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Robyn’s Run

By William Currens Devol

Copyright January 2012

“The idiot and I are leaving the Pub now,” Robyn said into the cell phone. “If we don’t win this $100, I’ll kick your ass, Neil.”

The idiot in question called himself Dub. The $100 was a bet that Dub’s old, green pickup truck could go from The Pub in Windsor to the Ranch House Bar and Grill in Painesville faster than could Neil’s 2007 Monte Carlo.

Neil was Robyn’s boyfriend, and Dub’s girlfriend Hannah had called Dub to tell him that she and Neil had made the 25-mile run in 18 minutes. When Hannah finished speaking with Dub, Dub handed the phone to Robyn and let her speak to Neil.

When Robyn closed her phone, Dub looked over at Robyn with eyes that were the brightest blue she’d ever seen. Dub screamed, “YIPPY-O-KI-A, Motherfucker,” and floored his old, green pickup truck.

Dub’s truck sputtered and died.

“Jesus,” Robyn thought.

Dub looked confused, but then he smiled and opened his door. He climbed out of the truck and reached behind his side of the old bench seat and came out with a rather sizeable pipe wrench. Dub turned his Indians cap around backwards, flipped the big wrench in the air and caught it after one revolution. Dub then reached under the dash and pulled the lever that popped his hood.

Robyn watched through the cracked windshield in amazement as Dub unlatched and lifted the hood and struck something under it a crushing blow with the pipe wrench. The clang was loud and Robyn jumped in her seat. Dub stared under the hood a few more seconds and then dropped the hood in place, returned the pipe wrench to its spot behind his half of the seat, and climbed back behind the wheel.

Dub turned his ball cap back around and said, “Don’t forget your seat belt.” When Robyn clicked her seat belt into the latch, Dub started the truck.

“Damn,” Robyn thought. “This old bucket of bolts sounds better, but how can a wallop with a pipe wrench make an engine sound better?”

This time, Dub whispered, “YIPPY-O-KI-A, Motherfucker,” and floored his old, green pickup truck.

Space Shuttle astronauts can expect a maximum of 3 Gs when the main engines are throttled up on the final push to orbit. It is uncomfortable, but they can still move and perform tasks with some dexterity. Robyn was pinned to the bench seat and she couldn’t lift her arms. She quit worrying about her paralysis when she looked out the windshield and saw nothing but blue sky and clouds which seemed to rush toward her.

“Hang on Robyn,” Dub said, “This is the worst bit. Give it another 10 seconds.”

Ten seconds after that, Robyn felt like she was kicked in the back. One second after that, she realized she was weightless. One second after that, Dub’s truck swung around to point, nose down at what looked like the United Kingdom.

Robyn stared slack-jawed at the earth which filled the windshield. Robyn then slapped her hand to her mouth. Dub reached under his seat and pulled out what looked to be a waxed, brown paper bag, and held it out to Robyn.

“In here, or we will spend all day chasing chunks,” Dub said.

Robyn grabbed the bag from Dub and got it open and up to her face with nearly no time left on the vomit clock. Robyn retched up beer and food until she was empty. She turned to Dub with the bag to her face and, with her eyes and body language, asked him what she should do with the bag.

“Pinch it shut and give the neck a twist or two,” Dub instructed.

Robyn did as Dub instructed.

“Put it in the glove box and shut it,” Dub said.

Robyn did.

“Thanks. Now watch this,” Dub said. Dub pushed a tri-angular logo on the truck’s radio face plate. Robyn heard hydraulic systems start up, and the entire dash of the truck transformed into what any science fiction fan would recognize as a space ship control console. Rob pushed a light on the console, and the glove box whined and flashed a bright green.

“Take a look,’ Dub said and pointed at the glove box.

Robyn leaned forward and opened the glove box. It was empty and now looked quite deep.

“What,” Robyn said. “What, Where, Who, Where.”

“Dematerializer, Spaceship, in orbit above earth, I am Dubrztsorg, and straight out your side of the truck about 175 light years,” Dub said reaching into the front pocket on his bib overalls and pulling out what looked like a stainless steel Tootsie Pop. “If you are still nauseous, touch the big end of this anywhere behind your ear. Space sickness can be a real bitch.”

Dub gave the Tootsie Pop a tiny push, and Robyn grabbed it as it floated by. She touched the implement behind her right ear and all trace of her flip-flopping stomach was gone.

“Thanks,” she said. “That did something to my inner ear, right.”

“Yep, good call. I knew you were bright the minute I met you. Keep that; it fixes dizziness, nausea, it cures hangovers, and it makes your breathe sweet again,” Dub said.

Robyn smacked her lips together and swished her tongue across the roof of her mouth. Her mouth tasted sweet. She blew her breath into her cupped hand and inhaled through her nose. She smelled cinnamon.

“Dub,” Robyn said. “Who the fuck are you, and why do you have me in earth orbit in an ugly green pickup?”

“Is Neil the one,” Dub looked into Robyn’s eyes and asked. “Is he Mr. Right?”

“What,” Robyn said.

“You say that a lot,” Dub said. “Is Neil your one true love? Do I have a chance with you Robyn?”

“Are you trying to pick me up.” Robyn said with irritation. “Is this how you impress women on Mars? You kidnap them against their will and whisk them into orbit for an ultimate game of put out or get out?”

“Whoa,” Dub said. “I didn’t kidnap you; you agreed to come with me to time the race. I haven’t laid a hand on you, and I said 175 light years, so you ought to know I’m not from Mars.”

“Mars was a figure of speech,” Robyn said.”You haven’t laid a hand on me, that’s true, but pardon me for being freaked out, and how the hell do you plan to win the race, we are in orbit, Dub?”

Dub looked at the watch on his left wrist, “We took off 11 minutes ago; we can stay up another six minutes and still win this bet. Let me try this again, Robyn, are you free to date, and if you are, can I call you and maybe we could get coffee or leave some tire tracks on the moon they can puzzle over if they ever go back?”

“No, Dub, Neil is Mr. Right Now, but what about Hannah? I don’t steal men from other women,” Robyn said.

“Well, that’s a positive development,” Dub said smiling, “Hannah is my sister Hanrztsorg, and she has no problem stealing men from other women. That’s the second reason I asked you about Neil.”

“You’re telling me that your sister is a space slut and she is trying to steal my boyfriend…well, good. Neil was starting to be a real pain in the ass, and I think he’s an alcoholic,” Robyn said. “Hey, are you actually a reptile or some other bizarre alien life form?”

“Nope,” Dub said. “It’s a long story, but the same folks that started my world also started your world.”

“What about God,” Robyn asked.

“I said it was a long story, but for now let’s just say that we have common beginnings and leave it there,” Dub said.

Robyn looked perplexed for only a second and then smiled and said, “You still up for a cup of coffee.”

“Absolutely,” Dub said. He beamed a simile right back at Robyn.

“How’s the coffee on your planet,” Robyn asked.

