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Collected Short Stories

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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.


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.



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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Earth’s Survivors Life Stories: Beth


Copyright © 2017 Dell Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.

Cover Art © Copyright 2017 Dell Sweet

Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Dell 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.


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 person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2017 Wendell Sweet and his assignees. Dell Sweet and Geo Dell are publishing constructs owned by Wendell Sweet. 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 permission.

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


Plague Year One

The Nation

Cammy sat drinking coffee with Annie and staring down the length of the valley. It was an hour past sunrise. The sun had finally lifted past the mountain tops in the distance, and golden light had spilled into the length of the valley.

“I know you said it was this nice, but no way did you do it justice. Or I’m so damn jaded that I just couldn’t believe it.”

“If you live here, you take it in stride sometimes, I guess. But, coming back this time? Being away after being here, living here… I will never leave again. I don’t care,” Annie said.

The door to the main area of the cave opened, and Candace came out with Lilly and Patty. A second later Jana, Sandy and Bob stepped out. Tom followed shortly after, sipping at a cup of coffee as he and Bob talked. They both said their hellos, Tom bent and kissed Lilly, she had sat on the wall next to Annie, and then he and Bob started down the wide ledge into the valley below. Jana settled down next to Cammy.

Cammy lifted her eyes to Sandy. “How’s our girl?” she asked.

Sandy smiled cautiously. “I want to say okay… I took the rest of her forearm, pumped her full of penicillin. She seemed to tolerate that well. I think she’ll be okay.”

“They say anything at all about how long they think they’ll be?” Candace asked. She looked from Cammy to Annie.

Annie shook her head, as did Cammy. “I think though,” Annie said, “That things were going well. It seemed like things turned up fast… maybe…”

Candace nodded.

“What was it like?” Lilly asked. “I mean, with so many dead around. How did you manage? We didn’t have that to deal with, and we still barely made it here.”

Cammy shook her head. “I had no direct dealings with it. Bear and Beth… Billy, Mac, David to a lesser extent.” Her voice seemed to choke up for a moment. “Bear and Beth; those two have no fear. I guess we owe them a lot. They lead us together. That was something I thought would be bad, but they seemed to click.”

Candace nodded.

“The city… we came from the city. It’s bad there. I mean, the dead are everywhere. They’re different too. When we were in Pennsylvania, Bear and Beth told us that. The dead there were not smart like the dead in New York.”

The door opened, and Arlene stepped out onto the wide stone ledge and sat on the wall.

“The radio here tells us a lot. But it’s tough to believe some of it. They’re stronger than us? Some people are turning without being bitten?” Lilly said. “I know I should let you be… Ask another time. I don’t mean to push you.”

“It’s okay,” Cammy said. She sipped at her coffee and then began to talk.

On The Road

Bear and Tim

Bear sat silently with Tim as Mike talked to the young woman a few yards away.

“She’s had it pretty rough,” Tim said.

Bear Nodded. He looked over at the girl talking with Mike once more. “She was one of the ones that tried to kill you guys?” Bear asked in a near whisper. They were far enough away for her not to hear, but Bear pitched his voice low anyway.

Thirty feet away, Mike stared across the fire at the young woman. She met his gaze levelly, but her eyes were still red and puffy and told a story about a long, searching night. Her hands seemed at war with each other, the black fingernail polish chipped and flashing in the muted light.

“It was back at the campground,” Tim told him. “It started in Watertown. That’s where we came from, up north next to Canada…” He looked at Bear.

Bear nodded, and Tim continued.

“So these guys tried to kill us there. They did kill one of the girls that were with Mike and Candace before I was with them. Then they all out attacked us. That was when Molly and Nellie escaped from them. We killed a bunch of their guys when that happened. That put us right into it with them as far as they were concerned. Annie?”

Bear looked at Tim and nodded.

“They had made a deal with the people that had Annie. They intended to have her, but she escaped too. So they came to us to try to buy her back. The guy thought Mike would do it.”

“Christ,” Bear said.

Tim nodded. “Not long after that we got away, but they followed us.”

Mike spoke quietly. Too quiet to hear his words, but at his words Chloe’s eyes began to leak once again. Bear fought back the anger that was bubbling just below the surface.

Although there were no words for context, Bear understood she was asking how the others might feel.

