Earth’s Survivors: World Order

Earth’s Survivors: World Order

By  independAntwriters PublishingThe Nation is growing and needs protection from the dead…

“So… Bear and the Outrunners. This is probably the important thing before the public meeting. I like him. I think he’s level-headed. He sees what we need, and he’s willing to do it,” Mike said.

“And what is it we need?” Steve Choi asked.

“Protection,” Candace tossed out.

“Weapons too,” Ronnie added.

“And we need to be able to trust that person. That’s our safety net, what allows us to have this, that knowledge that there is a barrier between us and them.”

“Them…  You talk about them as though they were still living … things. Still living things, Michael.” Janet added.

“They are… They are not stupid dead … things wandering around. The ones I have run into, the ones I have seen, are thinking things out. I don’t even think that it’s smart to think of them as Zombies at all… Un-dead, but not zombies. Zombie makes me think dumb, and they are not dumb. I have seen that. So have quite a few others.” Mike said quietly.

“So how do Bear and … Who else? How do they help us?” Bob asked.

“Bear… Billy Jingo, young guy came in with him, and Billy’s woman Pearl… Three to start… They asked for another one down the road, but that is the start.” Mike said.

“So, well, what exactly do they do?” Steve Choi asked.

“They will do the same thing we have been doing. Supply runs. Ammunition runs, weapons… And a few other things that are the business of this council and no one else… Not public knowledge,” Ronnie said.

Steve raised his eyebrows.

“Has to be that way, Steve. We can’t have people telling us how to protect ourselves. We need to be able to do what we need to do. If they find dead they kill them. Weapons, they bring them back. And we may not want everybody to know what we have weapons wise,” Mike said.

“And we thing we know where this plague came from,” Candace added.,

Silence descended.

“You’re serious?” Steve asked.

Candace nodded. “There is a secret military base under the city we came from. Mike, Patty and Ronnie,” She looked at Bob and Janet who both nodded. “Bob and Jan too. We saw planes going over the day after this whole thing happened. Not the dead rising, I mean the Earth going all haywire. They sprayed us down, and a few days later the dead are rising.”

“Kind of farfetched to make a leap that it would be connected and that that connection is right there, secret base or not.” Steve said quietly.

“Not really. There were things in the paper. Whispers. And Bear said planes overflew the City, Manhattan. Came from the northwest and that’s us in that direction. Maybe it is thin, but it is also plausible and there is a base there,” Mike said.

“We have to start somewhere, Steve. A base that large would have had to know something about what was going on… ”



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Earth’s Survivors: Watertown

Earth’s Survivors: Watertown

By  independAntwriters Publishing

What starts out as a drug deal quickly spirals into the first steps in the fall of the old society… Follow along as we step back in time and tell the tale of the beginning of the end…

The man moved more fully into the shadows. “You Gabe?” he asked in a near whisper.

The darker shadow nodded. “You…?” He started.

“Now who in fuck else would I be?” He asked.

The darker shadow said nothing. The other man passed him a small paper bag. “Count it,” he told him.

Gabe Kohlson moved out of the shadow, more fully into the light. “It’s a lot; I can’t stand here, out here counting it.”

The man laughed. “You asked for this place. It’s the middle of nowhere. I Googled it, it comes up marked as the middle of nowhere. Who in fuck will see you?” He laughed and then choked it off with a harsh cough. “Count it. No mistakes… You got the shit?”

Kohlson’s head popped up fast from counting. “Of course I don’t… That wasn’t the deal.”

“Easy… Easy… Keep your panties on… I’m saying you got the shit… You got access to the shit?”

“That I got… I can get it out this Thursday at shift end…” He held up the paper bag. “A lot of this goes to greasing the skids… You know, to get it out,” Gabe told him. “This stuff.”

“Whoa right there,” the man told him. “Don’t say shit about it. I don’t know what it is and I don’t want to know, see? I do a job. Take this thing there, that thing here. That’s all I know. Keeps my head on my shoulders when all about are losing theirs.”

“Uh… Lost me,” Gabe Kohlson told him.

“Just shut up about the shit, man. I don’t want to know anything past what I know, okay?”

“Okay,” Kohlson agreed.

