Book number four in the Mike McDonald Action Adventure Saga is now available at Amazon.com and Smashwords.com for pre sale. Get it at smashwords for only .99 while on pre sale. Read the first two chapters below.
Life sucks. That’s the way I felt that morning setting in my shabby little office sweltering in the heat. The overhead fan osculating above me barely put a dent in the one hundred fifteen degree temperature. A bead of sweat tracked down my face. Glancing about I took in my family photos hanging on the wood paneled walls. I took in my faded business license hanging next to a picture of Beth and me. We were smiling in the picture: a remnant of happier times. What do I have to show for myself? I wondered.
I had a used car lot in a desolate town near the California Arizona border that barely made pay roll and a trophy wife that didn’t love me anymore. If the rumors were true, she wasn’t faithful. I tried not to believe the rumors; I just wished she wouldn’t yell so much. We had two grown kids that didn’t come around and a big house with a huge mortgage in the ritzy part of town. It was her house and if it weren’t for her real estate business, we couldn’t afford the payment.
In the service area, a mechanic was using an impact wrench and the noise pounded through my brain making my head throb.
“Fuck it. I’m taking the rest of the day off,” I said. Maybe I’ll call up Ray and we’ll take in a round of golf I thought. Ray was my best buddy from high school. I picked up the phone and dialed the number.
Judy, Ray’s secretary, answered on the third ring. “Cunningham’s Hardware,” she said.
“Judy. This is Bill Caldwell. Is Ray in?” I asked.
She paused and then said, “No Bill. He’s not. He went home early.”
She’s acting wired, I thought.
“I was thinking about doing the same. Maybe I’ll see him on the golf course. Bye now,” I said Hanging up the phone. I punched my secretary’s extension on the intercom.
“What’s up Boss?” Brittney asked, her voice sounding seductive.
“Hey Britt, I’m taking the rest of the day off. It’s too damn hot. Tell the crew that they can have an early quit,” I said.
“They’ll like the sound of that.”
“Tell ’em not to get used to it,” I said then turned off the intercom.
Grabbing my suit coat off the back of my chair, I crossed the room to the door and strolled down a narrow hallway passing between tiny offices with glass windows. Two of my sales people were in one of the offices shooting the shit; one of them laughed.
“Hey Bill. Thanks for the early quit,” a young red headed sales clerk said and waved.
I waved back. At the reception area, I caught a whiff of Brittney’s perfume. She leaned forward offering me a view down the front of her low cut black dress. Her long blonde hair cascading down her back glistened in the sunlight coming through the window. When Brittney first came to the office, she made it obvious that she was available.
“It’s tempting, but I’m married,” I said showing her my wedding ring.
“Nobody’s that married,” she said. The first time Beth came to the office after I hired Brittney, they both took an instant dislike to each other. The hackles on their necks stood up and I thought they were going to have a catfight, so I hustled Beth out as soon as I could.
“You could do better,” Brittney said, after my wife left.
“Don’t work too hard. You can have an early quit too,” I said stepping up to Brittney’s desk. I’ve never cheated on Beth, but Britt sure makes it tempting, I thought.
“I’m going to leave in a few minutes, but if you’re ready to leave that bitch that you live with, and run away with me, I’ll get my purse,” she said then giggled.
“You keep that kind of talk up and you’re gonna get me shot,” I said.
“Go on. Have fun at the golf course. I’ll lock up after everyone leaves,” Brittney said rolling her eyes.
“You’re a jewel, Britt. I don’t know what I’d do without you,” I said.
“How about a raise?” Her bubbling laughter followed me out the door.
The sun hit me like a blowtorch making me sweat. Crossing the parking lot, I headed to my ten year old Cadillac. Its paint was old and faded, but it ran good. It was Beth’s car originally. I take possession of her hand me downs and I drive them until they’re ready for the scrap heap, then give them an overhaul and put them on the lot. A hot breeze bit my face making my eyeballs burn. I tossed my suit coat into the passenger seat, sat down behind the wheel, slammed the door and turned the ignition. The engine turned over slowly but started after a few seconds. This old girl is getting tired, I thought. A knocking sound came from underneath the vehicle when I backed out of the parking space. The old Cadillac belched out a puff of blue smoke from the tailpipe filling the driver’s compartment with the smell of exhaust. I waited for an eighteen wheeler to rumble by and then turned left heading west through down town Tortilla Flats.
Passing a drug store, a gas station, Cunningham’s Hardware, and a Bank, I glanced about at the dilapidated buildings. Every other store building set empty and the occupied buildings had seen better days. Paint on the storefront walls was starting to fade. Some of the bricks on the brick buildings looked chipped and in needed mortar. I passed a boarded up building. The letter Z had been painted in red on one of the boards within a circle and a slash mark across the circle: a remnant from the town’s darker days. The town needed make over.
Turning left on Crestview Lane, I headed south. Shaking my head, I couldn’t believe that I lived in the High Desert Estates. I came from the other side of the tracks. The road curved winding though two to three hundred thousand dollar homes sporting stone pillars and manicured lawns. The people with money liked living here in what people called the Heights, but I hated it. It was one of those “Gated Communities,” where you pay dues to the planning committee and you can’t even fart without asking for permission. I turned onto Jack Rabbit Road heading home.