“It’s called fruzhrf,” Dub said. “And it’s as good as Starbuck’s. On my planet, we have genetically altered the fruzhrf beans to come in black, cream, sugar, and cream and sugar flavors, but, with all our technology, we couldn’t make a decent cappuccino until I bought one on Ebay and sent it home to be reverse engineered.”

“How long would it take us to get there,” Robyn asked.

Dub looked at his watch and said, “Not more than a few minutes, but we’ll lose the race to the Ranch House Bar and Grill if we go.”

“Are you shiting me; fuck the race,” Robyn said. “How the Hell can we go 175 light years in a matter of a few minutes?”

“Well,” Dub said. “The universe is like a piece of paper. You can fold it so one spot is very close to any other spot…I can go on with the explanation, or you can push that blinking green button.”

Robyn leaned forward and depressed the blinking green button.

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By William Currens Devol

Copyright 2011

Michael reached across the table and grabbed one of our unlimited breadsticks. He took a bite, chewed, swallowed, sipped his beer, and then assumed his deep-thinking pose.

He stroked his beard with his head tipped back and his jaw jutted forward. “Why do more people see the image of Jesus Christ on a slice of toast than on a communion wafer?”

“There’s more surface area on a slice of toast,” I said. “Your mind gets more detail to play with.”

Andy swallowed a big mouthful of Chicken Marsala and wiped his mouth with his napkin before he put his two cents in, “Hell, more people eat toast than go to church; it’s a much bigger pool of idiots.”

Michael and I both laughed. That encouraged Andy to continue.

“If you think about it,” he said, “People see Jesus on toast, pancakes, and tortillas. These things are all made from flour, so I propose that Jesus visions are carbohydrate-induced hallucinations. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two of you didn’t start seeing Jesus because of all the bread sticks you’ve been packing away. Come to think of it, poor people eat a lot of carbs and Napoleon once said something about religion being invented to keep the poor from killing the rich, so I also suggest that the rich make sure the poor keep eating high carb diets as a way of promoting religion and keeping the poor more worried about the next life than the one they are living.”

“As conspiracy theories go,” I said. “That’s pretty good, but I am the fattest of us all and I’ve never seen Jesus after carb loading a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter.”

“Yes, but,” Andy said. “You are a heathen atheist liberal socialist who would be more predisposed to see Satan or Karl Marx than Jesus. Now, Michael here, he comes from a very religious family, so I’d expect he’d be the one to start seeing Jesus.”

Michael grinned from ear to ear. “Damn, Andy, you’re right. I think I see Jesus in the Marsala sauce left on your plate.”

Andy grabbed his fork a made a couple of quick passes through the congealing sauce. “Ta-DA,” Andy said. “It’s Jesus.”

With those few strokes, Andy had created what could be construed as two eyes, a nose, and a beard in the sauce on his plate. He we all chuckling when the waitress stepped up to the table to ask us if we wanted more of anything.

“Dios, Mios,” she shrieked. She dropped to both knees crossing herself and praying feverishly and loudly in Spanish. “It is Jesus.”

Just that quickly, the plump but cute waitress that I thought was flirting with Michael when we first sat down, was consumed with religious ecstasy in the middle of a chain Italian restaurant in Mentor, Ohio.

“No,” Andy said. “I drew that; no, please, I’m sorry.”

The girl paid no attention to Andy. She began crying and saying “Ave Maria, Madre de Dios” over and over again.

This attracted two bus boys clearing a near-by table. They both stepped over to see what the girl was screaming and crying about. They both fell to their knees and began making the sign of the cross and adding to the religious din.

A middle-aged woman with bleached blonde hair wearing a blue dress was the next to fall to her knees. She produced a rosary from her purse and began praying an fingering the beads quickly with a practiced movement.

Other patrons left their tables for a quick peek, more than half fell to their knees. Some began reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Some began speaking in tongues.

A group of African American women began clutching at their chests with one hand and waving their other arm back and forth in the air above their heads. They went from table to table testifying about the miracle of Jesus in the Marsala sauce.

When the kitchen staff pushed their way into the knot of people that crowded around what had been our dinner table, Michael, Andy, and I started backing toward the front doors.

The last thing we heard before we backed out of the restaurant was, “Look, that pasta is the crown of thorns.”

The doors of the restaurant closed on a new chorus of religious exclamation.

We stared at each other for a time. No one said a word, which was unusual for our crowd. After what seemed like 30 minutes, Andy spoke up, “Who knew we were having supper in the deep end of the pool.”

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By William Currens Devol

Copyright 2009

Shelby Dempsey applied her lip gloss for the hundredth time. She couldn’t get it right and she couldn’t decide which shade of pink to wear.

“It’s not like Jamie is going to notice,” Shelby told herself in the mirror. He wouldn’t notice her lip gloss or how nice her auburn hair looked with the turquoise prom dress.

“He’d call it green, anyway. I don’t know what I see in that boy,” she said. “But I know what he sees in me,” she thought as she looked down at her considerable cleavage.

Shelby looked at the clock on her bedside table; Jamie was already 20 minutes late. The Federal Hocking Prom was going to start in about 90 minutes.

The doorbell finally rang, and Shelby’s mother called up the stairs to tell Shelby that Jamie had arrived.

“At least,” Shelby thought, “Jamie drives like an idiot. He can get from Amesville to the high school in Stewart in less than 15 minutes.”

Shelby stood up and smoothed out the wrinkles in her dress, “Here goes,” she thought and headed for the stairs.

“Shelby got her figure from her mom,” Jamie thought to himself as he snuck a look at Mrs. Dempsey’s impressive rack.

He felt stupid standing in the Dempsey entranceway with a corsage in a plastic box and wearing a stupid rented tuxedo with rented shoes.

“Shelby better put out tonight,” Jamie thought. The tux and shoes had set him back $65. The orchid corsage had been $35. How could a fucking flower with a bit of ribbon and a pin cost that much?

“Here she is,” Mrs. Dempsey said. “Isn’t she beautiful?”

“He’s wearing a red tuxedo,” Shelby thought as she stood at the top of the stairs. “What kind of moron rents a red tuxedo and doesn’t tell his date ahead of time?”

Shelby smiled down at her date and started walking down the stairs.

Jamie grinned up at Shelby.

“That’s right, big boy,” Shelby thought. “Look at my boobs and not my eyes, you shit.”

Shelby’s Mom made stupid OHHH and AHHHH sounds as she posed the couple for, “Just a few pictures so you can show your grandchildren that you weren’t always old.”

Jamie didn’t bother to open Shelby’s car door for her. He slid into the front seat of his dad’s Chrysler 300, shut his door and waited for Shelby to let herself into the front passenger seat.

“Thanks, I love a gentleman,” Shelby said in a voice dripping with sarcasm.

“What,” Jamie said.

“Nothing,” Shelby answered.

“You look incredible,” Jamie said and reached over to try and honk Shelby’s left breast.