“I do know you got to get it out and I will be here to get it… Hey,” he waited until the kid looked up. “You know who I work for, right? You fuck this up you’ll wind up out at the county landfill… Gulls pecking out your fucking eyes let me tell you. I will meet you here next Thursday night… Seven… Don’t be late… Don’t fuck this up… Don’t make me come looking for you…” He faded back into the shadows more fully, turned and walked down the shadowed front of the building. A few minutes later he found his car in the darkness: He waited.

He heard the kid’s shit-box beater when it started. A few moments later he watched as it swept past him, heading out of the small park area toward the river road. He levered the handle on his own car, slipped inside, started it and drove slowly away.



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Earth’s Survivors: Plague

Earth’s Survivors: Plague

By  independAntwriters Publishing

The Nation begins to rise from the ashes of the old world…

The attack came fast when it came. Mike only remembered the details after the fact.

Molly had the right side, Tim the left, Mike had taken a lead of fifty feet or so right up through the middle of the tall grass. It left him blind, for the most part. The grass was higher than his head in most places, unless he walked right on the hump in the middle of the old road, and that was not an easy task. He found himself spending too much time concentrating on the next footfall. So he came down off the hump and walked slowly beside it. Watching for darker shadows within the golden brown of the grass.

He turned his head to look over to the right and Molly when his eye had caught movement in the trees just over her head. There was no time for thought. He swung his rifle up and fired. He had no time to register what he had accomplished. He dropped his eyes from the woods, alerted by a yell from Tim on the other side of him and the Zombie was on him just that fast. Afterward he realized it must have been hidden in the tall grass and had sprung at him as soon as he was distracted by the movement in the woods.

He was out of position to fire so he reversed the rifle’s stock smashing it into the forehead of the zombie that had sprung at him. She went down but she was back up just as quickly. Mike kicked her hard in the stomach as he bought the rifle barrel around. He squeezed off a quick burst as she was falling from the kick.

It seemed as though the entire world turned into a solid wall of noisy gunfire. On both sides and front and back.

The zombie hit the ground thrown back by the force of the bullets. A huge section of her side blown away, one arm gone, but she had no sooner hit the ground than she was twisting to her side and rising to her feet, hissing and snarling as she lunged at him again.

The shock nearly kept him from firing. He had never expected her to get back up. The rifle barrel rose on its own as he fired blowing holes through her chest and finally taking her head from her shoulders. She staggered a few more feet and then collapsed in a heap.

In front, somewhere beyond the cars and trucks that blocked the road, the firing continued. Mike looked left to right. Both Molly and Tim were gone. He got his feet moving and started off through the tall grass.

The gunfire fell off abruptly. He reached the beginning of the cars and trucks and began working his way down the length of a pickup truck when he caught movement on the opposite side of the truck out of the corner of his eye. He swung the rifle up fast, finger on the trigger, squeezing as it came up. The only thing stopping him from firing the uncertainty of what his peripheral vision had caught, when his eyes finished the split second trip he nearly squeezed the trigger anyway when Tim’s face came into sharp focus.

“Christ,” He breathed. Tim’s face was streaked with blood. Pasty white under the scarlet. Tim nodded and swiveled his eyes behind Mike, he turned to find Molly peering around the edge of a van fifty or so feet beyond his own position. He motioned both of them over.

“Dead?” he asked in a whisper. They both nodded.



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Earth’s Survivors: Home in the Valley

Earth’s Survivors: Home in the Valley

By  independAntwriters Publishing

Small bands of survivors are joining together, making their way across the devastation of America…

The morning turned to early afternoon before the four trucks pulled up out of the field together, followed the service roadway back onto route 3 and headed toward Clifton. Cammy studied a map as Bear drove.

“It’s hard to believe this is as far as we have got in over a month together,” she said as she studied the map.

“We had no real direction,” Bear supplied. “It’s not like we had decided on a place and headed toward it.” Bear watched the sides of the road. They were traveling along at less than twenty miles an hour, weaving down into the median, and off onto the service roads that paralleled the highway when they had too.

There were too many cars abandoned next to the road, in the road, even across the road, to be able to keep track of all of them at one time. A large mall came up on the right and Bear slowed at the interchange to look it over. Billy’s truck rolled up, the window dropped and Beth leaned out.

“Looks okay,” she said, breaking the silence of the quiet afternoon.

“Except it’s quiet,” Bear agreed. “That’s always been bad news.”

Beth held up her machine pistol. “We need what we need.”