“Oh shit, she’s home,” I said when I pulled into my driveway and parked next to my wife’s Beamer. Something’s got to be wrong, I thought. Sitting behind the wheel, I stared at my luxurious white stucco two story home and felt nauseous. I wanted to run in, get my golf clubs and head to the golf course without getting into a fight with Beth. Maybe she’s calmed down by now? God I hope she doesn’t start yelling again, I thought. Climbing out of the Cadillac, I hurried across the lawn to the front door. The neighbor’s French Poodle’s barking made my throbbing headache worse. “Come in to my yard, you little shit. I’ll pinch off your head and roll it down the street. God I hate that yappy mutt,” I said to myself. “Honey I’m home!” I said when I stepped inside the front door.
The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and for a few seconds, I stood on the piece of Marble tile at the entranceway taking in the room’s essence. Things didn’t feel right. The large wide screen TV blared assaulting my ears, but nobody sat watching it. Beth’s purse set on our leather couch along with a pair of sunglasses: men’s sunglasses. Breathing in the smell of Beth’s perfume, I crossed the beige carpeted living room to the stairs.
My heart jack hammered inside my chest and my breath came out in short little gasps. Grabbing the banister for support, I started up the stairs ignoring the family photos adoring the walls. A moaning sound wafted down the staircase from my bedroom: the bedroom I shared with my wife. A sharp pain shot across my chest and I stopped gripping the banister for support. My knees sagged and I didn’t want to go on. Part of me wanted to turn around and run, but another part of me wanted to see who was up there in my bedroom with my wife. Stumbling along, I continued to the top of the stairs making every step deliberate. Stopping at my bedroom door, I peered into the room. My eyes widened, my bottom jaw dropped, my hands balled into fist at my sides and I felt heat rising in my cheeks.
“Oh, God! Oh Fuck!” my wife squealed. She was in the middle of our California King sized bed on her hands and knees. My best old ex friend Ray stood behind her taking her doggy style from behind. For a fraction of a second, I watched his big hairy ass pumping away and then glanced at Beth. Her belly was turning to fat; her breasts jiggled back and forth reminding me of a Guernsey cow. Breathing in the smell of hot sweaty sex, I thought about crossing the room to my gun cabinet and putting a bullet in both of them. I hadn’t killed anybody in over twenty years, but, but that was back in Nam.
At six PM that evening, I stumbled into The Trail’s End Saloon. After finding my wife, and Ray having sex in our bedroom, I drove around with no destination in mind. The car’s air conditioner barely put a dent in the heat. Sweat beaded up on my forehead and soaked my shirt. Stopping at a Quick Mart, I bought a six pack of Bud and parked by the Little Colorado, a river north of town. I killed the six pack watched the river flow and let the tears stream down my face.
The Trail’s End Saloon was your typical cowboy bar, with sawdust on the floor, antique barstools, old time pictures of various rodeo events, cowboys, horses and pictures of the town dating back to the early twenties. Pictures of an old fire brigades, pictures of the founder’s day parade from 1950 and pictures of the fire that burned the town in 1920 hung on the wall.
Above the mirror, a florescent tube provided a backlight for the area behind the bar. On both sides of the mirror hanging vertically were two Confederate flags. Two sets of crossed swords set on display above the flags. My buddy, Bob Drayton was an old rebel at heart. Stopping to let my eyes grow accustomed to the dimly lit barroom, I breathed in the smell of tobacco smoke and stale alcohol. A few drinkers lined the bar and a few couples sat at the tables throughout the room. A crowd of young people gathered around a dartboard making noise. The Jukebox played George Straight’s, All My Exes Live in Texas. Staggering to the end of the bar, I found a seat and took a pack of Marlboros from my coat pocket. I shook out a cigarette, grabbed a book of matches from the bar and attempted to light the smoke, but I put the wrong end in my mouth trying to light the filter.
Shaking out another cigarette, I managed to put the right end in my mouth this time. Flame from a lighter, flared in my face. Bob Drayton stood behind the bar holding his lighter. After lighting the cigarette, I tossed the matches on the bar. Bob, a tall lanky fellow with premature gray hair and a graveyard complexion, peered into my soul.
“Who pissed on your Corn Flakes?” Bob asked.
I shook my head. “You don’t want to know.”
Bob rubbed his hawk like beak, and then wiped the bar down with a towel. “Let me guess. You found out about your wife and Ray?”
“Jesus H. Christ! Did everyone know but me?” I asked.
Bob took two bottles of Budweiser from below the bar and popped the tops. He set one down in front of me then pulled up a stool. “I think you knew. You just didn’t want to believe it. I never liked Ray Cunningham. Even in school. I never did see what you saw in him. He seemed phony to me.”
“Hey Bob! How about some service down here?” someone yelled.
“Blow it out your ass!” Bob replied. He motioned for a barmaid to see to the customer.
“I would have called you on that, up until a few hours ago when I caught the son of a bitch fucking my wife,” I said and took a pull from the bottle.
Bob paused for a moment. “Did you guys throw down?”
“No. I thought about putting a bullet in both of them, but I backed out of the room. They didn’t know I was there,” I said and then snuffed out my cigarette.
Bob lit a cigarette of his own and tobacco smoke hovered in the air. He brought out two more beers, popped the tops, set them on the bar and leaned back in his chair.
“There is no door number two,” he said.
I took a pull from my beer thinking my friend had lost a few cards from his deck. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Haven’t you seen them old game shows? Behind door number one is the new car, behind door number two is the vacation to the Bahamas, only you don’t know which door to choose?”
“Yeah, so what?” I said.
