Thursday, May 9, 2024

Neverend (Part Two of Three Parts)

 dontravis.com blog post #651

 Image Courtesy of Pinterest:

 


Last week, we met Bobolink and Marco, just as they met one another. Bobolink was knocked off his feet. But how did Marco feel about their meeting. He seemed interesting in making a new friend.

 

Let’s see what develops in this second installment.

 ****

NEVEREND

The Saturday I first played tennis with Marco was the most perfect day of my life. I had to scramble, but I was a match for him on the court when I could refrain from watching him rather than the ball.

Afterward, we showered side-by-side in the school locker room, and my eyes feasted on his fantastic naked form. Hiding my unintended erection at times became a problem, but if he noticed, he gave no sign.

After what-should-have-been a routine cleansing of the flesh—but was actually an exciting event of overwhelming intimacy, at least for me—we stopped for a drink at a local tavern and freely shared our past lives. I had never revealed so many petty confessions to any soul before, and found it not only liberating, but also titillating.

Upon leaving the bar on the way to our cars, he paused, threw an arm over my shoulders, and took a moment to comment on the monstrous moon hovering in the sky. At that moment, I would have done anything for him… anything at all. But we merely proceeded to our cars, told one another how much we enjoyed the day and departed.

But not before he poked my chest with a forefinger and arched his eyebrow. “Next Saturday, same time. Date?”

I probably looked like an idiot with my head flapping so hard.

****

We saw one another regularly after that, not just on Saturday for tennis, but other times, as well. For me, it meant falling deeper into love. For Marco, probably just an easy friendship. During our first Saturday confession, he’d warned that he made casual relations easily, but had trouble holding onto them over time.

Two months passed before the true nature of things changed between us. I remember it clearly. The school year was coming to an end, and I was desperately trying to figure how to hold onto our friendship. My anxiety must have been obvious.

As we sat in the tavern for an after-dinner beer—we’d both had the bistro’s famous corned beef on rye with German potato salad—he put down his glass and touched my arm.

“Why so down, Bobolink?” The nickname sounded beautiful when he said it.

“Graduation’s coming up. And….” I swallowed hard. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to a friendship that’s become important to me.”

“I’ve been thinking on that too. Never had anyone worm his way into my heart the way you have. I’ll be walking down the sidewalk and spot someone across the quadrangle and wonder if it’s my handsome friend, Bobolink? Then I’ll see it’s only some guy, and feel disappointment in my gut.”

“You… you do that too?”

“All the time. You’ve become important to me, my friend. That’s why it’s so hard for me to do what comes next.”

My heart dropped into my stomach. He was calling it quits! “Which is?” I managed to say without stuttering.

“I’m about to risk our friendship by asking….”

“Wh-what?” I said through a dry throat.”

“Would you go to bed with me? I’ve never met a man before who makes me think of sex every time I see him. Never known anyone who makes me lie in bed after one of our dates—yeah, that’s the way I think of them—and ache for him.” He dropped his eyes to the table. “Sorry if that turns you off, but… well, that’s the way it is for me.”

Ignoring everyone else in the tavern, I laid my hand atop his on the table. “Turn me off? It sets me on fire. I couldn’t stand up right now without embarrassing you and everyone else in the joint.”

He turned his hand over and gripped mine. “Do you mean it?”

I nodded.

“Are you experienced? Know what you’re saying?”

I shook my head just as hard. “Never been with man or boy in all my life. But I’ve lain awake just like you have trying to imagine it. For months now.”

Marco’s sudden smile died. “That’s good news, and that’s bad news.”

“What do you mean?”

“Some guys, for one reason or the other, get attracted to someone of their own sex. When they give in and try it out, they come away feeling ashamed of what they’ve done. Mortified. They can’t stand to be around the guy they once idolized because it reminds them of their supposed weakness.”

I met his big, sultry eyes. “Have you… uh, done it with guys? Has that happened to you?”

He met my stared. “Yeah. I’ve had sex with men. And to be honest, the first time I felt exactly that way and avoided the guy from then on.” He rested his chin in a palm. “I think it was because I was so young. Only sixteen. He was older, twenty or so. He knew what he wanted, I didn’t. And I was more religious back then and considered it to be a sin.”

“You don’t now?”

He shook his handsome head, the shadows of the semidarkness playing over the planes and angles of his face. “The next time I was eighteen. And I knew what I wanted from the kid—who was my own age. I handled it fine. So did he.”

“Eighteen. That was only two years ago.”

He nodded. “What do you say? Wanna risk it?”

“I swallowed hard to moisten my arid throat. “Y… yes.”

“Your place or mine?”

“Yours, I’ve got a roommate, remember?”

I’ll never forget how unsteady I was when I stood and got out of the booth. The slow, languid way we moved into the night. The glorious display of the moon almost swamped the dazzling display of stars. A sudden, frightening thought caused me to miss a step. Was this the end of Neverend… or the reaffirmation of it?

“What’s the matter,” Marco asked, reaching out to grasp my hand. “Have you changed your mind?”

“No,” I said firmly.

As I followed Marco’s taillights down the road toward his off-campus apartment, the drive seemed interminable.

 ****

So Bobolink’s on the way to his first man on man sexual encounter. Is he prepared for it? Were you? How did yours work out. The way you anticipated? Better? Worse? Measure your reaction against his next week.

 Until next time, stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say... so say it.

Check out the BJ Vinson stable of books at Dreamspinnerpress.com. The Zozobra Incident, The Bisti Business, and all the others are there waiting for you. If you've read them, tell a friend, leave a comment on Amazon. 