Bear nodded. “Let’s go then… We stay together though.”

Beth nodded, Billy shifted back into drive and waited for Bear to pull away. He pulled in behind him and followed.

There was a thick line of trees behind the shops that Bear didn’t like. It seemed like the perfect place for the dead to hide away. He drove slowly into the first Mall area, past the trees and into the second lot. The trees were not as thick up close, but he could still not see through them, and it bothered him. Anything, or one, could be hidden within them. He turned the truck and pointed it back toward the entrance road and shut it down.

Billy, and then Mac, pulled down, turned around, and stopped next to Bear’s truck. They shut down too and the ticking of cooling motors filled the silence of the parking lot. Bear looked around the lot, but saw nothing that seemed out of place.

Abandoned cars and trucks. The front doors to a discount store were shattered, the aluminum frames twisted, pushed open wide and pinned against the faux brick front with carts. Bear had left the windows up. He didn’t like the idea of having to start the truck to roll them back up. It was better to roll them up before he shut down. He levered the door open, and stepped down to the pavement. Beside him, Billy, Beth, and Mac stepped out of their own vehicles too. The doors chuffed closed, and the silence came back heavy.

Bear scanned the parking lot but saw nothing. He looked over at Beth. She shrugged and looked back over at the wood line Bear turned away and started toward the shattered front entrance, the others fell in behind him.

The front of the store was destroyed. They stayed together, walking aisle to aisle looking for the dead. 

The smell had hit all of them when they crossed the threshold into the store. The dead were there: Where they did not know. They walked slowly forward into the huge building. Silent. Safeties off their rifles, waiting.



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Earth’s Survivors: The Nation

Earth’s Survivors: The Nation

By  independAntwriters Publishing

The survivors are on the road looking for a place to begin again…

Mike awoke before dawn. He lay quietly, feeling the heat from Candace’s body where it pressed up against his, and thinking about what the future might be.

The first thing he had thought was that whatever had happened to the world would be made right. That somewhere there was someone still in charge, and eventually that person would get everything back on track. The world would be fun again. Television, phones, electricity, the Internet, the mortgage on his house, all of it. That turned out to be a pipe dream. The whole idea had dissipated quickly. Even so, when they had  finally started out, he had held out some hope, and they hadn’t come far, but Jeff and his people had, and it was the same everywhere. There was no man sitting in an office somewhere waiting to get everything back in shape, and if there was, he would have to be a complete idiot, because he’d be waiting an awfully long time.

The dead woman Jeff had told him about bothered him a great deal. He had remembered a day he had gone out, after things had fallen apart. He had heard airplanes in the night. In the morning, there was some sort of blue liquid they had sprayed all over the city. He had wondered about that. Why? What was it? And the bodies in the market… Had it been dogs? Had it been dogs that had been… eating them? There was no nice way to look at it, or put it.

If Jeff was crazy… But he wasn’t. He seemed as sane as any of them did. No. He couldn’t write it off to crazy or not crazy. He obviously believed what he saw. He had to mark it down to… To what? He asked himself. To…

Candace stirred and pressed closer to him, and then settled back down. Gray light began to creep into the room. He could see the outline of her body.

The movement, the light seeping into the room, sent his thoughts along an entirely different line.

For the last two days he had found himself thinking in an entirely new direction. All the old shit is gone, and that’s okay. He didn’t care at all if he never saw electricity again. In fact, he’d rather not have it, and even if there was a way to fix it all, he didn’t want to go back. He was positive, in fact, that they couldn’t go back, none of them, was positive he wouldn’t be able to live that way again, when less than a month ago his entire life, his entire focus, was wrapped up in the old way. Hadn’t he been watching the countdown show for the end of the world? Reality TV every night? The big party for the end of the world? And really, that had simply been a joke.  

Nobody, at least most people, didn’t believe the world was going anywhere. It was just another thing to occupy the head. Even the terminology, World Ending, was bullshit. The world did not end. We think so highly of ourselves that we believe that the end of society means the end of the world, and I guess it did for us… some of us. But the end of the world? No. The world will go on and on when we are nothing at all but dust upon the ground.

Now it really was gone, and not only didn’t he miss it, he didn’t want it to come back. He didn’t want to chase across half of what had been the United States looking for some semblance of the old world. His mind was at rest; he was happy. He allowed one hand to stroke the length of Candace’s body. Very happy, he decided. Candace stirred again. One of her own hands came down his side, across his abdomen, searching.