“There is no magic door that opens to the perfect woman, the perfect job or the perfect life. Life is what you make it. If your life sucks, change it.”
I thought it over. “What about you? You don’t have a perfect life.”
“No one does, but mine is as close to perfect as I can make it. Do you remember when I worked at the gas station before I bought this place?”
“Yeah. I remember,” I said.
“I hated it. Always getting dirt under my finger nails, but I hung in there and saved my money. When this place came up for sale, I put down every dime I’d saved down for the down payment and I haven’t regretted it since. I love this bar, and I enjoy my life. It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.”
“You’re a rare breed. Most men I know don’t enjoy their work,” I said blowing cigarette smoke across the bar.
“Make your own door number two. Sell that car lot; leave that bitch that you’re married to and get out of this shit bird town. A third of those ritzy houses where you live are empty and another third of them are for sale. Why do you think that is?”
I shrugged. “The town’s in a slump, but it’ll come back.”
“My ass! The town’s dead and it doesn’t know it. Have you noticed all the empty buildings on Main Street? There’s a big world out there and somewhere there’s a woman who will make your sun shine. Somewhere there is a job or business that you will enjoy. Buy that Harley that you always wanted, but Beth wouldn’t let you have. See the country.”
It hit me. Bob is right. I could blow this pop stand. What do I have to lose?
“It’s like when we were kids. It’s a do over. My life’s a do over. I can leave this town and start over somewhere else. Jack Ryan has been trying to buy me out for years.” I started to feel better.
Bob took a pull from his beer, leaned forward placing his elbows on the bar. “Outstanding. Send me a postcard when you find your door number two.”
“I thought you said there was no door number two?” I said laughing.
“There isn’t. You have to make your own. Do me one favor before you leave.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Knock Ray Cunningham on his ass.”
“You can count on it,” I replied.
At nine AM the next morning, I rolled into the parking lot of my used car lot. Sweat beaded up on my forehead and rolled down my face. Other than for a hangover, I didn’t feel too bad. After closing down the bar, I went home and crashed on the couch. Beth had an unwritten rule; when I come home drunk, I sleep on the couch. While Beth was busy getting ready to go in to the real estate office, I pretend to be asleep. When she left, I packed a gym bag filling it with a change of clothes, my shaving kit, my 45 caliber handgun and a box of bullets. After a quick shower and shave, I paused in the front doorway and gave the living room one last look. Breathing in the scent of Beth’s perfume, I closed the door and headed into my used car lot.
In the reception area, Brittney sat at her desk looking as sexy as ever. I looked down at the deep valley of cleavage between her breasts and then into her deep blue eyes breathing in her fresh scent. She gave me a curious look.
“You. In my office,” I said then sauntered down the hallway.
“Yes sir,” Brittney replied, giving me a mock salute. She opened the door and stepped into my office behind me. “What’s up Boss?” she asked.
Turning, I grabbed her by the waist, picked her up and spun her around. She let out a little squeal when I sat her on my desk and kissed her. Her lips tasted like fresh strawberries.
“Don’t tell me. You found out about your wife and Ray?” Brittney said letting out a short gasp.
“It seems I’m the last to know. You’ve been dropping hints since I first hired you. You still interested?”
“Hell yeah,” Brittney replied.
I kissed her again, unbuttoned the front of her red dress and fondled her for a few seconds, enjoying the softness I reached under the hem of her dress, pulled her panties down, dropped my trousers and took care of business.
“Britt. Go out to your desk. Get on the PA and tell everyone that I’m calling a staff meeting in a half hour,” I said after we finished.
“Okay Boss. Can I tell them what it’s about?”
“You’ll all find out in a half hour,” I said.
When Brittney left, I dialed Ryan Motors and an elderly woman answered the phone.
“Hello. This is Ryan Motors, your friendly Ford dealer,” she said.
“Hello, Louise. This is Bill Caldwell. Is Jack in?”
“Hi Bill. I’ll transfer you,” she replied.
Outside, the noise of one of my employees using a sledgehammer reverberated into the open window of my office.
A rough gravelly voice came on the line. “Hello Bill.”
“Jack. Do you still want to buy my place?” I asked.
“Yeah if you’re willin’ to sell. Name your price.”
“How does four hundred thousand sound?” I said.
“That includes your entire inventory?”
“Everything on the property,” I replied.
Jack paused and then said, “That’s a fair price.”
“There’s two things I insist on, or there’s no deal.”
“What’s that?” Jack asked.
“I need the money by five PM, and you keep all of my employees on the payroll. Make it cash.” I listened to a few seconds of silence.
“The part about your employees is a given. You’ve got good people, but I don’t know if I can come up with that much cash so soon. Let me call my accountant. I’ll get back to you.”
“You do that,” I said hanging up the phone. Next, I called my lawyer and arranged for him to meet me in my office at two PM. After that, I called the Gray Hound bus depot. Twenty minutes later, my phone rang. “Caldwell Motors,” I said after picking up the receiver.
“Bill, this is Jack Ryan. You’ve got a deal.”
“Good. I took the liberty of having my lawyer draw up papers. He’s stopping by around two. Does that sound good to you?” I asked.
“That’s gonna be a little tight, but I’m sure we can make it.”
“Good. I’ll look forward to seeing you,” I said then hung up the phone.
