“You’re gonna kill a bunch of people, aren'cha?”
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Heath parked his truck in the carport, dug everything out of his pockets, and stripped naked before going inside. His clothes and boots were a total loss, he knew, and he was going to have to get rid of the truck. That smarted. Old and battered as it was, it had been a gift from Darryl.
He got a bottle of dish detergent from the kitchen and took it into the shower with him, knowing it wouldn’t help much. He cleaned himself, rinsed himself off with cold water, then put on old trousers and a ratty tee shirt and went out to the truck with a roll of black contractor bags to empty it of everything of value. Some of his belongings were salvageable. Then he called Dominic.
The fence answered on the first ring. He sounded cheerful. “Hey, Heath! You got news already?”
Heath chuckled mirthlessly. “I know you know a guy up here, Dominic. He’s gonna have some horrible bleach-related nickname, and anytime anyone asks why people call him by it, he says ‘because I make DNA disappear.’”
“How the fuck do you know about him?” Dominic snapped.
Heath smiled grimly. “I don’t. I know you, and I know the type. I need you to send him over to my place. I’m gonna have some work for him.”
There was the sound of thoughtful chewing. Dominic removed his wad of Juicy Fruit only before meals and before bed; between meals he just added stick after stick to an increasingly large, and to Heath’s mind, increasingly disgusting lump of soggy rubber. By the wetness and volume of the revolting smacking sound, Heath judged it’d been a good three hours since Dominic had eaten dinner. “Am I gonna hear about this on the news?” the fence asked carefully.
“Maybe. Less likely if you send me your guy.”
“Okay,” Dominic said. He sounded a lot less enthusiastic than he had when he had picked up. “But you found her, right?”
“Yeah,” Heath said. “I found her.”
“Alive?” The fence’s voice was flat and clipped, without a hint of bonhomie. That was fine with Heath; facial and vocal acting annoyed him at the best of times, and Dominic’s bonhomous facade in particular was like nails on a chalkboard.
“For the moment,” he said. “And Dominic?”
“Send me the rest of the money.”
The speed of Dominic’s chewing slowed, then picked up again. “Okay,” he said. He sounded tired. “Anything you want me to tell the Ghost?”
Heath thought about it. “No,” he said eventually. “Get your guy over here tonight, please.”
“I’ll call him now.”
“One more thing.”
“What?” Dominic asked dejectedly.
Heath sat down on the concrete kitchen floor and leaned back against the refrigerator. “I’m gonna need the Greyhound.”
“You want me to send you a bus ticket?”
“The other kind of Greyhound,” Heath said quietly, closing his eyes. “I’m gonna need Colin. But you can put him on a bus if you want. Or, if you want this to be over sooner rather than later, and if you want the Ghost’s daughter back and safe and sound and in one piece, you can tell him to drive up tonight. Tell him to hurry.”
“Tell him to find a nearby hotel, Dominic,” Heath said softly. “Colin is not staying with me.”
Dominic began to curse under his breath. Heath hung up and put his phone in his pocket. He put on a pair of sneakers and went out to the carport to sort through the contractor bags with his stuff in them. The Army field coat, the wool hat and gloves, and the wool blanket were ruined, but the thick plastic pouches in which he’d sealed the emergency kits with a commercial-grade vacuum sealer designed for storing food had protected their contents. He selected the biggest pouch, which had the words “CONJURATION” written on it in neat block capital letters with a laundry marker. It was bulky, but not too heavy.
He took it into the kitchen and cut it open with a pair of shears. Inside was a heavy-duty, high-visibility yellow ballistic nylon soft case with a zipper and an equally heavy-duty high-visibility yellow ABS plastic hard case. He popped the snaps on the the hard case and lifted the lid. Inside was a box of Crayola sidewalk chalk, a package of candles, a box of NATO windproof/waterproof survival matches, a box of Kosher salt, a compact battery-powered metronome with a nine-volt battery taped neatly to the back, and a yellowing Polaroid photograph of a small, happy-looking mongrel dog with its head cocked to one side inquisitively and its tongue hanging comically halfway out of its half-open mouth.
“You’re gonna kill a bunch of people, aren’cha?” asked Lola from behind him. Heath didn’t look around. Determining the cartoon rabbit’s nature, or even trying to figure out whether she actually existed or not, wasn’t high on his list of priorities at the moment. Besides, she wasn’t bad company.
“Probably,” he said.
There was a sound of a carrot being thoughtfully nibbled. “An’ you’re gonna get away clean, ‘cause nobody’s gonna have a clue how you did it.”
Heath got down on his knees and began to draw a circle on the concrete floor with the sidewalk chalk, adding embellishments and curious symbols to the design as he did. He worked quickly and competently, like an experienced portrait painter, or a craftsman who no longer has to think about his relationship to his tools.
“No,” he said. “They aren’t.”
Damn! Yes, this is a hell of a place to "end" the piece, and I have greatly enjoyed the journey to this point. I regret that I haven't got the excess $$ at the moment to move to a paid subscription and continue reading, but let me assure you at least that wherever this may be going next, you've got a hell of an opening here, a lot of flair, and a great eye for the grimier things in life. :)
Am I missing how this continues or is this an intermission?