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Earth’s Survivors: Rising from the ashes

Earth’s Survivors: Rising from the ashes

By  independAntwriters Publishing

The end has come for most of the world’s population. Small groups of survivors are picking up the pieces… Learning to live again…

When the sun began to peek over the top of the ridge on the opposite shore of the Black river, everyone filed out to the two remaining trucks. It had been decided that Mike and Jan would stay behind while the others went in search of the stolen truck. They switched on and tested two sets of F.M. radios.

“The range is normally only about two miles or so, but it’s not like there’s anything to interfere with them anymore,” Tom said. “We’ll take three with us, and you keep the other here to monitor us, or if they come back here,” Tom finished.

“Do you think that’s a possibility?” Janet Dove asked.

“I doubt it, Dear,” Bob told her with a reassuring smile. “It’s just to be safe.”

Mike walked over to Candace. Her eyes met his. He kissed her softly, and her arms slipped around him.

“Don’t worry,” she whispered, “I’ll be careful. And I’ll make sure they’re careful.” She kissed him and pulled back.

Mike stared at the face of the two-way radio for a long second and then watched her get into the Suburban. Bob got into the front seat with her. Her eyes met his once more, and she smiled reassuringly, then started the Suburban and fell in behind Tom as he drove the big State truck out across the pavement.

Mike and Janet stood quietly as the two trucks drove away. Neither of them wanted to go back inside the cave. The sun was up and warming the old asphalt of the road where it passed in front of the cave, and what little snow remained was already beginning to melt.

“Left here,” The radio squawked. It sounded like Lydia.

“Behind you,” came an answer that sounded like Bob.

Mike shifted the 30-30 Deer rifle he held in one hand and thumbed off the strap that held his Nine Millimeter in his web holster. Janet Dove grimaced and then thumbed the safety off the shotgun she was holding. A short clip protruded from the base of the shotgun, just forward of the trigger. She had two more clips in a small pouch on her side, as well as a fully loaded Three Eighty in a tooled leather side holster she wore.

What must we look like, Mike thought. Aloud he said, “They’ll be fine.”

“Really?” Janet Dove asked. “I truly hope so. I truly do.”

~

The next twenty minutes went by slowly. Occasional squawks of directions came from the radio, and in the distance the sound of both trucks could still be heard. The silence broke all at once.

The radio squealed in Mike’s hand. One word jumped clearly from the static… “Jesus!”… Mike couldn’t tell from whom. A crashing sound accompanied it, and in the far distance gunfire erupted in the still, previously quiet morning air.

The squeal from the radio abruptly cut off and it fell back to low static. In the distance the sound of gunfire continued for what seemed like ten minutes, but was probably no more than thirty or forty seconds in reality. Mike keyed the radio, “Candace,” he screamed. “Candace?”

Gunfire broke out again in the distance. The fast… POP, POP, POP of semi-automatic gunfire, but the sharp crack of a heavy rifle too. No answer came back over the radio. Janet Dove made a small strangled sound in the back of her throat and a low sob slipped from her mouth. “No, God, no,” she whispered. …



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Earth’s Survivors: Apocalypse

Earth’s Survivors: Apocalypse

By  independAntwriters Publishing

Earth’s Survivors Apocalypse follows survivors of a worldwide catastrophe.

A meteorite that was supposed to miss the earth completely, hits and becomes the cap to a series of events that destroy the world as we know it. Police, fire, politicians, military, governments: All gone. Hopes, dreams, tomorrows: All buried in a desperate struggle to survive.

From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule. The dead lay in the streets while gangs fight for control of what is left. Small groups band together for safety and begin to leave the ravaged cities behind in search of a future that can once again hold promise…

It was the most tired I had ever been. I laid my head down, and I was gone for a little while…

The sun is down all the way here. I went back upstairs. Nothing on the horizon. That time of evening when the sun is down and the moon has yet to rise. Very dark. Can’t see anything in any direction. Thought they must be all sleeping in the barn, but I heard some movements out near where I… Never mind what I did there, I’ll get to that soon enough, I guess. I only heard it once, but I know damn well it’s one of them… Some of them…

I don’t believe the whiskey is going to make it to daylight, but I have a feeling I’m not going to make it to daylight either… Feeling funny now, not myself… I’ll try to get this done…

 It was the 15th when I came awake in that truck. Hot, but desert heat…

September 15th

It was late afternoon when Johnny awoke. Somewhere in the day Lana had wound up beside him. He lay still, unwilling to let her go, his hand was curled protectively around her. Lana moved and he felt the sleep leave her body. One moment soft and willing, the next a live wire.