My employees filed into my office ten minutes later and I sat on my desk facing them. “There’s no good way to say this, so I’m just gonna come out with it. I’m selling out to Jack Ryan.” There were a few sighs and a few gasped breaths. “The good news is that he is going to keep you all employed. You might even get a raise. They have more capital than we do.”
Brittney looked hurt. “What about you? What are you going to do?” she asked.
“I’m leaving town. Most of you know about what was going on with Beth and Ray Cunningham. I’m done with this town and I’m done with Beth. I’m taking the Gray Hound out at midnight.” My employees looked stunned and I saw tears in a few eyes. Brittney looked ready to ball. “Cheer up. I want you to go back to work. Clean this place up. I want it in tiptop shape when Jack Ryan takes over. He’s a good man. You guys will do fine.”
After my employees left, I tied up some loose ends. Finished with that, I did nothing for a few hours, but play a few computer games. I felt antsy and kept watching the clock, but then my lawyer came in at two PM carrying a leather briefcase. A few minutes later, Jack Ryan and his lawyer strolled into my office. Jack was a massive cowboy sporting a large handle bar mustache with features that looked chiseled from stone. Jack’s lawyer looked over the papers saying that all was satisfactory, so Jack and I signed the papers and then shook hands.
“I’m gonna miss you Bill. I don’t know what I’ll do without a little competition.”
“You’ll do fine. What are your plans for the place?” I asked.
“I want to put my trade ins over here. I might branch out and start selling Chevrolets.”
“Whatever you do, you’ll do all right,” I said.
After Jack Ryan left, my lawyer produced a set of divorce papers. Heaving a sigh, I signed the papers, instructed him to file them in court as soon as possible and signed the deed to my house over to my wife.
“Where can I get hold of you if I need to?” my skinny little lawyer asked.
“Fax anything you need me to sign, to my brother in LA. You filled out those power of attorney forms allowing him to sign on my behalf right?” My lawyer nodded. “You’ve also got my cell phone number if you need to get hold of me directly.” When I shook hands with my attorney, I felt as if someone had punched a hole through my heart. For the rest of the afternoon, I sat at my desk trying to stay busy. I kept second guessing myself, wondering if I was doing the right thing. At four thirty that afternoon, I punched the intercom button between my office and Brittney’s desk. “Hey Britt. Tell the troops to take the rest of the day off,” I said.
“Wahoo. Two early quits in a row,” she said, and then laughed.
Brittney and I stepped out the door together an hour later and we were the last to leave. After locking up, I handed Brittney my keys to the front door.
“Give these to Jack Ryan in the morning,” I said. Brittney nodded and started toward her car looking pissed off. “What’s up with you?” I asked.
She whirled around facing me. “You come in here this morning, fuck me on your desk then out of the blue you say you’re leaving town and I’m not supposed to be pissed?”
“I’m sorry,” I said raising my hands. “But I got to get out of this shitty town. You could come with me,’ I said.
She paused for a minute thinking. “You know I can’t. If it weren’t for my mother, I might consider it.”
“How is she?” I asked.
“About the same.”
“How about hanging out with me until my bus leaves at midnight?”
Brittney paused and then walked with me to my Cadillac. Opening the passenger door, I leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. “Let’s stop by the Colonel’s and get a bucket of chicken. I thought we could go up to the Little Colorado and have a picnic,” I said and then pulled out of my parking space.
“That sounds nice,” Brittney said.
Turning left on Main Street, I weaved in and out of traffic. Three scruffy looking bikers passed by going the opposite direction. They wore the Road Dogs patch on the back of their vest: one of our local motorcycle clubs. “I need to make a quick stop,” I said and pulled into Cunningham’s Hardware.
“You don’t have to do this,” Brittney said sounding pissed.
“Yeah, I do,” I said pulling into a parking space.
Climbing out of the car, I hurried across the parking lot. Inside the hardware store, I ignored the hustle and bustle making my way to the employee area. Ray’s secretary said something about Ray being busy and not wanting to be disturbed, but I ignored her pushing his office door open. Ray sat in a red patent leather rocker on the other side of his desk with his back toward me. He was talking on the phone and looking out the back window of his office, but then he whirled around looking surprised to see me.
“I’ll have to get back to you,” Ray said to the person on the phone. His face looked as red as his hair and I wondered if he had been talking to my soon to be ex-wife. “Bill what the-”
Crossing the room, I gave him a right fist to his big nose, knocking him over backward. Charging around the desk, I took the sunglasses from my coat pocket and threw them in Ray’s face. “You forgot these the other day when you were at my house fucking my wife!” I yelled.
Ray stumbled to his feet crying that I had broken his nose, and then hollered to his secretary to get him a towel. Blood dripped onto the floor. The secretary stood in shock for a few seconds and then threatened to call the cops.
A shit eating grin crossed my face. “Tell them that I will be down by the Little Colorado,” I said and stormed out the same way I came in.
“Do you feel better now?” Brittney asked when I climbed back into the car.
“Yes much better,” I said and then smiled.
We headed down Main Street, went through the drive through at Colonel Sanders and headed west. A mile outside of town, I turned right onto a dirt road leading north. A warm breeze blew sand against the car and a tumble weed tumbled across the road in front of us. Traveling over a bumpy desert road, I drove through a sea of cactus, sagebrush and Joshua trees until I stopped at our picnic spot in a turn out near the river. Cotton Wood trees lining the riverbank offered shade.