“If they forced her, then it’s not her fault,” Bear said. He focused on a patch of scuffed dirt on the ground. Ronnie and Tim seemed to be bird watching. There seemed to be huge birds of prey everywhere now. Two of them floated high in the sky now.  He turned back to Tim but there was nothing to say. They would be calling the Nation on the Radios in a short while. Let them know they were on their way back. Let them know about Molly and Nellie. It would be nice to talk to Cammy, find out about Beth. He turned back to Tim once more.

“I’m sorry that your girl had to go back,” Bear said.

“It’s okay,” Tim said. “I’m actually relieved… Especially after what happened with Nellie and Molly.”

Bear nodded and the silence descended once more. He felt used up, out of words. He scuffed at the ground again with his boot heel, shifting gears, pushing the remembering out of his head, wondering what he would say to Cammy, whether Beth would be able to talk.

The Nation

“Hey,” Cammy smiled. “I thought you were just going to go on sleeping forever.”

Beth levered her arms down to scoot up in the bed and nearly banged the stump of her arm against the side of the bed before Cammy stopped her.

“Honey… Honey… Your arm. You have to be careful,” Cammy told her. She took her under the arms and lifted her gently back into the pillows.

“Oh God,” Beth whispered through her dry lips as she stared down at the stump of her arm. “Somebody chopped off the rest of my arm.” Her eyes came up to Cammy’s own.

“Honey, Sandy had to take it. It was infected,” Cammy told her. She gently pushed her back into the pillows. Sandy appeared over her shoulder with a wooden cup of water. Cammy took it and helped Beth to take a sip. “Easy, Honey, just go slow,” she told her.

Beth cleared her throat and took a larger sip. “Oh my God… I have such a bad headache. Kind of sick to my stomach too.”

Sandy took her hand, and her fingers rested lightly against her wrist for a moment, feeling for her pulse. “The stomach is a couple of things, most likely. I have no idea when the last time you ate is, but I would bet it’s been a few days. Pain killers and penicillin on an empty stomach are tough. I gave you a sports drink when I could get you to swallow, but you need real food. The headache is probably the morphine. You’ve been living on it the last few days. I can give you some aspirin for that.”

“She told me I couldn’t have aspirin,” Beth said as she looked at Cammy. “Said I had to have the Morphine.” She licked her lips for what seemed like an hour and then took another deep sip from the glass Cammy still held.

“She wouldn’t take it at first, true,” Cammy agreed with a laugh.

“Said I had balls… Thinks I don’t remembner… Rember,” she sighed.

Cammy laughed. “Remember… Remember, Honey. Yes. I asked you if you had balls,” she turned to Sandy and her arched eyebrows. “She wanted to take only aspirin after Bear took her arm off.”

Beth nodded. “I did. She talked me into Morphine, and now look at this… I woke up with the rest of it gone too.”

“Only from the elbow down,” Sandy said. “You’re lucky.”

Beth tried a lopsided smile on and then took another sip of the cold water.

“Listen, Honey, you needed the Morphine. You still do, really, and you can still have it if you want it. It just plays hell with your body when you’ve been on it a few days,” Sandy told her.

Beth took a deeper sip that was more like a real drink. “That is really good water,” she said.

Cammy and Sandy both laughed. “How about a sandwich, soup, broth? What do you think you can handle?” Sandy asked her.

“I think I can handle some more water,” Beth said.

“I’m sure you can. And you need liquid. I just want there to be some nourishment in it,” Sandy told her.

“Hot anything doesn’t sound good. My stomach is still off,” Beth said.

“How about some cooled beef broth?  Soup? Doesn’t have to be hot,” Sandy agreed.

Beth swallowed, took a deeper drink of the cold water and nodded.

Billy and Pearl

“Bill, Billy… William?” Pearl asked.

“Billy’s good,” Billy told her. “William makes me feel… too high class, I guess.”

Pearl laughed. “It’s not wrong to think proper of yourself.”

The two were walking slowly down through the valley. Billy looked around at the valley. “You came with them? Helped to build this? It’s awesome… really incredible.”

“I would love to say it is so, but no, I was here visiting family, in the states, I mean. I came across country with friends I only met them after the fact. I’ve been here about three months so far. I believe this place began in April. I arrived in June,” she brushed a shock of thick brown hair out of her eyes and looked up at Billy. “I did help to build the second and third barns. The rest has been catch what comes, for all of us really.”

