Copyright© 2020 by Graybyrd
“No, shot at. There’s a difference.”
“Obviously there’s a difference. So he wasn’t shot, then?”
“No, not shot. But he was badly hurt.”
“How the hell did that happen?”
“Bark. Bark and wood splinters in his face and neck.”
Bertrand Adams almost slammed his phone down in frustration. Instead he gritted his teeth, took a steadying breath, stared up at his Denver office ceiling in supplication, and in his most unctuous, witness-questioning manner, he began again.
“Stop, please. This is getting us nowhere. Simons, start from the beginning and don’t stop until you’ve told me the whole story. I’ll try not to interrupt you. Alright?”
“Sure, boss. Anyway, Martin, that’s the special investigator you guys sent here, he was scoping out that dirty old Arky, the goat man, and the guy spotted him and tried to run him down, but he got away. So the next time, it was okay, he got a good chance to inventory things and watch the old guy before he got spotted, but then the third time he got shot at.”
“GAWDAMMIT!” Adams screamed into the phone. “Can’t you even speak coherently?” he raged. “Just STOP! Stop right there!”
“Hell, boss ... I’m just tryin’ to say...”
“NO! You’re not. You’re about as coherent as a cub bear with honey on its dick! So let me ask you very simply, did Patch Patterson take a shot at our investigator?”
“Well, nobody’s exactly sure...”
“SHIT!” Adams screamed again. He slammed his handset down into its cradle, snatched up the entire phone and hurled it against the wall. It snapped the cord and impacted so hard it shattered and fell to the floor in pieces.
“BEVERLY!” He screamed for his secretary.
“Yes, boss?” She poked her head around his office door.
“Fire Simons! That idiot in Winthrop. Fire the whole damn bunch of them. Terminate them immediately and pay them off. But first, get me one of our local private investigators. One from our ‘preferred’ list. And bring my private bottle, the one you hide in your desk drawer. And two glasses. I’ve got to share this with somebody so it might as well be you. Hurry. I’m not sure how much longer I can hold myself together!”
Beverly ducked out of sight. She waved her assistant over to her desk and relayed Adams’ order to fire the Winthrop watchers. She grabbed her Rolodex and pulled the first card that opened on the P.I. section. Then she snatched the bottle and two glasses.
One small shot and I’m out of there. He drinks three and his sweaty hands start creeping around. This is the third time in two weeks. I doubt if he’s going to survive this project!
Jaydee Simons, Ron Lester, and Spud Colbert sat around Jaydee’s trailer Friday morning, grumbling and drinking beer. They’d been at it for awhile, judging by the number of cans scattered around their feet. A pile of cigarette butts spilled out of an ashtray onto a littered coffee table. Spud snatched a half-gone butt off the table surface. It had burned a long scorch track beside several others. He dropped it into an empty beer can.
“D’ya believe that chicken-shit outfit? Firin’ us? Shit! I tried to tell that fat-ass lawyer what that dirty goat-man did, and he screamed at me an’ hung up. Next thing, this bitch calls and we’re all fired!” Jaydee complained.
“But we’re gonna get our checks, right?” Spud asked.
“Well, yeh ... but there won’t be any more after that. I don’t know about you guys, but my unemployment checks are a real bitch to git goin’ again. And they’ve cut Louisie’s hours back at the Burger Shack again. Shit, man, it’s gonna git tight!” Jaydee whined.
“This is Friday, right?” Ron belched, reaching out to grab another beer while tossing his empty over his shoulder.
“Hey, watch that, asshole! That ‘empty’ sprayed beer on the wall!” Jaydee whined.
“Sorry, but I’m askin’ ... this is Friday, ain’t it?” Ron growled.
“Yeh, it’s Friday all day. So what?”
“So them two ol’ bastards come to town on Fridays in that freakin’ rattletrap truck. It’s still early enough we can catch ‘em on the road out there. We can get a little payback, maybe. We can have a little fun with ‘em, too. Beats the shit out of sittin’ around here, cryin’ in our beer!”
Patch braked the ancient Ford truck to a clattering stop at Purdy’s cabin. Purdy scuttled down from his back porch, flipped up the gate latch, and scurried to reach up and yank open the truck door. He hopped up onto the broad running board and swung himself onto the horse-hair padded bench seat. His eyes barely cleared the dashboard to peer through the lower few inches of the old plate-glass windshield.
Patch engaged the shift lever, eased out the clutch, and amid a thump-pop, bang-clatter from the antique four-cylinder engine, the truck lurched forward down the gravel road that ran straight for a mile before reaching the river bend, and another three miles to town.