Brittney and I had our picnic on the hood of my Cadillac and the food taste great; I love Colonel Sanders. After we ate, we spent the evening skinny dipping, making love in the back seat of my Cadillac and drinking beer. The water and the beer were cold; a refreshing relief from the day’s heat, and the conversation was good. I liked the smell and feel of the leather on my ass as Brittney rode me like a wild pony. Her breasts bounced up and down in my face threatening to blacken both my eyes. It was the best sex I’d ever had. The cops interrupted our party a while later and I had to explain about my dust up with Ray. They said that Ray hadn’t pressed charges so I was off the hook.
Thank God, we had our clothes on when they showed up, I thought.
“I wish you wouldn’t go,” Brittney said when she dropped me off at the bus stop.
“It’s something I got to do,” I said, breathing in the smell of diesel exhaust. I kissed her long and hard on the mouth. A tear tracked down her cheek. “You can have the car,” I said tossing the keys to the Cadillac.
“Beth will love that,” she said and then laughed.
Fifteen minutes later, wondering what adventures awaited me; I leaned against the window, closed my eyes and the bus rumbled out of Tortilla Flats disappearing into the night.
Joe Garcia and Jerry Simpson sat hunched down in the seat of an old blue Chevy sedan watching room fourteen at a rundown motel in a seedy section of Jacksonville Florida. The pealing yellow paint on the motel was starting to fade and potholes filled the parking lot. Across the parking lot set a swimming pool with two feet of stagnant water. Flies and mesquites buzzed the air above the pool. They had been sitting there all morning. Jerry took pictures with a thirty five millimeter camera of a busty blonde entering room fourteen.
“Mother of God, it’s hot,” Jerry, said wiping a bead of sweat from his face. “I’ve taken two rolls of film. Do you think Mike will be satisfied? I want to get out of this heat. The humidity’s got to be over ninety percent.”
“You heard his orders. We stay here until Ramon leaves, then give Mike a call. You know how anal he gets about following instructions.”
“I know, but can you at least turn the engine on and run the air conditioner?”
“That I can do that,” Joe said and started the engine.
“That’s a little better,” Jerry added. “Now if we only had some beer.”
“I wonder why Mike took this case? We’re a long ways from Saint Charles. He usually tries to keep us out of the bigger cities.”
“You know why. When that Spanish chick batted her brown eyes he was hooked.”
“He does have the ladies falling all over him. It’s hard to believe he used to be an insurance salesman in California,” Joe said, glancing in the mirror.
“It’s even harder to believe he used to be a Sunday school teacher.” They both laughed.
“Yeah, I walked in one time and caught him reading his Bible. I asked him how he could justify his lifestyle, with his Christian beliefs. Have you seen him when the shit goes down?”
“I know. He scares me. What’d he say?” Jerry asked and then brushed a strand of sandy blond hair out of his face.
“He said that God uses men as his sword of vengeance.”
“You heard about his wife?”
A sea gull flew over dropping a large glob of bird shit that hit the windshield.
“Shit. Fucking sea gulls,” Joe said. “I think everybody’s heard that story. He and his wife were on vacation on his Gold Wing when they pulled into a bar so she could use the bathroom. Some outlaw bikers jumped them. The bikers beat the shit out of Mike then raped and killed his wife.”
“I heard that after he got out of the hospital, he killed every one of those sons of bitches.” Thunder rolled and Jerry looked into the overcast sky wondering if it was going to rain.
“You know what I find hardest to believe?” Joe asked.
“That Mike used to ride a Honda Gold Wing.” They both laughed.
“Me too. Mike McDonald looks like he was born on a Harley Davidson,” Jerry replied. “How does he keep up with it all? He owns the detective agency, the charter fishing business and the bike shop.”
“He relies on his employees. It’d be too much for me to keep track of,” Joe said.
Joe Garcia and Jerry Simpson watched room fourteen for several more hours. A thunderstorm pelted the land, lasting about twenty minutes, but it left everything hot and sticky. The blonde left, a red head took her place and a younger prettier brunet in turn replaced her.
“Ramon sure has a hard on for the ladies. That’s the third one today,” Jerry said, taking a bite out of an apple.
“They must be doing dope in there.”
A heavyset Hispanic woman dressed in a white cleaning uniform with pink stripes knocked on the door of room fourteen and said, “Housekeeping.”
Jerry laughed. “Lorrie looks different in her fat suit.”
“It’s hard to believe that under all that padding is a fine looking long legged Chicano.”
The door to room fourteen opened and Lorrie stepped inside. A few seconds later, a black Lincoln pulled into the parking lot and Ramon Delgado stepped out of room fourteen. Jerry Garcia took pictures. Lorrie stepped out behind Ramon heading for the washroom. Ramon Delgado, a tall skinny Hispanic with arms filled with prison tattoos, glanced toward the street giving Jerry Simpson and Joe Garcia a cold hard look.
“Damn that guy has a big nose,” Jerry said lowering his camera.
“Oh shit. This doesn’t look good,” Joe replied, ignoring the comment.
“I know man. Those dudes look Columbian.”
Four Latin men climbed out of the car and laid brief cases on the hood. Ramon unconsciously rubbed a thin scar that ran down his right cheek. He said something to the Columbians, and then looked back at the blue sedan parked at the curb. The Columbians followed his gaze.
“We’ve been made,” Joe said.
“Let’s see what he does.”
Ramon’s nostrils flared. He pulled a cell phone from his pocket and dialed a number. After talking on the phone for a few seconds and then he put it away. Ramon gave Jerry and Joe another look and then followed Lorrie into the washroom.