“I could listen to you speak for hours,” Billy said. He blushed a second later. Pearl blushed too and looked up at the clear blue sky and then back down at the stone path they walked. “What will you do?” Pearl asked.

“Well, I’ll wait for Bear to come back. When we left, we really didn’t talk about it. I just don’t know yet.” He looked up at the sky and then back down to the stone flagged pathway. “He may not want to stay.”

Pearl nodded. “And if this Bear of yours decides to go, then you will go with him, I suppose. That man thing. All for one and one for all… follow you to the ends of the Earth?”

Billy laughed, but stopped when he looked back down at Pearl. “I…” He started. She smiled up at him, and he lost his words.

“I didn’t mean to do that to you,” she said. “Take away your words.”

He thought of a dozen retorts but said nothing for a second. “Well, maybe I would have said something dumb. I wouldn’t have meant to. I suck at conversations like this, Pearl.”

She nodded. “Is she your girl? Jamie?” She blushed harder. “You don’t have to answer; it’s really not my business. I’m sorry.”

“No… No… Don’t be sorry,” Billy told her. “Is she my girl?” He looked at her frankly. “No. Probably was once upon a time. In fact was… but I screwed that up, like a few other things I’ve done.” Billy looked away.

“Look,” Pearl told him. “Doesn’t matter. I pry too much sometimes. I know that about me. Come with me if you like. I have to make a patrol. Just the valley, foothills, takes most of two days to do. I have a truck with four wheel drive, a camping tent that I never use, and I go around and check all the perimeters. Boring, I suppose, unless you like the solitude… the mountains,” She smiled up at him. He towered over her by at least a foot. “I promise, no dead people, at least there never has been. Of course I’m looking for them though, aren’t I?”

Billy laughed. “Just like that?”

Pearl stopped on the path and looked up at him. “Just like that? What did you think, then?”

“Uh… I.”

Pearl burst into laughter, slipped her arm through his and pulled him forward once more on the path. “Rattled you. I did, no use contradicting it.”

Billy laughed after a second. “You did. You did,” he caught up, leaving her arm where it was. “So two days?”

“You’ll love it,” she told him.

“Okay. What do I need to do?”

“Not a thing. No one to say goodbye to?”

“No,” Billy agreed.

“Then we go.” She pulled at his arm. “Come on. I’ll show you the truck.”

The Nation

Beth sat up on the edge of the bed, got her feet under her and then stood. “Whoa,” she said as she sat back down.

“Slow, Honey,” Susan told her. Susan was on one side, Sandy on the other, Cammy anxiously standing in front. “Take a deep breath or two. Let the lightheadedness pass.”

Beth did as she was told, the lightheadedness passed, and she stood once more. This time her feet felt steady. Her stomach did not flip flop. All three of the other women hovered close by but did not attempt to help her. She laughed nervously and then walked to the door.

“Hmm. A little shaky,” Sandy said. “You feel up to an outside trip?”

“Oh, God yes. Please,” Beth said.

Cammy laughed. “She will never be any sweeter,” she said.

All four of them laughed. Sandy stepped ahead, opened the door to the room, and Beth followed her out into the main cave area.

Beth looked around as she walked through the main area. “I had no idea it was so big.” Her eyes rose to the ceiling some hundred feet above her.

“This is nothing, only the main meeting room. The passages go all through the mountain. It’s riddled with them,” Susan told her.

Sandy swept open the main door, and a cool breeze came in as she did. The four women stepped out onto the rock wall edged ledge and its view of the valley below.

Beth drew a quick breath. “My God, it’s so beautiful,” she said.

Cammy came up behind her and rubbed one hand across her low back. Beth turned and looked at her. “Anything else?” Beth asked.

“No. They’re on the way,” she told her.

“Cammy,” Beth started.

Cammy shook her head. “I know. He told me that he told you, and what he told you was the truth.” She smiled as she finished. Susan and Sandy slipped past them and walked over to the long waist high rock wall that had been built on the edge of the ledge. Beth looked pensive, but allowed a smile to float up from the depths of her worry. She made her way across the ledge and looked down into the valley.

“It’s so pretty,” Beth said. She breathed in the cool, fresh air.

“You are officially off bed rest,” Sandy said.

Beth smiled. Her eyes slipped over to her arm and the thick pad of bandage at the elbow. She sobered, but as her eyes swept back out into the valley, the smile surfaced once more and stayed. Cammy settled beside her and looked out onto the golden foliage of the trees and the tall golden-brown fields of wheat.