Shelby slapped his had away and said, “I know that move worked on your last girlfriend, but it doesn’t turn me on a bit, Romeo.”

“Who’s Romeo,” Jamie asked.

“Never mind,” Shelby said.

That was good enough for Jamie. He turned the car on, put it in gear, and sped away from the curb.”

“Where was your dad,” Jamie asked.

“Out at Alli’s in Glouster with his drunken asshole buddies,” Shelby said. “Don’t worry, he’ll be home later.”

The pair rode in silence for a bit.

“Do you have everything” Shelby said, finally breaking the silence.

Jamie grabbed his crotch and said, “Anything you need, the J-Man has right here”

“When did this mental midget start calling himself J-man,” Shelby thought as she stared into Jamie’s blank expression.

“She wants it bad,” Jamie thought. “I am going to destroy that like it has never been destroyed.”

“Now,” Shelby said. “Let’s get to the Prom. If we aren’t there by 9:30, they won’t let us in.”

“Fuckin’-A,” Jamie said.

“Brilliant,” Shelby thought. “A future brain surgeon, for sure.”

After the Prom, Shelby and Jamie sat in the Chrysler three houses down the block from Shelby’s house. Shelby was blocking a frontal assault on her breasts.

“Later, Jamie,” Shelby snapped. “Mom and Dad will be in the living room watching the TV. Well, Mom will be watching Dad will be passed out in front of the TV. She’s scared to go to bed without him and she’s scared to wake him up. Give me time to tell Mom the Prom was fabulous and get my pajamas on before you come in. Watch my window. Wait 10 minutes after my light goes out. Understand?”

“What do you think I am, an idiot,” Jamie said. “Ten minutes after the light goes out, I’ll remember.”

“Don’t forget to take that tux off and wear the coveralls,” Shelby said as she got out of the car and shut the door. She walked two steps and turned back to the open window. “For Christ sake, remember to change your shoes. All we need is for somebody to see you and spot those horrible red, patent leather shoes.”

As Jamie watched Shelby turn back toward her house and walk away he softly said out loud, “Horrible? J-man totally rocked those shoes.” Jamie lit a cigarette and sat back to smoke it.

Jamie finished his smoke and flipped it onto the street where it exploded into a shower of sparks. He got out of the car quickly and walked around to the trunk. He kept one eye on Shelby’s bedroom.

Jamie used the key to open the deep trunk. He had removed the trunk light bulb like he had seen in a movie where the hero is totally cool and never makes a mistake. He began undressing.

Shelby had made nice with her Mom for about 15 minutes which was about 14 minutes more than she could stomach. If that asshole Jamie didn’t screw this up, that was the last time she was ever going to have to speak to the woman. The last thing she was ever going to hear from her father was his drunken snoring…how appropriate.

When Shelby got to the top of the stairs, she opened the towel closet and grabbed a red towel from the bottom shelf. She shut the towel closet door and went into her room. Shelby flipped the light on as she shut the door.

Jamie saw the light go on in Shelby’s room as he buttoned the top button on the coveralls. He was nude under the coveralls, “J-man goin’ commando.” All his Prom clothes were crumpled in an untidy pile at the back of the trunk.

“Fuck ‘em. For $65 bucks they could put the fuckers back on the hanger.”

Jamie tossed the red shoes on top of the tux pile in the trunk, pulled Sketcher skateboard shoes out of the trunk, and wiggled his feet into them one at a time.

He never broke eye contact with Shelby’s window.

Shelby dried her face on the red towel. She looked in the mirror, and, when satisfied that she got all her makeup off, she undid her pony tail. Shelby threw the red towel over her right shoulder and turned off the bathroom light.

When she got back to her room, Shelby neatly folded the red towel over the back of her desk chair, shut her door, and turned off the bedroom light.

When the light in the window winked out, Jamie’s breathing and heart rate quickened. He wiped suddenly-wet palms on the legs of the coveralls. He reached into the trunk and pulled out a ski mask. He set the ski mask on the top of his head and pulled it down to his eye brows.

“You can do this, J-man,” Jamie told himself. “A couple of funerals, sad face, cry, cry, cry, yes, it is awful, what is this world coming to, Shelby turns 18, she gets the insurance money, J-man is up to his eyeballs in money, big tits, and tight pussy.”

Jamie reached into the trunk and flipped the latches on the gun case. His grandfather had given him the double-barrel 12-gauge for his sixteenth birthday. Too fucking bad it was going into the creek later; it was an expensive gun.

Jamie thumbed the latch that broke the gun open. He put a shell in each barrel from the box in the case. He put four extra shells in his right-front chest pocket. “Holy shit, I better not need six shots.”

Jamie snapped the two halves of the open shotgun back together and decided he had waited 10 minutes. Jamie transferred the shotgun to the crook of his left arm and eased the trunk of the Chrysler shut with his right hand. He pulled the ski mask down and adjusted it so he had a clear line of sight.

He held the gun pointed at the ground and quickly walked to Shelby’s house. Jamie tiptoed up the steps to the porch. When he tried the door, it was unlocked just like Shelby said it would be. When the door opened, Jamie heard the sound of canned laughter coming from the living room to his right.

Jamie left the front door open as he stepped through the threshold. He could see blue shadows dancing on the wall of the front hallway at the bottom of the stairs.

In the living room Jamie’s Mom was sitting with her back to the front door. Jamie’s old man was passed out on the couch to his wife’s left. If he woke up, he’d be looking right down both barrels of the shotgun as Jamie raised it to eye level and fitted the stock snug against his right shoulder.

Shelby had been expecting the first blast, but jumped anyhow when the roar of the shot filled the house. Shelby jumped to her feet and pulled her pajama top over her head.

The shot had vaporized the top half of Shelby’s Moms head. In the dark, the brains and blood and bits of bone looked like black paint on the television screen. Jamie stared at the nearly headless woman in awe at what he had done.

Jamie was yanked back to reality when he heard Shelby’s dad roar, “What the Fuck,” just to the left of his line of sight. Jamie snugged the gun back against his shoulder and swiveled toward the man on the couch.

Jamie fired into the middle of the mass struggling to get off the couch. Shelby’s Dad never said another word. He fell back against the couch and tried one last breath which gurgled back through the giant hole in his chest. Then, the man moved no more.

Jamie turned to get the fuck out of the fucking house as fast as he fucking could. Just before he saw Shelby at the top of the stairs naked.

Jamie had just killed her Mom and Dad and should be running for his life, but he still got frozen solid by some boobs and some pubic hair. “What an idiot,” Shelby thought as Jamie lowered the shotgun and started to grin.

Shelby raised the Colt Woodsman with her right arm and steadied it with her left hand. Shelby’s Dad always bragged that his kid could, “…shoot better than nearly anything with a dick.”

Shelby put the first two rounds in Jamie’s forehead; the next four went into Jamie’s chest. He was dead before his legs buckled. Shelby didn’t need to check. She went back in her room and put her pajamas back on.