My personal links:

Email: don.travis@aol.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

X: @dontravis3

See you next time.


Don

New posts on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Neverend (Part One of Three Parts)

dontravis.com blog post #650

 


This is my first post after switching from a weekly post to posts on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. Hope you forgive me for weakening after something over twelve years.

 

For such an auspicious undertaking, I’m doing a three-part story about an unsettled young man bearing the nickname of Bobolink. I hope you get involved in his story.

 ****

NEVEREND

I stared at the gray concrete wall and recalled a scene from my childhood. My twelfth year, probably, since we were still on the farm, likely early summer. I’d been rocking in Granddad’s chair on the front porch after chores were done but before being called for supper. Evening was coming on fast with the sun putting on a dazzling show to the west, featuring reds and yellows and a touch of violet. Old Sol knew how to make an exit. Didn’t do bad at entrances either.

“What’cha thinking, Bobolink?”

I had shifted my gaze from the sun’s display and glanced at my little sister. “Just wishin’ this would never end.”

She clutched her Raggedy Ann doll to her chest and spoke with ten-year-old wisdom. “According to Ma, Neverend isn’t real. Something’s always changing.”

My sigh likely signaled acceptance of that fact, as well as my regret. “Yeah, but don’t you sometimes wish you could stop everything and get off right here? Like that sunset? It ought to never end.”

She shook her head so hard her blonde curls scrubbed her shoulders. “Don’t be silly. The crops wouldn’t grow. And you couldn’t go down to the swimming hole. Don’t you want to get out of school and grow up and have girlfriends and get married.”

“Sometimes. But sometimes not.”

“I do. I can hardly wait. I want a handsome boyfriend and an even handsomer husband someday. It’ll be heaven.”

“Are Mom and Dad in heaven?” I asked, thinking of how hard they worked and how tired the seemed at night.

“Huh?”

“Never mind,” I said.

As usual, Cheryl Ann Link, did just that… paid no mind. Cherry—that’s what the family called her, she was Cheryl Ann to the rest of the world—lived in children’s books she got from the town library. They always seemed to point to the future. Me, I didn’t see anything wrong with going fishing with Dad or squirrel hunting with my brother or arrowhead hunting with my buds now. Pretty uncomplicated. Not like making a living or raising kids. Don’t get me wrong. Living on a farm meant plenty of work—hard work. But you could see the results growing right before your eyes.

If Cheryl Ann was Cherry, I was Bobolink. Easy enough to figure. My name was Robert so Bob Link became Bobolink. Trouble was, it wasn’t just a cutesy name restricted to the family but shared by the whole world. If somebody yelled Bob, I probably wouldn’t even react.

I don’t know why that memory popped into my head at the moment, but it was a pretty good jumping off place for the way life rolled out in front of me over the next few years. Neverend, of course, never appeared. One day succeeded another and this week became last week, and the months and years passed as they were intended. Cherry graduated from high school then college, became a civil engineer, and married that handsome husband she’d always dreamed of.

Me? Well, I held onto Neverend until I couldn’t any longer. My college career was a bit more tortured than Cherry’s. I kept making inappropriate friends who led me into situations that always seemed to involve trouble. Is that a cop-out? Probably. A guy goes into situations with his eyes wide open, doesn’t he? Might get fooled once or twice, but half a dozen times? That means he contributed to his own problems, doesn’t it? Definitely.

So we’ve arrived at what I tried not to say. I’m either a rebel by nature or else a willing patsy. As sad as it sounds, I hope it’s the latter.

Neverend seemed as if it might have returned to my life when I started bumming around with Marco Roselli my senior year in college… where I was an art student, by the way. Possibly not the best way to make a living, but after years of changing majors, it was something I became passionate about.

That and Marco Roselli.

It didn’t start out that way. In fact, it wouldn’t have gone that way if Marco hadn’t been Marco. I met him at a Frat party where, as a transfer to State, he was joining our chapter of the Greek organization. I’d never seen anyone like him. Never been interested in anyone like him, in fact. I’d had girlfriends in high school. I’ll swear I never had a gay thought in my head until I laid eyes on him.

I’d never seen a beautiful man before. Handsome, yeah. Buff, sure. Even sexy, I suppose, but Marco’s curly black hair, large brown eyes, tapered torso… oh, I could go on forever describing this modern Adonis, but you get the idea. I was smitten. Smacked hard in the back of the head.

And miracle of miracles, he seemed to like me. Found time to disengage from admirers at the party that night to cross the room to speak to me at the table holding the doctored punch I’ll never forget his first words to me.

“Hi, I’m Marco Roselli. Been watching you.”

I managed to get out some words that made sense. “You have? Why?”

His grin almost robbed my knees of strength to hold me aloft. “You’re not like these other guys. You know, Hail fellow, well met. You ration your friendship. Give it to those who deserve it, not dole it out to everyone.”

That was a new take for me, but I went along with it. “Not exactly the way to create a network for success.”

It’s noisy in here. Let’s go out on the patio, okay?”

“Sure.”

I watched him as he led me through the French doors into the cool night. There were others on the big, covered patio, but at least you didn’t have to shout to be heard. He leaned a trim hip against a post and set his drink on the banister.

“I’m taking a guess here, but you don’t come from money. You worked to save for school and earned a scholarship—academic, not athletic. Right so far?”

I nodded, preferring to look rather than speak. I’ve seen beautiful girls that were pleasant to look at, but after a while, their perfection became boring. Marco’s features were irregular, but put together in a totally fascinating way. I could have gazed at him for days without getting tired of it. The abrupt, athletic way he moved, his throaty voice touched me deep down inside.