“I will never leave here,” Cammy said.

Beth nodded.

Cammy looked at her. “Do you think this can hold him?”

Beth shook her head, but the smile stayed. “I don’t think a woman or a place can hold Bear,” She said.

Cammy nodded her face a careful mask.

“Feel up to a short walk down there?” Sandy asked.

“I say, let’s go,” Beth answered.

“You get tired, say so,” Susan told her.

“She will,” Cammy said. She linked one arm through Beth’s good arm, and the four women started down the ledge that dropped down into the valley.

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By Dell Sweet

Copyright © Dell Sweet 2017, all rights reserved.

Additional Copyrights © 2010 – 2014 by Dell 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. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


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 person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2017 Wendell Sweet and his assignees. The Names Dell Sweet and Geo Dell are publishing constructs owned by Wendell Sweet. 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 permission. All rights foreign and domestic are retained by the Author and or his assignees.

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

Cover art Copyright 2017 Wendell G Sweet


Six months before:

Esmeraldas, Ecuador

Tommy Murphy and Jefferson Prescott

Jefferson Prescott stood quietly and sipped at his coffee. The house in Esmeraldas was his private escape. He could sit and watch the ocean, or travel into the mountains in just a few hours time, and Ecuador was such an easy country to live in: The people so happy with so little.

He owned a building in Manhattan, he owned a house in the hills outside of L.A., but this was his favorite place. This was where he did his real business, entertained and spent time with the women in his life, besides his wife and daughters back in Manhattan. This was the place where he bought his associates. Those that another man might call friends: In Jefferson’s world there was no place for friends. The luxury the concept didn’t exist.

Tommy Murphy stood at the rail a few feet away and smoked a cigar, looking out over the ocean. He was probably the closest person he had to a friend. The two of them had a lucrative relationship. Jefferson’s drugs and drug connections, Tommy’s organized crime connections. Between the two of them, they controlled almost everything that moved on the East Coast. They had tentacles that stretched all the way to the west coast, and inroads into the south that we’re starting to look like highways.

They both dealt in millions daily. Privately, they were probably two of the richest men in the world, but they were on no one’s list of who’s who, except a few specialized task forces within the world’s governments: Even they couldn’t touch them. They owned too many of their officials, too many of their agents were on their payrolls. They didn’t fight the task forces or special government branches the way the old syndicates had, they simply bought them. Every man really did have his price. And if that was too high you simply bought the man beside him, or above him, it was just as effective.

With all the deals they had made, and the millions they had amassed, nothing came close to what they had on the burner right now. Tommy had fallen into a deal on a tip, a way to collect on a sizable gambling debt, and the two of them had decided to take the risk.

Tommy sipped at his drink and then raised his eyes to Prescott. “Concerned?” Tommy asked.

“Unconcerned… It’s only money,” Jefferson assured him.

“Good,” Tommy said quietly. He reached into his pocket and retrieved a slim silver cylinder. A small red button, with a protective cap in the same cheap looking, red plastic covered the button.

Jefferson pulled a deep breath, audible in the sudden silence. From somewhere deep in the jungle of a forest that surrounded them a big cat screamed.

“Looks like nothing,” Jefferson said.

“I told the kid it reminded me of these little refill cylinders I used to have for my BB gun when I was a kid,” Tommy said.

“Jefferson laughed. “I can’t imagine that you played with anything that didn’t have a silencer and at least a ten round clip.”

Tommy laughed and then fell silent. “This is it, Jeff. Strip off the protective cap, push the button… The kid said it doesn’t matter after that… How close, how far, it will protect us.”

Infect us,” Jefferson corrected. “There is a difference.”

“Infect us,” Tommy agreed. “I figure, why not… We paid the big bucks for the rest of it, but this will start us down that path… Why not do it.”

“Why not,” Prescott agreed. “A sample? Just enough for two?”

Tommy shrugged. “He didn’t say… I depended upon the reports he smuggled out more than the first hand knowledge he has. He knows what he has seen, but he has not witnessed anyone come back… The reports detail exactly that.”

Jefferson laughed and shook his head. “Immortality.”

“Immortality,” Tommy agreed. He paused, stripped the small red cover from the slim, silver tube and pressed the button before he could change his mind. Nothing: He turned the silver tube back and forth.