Shelby went back to the top of the stairs where she had fired the first six shots. She fired the last four shots into the wall well above where Jamie had been standing. This got gun shot residue all over her pajamas and made it look like the first few shots missed.

“Daddy kept that Woodsman wrapped up in a red towel in the closet at the top of the stairs Sherriff,” Shelby imagined saying. “He said that way he’d not go searching around for the gun if he ever needed it. If it was on the bottom shelf wrapped in the only red towel in the closet, you couldn’t miss it.”

Shelby dropped the pistol and watched it bounce down the stairs. One grip panel splintered before the gun came to rest three steps from the bottom of the stair case.

Shelby walked through Jamie’s blood in her bare feet. She left bloody footprints as she stepped out onto the front porch.

Some lights were already on in the neighbor’s house to the right. Many more started blinking on as Shelby began to scream herself hoarse.

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Cops Never Listen

By William Currens Devol

Copyright 2009

Cops think they know everything. Trust me, I’m a cop, well I am a cop now, but I can’t see that lasting much longer. Two different dash cams back my story up, but that video will never see the light of day. They are going to blame me for what happened to Eddie; I just know they are.

Eddie Roth and I were the two least likely guys to be Deputies on the Geauga County Sherriff’s Department. I was tall dark and Italian from Murray Hill. Eddie was tall dark and Jewish from Lyndhurst, but we looked like brothers.

The other Deputies called us the Goomba Boys because they are culturally sensitive like that. Eddie and I called the other guys hayseed shit kickers, so it was even, I guess.

Eddie had been an MP in the Marines. He went to Afghanistan three times before they finally let him out. I had gone through the Cleveland Police Academy thinking I would be a Cleveland cop, but not one guy from my class got a job in Cleveland. City Council funded an Academy class, but they never appropriated the funds to hire any of us.

Eddie answered an ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and I got a tip from the Police Union. It was the least they could do, as they had started taking dues out of my Cadet pay. I landed on the force three months after Eddie did, but he was nearly 30 and I was barely 25.

Geauga County Sherriff Red Carpenter hired both of us. Eddie and I hit it off right away. Eddie was a scream off duty and all business on duty. I used him as a role model. I turned out to be a pretty good cop, but Eddie had seven years on me, as far as police work went. It was probably that experience that got him killed.

When Eddie saw the schedule for September, he saw we both worked 11 to 7 on Friday the 12th and that we both had a rare weekend off.

“We don’t work again until Monday morning, Pete,” he had said. “What say we grab our stuff and head out to Pymatuning, pitch our tents, and sleep till noon or so before we start killing fish.”

The 12th of September had arrived. Eddie and I had all our stuff packed into the back of his Chevy pickup at the Sherriff’s Department. We should have been able to get on the road by 8:00 a.m., but the trip never happened.

I was sitting at the stop light at Route 528 and Route 87 just east of Middlefield when I heard Eddie call in a license plate for a car that had run the red light at the Burger King across from Giant Eagle.

The dispatcher sounded breathless when he called back, “It’s hot Eddie, I repeat, you have a stolen vehicle. Do not stop the vehicle until I get you backup.”

Department policy requires two cruisers make a hot car stop. Before the dispatcher could make the call for backup, I radioed in and told the dispatcher where I was. Eddie acknowledged, and turned left towards town and I pulled my cruiser to a stop across both lanes of Route 87.

When I saw the Lumina, I turned my lights on, and Eddie turned his on at the same time. We were about 200 yards apart with a battered, red Chevy Lumina between us. The driver of the Lumina slammed on the brakes and then pulled the car off the road, turned his car off, and dowsed his headlights. I pulled nose-to-nose with the Lumina, and Eddie pulled in behind the stopped car.

I turned on my spot light and shined it into the eyes of the trapped driver. I opened my cruiser door and knelt behind it. I pulled my weapon out of the holster and flicked the safety off. I radioed Eddie that I was in position. Eddie thumbed his PA speaker button.

“Deputy Manelli is in the car in front of you; he has his weapon drawn. I will be walking up to your car with my hand on my weapon. Please place both of your hands on the wheel and leave them there. If you understand me, nod your head vigorously.”

The driver already had both hands on the wheel. His head started bobbing up and down. I radioed Eddie that the driver was complying.

Eddie slipped out of his cruiser and put his campaign hat on top of his head. He left his door open in case he needed cover. He unsnapped the safety strap on his weapon, flicked his safety off, and placed his hand on the gun butt. Eddie slid out about five feet from the bumper of the Lumina and started angling to the driver’s door.

When Eddie signaled me, I holstered my weapon. I did leave my hand on the butt as I walked over to take a position at the driver side front fender of the Lumina.

“Sir,” Eddie addressed the driver. “I am going to open your door. Leave your hands on the wheel until I tell you to exit the vehicle.”

Eddie opened the driver door and leaned forward to grasp the driver’s elbow, “Please step out of the car, then face the car, put your hands on the roof of the car, and freeze.”

When the driver cleared the door, I moved to close it. You wouldn’t want a suspect to panic and dive back in for a weapon hidden under the seat.

I watched and Eddie patted the driver down. I didn’t take long. The driver was a little man with shoulder length white hair and a flowing white beard. His nose was sharp and stuck out of his moustache like a bird’s beak. His darting, dark eyes stared into the night on the other side of the Lumina. His hands were shaking on the roof of the car; the sleeve buttons on his black suit coat tapped a nervous rhythm.

“Deputy Manelli,” Eddie said. “Do you know what this gentleman is wearing on his head?”

I looked and saw a round black beanie about six inches across affixed to the hair at the crown of the man’s head with three Bobbie pins. I had no idea what it was. For all I knew it was for covering a bald spot.

“I have no idea, Deputy Roth,” I said. When I said, “Roth,” the little old man focused on Eddie’s face and a brief smile showed under the white whiskers.

Eddie had removed the wallet from the driver’s inside jacket pocket and was reading the license visible through a plastic window.

“It’s a Yamika,” Eddie said smiling. “This is Mr. Leopold Szpiegel. He is a Rabbi.”

“I know what a Rabbi is, but what’s a Yamika,” I said.

Eddie smiled his biggest smile and said, “It is a traditional head covering worn by Jews. Correct me if I’m wrong, Rabbi, but the Talmud says cover the child’s head so that he will have the fear of heaven. Turn around, Rabbi.”

Mr. Szpiegel turned to Eddie and laughed, “Your mother would be proud to know you paid good attention in Hebrew School.”

Eddie handed the Rabbi his wallet. “What are you doing out in the heart of Amish country in a stolen car, sir?”

The Rabbi looked down at his shoes like a child being caught trying to steal a cookie.

“I am sorry, Deputy Roth,” the Rabbi mumbled. “I would never have taken this car if it weren’t a matter of life and death. I assure you that if you allow me to continue on my way, that I will present myself at your headquarters tomorrow to face the music for stealing this car.”