“You didn’t cop a feel did you?” Lana asked in a mumbled half sleepy voice.

“Lana, can’t you ever just say something like, good morning?”

She twisted her head around and smiled. The secret smile she rarely ever gave out. “Good late afternoon,” she said and the smile slipped away. There was still something there, but it wasn’t that secret, vulnerable glimpse into her heart that it was usually. She stretched, yawned, and her feet came up against the door. “Next vehicle we get is an SUV so we have some place to sleep too.”

“I don’t know, I kind of liked this,” Johnny said before he could shut his mouth down.

Lana laughed and it was the unguarded Lana once more. “As long as you know what the deal is.” She twisted her head once more, and then her entire body, so she was looking directly into his eyes.

“I… I know the deal,” Johnny said. The press of her body was maddening.

“We really don’t need to talk it out?”

Johnny shook his head and looked away. “I’m a little too old for you, Lana. I know.”

Her eyes became sad. “Let me just say these few things.” She took a deep breath and then began to speak. “I am attracted to you. I considered sleeping with you before you became my friend, before I knew it couldn’t work between us. I even considered it after… Maybe ten minutes ago too, but it would cost me a friend because it wouldn’t mean to me what it would mean to you. It has nothing to do with age or anything else.” She held his eyes as if willing him to understand.

“It’s like you see me as this fragile little princess, and I am so far from that, Johnny. So far. I can’t see why you try to see me that way.” She laughed. “It’s a thing men do. Like… Like that is love, you see? Instead of love just being about all the other stuff… The things I admire about you, you about me. The things in common, the things that we share, the parts of you and me that are real that end up in the mix… But no, I’m a princess, unattainable beauty, something to worship, and it has nothing to do with what I really am at all. I have lived that way, tried to live up to that. It’s not possible… The man I need is out there, I hope. Just someone that looks at me as me.” She watched his eyes…

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Mister Bob free preview

MISTER BOB

Collected Short Stories

Published with Amazon

Mister Bob: Collected Short Stories is Copyright © 2015 Dell Sweet

Copyright © 2015 by Dell Sweet All rights reserved

Cover Art © Copyright 2015 Wendell Sweet

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your bookseller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2015 Wendell Sweet and his assignees. The Name Dell Sweet is a publishing construct used by Wendell Sweet. Portions of this text are copyright 2010, and 2011, all rights reserved by Wendell Sweet and his assignees. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s or assignees permission.

Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.


MISTER BOB


THE BORDERLINE

Sunday night.

I buried the Mexican just after sundown. I can’t say much about the sort of man he was in life, but I can say he was a strong man in death.

The Moon has led my way and I’m on my way across the desert into Mexico of all places.  What did they say, hide in plain sight?  There I’m going to be.  Probably already passed the border, and once I’m across the border I’ll find a small town to buy gasoline enough so I can reach South America.

I’ve played the events of yesterday over and over in my head as I’ve driven. It still makes no sense to me at all.  They say shit happens, we’ll sometimes it does, and I tell myself that’s exactly what happened here.  Some shit decided to happen and I just happened to be there.

Saturday evening.

It was early. I had nothing better to do so I took a walk downtown just to take a look at the buildings. Thinking, as I walked, how just a few short years ago I had spent almost all of my time down there. Chasing a high. Drunk or both. And sometimes a third thing: Taking a little comfort with the ladies. It all came back to me as I walked the streets.

About three years of my life had been spent like that. From the day Lilly told me goodbye, until the day I woke up in the alley that runs down the back of West Broad, behind the Chinese restaurant. The back of my head had been lumped up with something or by someone.

Some one, I decided as I had begun to blink the cobwebs away and feel carefully with my fingers. A lump only, no blood. Probably a closed fist…

 Two feet away from me was a dead rat. A big dead rat, and a few even larger rats were breakfasting on him. And, suddenly, just like that, I was done. That gave me a clear message about the world. And I heard it.

