close by here at your residence and then
when you venture out to the store or happen to creep by a young
lady’s house. Yes, sir. These good men will be with you every step of
shook his head. “No.”
of the boys put his hand on Darryl’s shoulder. I said, “Yes,
Darryl. You wanted a friend. Now you got four. I’m sure you’ll all be
very happy together.”
walked out. I followed behind him with the four men standing around
Darryl and smiling as if they were taking a family reunion photo.
We’ve known those men a good while. I think they’ll make good friends
for Darryl. After all, a former marine, a retired drill sergeant and
two ex-cops need something to do.