“Rabbi Szpiegel,” Eddie said. “Even if you had the perfect excuse for taking this car, I couldn’t let you go. Deputy Manelli and I have called this in by radio. Right now, the fact that we have located this stolen car has been communicated to the police department where the complaint was filed. Do you understand?”

“Yes, yes, of course, but if I could tell you my story, you might acquiesce and allow me to dispose of the problem in the trunk of this car before you arrest me,” Rabbi Szpiegel said. “I am afraid I have made a horrible mistake, but I should be the only one to pay for it.”

“What mistake did you make,” I asked.

The old man glanced at the rear of the Lumina. Eddie saw it too.

“What’s in the trunk, Rabbi Szpiegel,” Eddie asked.

Rabbi Szpiegel’s eyes were wide with fear when he uttered one word, “Golem.”

Eddie threw back his head and laughed so hard he nearly lost his campaign hat. I was about as confused as I have ever been right then. The Rabbi looked like he had seen a ghost and Eddie was laughing so hard he could barely catch his breath.

Talk about mixed signals.

“Do you have Santa and the Easter Bunny in there, as well? Perhaps the Boogie Man and the Loch Ness monster too,” Eddie asked as he got his breathing under control and wiped tears out of his eyes.

“What the fuck,” I said.

Eddie looked at me with a huge grin on his face, “A Golem,” he said with a wink, “is an evil creature formed from clay or dirt into the shape of a man. My Zeidy, excuse me, my grandfather, used to scare the crap out of us with Golem stories. It’s the Jewish Boogie Man.”

“What the fuck,” I repeated.

“Please, Officer Roth,” the Rabbi pleaded. “This is serious. I have a Golem in the trunk of this car and I need to deliver it to the man that forced me to create it or he will hurt my Sadie.”

“Who is Sadie, your wife,” Eddie asked.

“My cat,” said Rabbi Szpiegel. “He took my cat Sadie and he will hurt her if I don’t give him this Golem.”

“Who took your cat,” Eddie asked.

“What the fuck,” I said again.

“Rabbi Cohen in Youngstown,” our Rabbi said. “He took Sadie when he visited me last week. He sent a picture in the email.”

“Oh,” Eddie said in a very calm voice. “I’ve got it now. Rabbi Cohen visited you from Youngstown. He kidnapped your cat, Sadie, and promised not to hurt her if you would just make him a Golem and deliver it. You didn’t know how you were going to get the Golem to the other Rabbi until you decided to steal a car. Is that about right?”

“Exactly,” said Rabbi Szpiegel missing the twinkle of mischief in Eddie’s eyes. “I have studied Kabbalistic lore for nearly my whole life. I made the mistake of telling Rabbi Cohen that I thought I could even make a Golem if I had to. I was bragging; oh, dear, pride goeth before the fall, I’m afraid.”

“Deputy Manelli,” Eddie said in the same calm voice. “Would you get Rabbi Cohen’s contact information from Rabbi Szpiegel while I call this in?”

As Rabbi Szpiegel turned to me in horror, Eddie made the twirling finger sign for crazy and went to call our situation in.

“You can’t contact Rabbi Cohen,” he said. “He’ll hurt my Sadie. Please don’t…”

“We will use the information to go and save Sadie,” I said. “We would never tip him off beforehand.”

Rabbi Szpiegel visibly calmed down and gave me a phone number and an address for Rabbi Cohen.

“Deputy Roth,” I said over the old man’s head as Eddie walked back to the Lumina. “What did the dispatcher tell you?”

“We are to hold Rabbi Szpiegel here until Deputy Windsor arrives,” Eddie said. “He will transport the Rabbi to where he needs to be.”

Deputy Windsor meant that another Deputy would come to take Rabbi Szpiegel in for a psych evaluation at the Chardon Mental Health Center. There used to be a mental hospital called Windsor in Chagrin Falls. The hospital is gone but Deputy Windsor stuck.

“Ok by me,” I said. “I’ll help Rabbi Szpiegel to a seat in the back of my cruiser. Right this way.” He looked so forlorn. I felt sorry for the crazy old guy.

“Hey Deputy Manelli,” Eddie said as he broke into an evil grin. “Do you want to see what a Golem looks like?”

“Sure,” I said. “I always wanted to see an evil clay man.”

Eddie reached inside the Lumina and pushed the trunk release button. I heard the clunk and the trunk opened a couple of inches.

“Something’s in that trunk,” Eddie whispered to me. “Did you see how low it is sitting on the springs?”

“Yes, I did,” I said. “It better not be dope or a dead body. We’ll never get to the lake.”

We didn’t.

We both stepped behind the Lumina and Eddie flipped the trunk open. A statute of a man carved out of what looked like terra cotta was curled in the fetal position in the trunk of the Lumina.

“Holy shit,” Eddie said. “This Rabbi is talented and crazy. That thing looks like it could sit up and talk to us.”

“Do you think he made it,” I said. “I bet he saw it at some art gallery and decided he had found a Golem. How in the hell did stories of a statue scare the crap out of you, anyway?”

“A Golem isn’t just a statue,” Eddie said. “My grandfather said you could animate a Golem to do your bidding by writing the true name of god on a piece of paper and putting it into the ear of a Golem.”

“Your grandfather knew the true name of God,” I said. “I suppose they were on a first name basis.”

“Naw, only Jewish mystics and Rabbis that studied Kabbalah know the real name of God,” Eddie said.

“Kabbalah, what the hell is Kabbalah,” I said.

Eddie never answered me.

“What’s this,” Eddie said reaching into the trunk to grab a small roll of what looked like parchment. He unrolled the paper and broke into a grin.

“What,” I said.

“It looks suitably mystical to me,” Eddie said. “I bet it’s the true name of God.”

With that, Eddie rolled up the paper and slid it into a small hole in the exposed ear of the statue.

On the dash cam tape from my cruiser, you see me apparently leap into the air backwards and sail over Eddie’s cruiser. You can hear the Rabbi in my back seat screaming his brains out.

From Eddie’s dash cam, you see me disappear up over the cruiser and you see the terra cotta arm that threw me like a rag doll grab Eddie by the throat. Eddie had turned to see me go flying over his cruiser, so you see the look of confusion and then shock on his face as the Golem’s fingers close on Eddie’s windpipe.

Eddie gurgled once and got his hand to the butt of his weapon before you hear a great snap and you see Eddie go limp. The Golem didn’t let go of Eddie’s body until he had climbed out of the trunk. I only know this because I’ve seen the dash cam tapes. I was out cold behind Eddie’s cruiser until I heard the glass shatter.

From my dash cam, you see the Golem come out from behind the Lumina and drop Eddie like a bag of corn. Eddie’s forehead cracks the pavement, but he never felt it.

The Golem seems to notice the Rabbi screaming himself hoarse in my cruiser and marches straight for him.

Eddie’s footage shows the Golem bashing at the rear door of my cruiser once, twice, and bouncing it open on the third smash. That’s when the glass shattered. That’s when I came to.