“So you’re not a business major,” he continued. “Something ethereal. Creative. A painter.” He reached out and squeezed my bicep. “No, a sculptor. You don’t get a build like that from lifting paint brushes.”

I laughed, pleased and flattered he was spending his time talking about me. “No, but you do if you go to the gym after lifting those heavy brushes laden with globs of weighty oils.”

“Aha, an artist. Well, I was close. It was that hunky body that deceived me.”

“Never been called hunky before.”

“Oh, yes. You have. Not to your face, perhaps, but men and women both have remarked on your form. You’re quite handsome, you know.”

I felt my face glow, relieving the darkness at this end of the porch.

“I’ve embarrassed you. Sorry, wasn’t my intention.”

I managed a shrug. “It’s okay. I’m not used to being the center of attention.”

“You should be. Do you play tennis?”

I nodded. “My one sport. Do okay. Not great, but I make a competition out of it.”

“Great. You have Saturday classes?”

I shook my head.

“Neither do I. Meet you at nine on the courts.”

“Sure. Like to.”

 ****

Bobolink! We’ve all known people like him. Self-contained, introverted, awkward at making new acquaintances, and often stumbling over their efforts… and ending up making trouble. You might even be one of those people, as well. If you are one or know one, stick with me for the second half of this story.

 Repeat of the alert: Starting this week, this blog will post ONLY on the second and fourth Thursday of each month.

 Until next time, stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say... so say it!

Don't forget to remind your friends of my BJ Vinson murder mystery series. And if you haven't read all seven books, get your rear in gear. The first is The Zozobra Incident.

My personal links:

Email: don.travis@aol.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

X: 2dontravis3

See you next time.

Don

New posts on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.



Thursday, April 11, 2024

Bearclaw Summons (A Serialized Story)

 dontravis.com blog post #649

Image Courtesy of Pinterest:

Bart Shortlance is chasing one of the killers south toward the Mexican border. It’s a rough and dangerous ride on the backroads of southern New Mexico. Will he prevail?

 

NOTICE: Dear readers, after twelve and one-half years of writing a weekly post, life has caught up with me. Beginning with the next post, I will blog on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 5:00 a.m., US Mountain Time. Thanks for sticking with me.

****

BEARCLAW SUMMONS (Part 8-Finale))

The three of them spent another hour working out a plan before Bart drove Jack back to the reservation so the fat man could organize his end of the plan. Then Bart went home to pack an overnight bag. It was after six when he rang the doorbell to Mark’s apartment.

The lawyer invited him inside to make himself comfortable. “Nothing’s likely to happen tonight, although we have to be ready for it if it does. But tomorrow, if the blood turns out the right type, we might get a little action. You think Big Jack’s got his end covered?”

“You can count on it.”

They ate hamburgers from a drive‑in down the street and settled into a childhood pastime, playing chess. They were well matched. Each had to concentrate to hold his own against the other. The first game was hard fought. Their attention wandered in the second, and the third was mechanically played as they talked.

“How’s Willy’s family taking things?” Mark asked during a lull.

“Living from day to day. Not knowing for sure is hard on them.”

“There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind what happened to Willy. They killed him, Bart.” He ran his hand through his hair. “This whole thing’s hard for me to understand. Here’s a guy who minded his own business, went to work every day, and had a tremendous talent as an artist.  He’s here one day doing just great, then the next day he’s in trouble for no good reason, and then he’s dead. I can’t help asking myself why?”

Bart shrugged, a gesture he often used to save words. “Some people on the reservation will take a look at what happened and say Willy was trying too hard to be a white man and this was what happens when Indians try to play white. They’ll point it out to their young people and say, ‘watch out you don’t get caught in the same trap.’ Don’t think for a minute it hasn’t already been said in half a hundred houses, tents, tipis, and wickiups.”

“God, that’s awful! You’re saying this is a racist thing.”

“What else? Burke and Avila saw a sap they could trick and bully. He also happened to be an Indian, and that was good because nobody gives a shit about what happens to them. Even if he tries to defend himself, nobody’s going to listen. They probably just wanted him to haul out rifles for them, but when he bucked and they smelled trouble, he was the perfect patsy. Probably got the surprise of their lives when he got himself a lawyer, a white lawyer who belongs to the inside crowd. Things were getting out of hand fast. This redskin wasn’t lying down and taking his medicine like he ought to. Okay, things can still be salvaged. Just get rid of the poor sap. Nobody’s going to knock his head against a wall over an Indian who showed his true colors and ran when the going got rough.”

“That is the way a lot of people will see it, isn’t it?” Mark thought for a moment. “Then by God, let’s make sure they see it the way it really is.”

“You’ll have to be the one. Jack and I will do everything we can, but you’re the only one who can show the world what’s going on.”

Mark tipped over his king, signaling surrender. He leaned back in his chair. “I’ll do my best, Bart.”

****

Accustomed to rising early, Bart had eaten and was sipping a second cup of coffee before Mark stirred. He was finishing the morning paper when the lawyer came in for his first cup. Bart reluctantly agreed to stay at the apartment while Mark went to the office so he would be near the phone in case it should ring. It did, twice. Each time Mark was on the other end, first to let him know that the lab said the blood was human, type O Negative and then to ask if there was any word from Big Jack Bearclaw. The rest of the time Bart read, tried to watch TV, and finally ended up pacing the small apartment talking to himself to keep from going stir crazy. He was not used to being penned up in a room. He was an outdoorsman. The moment Mark returned around five‑thirty, Bart bolted from the apartment house and took a two‑mile run to calm his ragged nerves. Mark was waiting patiently when he got back.