“He’s onto Lorrie! We’ve got to go help her!” Joe yelled, grabbing the door handle. He reached for the 45 ridding in a holster on his hip. Joe’s heart did a drum roll inside his chest.
“I hear you!” Jerry said, grabbing the stub nose in his shoulder holster, and opened the passenger door. A low rider Chevy Impala rumbled down the street behind them. The world erupted into the sound of automatic weapons fire. Bits and pieces of glass and metal flew through the air. Bullets riddled the car.
Joe took a round in the back of the neck, blood spattered against the driver’s side window of the blue sedan and he fell into the front seat of the car. It felt like someone hit him in the back of the neck with a sledgehammer. He sat up and took two more rounds in the chest. Blood soaked his shirt and spewed from the hole in his throat.
Jerry dived out the passenger door, rolling to his feet, and crouched behind the car firing several rounds at the Impala. Lightning struck across the street, the sky opened up and a violent thunderstorm assaulted the land. A Latino wearing dark clothing jumped out of the low rider and opened up with an AR-15, stitching Jerry down the body with bullets. Jerry cried out, falling into the gutter, and his last conscious thought was, Mike is gonna be pissed about this one.
Ramon Delgado strolled from the washroom wiping blood from the blade of a folding knife on his pants. He hurried over to the car that Simpson and Garcia had been sitting in. Pulling a 45, he looked down at Jerry Simpson and fired two rounds into his head. He pointed the handgun at Joe Garcia and fired two more rounds. Empty casings flew into the air and landed on the sidewalk. The rain stopped as quickly as it started washing away the blood in a crimson stream.
Ramon squatted down and stuck his finger into the blood on Jerry Simpson’s chest. He wiped a spot dry on the rear door of the blue sedan and then drew a happy face on the side of the car door. After writing something in blood with his finger above the picture, he stood up and hurried back to the Colombians.
“Let’s do this before the cops get here,” Ramon said. They exchanged brief cases full of money for two brief cases full of cocaine. The Colombians got back into their vehicle and sped away. Ramon jumped into his red Corvette, backed into the street, spinning his tires and then headed west.
Mike McDonald’s phone woke him from a deep slumber. Pulling his arm from beneath a naked blonde’s body, removing his hand from her breast, he reached across her to grab his cell phone from the nightstand next to his bed. The naked red head on the other side of him moaned in her sleep as the cabin cruiser rocked on its moorings. Shivering from the cold, Mike looked at the digital clock setting on the nightstand. It displayed two AM.
Instantly awake, Mike answered the phone. “McDonald’s Detective Agency.” Mike’s heart raced and his stomach churned.
“This is Sergeant Dawson with the Jacksonville PD. Did you have people up here working a case? I found your card in the wallet of a shooting victim,” a gruff voice said after a short pause.
Mike’s breathing accelerated. Oh, God no, Mike thought. “Yes I did. It was a divorce case. They were on a stake out. What happened?”
“They were involved in a gang related hit. They’re dead. I need you to identify the bodies. We have two male victims shot multiple times, plus a female with her throat slit.”
Whoever did this? I’ll kill the bastards! Mike thought. “I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Mike said slamming the cell phone down on the nightstand causing the two naked women in his bed to jump in their sleep. Mike slid from between the two women and sat on the edge of the bed. Goose bumps formed up on his arms and legs. The blonde sat up, the blankets falling away from her chest.
“Mike Honey. Come back to bed.” Her voice sounded sleepy.
“No Baby. I got business. You go back to sleep,” Mike replied.
The blonde lay back on the bed and fell asleep while Mike dialed a number on his cell phone.
“This better be fucking good,” a sleepy voice coming over the phone said.
“Jack. It’s Mike. We got trouble. Get over here. Be ready to ride.”
“What happened?” Jack asked.
“I’ll tell you when you get here,” Mike said. He cut the connection and then dialed another number. Another sleepy voice answered.
“Marshal. This is Mike. Meet me at my boat in fifteen minutes. Be ready to ride.”
“I’ll tell you when you get here. Haul ass,” Mike said.
Mike dialed one last number and a deep gravelly voice answered on the fifth ring.
“Do you know what time it is Chief?”
“Elliot. Get your ass over here. We got trouble. Be ready to ride,” Mike said.
“I’ll be there,” Elliot said, and then hung up the phone.
Stepping over a black and tan German shepherd dog sleeping next to the bed, Mike threw on a pair of jeans, a black tee shirt and his motorcycle boots. Dressed, Mike went into the head and took a piss. He stood looking at himself in the mirror. His features looked haggard and somehow he couldn’t believe that his people were dead.
Finished in the head, Mike went into the galley and started coffee. The dog padded in wagging its tail.
“Good morning, Lucky,” Mike said and then gave the dog a friendly pat on the head. He opened the door leading up to the deck and let the dog out to do his morning business. Lucky scampered up to the main deck and jumped over the gunwale and onto the dock. While the coffee brewed, he went back into the cabin where the girls slept, put on a black skullcap and took his leathers from the closet. For a few seconds, Mike stood looking down at the two naked women sleeping in his bed. They looked peaceful. Lucky jumped back onto the boat and Mike filled his food dish with canned dog food, and watched him chow down.