“Maybe there should be no sound,” Jefferson said. He had braced for what he expected: A small cloud of vapor, a hiss, something to impart that magic the tube was supposed to contain.

Tommy raised the tube to his nose, but there was no detectable odor. “But did it do its job,” Tommy said so low it might almost have been to himself if he had not raised his eyes and asked of Prescott.

“The million dollar question,” Prescott said quietly.

Multimillion dollar question,” Tommy corrected. He stared at the container a few seconds longer and then slipped it into his pocket. “In for a penny,” he said.

“In for a pound,” Prescott agreed.

“You know Ben Neo?” Tommy asked after a few moments of silence, changing the subject to private business.

“Your best,” Jefferson said.

Tommy nodded and turned back to the rail. “When you find out who it is, tell me. I’ll have him take care of it for you. He’s good. Discreet. Fast.” He turned and looked at Jefferson. “Yeah?” he asked.

Jefferson nodded. “Yeah, I appreciate it. I’ve got Carlos on it. I’ll know soon. When I know, you will know. From my lips to yours,” he said.

Tommy nodded. He sipped at his drink again.

“I have that young woman you like so much coming over in just a little while,” Jefferson said.

Tommy turned away from the rail and smiled. “I could use the diversion,” he said.

Jefferson shrugged. “It’s what we do for each other,” he said as he got to his feet. “Enjoy yourself, Tommy. I am about to head back… Take care of a few things. I will see you at your place up in the Catskills next week?” he asked.

“Absolutely, Jeff, absolutely,” Tommy said. The two men embraced and Jefferson left the warm night air of the deck and followed his driver who was waiting to take him to the helicopter pad. Tommy watched him go and then turned back to the rail, watching the waves out in the sea, rolling under the moonlight.

“Sir?” a voice said from the doorway.

Tommy turned from the rail to look at Andrea Ivanna Zurita, the beautiful young woman who stood in the doorway smiling.

The Lita Situation


“Lita… Lita, stop, Lita: What are you doing?”

“I want you… I want you… I know what I’m doing,” Lita said.  Her lips fell on his, her body pressed up against his own. He had been okay until he felt the softness of her breasts pressing against him: The firmness of her thighs as they moved against his own thigh. Whatever he had held back: Whatever resolve he had, had, he lost. He felt it fall away as he pulled her to him: Tasting her; feeling her hands on his body.

“Lita?” he tried again, but without much resolve. He breathed it against her cheek as she kissed his neck, ran her hands over his chest, squatted and came level with his belt line. Her fingernails pressed against the fabric of his shirt, ticking downward, and she ran her hands across to stomach and found the catch to his pants, and then worked the zipper down.

“Lita… Think, Lita,” he said.

She took him in her mouth and everything flew away. Everything he had fought to say. Everything he had been afraid of. All of it gone. There was only the warm night, the girl, and the darkness.

She stood and lifted her dress, she was bare beneath: He picked her up and her thighs parted, coming around his hips and locking together as he slid into her. Her lips fell on his neck once more; his hands pulled her closer, drove deeper into her. He stumbled forward until the wall was at her back. She thrust her hips harder, and the last vestige of doubt, the last small piece of resolve, melted away: She came alive under his hands.

Two Days Later

Watertown, New York

Carlos and Gabe

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.

Three months before:


“It makes no sense to me, Carlos” Jefferson said. “How can you say there is no one when I know there is someone? When she talks about her lover to her friends? This man, or boy, or whatever he is, is so bold as to meet her right in my very own home… Not always, but she brags to her friends about it. I know I listen, but she never says his name: How can that be…  It’s like she is torturing me with this lover.” He looked to Carlos Sanchez.

“Carlos, you are like my son. I give you everything. Power, money, whatever you need. Whatever you ask, I give, Carlos, you know that…”

Carlos nodded. “I know, Mr. Prescott, I know,” Carlos said.

“So if you are as a son to me, I am like a father to you. How could you let someone do this to your father? It is as though I were naked; would you leave me naked and laugh about it as Hamm did with Noah? Or would you cover up my nakedness, as Shem and Japheth did?” His eyes locked on Carlos’ own.

“I would cover you,” Carlos said.

“This man has left me naked, Carlos: Exposed. So has she, and I will deal with that transgression too, but you must find this man: You, my son. You.” He nodded firmly at Carlos and Carlos nodded back.

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