“You shot out of here like a house‑broke puppy shut up inside all day.”

“My need was about that urgent,” Bart answered. “Thought I was going to flip out before you got here. What happened today?”

“Most of it you know already. The blood was the right kind. Don’t know about the tires yet, but somehow the rumor got out that they match Avila’s van. Damndest place for rumors you ever saw.

Ro laughed. “So tonight might see some action?”

“Could be. Is the Jeep gassed up?”

“Yep. Let’s eat and get ready.”

“What did you fix?”

“Fix? Me?” Bart asked in astonishment.

“Hell, you were home all day. Doesn’t the housewife usually fix dinner?”

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re an asshole?”

“Does that mean no dinner?”

“Exactly. Does that mean hamburgers again tonight?”

“Exactly!”

“Shit! We’re going to break out in pimples like teenagers.”

****

The call came around two in the morning. Bart picked up the phone on the first ring. Big Jack spoke in his ear. Bart listened a minute, then told the man he was on the way.

Mark came into the room rubbing sleep from his eyes. “Was that it?”

“Yep. You were right. He ran.”

“Who’s on his tail?”

“Big Jack and one of his nephews. I’d better get a move on.” Bart began pulling on his clothes. “We don’t want them getting out of range of the radio.”

“Which way did he go?”

“South.”

“Mexico.”

“That’s Avila’s reservation, I guess. You going to call the law?”

“Yes, but I’m in no hurry. I want it plain he’s planning to leave the state. He can’t do that, not even supposed to leave the area, but I want him clearly in violation of his bond. You keep in touch, so I’ll know what’s happening.”

Ro no sooner reached the Jeep than the radio crackled. He almost laughed at Big Jack’s voice. The man was self‑conscious about talking over the foreign instrument.

“Bart? You there? Goddammit! Uh, let’s see. J‑Bar‑C Two, can you hear me?”

“I read you, Jack. What’s going on? Over.”

“This guy’s going like a calf on the prod. You ain’t never going to catch up with us. He don’t seem to care if a cop catches him or not.”

“Okay. Be back with you in a minute. Over and out.” Bart ran back into the apartment house and beat on Mark’s door. Mark opened it instantly. “He’s running fast, Big Jack says. Breaking the speed limit like he’s got no worries about patrol cars. Jack says I’ll never catch up with them.”

“Fuck!” Mark beat a fist against the jamb. “He must really be scared. Any sane man would go at a nice slow pace. He’s panicked. Wait! A helicopter! You can catch him in a bird. You head to the airfield. I’ll get Jim Hudson over there pronto. You have a chance that way.”

****

The helicopter pilot, who lived near the airport, was already warming up the whirlybird by the time Bart arrived. He was, however, not in the best of spirits. He seemed to resent being awakened at two‑thirty in the morning to participate in somebody else’s goose chase.

Bart thought he was going to lose his stomach when the machine took off, but he overcame the nausea. Donning the headset as instructed, he told the pilot what they were up to. He was disappointed that the helicopter radio did not have CB bands, but he had already warned Big Jack that he was coming by helicopter. They overtook the two speeding vehicles easily enough. There was no mistaking them even in the darkness. The van led Big Jack by about a quarter of a mile. At first, the pilot was reluctant to set the copter down in unfamiliar terrain, but he took advantage of the lights of a closed filling station at some wide spot in the road to drop rapidly to the ground. Bart about lost his meal again, but avoided disgracing himself. The Avila vehicle had already whizzed through. Big Jack saw them and had his nephew pull over. Bart unceremoniously dumped the protesting youngster out of the truck and sprayed him with gravel as he got the pickup back on the highway. They soon spotted the van’s taillights in the distance. They gained steadily. Suddenly, the brake lights flashed as the vehicle turned off the highway.

“Damn!” Bart swore. “He spotted us.”

“Be a blind son of a bitch if he didn’t. Probably saw the lights when the helicopter landed too.”

Bart slapped the wheel. “He’s not headed for El Paso. He’s taking the back country to Mexico. Shit! The law’s going to be waiting in the wrong place.”

“Can you reach that lawyer on the radio?”

“Out of range, but I’m going to try to raise somebody. You get out and start trying to catch a ride.” Jack looked pained. It was pitch black, and they had not passed a car on the Road for a considerable stretch. “I’ll work the radio and get somebody to pick you up. But just in case I don’t raise anybody, you’ve got to get back to that service station and phone Mark.”

Jack’s mouth fell open. “That’s ten miles back!”

Ro braked hard. “Yeah, and I’m hauling you in the wrong direction.”

Big Jack looked doubtful about the whole venture, but he obediently grunted his way out of the truck. Bart took off again. As soon as he maneuvered the turn onto the sideroad, he managed to raise a northbound trucker about six miles south of him who agreed to pick up Big Jack and get him to a telephone. In the meantime, the man would try to raise a state cop in the area.

The van was traveling too fast for the road conditions. Bart was able to anticipate some of the worst jolts by keeping an eye on the lights of the other vehicle, but even so he wondered how long the van could take the punishment the rutted dirt Road was dishing out. Abruptly, the relatively good stretch played out. Avila’s headlights went crazy, shooting up into the black sky, disappearing into the ground, and wagging from side to side. Bart was reminded of a mischievous child playing with a flashlight.