Of course that didn’t mean I got off Scot free. There were many little things I’d done during my long, long slide. And it took time to fix those things. Rehab, jail for some bad checks I couldn’t remember. Bad teeth, health, ideas, depression, suicide, and finally a night where I felt strong enough to take a walk through the worst of my nightmares and see if I was truly over the drugs, the life, the weaknesses that had led me there in the first place.

So that’s how I came to be there yesterday evening: Getting my feet wet. Seeing how strong I was… Or wasn’t. And it turns out I was strong enough for the temptation of the streets, but not over the bad habits I had picked up there. And that’s what got me… I cannot believe it was only yesterday when all this started.

I walked by the mouth of the alley twice. Both times I saw the old Ford sitting there in the deep shadows. Heard the soft murmur of its engine running. Some guy and some girl, I thought, or some guy with some guy, or boy who knows what. It was downtown. Shit like that happened all the time. But, I thought after the second time, this guy must be trying to set a record. He’d been there for 15 minutes by my watch, not that it was my business. All the same, fifteen minutes is a long time for a trick. Or to shoot up. Fifteen minutes could bring a cop. In the street world it was just too long for almost anything. In fifteen minutes you could get your thing on, your drug of choice, and be a half mile away and have forgotten all about that last little space of time. So why was this guy still there?

And that was the street part of me that was not gone. The street part of me that was still looking for trouble. And I found it.

The third time by, which was just a few minutes later, I was too curious. My evening had bought me some excitement. The drugs, I could see the flow all over the avenue. Easy to see if you knew what to look for. The ladies were calling too. I knew what that was about. I didn’t look at them like they were whores, or something less than human. It was a line I couldn’t draw, had confused many times, so I came back fast to see what this was. That Ford was calling.

I had stopped at the mouth of the alley. Same Ford. An old one. Like a classic. Nice shape too. Maybe somewhere in the sixties, but I wasn’t good with cars like that. I only knew old, classic, nice looking. 

Nobody around.  Of course that didn’t mean there was no one in the car. I hesitated for only a second, and then walked quietly down the alley, staying in the shadows as I went.

~

I found the Mexican slumped over behind the wheel. Blood dripping down the side of his head. A gun on the seat beside him.  Another guy was slumped over into the floorboards on the passenger side. That one was dead for sure. A large, bloodless hole on one side of his chest.  A larger hole behind that shoulder I saw when I reached over to move him.

And why are you still here? A little voice in my head whispered. Why are you touching him? What are you doing? But I pushed those warning voices away and continued to look.

There was blood and gore all over the seat on that side. The coppery stench of blood was thick and nauseating. Something else mixed in with it, tugging at my brain. Blood and…  Fear? Something. That was when the Mexican spoke in all that silence and nearly made me jump out of my skin.

“Don’t call the cops!” and… “No Policia.” His head came away from wheel. He shook it and drops of blood went flying. I felt it hit my face, but I was still too stunned to move.

“Hey! … You hear me, Blanquito? Habla English? … No Policia?” He muttered under his breath “Dios Christos,” he focused his eyes on me once more. “What’s the matter with you?”

“I thought you were dead,” I managed.  I should’ve run. I chose to talk.

“Yeah… I get that a lot. But I ain’t dead.” He picked up the gun from the seat and before I knew it was in my face. “Come around the side, Blanquito. Get Lopez out of the car.” He waved the pistol and I moved.

Lopez pretty much helped himself out of the car. When I opened the door he spilled out into the alley, leaving the mess on the seat and a large smear of blood on the seat back and the door panel as he went.

“Good… Good,” the Mexican said. “Now get in the fuckin’ car… No… No… This side. Come back around to this side. I can’t drive no car, Blanquito… Dios!” He waved the gun once more and I moved. Racing around the hood of the car to the door.

The Mexican did a fair job of getting himself over into the passenger seat. I was glad it was him sitting in Lopez’s blood and not me, although I had been about to sit in it.

I slid into the driver’s seat.

“You got some kind of car… Truck… Something like that?” The Mexican asked.

I didn’t have a vehicle, but my grandfather had, had a truck. It was sitting in the garage in back of my house. That house had also been my grandfather’s. They were the only two things, the house and the truck, that had survived those three years on the streets.

“Sort of.”