I stagger out from behind Eddie’s cruiser and steady myself on the driver-side front fender. I shake my head once and then twice. You can see that I am bleeding from a cut just below my right eye. It’s where my face kissed the road.

Just then the Golem drags a very limp Rabbi out of my cruiser. I pull my weapon and order the Golem to put the Rabbi down. The Golem ignores me and begins shaking the Rabbi violently.

You hear me warn the Golem one more time, and then I fire two rounds. Both rounds hit the Golem in the back where they kick up orange clouds of dust, but the Golem keeps shaking the Rabbi. By this time, it is obvious that the Rabbi is as dead as Eddie.

I open fire again and empty my piece. All of the shots hit the Golem, but the last shot goes wide and strikes the Golem in the left side of his head. That’s when you see the Golem stiffen and fall over onto the road. He shatters into a dozen pieces.

My last shot blew the roll of parchment out of the Golem’s ear.

Eddie’s dash cam shows me walking to Eddie and checking his pulse before I reload. I walk over to the Rabbi, but I don’t check his pulse because his head has worked itself backward on his shoulders.

I walk into the pile of terra cotta pieces and reach down. I pick up a small roll of parchment. I reach into a pocket on my Sam Houston belt and pull out a Bic lighter.

They are trying to say I destroyed evidence, but, since they have no idea what was on that piece of paper, they can’t make that charge stick. I just bet my ass that they try to pin Eddie and Rabbi Szpiegel on me.

I saw that dash cam footage about thirty minutes ago in Sherriff Red’s office. He was there and his Chief Deputy was there, and neither of them said a word. They just stared at the monitor and wouldn’t look at me. Sherriff Red told me to go sit in the day room and not say a word to a soul.

That’s what I did.

The next day, they got around to checking up on Rabbi Cohen. Sadie was there, and the ransom email was on his computer. That should be enough to just let me retire and go away, but a cop is dead and I’m afraid they will pin Eddie and the Rabbi on me.

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Copyright 2009

By William Currens Devol

 

If she hadn’t been so beautiful, none of this would have happened. Gabriela Rosalia Segesta was so beautiful I couldn’t stop looking at her.

 

I had stayed at work past seven. Most days, I don’t work that late, but the push was on to finish the manuals for the new software package even though the code wasn’t finalized. We were documenting a moving target which includes guessing about what the software should do. It required constant revision, but at least it was a colossal waste of time.

 

My laptop case got stuck that evening when I tried to push it and my wide backside through the turnstile at the same time. The lady behind the glass had to come out and unlock the turnstile so I didn’t break it. I’m sure the Regional Transit Authority paid more for that turnstile than I paid for my laptop case.

 

Gabriela went through her turnstile smoothly. She got ahead of me going out onto the eastbound platform under the Terminal Tower. That’s when her butt captured my full attention. She was wearing a very professional, black suit with faint gray pinstripes.

 

The slacks didn’t hug her butt; they weren’t too tight or anything vulgar like that. The slacks draped her butt. The slacks hinted at the shape of her butt; her slacks described her butt. My imagination was doing the rest. Her shoes had a really long, skinny heel and they were black; I don’t know shoes so well.

 

I’m 6 feet 2 inches tall, and when I slid in next to Gabriela on the platform, the top of her head came to my collar bone. I’d guess she was just over 5 feet tall. Her suit jacket was buttoned and fit her upper body like her slacks did her lower body.

 

Her hair was black, thick, and straight. She had her hair tucked behind small, perfect pink ears, and her face was sharp without being hard. Her eyes were so brown they could have been black.

 

She turned from the platform and rested her silver purse on the edge of a trash can and began looking for something deep inside the handbag. She pulled out her cell phone, and didn’t notice a shiny purple cloth bag fall out of her purse, bounce once on the rim of the trash can, a tumble inside.

 

The next thing I knew, I was saying, “Allow me” and snagging the bag out of the trash.

 

When I held the bag out to Gabriela, she smiled and thanked me. I just stared at her smiling face, her perfect small white teeth, and her eyes.

 

“Anytime,” I said. “Anytime at all.” Then I realized I hadn’t let go of the bag when she grabbed her end of it. I let go of the bag and ran behind a platform pillar to hide my embarrassment as Gabriela opened her phone and began to dial.

 

Thankfully, the Green Road rapid pulled into the station a minute later. The Tribe was out west, so only a handful of people got off the train, and only three of us got on.

 

Gabriela sat in the back-left of the train. I sat three seats ahead of her near the accordion door in the middle of the train. I was starting to creep myself out a little because I rarely got this stupid about women. I had worn a wife out about 5 years previously, and I was a complete disaster on dates.

 

My buddy Mitchell says I screw dates up because I don’t want to be happy. He says I’m punishing myself for the divorce. He doesn’t understand what’s really going on.

 

After considerable evaluation, I have come to the conclusion that either all women are crazy or I am the kind of crazy where you and other men don’t know you are crazy, but women know you are crazy just by looking at you.

 

Mrs. Ruger, my third-grade teacher wrote in my permanent record that she believed I needed counseling. I was first judged crazy by Mrs. Ruger when I was 8 years old. Here I was twenty-eight years later stalking a beautiful olive-skinned woman easily ten years my junior while riding public transportation.

 

I became ashamed of myself and turned away from staring. It was probably just loneliness. Every blue moon I’d get like that, but a weekend spent surfing the web for porn usually took care of the problem.

 

The third passenger was a guy on the other side of the aisle and the other side of the door. He caught my attention because he was thin and you could tell from his five o’clock shadow that he could grow a full beard in a week. My beard was pretty wispy even though I’d had it for 18 years. I immediately hated the other passenger because he had greater beard potential.

 

When the train slowed for the East 79th Street stop, Mr. Five O’clock Shadow got up like it was his stop. God help me, but I remember thinking, just for a second, “Wow, you don’t see many white guys get off the Rapid at East 79th Street.” That little racist thought saved Gabriela’s life and changed mine, so I have since forgiven myself.

 

When the double doors opened up, Mr. Shadow started down the steps. On the bottom step, he turned and braced his back against the open door. Then the guy pulled a cannon of a handgun out from somewhere inside his brown leather jacket and pointed it in Gabriela’s direction.

 

When I got to my feet, Mr. Shadow was distracted and turned his head toward me. I reached up and grabbed the handrails on either side of the aisle, got my ass airborne, and kicked both my legs out.

 

I caught Mr. Shadow in the shoulder and the elbow on his right side. I heard a sickening crack before Mr. Shadow dropped the cannon and flew out the door into the concrete wall at the top of the stairs at the East 79th Street stop. His skull made another sick cracking sound and he slumped against the base of the wall. As the door closed and the train pulled away, I could see there was a lot of blood.

 

I turned toward Gabriela, but she was staring at the gun lying on the train’s rubber floor mat. When she looked up at me, she was very pale, nearly white.