 ****

I had faith in Bart in catching the fleeing crook, and equal faith in Mark Charles in seeing that justice was done in the white man’s court system. Everything came out as well as could be expected, as Bart says, “under the circumstances.”

 Thanks for sticking with me through this long process.

 Repeat of the alert: Starting next week, this blog will post ONLY on the second and fourth Thursday of each month.

 Until next time, stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

Please check out my BJ Vinson murder mystery series starting with The Zozobra Incident.

My personal links:

Email: don.travis@aol.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

X: @dontravis3

See you next time.


Don

New posts on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain Time.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Bearclaw Summons (A Serialized Story)

 dontravis.com blog post #648

 Image Courtesy of Pinterest:

 




Accepting that the disappeared Willy Spurs is dead, Bart Shortlance, Mark Charles, and Big Jack Bearclaw go about planning justice for the young Apache artist.

 


****

BEARCLAW SUMMONS (Part 7)

The three of them spent another hour working out a plan before Bart drove Jack back to the reservation so the fat man could organize his end of the plan. Then Bart went home to pack an overnight bag. It was after six when he rang the doorbell to Mark’s apartment.

The lawyer invited him inside to make himself comfortable. “Nothing’s likely to happen tonight, although we have to be ready for it if it does. But tomorrow, if the blood turns out the right type, we might get a little action. You think Big Jack’s got his end covered?”

“You can count on it.”

They ate hamburgers from a drive‑in down the street and settled into a childhood pastime, playing chess. They were well matched. Each had to concentrate to hold his own against the other. The first game was hard fought. Their attention wandered in the second, and the third was mechanically played as they talked.

“How’s Willy’s family taking things?” Mark asked during a lull.

“Living from day to day. Not knowing for sure is hard on them.”

“There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind what happened to Willy. They killed him, Bart.” He ran his hand through his hair. “This whole thing’s hard for me to understand. Here’s a guy who minded his own business, went to work every day, and had a tremendous talent as an artist.  He’s here one day doing just great, then the next day he’s in trouble for no good reason, and then he’s dead. I can’t help asking myself why?”

Bart shrugged, a gesture he often used to save words. “Some people on the reservation will take a look at what happened and say Willy was trying too hard to be a white man and this was what happens when Indians try to play white. They’ll point it out to their young people and say, ‘watch out you don’t get caught in the same trap.’ Don’t think for a minute it hasn’t already been said in half a hundred houses, tents, tipis, and wickiups.”

“God, that’s awful! You’re saying this is a racist thing.”

“What else? Burke and Avila saw a sap they could trick and bully. He also happened to be an Indian, and that was good because nobody gives a shit about what happens to them. Even if he tries to defend himself, nobody’s going to listen. They probably just wanted him to haul out rifles for them, but when he bucked and they smelled trouble, he was the perfect patsy. Probably got the surprise of their lives when he got himself a lawyer, a white lawyer who belongs to the inside crowd. Things were getting out of hand fast. This redskin wasn’t lying down and taking his medicine like he ought to. Okay, things can still be salvaged. Just get rid of the poor sap. Nobody’s going to knock his head against a wall over an Indian who showed his true colors and ran when the going got rough.”

“That is the way a lot of people will see it, isn’t it?” Mark thought for a moment. “Then by God, let’s make sure they see it the way it really is.”

“You’ll have to be the one. Jack and I will do everything we can, but you’re the only one who can show the world what’s going on.”

Mark tipped over his king, signaling surrender. He leaned back in his chair. “I’ll do my best, Bart.”

****

Accustomed to rising early, Bart had eaten and was sipping a second cup of coffee before Mark stirred. He was finishing the morning paper when the lawyer came in for his first cup. Bart reluctantly agreed to stay at the apartment while Mark went to the office so he would be near the phone in case it should ring. It did, twice. Each time Mark was on the other end, first to let him know that the lab said the blood was human, type O Negative and then to ask if there was any word from Big Jack Bearclaw. The rest of the time Bart read, tried to watch TV, and finally ended up pacing the small apartment talking to himself to keep from going stir crazy. He was not used to being penned up in a room. He was an outdoorsman. The moment Mark returned around five‑thirty, Bart bolted from the apartment house and took a two‑mile run to calm his ragged nerves. Mark was waiting patiently when he got back.

“You shot out of here like a house‑broke puppy shut up inside all day.”

“My need was about that urgent,” Bart answered. “Thought I was going to flip out before you got here. What happened today?”

“Most of it you know already. The blood was the right kind. Don’t know about the tires yet, but somehow the rumor got out that they match Avila’s van. Damndest place for rumors you ever saw.

Ro laughed. “So tonight might see some action?”

“Could be. Is the Jeep gassed up?”

“Yep. Let’s eat and get ready.”

“What did you fix?”

“Fix? Me?” Bart asked in astonishment.

“Hell, you were home all day. Doesn’t the housewife usually fix dinner?”

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re an asshole?”

“Does that mean no dinner?”

“Exactly. Does that mean hamburgers again tonight?”

“Exactly!”

“Shit! We’re going to break out in pimples like teenagers.”

****

The call came around two in the morning. Bart picked up the phone on the first ring. Big Jack spoke in his ear. Bart listened a minute, then told the man he was on the way.

Mark came into the room rubbing sleep from his eyes. “Was that it?”

“Yep. You were right. He ran.”

“Who’s on his tail?”

“Big Jack and one of his nephews. I’d better get a move on.” Bart began pulling on his clothes. “We don’t want them getting out of range of the radio.”

“Which way did he go?”