“Sort of?” He looked around “Get this car moving. That’s the first thing… You got a place?… Close by? How does anybody sort of own a fuckin’ car anyway?”

“Yeah, I got a place” I said.  I was afraid to answer, but more afraid of not answering fast enough.

“Let’s get there, Amigo.” He slumped back against the seat. I shifted into drive, worried I might drive over Lopez as I went, and drove us out of the alley.

~

The house was dark. I had thought to leave a light on, but I had forgotten. I drove the Ford right into the garage, pulled the garage door back down, and helped the Mexican out. He looked over at my grandfather’s truck.

“That your sort of truck? Looks fine to me, man. Doesn’t it run?”

The thing is it did run. I had been  working on it here and there. I like to tinker with things. And I had a lot of spare time to fill when I quit drugging so I had turned it to the truck.

It was an old truck. But I had in the back of my mind to fix it up and drive it. So I had started with an oil change, then installed a new headlight on the driver’s side, that sort of stuff, when I had time.

I nodded. “No plates though.”

The Mexican nodded. “Don’t worry about that… Got gas in it?”

“Some…  Enough to get you away.”

“Ha, Amigo.” He laughed and then clutched the side of his head where the blood still drizzled and spilled down the side of his face, spat some blood from his mouth, and looked back at me. “Us,” he said. “Us.”

I saw an amazing thing as he spoke. The Mexican had a small blue hole just above the stream of blood. A hole from a bullet.  In his head. The blood just pulsed out of it as I watched. I wondered how he could even be alive.

On The Road

I drove as he gave me directions.

We stopped just before dawn at a gas station in the middle of a small desert border town. The Mexican directed me past the dimly lit islands and over toward the side of the station, and the shadowy side lot.

There was a big hound sleeping in an open bay doorway on one side of the garage. On the other side a thin man with long, greasy-black hair was turning wrenches on an old Plymouth.  He glanced up, nodded, and I nodded back as we pulled around the side of the station and parked in the shadows.

There were payphones bolted to the side wall, just past the Men’s room door. I had thought that payphones were a thing of the past. But I had also thought gas stations were a thing of the past too, come to think of it.

I helped the Mexican to the phone. He ran about $6.00 worth of change into the phone and then he just stood there, leaned against the wall, panting hard, for what seemed like ten minutes.

Finally he began to speak in a stream of Spanish so heavily accented and fast that I could make no sense of anything he said. Not even the gist of it, and I was usually pretty good when it came to Spanish.

He sprayed blood from his mouth as he talked. And he leaked blood from the bullet wound in his lower chest all over the wall he was leaning against.

The conversation wound down. I could tell because he spoke less and less. He finally went on a long coughing spasm, spat a few more quick streams of Spanish into the phone and then just dropped the handset. He came staggering off the wall and back to the truck. I rushed to help him back in.

He was breathing hard. “We got to kill some time. Find a place.”

I nodded. I was tempted to clean off the wall, pick up the handset and put it back on the phone. Someone might see that. But instead I wheeled out of the parking lot and found a small campground just outside of the town.

The place was deserted so I drove down into the dirt parking area and parked by what was advertised as a lake, but looked more like a swampy pond. The roof line of a rusted Chevy rose just above the foul smelling the water. It was near dawn. The sun a red line on the horizon. I wore no watch, but the Mexican kept track of time on his.

The Mexican was bad off, coughing and spitting blood out of the window every few minutes, but he said nothing. Never complained.

Along The Border

I had thought the place would be crowded with cops, but I was wrong. The hound dog still slept in the open garage bay doorway, and the thin man with the greasy-black hair was still wrenching on the Plymouth. The hanging phone handset, the blood, now dried to a maroon smear on the handset and the wall was still there. Untouched.

“Hang that fuckin’ phone up,” the Mexican said. I got out and hung up the phone and it immediately rang in my hand.

“Well answer the thing…  Dios,” the Mexican spat. He went into a coughing spasm. I picked up the phone, and an unintelligible string of Spanish launched itself into my ear. I held it away. “For you,” I said.

He groaned and levered himself from the truck, stumbled, and then made his way to the pay phone. He took the gun with him. He spoke calmly into the phone for a short time. No rushed spate of Spanish this time, but a low murmur that I could not make any more sense of than I had the rushed torrent. After a time he took the headset from his ear, pressed it against his chest and spoke to me in a near whisper.