 

I dropped back into my seat like I fell out of a tree. I swallowed hard and stared back at Gabriela staring at me. Then we both looked at the gun. Then we looked back at each other.

 

Gabriela blinked several times and then said, “Pick up the gun and put it in your case.”

 

I said, “What?”

 

“The gun, pick it up by the barrel, point it at the floor. Before you put it in your case, however, push that red button near the trigger in until it clicks. Do this quickly because we do not want anyone to get on the train, see the gun, and call the police,” Gabriela’s color was coming back and as she spoke her voice gained authority.

 

I did what she said. The red button was the safety, of course, and when the gun was in my case, Gabriela moved to the seat behind mine.

 

“Who are you? Did my Dad have you follow me,” Gabriela said.

 

“I’m Gene, and I don’t know your Dad. I don’t know you. That guy was going to kill you,” I saw my own face in the train window. On the outside, I looked blank; on the inside, I was nearing hysteria.

 

“Yep, and probably you,” Gabriela said. When I started to stammer a reply, She held a finger to her lips and pulled the cell phone out of her purse, opened it and punched in a number, “Carmine, drop everything and bring Al in the Hummer to the Shaker Square Rapid station. Do it now. We are two stops away. There will be two of us.”

 

Gabriela listened for a few seconds, and when she answered, a touch of Little Italy had entered her voice, “Oh, nothing, just some mook tried to kill me over here.”

 

Gabriela slapped her phone shut and jammed it back in her purse.

 

“Gene, Gene, yo, Gene,” she started snapping her manicured fingers in my face. “We are getting out at Shaker Square. Two very big, very ugly men will be waiting for us with a bullet-proof Hummer.”

 

“That sounds like a great idea,” I said

 

Gabriela laughed and said, “Fuckin-A it’s a good idea.”

 

The men were big. Carmine was half a head taller than me and he was the little one. They were ugly too. Carmine and the other guy, Alvise, “Call me Al,” had noses that had been broken in opposite directions. Carmine had an angry red scar just behind his left ear that ran down into the collar of the opened throated blue work shirt he was wearing.

 

They grabbed us from the steps of the train as four other people waited to get on. I was in the back of a black Hummer behind dark windows and Al was driving us somewhere very fast before I had time to hyperventilate.

 

Carmine had a deep voice and actually talked like guys that looked like him in the movies, “Police,” he asked turning to Gabriela sitting next to me in the back seat.

 

“No police,” she said. “It was me, Gene, the shooter, and the driver. That driver had to hear something. Gene here kicked that son-of-a-bitch clear out of the train. I think he broke his fuckin’ arm. It happened at 79th Street; the guy smacked the wall with his head pretty good.”

 

Carmine pulled a cell phone from inside his Indians jacket and made a call, “Lenny, get someone down to the Green Road Rapid station. Someone tried to off Joe’s kid on the train. The driver didn’t call the police, so the driver was probably in on it.”

 

Carmine listened to the response, “No, don’t fuckin’ kill the driver. Joe will want us to have a few words with the driver to determine if the driver needs some killing. Also, get someone down to the East 79th Street stop. The shooter might still be there.”

 

The phone went back in the Indians jacket, and Carmine smiled a smile that was big and frightening, “So, Gene, is it? You broke the fucker’s arm. Not bad for a fuckin’ Mick.”

 

“It’s not Mick, it’s Gene,” was all I could say.

 

Al’s laugh was more like a rattle in his throat, “We know your name; you ain’t black, you ain’t Italian, you got a red beard and skin as pink as a baby’s ass. That’s a Mick, all right.”

 

I still didn’t understand so I looked at Gabriela for some help.

 

“Irish, he means you are Irish,” Gabriela said.

 

The three of them talked rapid fire in what I guessed was Italian for the rest of the drive. I couldn’t tell you if we went one mile or four-hundred.

 

As it turns out, we went less than four hundred.

 

The Segestas lived in a compound of four houses on about three acres hidden behind a high, thick field stone wall. You don’t need to know where the Segestas live and I’m not going to say any more about that.

 

Al drove the Hummer through a massive wrought iron gate that clanged shut behind us. The driveway wound through the property and past the front of each of the houses.

 

Each house was built of the same dark grey stone with heavily shuttered, recessed windows. Each was a story and a half with silvered cedar shingled roofs and low eves. One-hundred year old oaks and expensive landscaping sheltered each building.

 

The main house was at the back of the property and was the biggest. The other three houses were much smaller and were arranged inside the wall so they didn’t block the front of the main house.

 

As we pulled up, the thick front door of the big house opened and two men in dark suits walked down the three low steps to the driveway. The older of the two was thin and wore a spotless white shirt with a silver tie. The younger man wore a shirt just as white but with a light blue tie. Both men looked agitated.

 

As soon as the car stopped, Gabriela threw open the door and squeaked, “Daddy, Paulie.” The two men stepped forward and took turns embracing her.

 

She kissed both men on the lips, but Paulie got the sloppy kiss. Gabriela and Paulie went into the house, but Daddy turned back to the Hummer.

 

Carmine stepped out of the Hummer and bent to whisper something into Daddy’s ear. Daddy’s eyes jerked toward me in the middle of Carmine’s whisper. When Carmine finished, Daddy nodded his head and whispered something to Carmine. Then, he moved to the Hummer and offered me his hand.

 

I took his hand and he grasped mine in both of his, “My name is Joseph Segesta, and as soon as I have had a chance to speak with my daughter and take care of a few things, I will thank you properly for what you have done. Until I can see you again, I’ve told Carmine to make sure you get something to eat if you wish. Is there anything else you need?”

 

“I could sure use a bathroom,” was the only thing that came out of my mouth.

 

Joseph Segesta smiled and then laughed, “Carmine will see to that, as well. Alvise, after you park the Hummer, please join Frances at the front gate for a short while until we can better assess our situation.”

 

“How about I park the Hummer behind the gate and help Frank,” Al said.

 

“Even better, Alvise, an excellent idea,” Joseph Segesta said. He turned back to the house, went inside, and closed the door.

 

Al beamed and Carmine slapped him on the back, “That’s using your head baby brother, now haul ass.”

 

Al jumped back in the Hummer and drove to the gate house.

 

Carmine’s arm surprised me when he dropped it across my shoulders, I nearly fell.

 

“Whoa, Rambo,” Carmine said as he grabbed my shoulder in one of his huge hands and held me up. “You’ve had a big day. Come with me and let’s get you to that bathroom.”

 

Carmine took me around to the back of the main house where we entered a large, dark paneled office or study through French doors off of a cobblestone patio.

 

“The toilet is through that door,” Carmine said squaring up my shoulders and giving me a gentle push toward a padded, red leather door as he stepped behind what appeared to be a bar.

 

When I came out, Carmine handed me a cold green bottle with a blue label, “Knock that back, Irish. It’ll stop the blood rushing in your ears.”