“South.”

“Mexico.”

“That’s Avila’s reservation, I guess. You going to call the law?”

“Yes, but I’m in no hurry. I want it plain he’s planning to leave the state. He can’t do that, not even supposed to leave the area, but I want him clearly in violation of his bond. You keep in touch, so I’ll know what’s happening.”

Ro no sooner reached the Jeep than the radio crackled. He almost laughed at Big Jack’s voice. The man was self‑conscious about talking over the foreign instrument.

“Bart? You there? Goddammit! Uh, let’s see. J‑Bar‑C Two, can you hear me?”

“I read you, Jack. What’s going on? Over.”

“This guy’s going like a calf on the prod. You ain’t never going to catch up with us. He don’t seem to care if a cop catches him or not.”

“Okay. Be back with you in a minute. Over and out.” Bart ran back into the apartment house and beat on Mark’s door. Mark opened it instantly. “He’s running fast, Big Jack says. Breaking the speed limit like he’s got no worries about patrol cars. Jack says I’ll never catch up with them.”

“Fuck!” Mark beat a fist against the jamb. “He must really be scared. Any sane man would go at a nice slow pace. He’s panicked. Wait! A helicopter! You can catch him in a bird. You head to the airfield. I’ll get Jim Hudson over there pronto. You have a chance that way.”

****

The helicopter pilot, who lived near the airport, was already warming up the whirlybird by the time Bart arrived. He was, however, not in the best of spirits. He seemed to resent being awakened at two‑thirty in the morning to participate in somebody else’s goose chase.

Bart thought he was going to lose his stomach when the machine took off, but he overcame the nausea. Donning the headset as instructed, he told the pilot what they were up to. He was disappointed that the helicopter radio did not have CB bands, but he had already warned Big Jack that he was coming by helicopter. They overtook the two speeding vehicles easily enough. There was no mistaking them even in the darkness. The van led Big Jack by about a quarter of a mile. At first, the pilot was reluctant to set the copter down in unfamiliar terrain, but he took advantage of the lights of a closed filling station at some wide spot in the road to drop rapidly to the ground. Bart about lost his meal again, but avoided disgracing himself. The Avila vehicle had already whizzed through. Big Jack saw them and had his nephew pull over. Bart unceremoniously dumped the protesting youngster out of the truck and sprayed him with gravel as he got the pickup back on the highway. They soon spotted the van’s taillights in the distance. They gained steadily. Suddenly, the brake lights flashed as the vehicle turned off the highway.

“Damn!” Bart swore. “He spotted us.”

“Be a blind son of a bitch if he didn’t. Probably saw the lights when the helicopter landed too.”

Bart slapped the wheel. “He’s not headed for El Paso. He’s taking the back country to Mexico. Shit! The law’s going to be waiting in the wrong place.”

“Can you reach that lawyer on the radio?”

“Out of range, but I’m going to try to raise somebody. You get out and start trying to catch a ride.” Jack looked pained. It was pitch black, and they had not passed a car on the Road for a considerable stretch. “I’ll work the radio and get somebody to pick you up. But just in case I don’t raise anybody, you’ve got to get back to that service station and phone Mark.”

Jack’s mouth fell open. “That’s ten miles back!”

Ro braked hard. “Yeah, and I’m hauling you in the wrong direction.”

Big Jack looked doubtful about the whole venture, but he obediently grunted his way out of the truck. Bart took off again. As soon as he maneuvered the turn onto the sideroad, he managed to raise a northbound trucker about six miles south of him who agreed to pick up Big Jack and get him to a telephone. In the meantime, the man would try to raise a state cop in the area.

The van was traveling too fast for the road conditions. Bart was able to anticipate some of the worst jolts by keeping an eye on the lights of the other vehicle, but even so he wondered how long the van could take the punishment the rutted dirt Road was dishing out. Abruptly, the relatively good stretch played out. Avila’s headlights went crazy, shooting up into the black sky, disappearing into the ground, and wagging from side to side. Bart was reminded of a mischievous child playing with a flashlight.

 

****

So one of the crooks is on the run, as much from his partner-in-crime as from the law. Bart’s in pursuit. Will he catch the man?

 Until next week, stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say... so say it!

Please check out my BJ Vinson murder mystery series from The Zozobra Incident to The Cutie-Pie Murders. A lot or murder, mayhem... and sex.

My Personal links:

Email: don.travis@aol.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

X: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.


Don

New Posts every Thursday at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain Time.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Bearclaw Summons (A Serialized Story)

 dontravis.com blog post #647

 Image Courtesy of Pinterest:


 


It’s pretty clear that Willy Spurs is dead, murdered by the gun runners Burke and Avila. What remains is clearing the kid’s name and bringing his killers to justice. Let’s see if it happens.

 


****

BEARCLAW SUMMONS (Part 6)

Two days passed before Big Jack Bearclaw notified Bart that Willy was gone. Two days during which all of Jack’s considerable family vainly combed the countryside for the missing man. Bart phoned Mark the minute he heard the news, realizing what the others did not, Mark had posted bond himself and stood to lose a considerable amount of money if Willy turned fugitive.

Another three days passed before a state Fish and Wildlife employee chanced across Willy’s pickup half‑submerged in a remote part of the Rio Chacon. Another week elapsed before the authorities gave up the search for a body. The following day Big Jack squeezed his bulk into Bart’s DeSoto convertible, and they went into Terreon for a conference with Mark Charles.