“Take this fuckin’ gun, Amigo.” He handed me the gun that was all splattered with gore and he pulled a second one, equally messy, from his coat pocket. “Watch our backs, blanquito” he told me.

I suppose I could have shot the Mexican and gone free, but I never had the time to do it. I didn’t even have the time to think about doing it until later on.

As I stood there I heard the suck of rubber against the asphalt, the way it will when the road is really hot. And the morning was hot, the road hotter, the way it will sometimes get in the desert.

The car slowed and pulled into the station. I saw none of that, but only perceived it from what my ears told me. A short conversation in Spanish between someone in the car and probably the thin man with the greasy-black hair wrenching on the Plymouth, and I knew that someone would be coming around the side of the gas station in a matter of seconds.

The Mexican heard the same things. He hung up the phone and put one finger to his lips, lurched his way back over to the truck and leaned against the front of the grill for support.  His gun pointed over the hood. Not knowing what else to do I slipped back behind the passenger door and followed suit.

“We should be good… Don’t just start killing… But you be ready, ’cause you never know, muchacho.”

Three of them came around the corner. Two men I hadn’t seen, and the greasy-haired thin man. He stopped short when he saw the guns aimed at him.

“Dios Mio,” he stuttered.

“Vamos,” the Mexican said. The greasy-haired thin man slipped backwards and then disappeared around the corner. The other two, hard eyed older men, stood their ground. No weapons in their hands.  Silence held for what seemed a long while.

“Well, you got it,” one of the oldsters asked.  It came with such a thick accent that I had to take the time to figure out what he’d said…  “Chew gat et?”

The conversation switched to a quick spate of Spanish then. That went back and forth between the two men and the Mexican for a few minutes and then silence came back so hard I could hear a bird calling in the distance: The sound of a big rig on the highway, and that was a few miles away. One of the oldsters nodded, turned, and walked away. He came back around the corner of the building a few minutes later with two large duffel bags and tossed them on the ground between us. They slid a couple of feet towards us and then stopped in front of the truck.

“Get them bags, amigo,” the Mexican told me.

I looked at him like he was crazy, but of course he was crazy, and there was nothing I could do except come around the hood, a pistol in one hand, eyes on those two older men.

I stopped by the hood when I suddenly realized that I had a problem. I could not pick up both duffel bags without putting the gun away. I debated briefly, stuffed the gun into the waistband of my pants and picked up the bags.

“In the cab,” the Mexican said. I Levered the door of the cab open and set them inside. “Strip off that tarp.”

The tarp came off and the two men came forward and lifted out the suitcases. The Mexican and the two others stared at each other for a few moments, then the oldsters walked away. I watched them turn the corner and they were gone.

I started to get back into the truck when the Mexican wagged his head and put one finger to his lips. I pulled my gun back out, scared to death. It was maybe a second after I got the gun back in my hand that the two came back around the corner ready to take us out.

I shot first. Unintended. Pure reaction. The gun was in my hand and happened to be pointed in that direction and I fired out of reflex. One of the oldsters heads exploded. Something tugged at my collar, and then the Mexican dropped the other guy. A second… Less than a second and it was over. The silence didn’t come again, this time there were sounds in the silence. The hound dog up and baying. Excited voices in Spanish somewhere close by.

“Now we go,” the Mexican said. “Now we go, Amigo.”

I needed no coaching. I was in the truck and backing out of the gas station fast. The rear tires hopping and screeching on the pavement. A black Caddy sat on the tarmac, just past the pumps, engine idling. The doors hung open.

“Stop!… Stop!” The Mexican yelled. “Get them bags back!”

I stalled the truck stopping without pushing the clutch in, ran to the Caddy and got the bags along with two others from the back seat. I threw them all into the back of the truck and I had started back to the driver side when the Mexican shot.

I didn’t think I just hit the ground and I didn’t come back up until the Mexican began cursing at me to get back in the truck. I looked back at the gas station when I did. The man with the greasy-black hair lay sprawled in the open stall. A shot gun off to one side. The hound dog stood stiffly, head in the air, howling. Blood ran from the man’s body toward a floor drain. Voices raised in Spanish, loud, somewhere close by. And the Mexican yelling at me. I threw myself into the cab, got the truck started and got out of there fast. And here I am now running across the desert heading to Mexico.



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