 

I drained half the bottle in one gulp. When I stopped to take a breath, I looked at the label; it was a Birra Messina, “What’s Birra Messina,” I asked.

 

“Read the label,” Carmine said.

 

“Birra Di Sicilia…beer of Sicily…it’s Sicilian beer,” I stammered.

 

“Very good, Irish. What have you figured out, so far,” Carmine asked.

 

“Mr. Segesta is a criminal,” I blurted out before I clamped a hand over my own mouth.

 

“No, that’s OK,” Carmine said holding up a hand. “You got it. The boss is a criminal; I’m a criminal; Paulie’s a criminal; Gabriela is a criminal. We all work for a criminal enterprise, but it isn’t exactly what you’re thinking. We are lawyers.”

 

“Lawyers,” I said.

 

“Well, Al ain’t a lawyer yet, but he takes the Bar next month,” Carmine said.

 

“Lawyers? But, the guy with the gun, people don’t shoot lawyers,” I was confused.

 

“Lot’s of people would if they thought they could get away with it,” Carmine said with a laugh. “Drink your beer, Irish. We are lawyers and we are criminals. We are a criminal enterprise that specializes in representing criminal enterprises. We fix things and untangle things and arrange financing for things. It’s enough for you to know that we are criminals, but we try to be nice criminals.”

 

“Nice criminals,” I said. “What are nice criminals?”

 

“Nice criminals don’t try to shoot people’s children over business,” Carmine said. “We might need to shoot someone, now and then, but we try our best to shoot just them and not the general public or their family members.”

 

“Holy shit,” I said and downed the rest of the beer in one swallow.

 

“Killing people is impolite and sloppy,” Carmine said. “We prefer to pay people off, sue people into submission, blackmail them, or smack them around a little. You catch more flies with sugar, as they say. Any way, I am telling you this not to scare you, but to warn you that you have fallen in with thieves through no fault of your own,” Carmine stood up and paced in front of me.

 

“If you are thinking you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, I want you to stop,” continued Carmine. “For Mr. Segesta, you were in the best possible place at the best possible time for his daughter and his family. All we ask of you is silence about what happened today. After today, never, ever bring this up again with anyone. If you can keep this arrangement, Mr. Segesta will be forever grateful. What do you say, Irish?”

 

I agreed to stay quiet; what was I supposed to say, “Sorry, Carmine, I’m going to the Feds.”

 

Carmine got me another beer and excused himself because he “had to piss like a race horse.”

 

I drank the second beer in three pulls. On an empty stomach, the two beers actually made me drowsy. Despite what had happened and where I was, I nodded off in the chair.

 

“Irish, hey, Irish, wake up, the boss wants to talk to you,” Carmine said, shaking me back to the world.

 

As soon as I heard Carmine, I snapped awake to find him bending down to me in the chair.

 

“There you go, Irish,” Carmine said with a smile. He straightened, turned around and said, “He’s awake Mr. Segesta.”

 

Carmine stepped to the side and Joseph Segesta stood smiling down at me.

 

“Mr. Longford,” Joseph Segesta said. “I can never thank you enough for saving Gabby’s life.”

 

Carmine slid a wing backed chair in behind Mr. Segesta, and the distinguished looking man with a full head of silver hair and watery, blue eyes beneath full, silver eyebrows sat, crossed his legs, rested his elbows on the arms of the chair, and steepled his fingers in front of his straight nose and thin lips.

 

“I never told you my last name,” I said.

 

“That’s true. But, I’d be a truly pitiful criminal if I could find out who you are,” Mr. Segesta said. “We ran your fingerprints from inside the Hummvee through the FBI fingerprint database in Washington, D. C., and we knew who you were in a matter of minutes. It was easy.”

 

“The FBI,” I said. “Holy shit, the FBI. That’s amazing.”

 

Mr. Segesta began to chuckle behind his steepled fingers. Carmine began to laugh out loud.

 

“What,” I asked. “What’s so funny?”

 

“He’s busting your balls, Irish,” Carmine said and handed Mr. Segesta a glass full of a lot of ice and a little whiskey.

 

I looked at Mr. Segesta and he was grinning while sipping his drink. When he swallowed he put the glass down on a small round table Carmine had placed beside his chair.

 

“Carmine is right, but vulgar,” Mr. Segesta said. “I was teasing you. You left your computer bag in the Hummvee, and your wallet was in one of the inside pockets. Can I offer you another drink or something to eat?”

 

“OK, you got me,” I said. “That’s pretty funny. I’m really not terribly hungry, and those two beers went straight to my head; I’m fine.”

 

“Carmine,” Mr. Segesta said lifting one hand above his head.

 

Carmine picked a manila folder off of the bar top and put it in Mr. Segesta’s waiting hand.

 

Mr. Segesta opened the folder and balanced it in his lap. He began to read, “Eugene Gallagher Longford, born August 26, 1971. You were an only child. Your mother was Alice and your father was Henry. They are both unfortunately no longer with you. You’ve been married once, you have no children, you were a Cub Scout but never a Boy Scout, and your credit rating is just over 630. You work for a computer software company called Insight Systems, you write software and system manuals. You have a Visa and a Discover card on which you manage to pay the minimums every month. According to the divorce papers, you gave your ex-wife the house in Twinsburg in exchange for full custody of your dog, Sophie. Nothing in your life to this point can account for what you did on that train today. Why did you do that? Do you even know?”

 

“Holy shit,” I said. “I haven’t the faintest idea.”

 

“And it’s not important; what is important is that you have done this thing,” Mr. Segesta said. “You know something about yourself many people never get the chance to know. You can conquer fear.”

 

“I didn’t have time to be scared,” I explained. “The guy pulled a gun and I just stood up. He could have shot me, but he turned his head and not the gun. The next thing I knew, his arm cracked and out he went.”

 

“Rudyard Kipling put it this way,” Mr. Segesta said, “”If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same…Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”

 

“The Earth is mine,” I said, sounding not at all sure.

 

“That is up to you, Gene,” Mr. Segesta said with a giant smile. “Very soon, you are going to inherit a great deal of money from a long-forgotten relative to whom you were the only heir.”

 

“What,” I said. “How?”

 

“We’re lawyers, Irish,” Carmine laughed. “All you need to do is wait until the will is filed and everything will be as legal as we can make it look, and we can make it look absolutely legal. You just have to remember one thing.”

 

“Never, ever bring this up again,” I said.

 

“Exactly,” Mr. Segesta said. “Thank you for my daughter’s life.”

 

With that, Mr. Segesta stood, shook my hand, and left me alone with Carmine in the book-lined room.

 

“What happened with the train driver and the guy I kicked, Carmine,” I asked.

 

“You will never know. Hey, don’t fuck this up by getting nosey, Irish,” Carmine said, dropping his huge arm heavily across my shoulders again. “I’d hate to have to shoot you.”

 

“Fuck what up,” I asked, looking up into Carmine’s ugly smiling face.

 

“Exactly,” Carmine said. “Exactly.”

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