“Don’t think he run,” Jack announced when they were seated. The big man filled the small couch in the outer office, an experience from which the ancient piece of furniture would likely never recover. From time to time, it emitted distressed noises. “For one thing, he’d of said something to his wife. For another, he’d just made a drawing of his baby. That would of gone with him. But the thing that clinches it is that he didn’t take his paints and brushes. Not a one.”

“Any clothing missing? Personal belongings?”

“None. And he didn’t have nothing more personal than his paint.”

“That’s right, Mark,” Bart confirmed. “When I went up Dead Scout Canyon looking for him, he wouldn’t come down until I took his paints and canvas. Then he followed along behind me like a dog trained to heel.”

Mark was unconvinced. “He can always get more paint and brushes.”

You know how much money the kid’s got tied up in them? It’ll take a long time to collect them again, especially if he’s on the run,” Bart argued.

“Excuse me, Mr. Charles,” Big Jack rumbled, “but he’s not a man who plans things out, but if he was running, he’d know that he’d go crazy if he couldn’t draw and paint pictures no matter where he was. He’d need them, so he’d take them. That’s his way.”

“What do you think happened?”

Big Jack looked at Bart uneasily. “Looks to me like those other two got to him.”

“Got to him? Exactly what do you mean?”

“Well, you said he was the only one going to put them away, didn’t you? I guess they got him out of the way.”

“Are you suggesting that they did away with him? Killed him?”

The fat man shrugged his massive shoulders. The couch protested. “Why not? He was just a rez Indian. Family says he was resting a bit more easy. Sometime after supper, he got in his truck and drove off. Nobody seen him again.”

Bart picked up the tale. “I rode horseback the whole way up that washed‑out road to where the truck went in the water, and I hiked it once. Didn’t find a thing to help us. But whoever took the truck up there didn’t give a damn about it. That old road doesn’t even exist anymore. The truck was banged up and scratched up something awful.”

“He didn’t drive that truck up there, Mr. Charles,” Big Jack said. “If he was gonna run, he’d have took his paints and his brushes and his canvas. And likely his family too. He’d have hit the highway or he’d have made for high ground on the reservation.”

“So you’re saying the same thing.”

Big Jack nodded. “He’s dead.”

“That’s quite a conclusion,” Mark said. “I can think of another. If Avila and Burke wanted to get rid of the kid, they’d give him some money and take him to Mexico. Hell, Willy could be sitting on the other side of the border right now painting up a storm with new brushes and paints and a pocket full of pesos.”

“He’d get in touch with his family,” Big Jack insisted. “And he’d of left them his truck. No way he’d bash it up and leave it in the river.

“He left it for Avila and Burke to take care of. He might show up in a few days or next week or next month.”

“Is that what you really think?” asked Bart.

“I don’t know. I’d have bet he wouldn’t run. Hell, I did bet! I put up his bond. But there aren’t too many men around who’d kill a person as easily as that.” Mark walked to the window and looked across at the blank wall of the building next door. Finally, he turned.

“They got to him somehow, and probably not by buying him off. You know why not? Because they’ve both been around here a long time, and they know that sooner or later ninety percent of the Apache who leave the reservation come back. Those aren’t very good odds when your freedom depends on them. By God, I think you’re right! I believe he’s dead.”

****

Lena Boggs’ youngest grandson, Freddie, told his uncle about a pickup that went up Blue Meadow road just south of Snowflake Pass after dark the night Willy Spurs disappeared. The boy had been planning to park on the meadow with his girl until another vehicle turned off ahead of him. A few days later, the uncle repeated the story to his wife’s father who told his older brother.

August Wingfield, a cautious man, drove over to see Big Jack Bearclaw. After discussing the outrageous price of horse fodder and the state of health of his large and energetic brood for almost an hour, August, elaborately discounting in advance the value of what he had come to say, repeated what he had been told without comment or speculation. Big Jack thanked the head of the Wingfield family for taking his valuable time, saw his guest out of sight, and then yelled for his eldest son to hitch up the mules. Jack drove to a cousin’s house and bartered for a ride to the J‑Bar‑C.

Late that afternoon, he finally located Bart in one of the pastures north of the highway. Bart heard him out, dropped everything, and went to phone Mark Charles.

****

Early the next morning, Bart parked the J‑Bar‑C Jeep at the juncture of NM35 and Blue Meadow Road and began hiking. He was not hopeful because the old logging Road was miles from where the truck had been found and at no point met up with the old, abandoned roadway the Spurs vehicle had to travel to meet its end in the Rio Chacon. Nonetheless, he was by nature careful and meticulous. He had gone only about six‑tenths of a mile up the Road when he found signs that raised his interest. He searched the general area briefly, squatted on his haunches to think, and then backtracked to where a small spring crossed the Road. He invested a little more time looking around there. Satisfied with what he had seen, he dog‑trotted back to the Jeep and half an hour later was sitting in Mark’s outer office waiting for his friend to finish with a paying client. Mark joined him as soon as Miss Gertrude Meister, one of Mark’s grade school teachers, departed.

“Can you imagine? The old girl wanted me to do her will. Hell, fourth grade teachers don’t die... do they?”

“Them too,” Bart assured him.

“Find anything?” Mark wanted to know.

“Yes, but I’m not certain what. About half a mile off the highway, I found where a car had turned sideways blocking the Road. Another vehicle had come to a pretty fast stop. Left some rubber on the gravel. One of the cars, or maybe a third one, had pulled off the road into the bushes. It’s been two weeks and the tracks are disappearing fast. There’ve been two or three cars up there since they were made, but there’s still sign of them. I think you ought to get somebody up there. It’s on the reservation, so I guess it’ll have to be the FBI.”

