Received some good feedback on last week’s “Murder… or Mayhem?” The twist at the end apparently worked. Thanks to those of you who gave me your comments.
This encouraged me to write another little story.
Courtesy of Pixabay
Jonas Lonewolf came up fighting. If the four small-town bullies who’d jumped his ass had known him, they would have been expecting it. As it was, they were high-fiving an imaginary victory and forgot him. Big mistake. He exploded off the ground and caught the biggest and meanest right in the balls, elbowed one in the ribs, hip-butted another, and broke the nose of the last one with a rattlesnake strike. Three were out of it; the fourth broke for parts unknown.
Jonas took off in the opposite direction. Once he’d turned a couple of corners, he slowed to a walk to attract less attention and made straight for the highway to stick out his thumb. The police cruisers came at him from two directions. In his experience, you didn’t run from cops unless you had a safe place to hole up. He stood his ground as they closed in.
“What’s up there, Chief?” The beefy one heaved his bulk out of the cruiser, his hand hovering near his holster.
Jonas was tempted to go for it. The fat fuck would probably shoot his partner sneaking up from behind. With a little luck, they’d plug one another.
“Not much, officer. Just trying to get home to Montana.”
“You been in a fight, son? Bruised eye. Bleeding lip.”
“Four guys jumped me back there.”
“Ought to have reported it to us. We don’t put up with nothing like that in our town. It’s a clean place. Can you identify them?”
“By the way, Tonto,” the cop behind him cut off his answer. “It’s illegal to hitchhike in this state.”
Jonas shrugged. “Don’t have any other way to get home.”
Lard Ass, the older cop, took over again. “Let’s go down to the station and talk this over. See if that eye needs attention.”
They slapped cuffs on him before hauling him four blocks to the dinky police station. Three battered boys and their agitated parents milled around the reception area.
“That’s him!” one of the boys shouted.
The place went quiet when the adults realized a slender eighteen-year-old had dealt serious punishment to their husky heirs.
Jonas nodded into the sudden silence. “Yes sir, officer, I can identify them. That’s three of them right there. Don’t see the fourth though. Guess he escaped justice.”
Pandemonium broke out. The same old bigotry he’d heard before. It looked like he was going to take a beating while handcuffed, but things settled down short of that. He waited in a jail cell while the officers of the law and the citizens of Snow Blizzard, or whatever the hell this eye-blink town was, argued over their revenge. His eye never did get any attention.
Sitting on a cell bunk with one booted foot on the mattress, he settled down to wait. Trouble was always on the lookout for him. But maybe he looked for it. People said he walked around like a pine cone ready to explode with seeds.
The town’s lawyer refused to make a fool of himself by prosecuting one skinny Indian kid for ganging up on four of the town’s finest. Jonas collected a few more bruises when the two cops tried to reason him into a confession, but they weren’t killers, so he outlasted them. All they could do was lock him up for thirty days for vagrancy and hitchhiking.
People claimed they could do thirty days standing on their heads. Despite his quiet aplomb, locking him up was akin to tossing him into a dark hole and shoveling in the dirt. Things got easier when he was assigned to a work detail with three others. Miscreants, Lard Ass called them. They chopped weeds and picked up trash and worked on the police chief’s house and the mayor’s ranch. It probably wasn’t legal, but Jonas didn’t give a damn. He was chained, but not locked behind bars on the work gang.
Learning Lard Ass’s nephew had been one of the kids who’d tackled him, gave him heartburn. The cop and his buddy, Skinny Butt, were out for a bigger piece of his hide than just thirty days. The day his sentence was up, they’d find a reason to haul his ass in again before he made it to the city limits. This could turn into a life sentence—thirty days at a time.
When release day finally arrived, Lard Ass surprised him by sending him on a work detail. They wanted to give him one more chance to screw up. The deputies even removed his shackles, hoping he’d run.
As they cleared weeds from a vacant lot next to a convenience store, a coal-black SUV pulled up to a gas pump. The man who got out was as sleek as his Range Rover. He was white, but he looked special somehow. Maybe it was the way the guy’s body language proclaimed “Don’t fuck with me.” The stranger gave Jonas a slight nod.
Skinny Butt called a halt, and the work gang settled down on a concrete half-wall adjacent to a small outside eating area while the cop went inside to buy goodies. Jonas had no money, so he’d gone cold turkey on sodas and snacks and cigarettes. Might quit for good. Old Lard Ass probably extended his life ten years or so. He’d have to remember to thank him.
Jonas caught another glimpse of Range Rover striding inside to pay for his gas. Ice-blue eyes scanned like a laser as he passed. The guy could probably describe every one of them right down to the dirt under their fingernails. And he’d given Jonas a second look.
As Range Rover and his milkshake settled at a shaded table in the outside eating area no more than ten feet from where they sat, one of the crew, a Mex he’d dubbed Droopy because of his moustache, asked if this wasn’t his release day.
“Yeah.” Jonas’s eyes flicked to the eating area. Range Rover appeared to pay no attention, but he knew the man was absorbing everything.
“You don’t go on detail on release day,” Big Nose said.
Droopy laughed and glanced at Jones—Skinny Butt—inside the store talking up the pimply, redheaded clerk. “Buckmeister’s got a hard-on for Littlebear. You know they’ll be laying for you when you get out.”
“Unless you got a bus ticket outa here,” Big Nose said. “You got one of those, Jonas?”
He looked up. Might as well make use of the butt-kisser. “Somebody’s picking me up.”
“Who?” The question was out before Big Nose could stop it. “That’s good, kid. Hope he’s right there waiting for you at five o’clock sharp. Else Buckmeister’s liable to get his shot.”
“Friend of my grandmother’s. A white man. He’ll be here this afternoon. Drives a black Range Rover.”
Jonas gave an inward smile as Range Rover lifted his can of coke in a salute and gave a sly wink. What would the man want in return? Well, he’d deal with that when it came.
Sometimes racial prejudice—make that prejudice of any kind—is costly, to both those who give and those who receive. That seems to be the case in today’s story. Wonder what Range Rover’s gonna want in return for saving Jonas's ass?
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