Twenty minutes later, three Harley Davidson motorcycles rumbled up to the marina. Mike climbed up the steps leading to the main deck and stepped into the low lying fog hanging over the harbor. Three hard looking bikers sauntered up the dock appearing out of the fog and Lucky, now finished with his breakfast rushed up on deck to greet them.
“Come below and have some coffee. It’s colder than a penguin’s ass hole, out here. We’ve got a long ride ahead of us,” Mike said when the men came aboard. The boat rocked with their added weight.
“What’s this all about?” Marshal asked.
Mike passed out cups of scalding hot coffee. He paused, leaning against a wooden cabinet, and looked at three of his best friends. There was Jack Logan, a gray headed rawboned man with a face that looked like saddle leather. There was Marshal Cain, a short stocky blond headed guy in his thirties whose body rippled with muscles. He had a tiny scar on the cleft of his chin and arms filled with tattoos. Mike’s eyes moved to Elliot Coe, a massive Seminole Indian who looked nothing but mean.
“What’s up Mike? You look worried,” Elliot said.
“Our crew working the Delgado case in Jacksonville got hit. I have to identify the bodies,” Mike said.
A second of stunned silence followed.
“What about Lorrie?” Logan asked.
“Mother fucker!” Elliot said his face turning red with anger.
“My sentiments exactly,” Mike replied.
“Let’s roll,” Marshal Cain said tossing back the rest of his coffee. Lucky looked up at the rough looking bikers wagging his tail.
“No you can’t go, Lucky. You stay here. Guard the girls,” Mike said to the dog. Lucky went back into the bedroom and lay down.
Mike put on his leathers and followed his employees up the dock to the street. He threw his leg over his nineteen eighty four black Harley Davidson shovelhead, turned on the key then jumped up into the air and came down on the kick starter. On the third try, the engine came to life. Mike turned the throttle letting the Thunder Header pipes roar. All four of them wore a motorcycle club vest over their leathers. The top rocker over the main patch said, Green River Boys. The main patch was a picture of a motorcycle parked next to a flowing river. The bottom rocker said Florida. A few years prior, during his war with the Lost Souls motorcycle club who killed his wife, Mike hooked up with the Green River Boys in Wyoming and they helped him with his war against the Lost Souls. Before Mike left Wyoming they made Mike an honorary member of the club. Once Mike settled in Florida he started a chapter in St. Charles with Mike serving as the chapter president, Jack Logan as the VP and Elliot Coe as the sergeant of arms.
They rumbled though the sleepy little village, with Mike leading the pack, and took Highway 64 heading east across Florida. The fog cleared up and the wind felt good against Mike’s face. At Avon Park, they headed north on Highway 27 then took Highway 4 east bypassing Orlando. At Daytona Beach they headed north on Highway 95. The sun came up over the Atlantic and the weather turned warm. It had the makings of another hot and sticky day, but a mist blowing off the ocean provided some relief.
They rolled into Jacksonville at six AM and pulled into a Glencoe station.
“Let’s get some breakfast,” Mike said noticing a Denny’s across the street.
“I could use some grub and about a gallon of coffee,” Jack replied.
“My ass is numb after that long ride on this rigged,” Elliot said.
They motored across the street after paying for their gas and sauntered into the restaurant. Mike led them to the end of the breakfast bar and they climbed up on barstools.
“What can I get you guys?” a waitress asked.
“The food smells delicious. Give me the Grand Slam. I’ll have the eggs over easy, bacon and some hash browns,” Mike said. His stomach growled making the waitress laugh.
“Somebody’s hungry. Would you like toast?”
“Yeah,” Mike replied noticing the cute little dimples that appeared in the waitress’s cheeks when she smiled.
“Whole wheat or white?”
“Make it whole wheat,” Mike replied.
“And to drink?”
“Coffee, and keep it coming,” Mike said shooting the waitress another smile.
The waitress smiled back and then moved down the line taking orders. They talked, smoked and drank coffee while waiting for their breakfast. Mike glanced about the restaurant. It had the typical Denny’s look: trying to put off an image of a fifties diner. Mike’s stomach rumbled when he saw the cute waitress bringing their food. They wolfed down the meal as only hungry men can. Finished with breakfast, they swung their legs over the motorcycles and motored across town to the police station. Sweat beaded up on Mike’s shirt when they marched up the sidewalk and entered the Jacksonville police station. The air conditioner inside the lobby was a welcome relief. Mike stepped up to the counter.
“I want you guys to go over to the site and check things out. Maybe somebody saw something,” Mike said.
“You got it Boss,” Jack replied wiping sweat from his brow.
“If you need me, call me on my cell.”
“Where do you want us to meet up?” Elliot asked.
“I’ll call you when I’m done here.” After his amigos left, Mike presented his credentials to the receptionist. “My name is Mike McDonald. I had some people working a case at the Shady Palms. Someone killed them last night. I’d like to talk to the Detective in charge,” Mike said to the pretty, blonde haired female officer.
“I’m so sorry about what happened to your people. Let me check the log book to see which detective is on the case,” she said pulling a book from under the counter. After finding the case, she dialed a number on her phone and spoke into the receiver. “Robert there is a Mike McDonald here to see you about last night’s shooting. Okay. I’ll send him in.” The receptionist said.
Mike opened a hard wood brown door to his right and stepped into the reception area. The blonde led him down a long narrow hallway. Mike couldn’t help but notice the tight fit of her uniform as her shapely bottom swung back and forth in front of him. The smell of her perfume wafted on the wind. She stopped at an office doorway.