“I’ve already called that agent… Hill. He’s flying down from Albuquerque. Be here tomorrow morning.”

“Okay, but you better get the rez cops to stop the traffic up there. Many more cars go up, there won’t be anything left to see. There’s a spring down the road apiece, and there are some pretty clear tire prints around there. Hope it doesn’t rain tonight.”

“Can you go up tomorrow and show Hill what you found? Bart, I want to nail those bastards.”

“You don’t want it any more than I do. What did the judge say about Willy disappearing?”

“Nothing very good.”

“Did he take the bond money?”

“It’s not forfeit yet. But you know what really pisses me? Everybody’s going to assume the kid’s guilty as sin. He didn’t show up, so he did it. Even if he’s gone, I’m going to do what I can to clear his name.”

“Will the judge let you do that?”

“He’ll declare Willy a fugitive, but he can’t stop me from trying to find the truth. What worries me is that they might very well drop the charges against the other two. Without Willy, I’m not sure they can make a case against them.”

****

The next morning, Bart met the FBI agent in Mark’s office and drove him to Blue Meadow Road. The reservation police had heeded Mark’s call and blocked the entrance to the logging road with a bright yellow tape. A hundred feet short of the spring, Bart halted the Jeep. The two men walked to where the water crossed the road in a shallow trench of its own making. Bart stood back and allowed the federal agent to make his own discoveries.

By noon, the rez cops were out in force, measuring, marking, and searching a wide area all under Hill’s watchful eye. Bart was dismissed and given to understand that he should depart. He did so, but not before he understood the reason for the agent’s deep interest. The man had discovered what looked to be a considerable amount of dried blood on a rock and some leaves near where one vehicle had blocked the Road. As Bart walked back to the Jeep, some officers worked at making molds of the tire tracks near the spring.

Bart drove into White Pine and phoned Mark. The lawyer met him at the junction in record time. Together they drove up the Road in the Jeep. Hill met them at a brand-new barricade, this one a little more substantial than the previous portable signs.

“Sorry, Mr. Charles,” the agent said. “You can’t come any farther. There’s an investigation going on.”

“An investigation that involves my client.”

“Don’t know that yet. Might or might not have anything to do with Mr. Spurs. We’ll have a better idea soon. Anyway, you can’t come up.”

“I understand you found some blood.”

“We’ll test it. Of course, it could be animal blood. Probably is.”

“All right,” Mark turned conciliatory. “I’ll just ask one thing. You’re taking casts of tire tracks,” he nodded up the Road at a team of deputies, “so I assume you’re planning on asking Burke and Avila whether they’ve been up here lately. Within an hour everyone in the county will know what’s up. Don’t you think you’d better ask that question before all this is common knowledge?”

“You’ve got a point, Counselor. Only thing is, I can’t leave here right now. Not till this is wrapped up.”

“Then you better keep everyone else up here and off the radio. Even that might not be enough. Half the population already knows something’s going on.”

The FBI man quickly scribbled a note that he folded and handed to Mark. “If you’ll give this to the federal magistrate’s clerk in Terreon, he’ll call Burke’s and Avila’s attorney and set up a meeting. I... well, I might be just a little late for it.”

“Am I invited?”

“Personal invitation.”

“Thanks.” Mark and Bart returned to the Jeep. “Bart, how far to Big Jack’s place?”

“Thirty minutes.”

“Can you go get him? And I need to know Willy’s blood type. Do you suppose they have it on file at the PSC hospital in White Pine?”

“I’ll check.”

Big Jack came willingly even though he had not finished his dessert, an Indian bread pudding Noreen had stuffed with piñon nuts and berries. The two men swung by PSC where they learned Willy Spurs’ blood type. Mark was still in the meeting at the courthouse when they arrived. Bart could have sworn the couch began groaning in protest the minute Big Jack waddled into the office.

Upon returning from the meeting with the magistrate, Mark filled them in. “Too bad their lawyer was there,” he said irreverently. “I believe Hill would have done the whole job. Even so, he did all right. Avila’s scared. Denies he’s ever been up Blue Meadow Road. He got that out before the lawyer could stop him. Of course, it’s not under oath so it doesn’t mean much, but still he denied it. Burke never said a word. He’s the cool one. We’ll never shake him.”

“So what do we do now?” Bart asked.

“Well, Avila’s the one who interests me. Worried sick. Frightened men sometimes crack.”

“If you can see he’s worried,” Big Jack observed, “then so can this Burke fellow.”

“And that’s exactly what we want. If we’re right about what happened to Willy, then Avila knows he could be next. If he gets worried enough, he might look for protection. By the way, I told them we have Willy’s blood type. Do we?”

“Yep. It’s O Negative.”

“Well, that’s not the AB I was praying for, but O Negative’s pretty rare. If it turns out to be blood and it’s human and it’s O Negative, and the tire casts turn out to match Burke’s and/or Avila’s vehicles... well, then the pressure’s on.”

 ****

Okay, the Reservation Police, the FBI, and probably the State Police are all involved now. But it looks like it’s up to Bart Shortlance and Mark Charles to prove what really happened. I’m betting on them… are you? Because they have Big Jack Bearclaw on their side.

 Until next week, stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say... so say it!

Please check out my BJ Vinson murder mystery series, starting with The Zozobra Incident and ending with The Cutie Pie Murders. 

My personal links:

Email: don.travis@aol.com.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982

X: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.


Don

New posts every Thursday at 6:00 am., US Mountain Time

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