“Officer Robert Gonzales is handling the case,” she said, opening the door.
“Thank you,” Mike said and stepped into the room. A short older Hispanic man wearing a dark brown suit stood up from behind a desk and met Mike halfway across the room. A Cuban cigar set in the ashtray on the desk; smoke rose from the ashtray.
“I’m Detective Gonzales,” the man said extending his hand and they shook.
“I’m Mike McDonald, from McDonald’s Detective Agency.”
“Have a seat,” Gonzales said.
“This must be hard for you, but could you tell me what your people were doing at the Shady Palms?” Gonzales asked, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his desk.
“They were working a divorce case. I brought the file,” Mike said handing over the case file. The detective scanned the file for a few seconds.
“Ramon Delgado is a cheap thug. He’s into drug dealing, burglary, and auto theft. We think he’s trying to step up to the next level,” Gonzales said.
“What makes you say that?” Mike asked leaning forward.
“Your people took pictures. We have the film. The pictures show what appears to be a drug deal going down. The guys Ramon was buying from looked like Columbians. Delgado realized your people had him under surveillance and called in reinforcements who opened up on your people with automatic weapons.”
“I’d like the pictures.”
“You’ll get them when we’re done with them. I’d like to take you to the morgue to identify the bodies, then we’ll go to the impound lot. Delgado left you a message written in blood on the side of the car. I’d like you to tell me what it means. He might have some sort of grudge against you. Then we’ll go out to the Shady Palms.”
“Let’s roll,” Mike said.
“Would you like one of these?” Gonzales asked picking up his cigar.
“Yeah. I could go for one,” Mike said and then smiled.
Gonzales handed Mike a cigar and Mike followed him out the door to the parking lot. A dog barked down the street and a motorcycle rumbled past. Mike got in on passenger side of a white unmarked police car and Gonzales drove them across town. Mike gazed out the window watching the scenery. They passed a strip mall, several gas stations and a bank. He noticed a bum wearing a green Army jacket standing in front of a liquor store. How can he stand to wear that coat when it’s so hot and sticky outside? Mike wondered when they pulled up to the curb in front of the morgue. Mike gazed up at the white stone building towering above them as Detective Gonzales led him up the steps to the county building that housed the coroner’s office and the morgue. They took the elevator down to the basement. Gonzales led him into the back where the bodies were stored. The odor of formaldehyde and other chemicals permeated the room.
The portly baldheaded coroner’s assistant slid open three steel drawers. Mike looked down at the pasty colored bodies of his former friends and employees.
“The Bastard did her in the washroom,” Gonzales said looking down at Lorrie.
“The son of a bitch better hope I don’t lay my hands on him,” Mike replied letting out a slow angry breath. After identifying the bodies, Gonzales drove Mike to the police impound lot. He showed his police identification to the guard at the gate and drove onto the lot. They pulled up next to the bullet riddled blue Chevy. Mike glanced in the driver’s side window noticing the puddle of dried blood on the front seat. Bits and pieces of glass from the shot out windshield covered the floor. Bullet holes filled every square foot of the car’s body. A half-eaten apple lay in the passenger floorboard.
“What do you think about this?” Gonzales asked pointing to the rear passenger door. Mike knelt down looking at the side of the car. Drawn in Jerry Simpson’s blood was a happy face with the words: Have a nice day, Mikey.
Mike jumped up, his face turning red and he could barely speak. “I guess that’s this asshole’s idea of a joke. He must not like the fact that I’m working for his wife.” For a fraction of a second Mike’s mind flashed back to the past. I should have killed him back then when I had the chance, he thought.
“We’ll catch the Bastard,” Gonzales said.
“Not if I catch him first.”
Finished at the impound lot, Gonzales drove Mike to the Shady Palms motel. Marshal Cain, Jack Logan, and Elliot Coe stood in the parking lot talking to the manager. After getting out of the car, Mike stepped up to Logan.
“What did you find out?” Mike asked.
“Not much. A neighbor saw a red or green low rider cruising down the street, then heard gunfire, but other than that people were closed moth about the situation.”
Mike looked around, trying to visualize the attack. He walked over to the curb noticing pieces of glass and some dried blood that the rain hadn’t washed away on the ground.
“We got the same story,” Gonzales said walking up to Logan. Gonzales looked at Mike and said, “Would you like to see the washroom?”
“Yeah. I would,” Mike said and followed Gonzales across the motel parking lot. Inside the washroom, Mike saw signs of struggle. Clothes lay scattered about, laundry baskets lay in disarray, and blood covered the floor. It wasn’t easy. Lorrie put up a fight, he thought. After taking a tour of the crime scene, Gonzales drove Mike back to the police station. Marshal Cain, Elliot Coe and Jack Logan followed on their Harleys.
“What do we do now?” Marshal asked when Mike stormed out of the police station.
Mike paused, lighted a cigarette, and tried to keep his hands from shaking.
“We head back to Saint Charles, and I’ll make some calls. I’ll have our contacts at the DMV see if they can come up with an address on Delgado.”
“If we catch him?” Elliot asked.
“If I get the son of a bitch in my sights, I’m gonna shoot him,” Mike said.
“I do like the way you think,” Elliot replied.
Mike threw his leg over his motorcycle and started the engine. His shirt was soaked with sweat from the one hundred percent humidity. The sky looked overcast and threatened rain. They hit the interstate heading south: three hard men with blood in their eyes and revenge in their hearts.
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