DROWNING IN A SEA OF MARIJUANA - PAPERBACK

SCREAMING BATFISH BLUES

SNORTING THE DEVIL'S DANDRUFF

SAILORS SHOOT HORSE! DON'T THEY?

Monday, December 9, 2013

DO IT FOR YOUR COUNTRY

by

Smokey Dafino



Chief Petty Officer (Retired) Jerome Wyatt rolled his vintage, in manufactured year only, Plymouth Valiant to a stop in the driveway of his run down three-room house. The dump was located in a rather shitty suburb of San Diego known as National City. He had bought the place after buckling under the constant bitching and nagging of his second wife, Mi Mi, who had insisted that it had always been a dream of hers growing up as little girl in Manila to own a house of her own. 

Mi Mi had not only been the Chief’s second wife, she had been his second Filipino wife. Lois was the name of his first bride and it had taken her only six months to divorce his scrawny carcass after her feet hit American soil. She had taken to dancing and giving blow jobs in the titty bars in downtown San Diego until her unfortunate accident of taking a tumble off the third floor balcony of her and the Chief's downtown apartment. Charges against the Chief, by the way, were never filed. Just another dead whore. 

Lois currently resided in a nursing home, and when she wasn’t fading in and out of her semi coma, she often regaled the other residents with her tales of working the bars of the P. I., where she had entertained the visiting sailors by blowing smoke rings and picking up pesos with her snatch.

It had taken Mi Mi two years to leave the Chief after he had married her on his sixth West-Pac cruise to the Philippines. Actually he had kicked her out after coming home early one evening from the enlisted man’s club and found her being hammered into the living room sofa by a burly Yeoman Third Class. A fucking Yeoman of all things! But a Yeoman who had punched the Chief so hard in the nuts that he hadn’t been able to report to work for three days after. Mi Mi had moved out and in with the Yeoman, leaving Wyatt with his trusty rusting Valiant and the house, in a neighborhood that was quickly turning into what could best be described as white trash shit.

Wyatt had just recently retired from active duty after twenty five years in the Navy. He left with a pension, a huge problem with alcohol, two lungs plugged up by tar and nicotine, two alimony payments, and a hankering for sex with people under the normal age of consent.

That problem couldn’t be blamed on the Navy however. Wyatt had that problem when he joined the Navy and was in fact was one of the reasons he had enlisted in the first place. Growing up in Mason City, Iowa he had always known that his tastes where different from normal people and he needed to find places that would cater to his different kinds of needs without the pesky interference of law enforcement types. The rednecks of his hometown would not only not understand his needs but would most likely beat him severely and then imprison him, if not worse. But Wyatt was a student of exotic pornography and he discovered these needs could be met in the back alleys and rooms of faraway places like Bangkok, Amsterdam, and the Philippines. Not quite legally but damn near. So he had enlisted and had wound up loving every minute of it.

He had been successful beyond his wildest dreams in his Navy career. Supervised of hundreds of men, drank the finest liquors, traveled all over the world, and had had all sorts of deviant sex with an enormous amount of young males and females in all corners of the globe. 

Mi Mi and Lois had been so attractive to him because of their androgynous looks and he had thought that bringing them home with him would be the best of both worlds but that obviously had backfired on him. Still, Chief Wyatt considered both his life and career a huge success. Mason City, Iowa could kiss his fucking ass!

The only downfall with his retirement is that it cut off his easy access to young sexual partners. Flights overseas were very expensive and his budget just couldn't handle it. People were not as understanding in this country, so he had been relying recently on his enormous collection of 8 mm film, magazines, Polaroid snapshots, and video tapes that were purchased via the mail and which came from overseas. More recently he had discovered that the Internet could more than satisfy his needs. Once the Chief had gotten over his initial reluctance to buy a computer and jump into the joys of cyber porn, he couldn’t get enough. At this very moment he was in negotiations with a sex broker in the Netherlands to set him up for a two week fun filled vacation full of boy and girl toys that was sure to drain his bank account.

Wyatt shuffled slowly up the busted up sidewalk to his front door, all the while ignoring the taunts of "needle dick," "bugfucker,” and "homo" from the teenage boys of the black, burly and often surly marijuana dealer who lived across the street from him. He had made the mistake of complaining about the volume of their car stereo and their constant insults to their no good goddamned father and had been paying for it ever since. 

It took him almost a full minute to get his front door open. He had been boozing all afternoon long at the Chief’s club and between the liquor, trying to get his keys in the door, and balancing his bag of groceries all at the same time, he felt practically winded when he finally got the door open. A health nut the Chief was not.

The interior of the house was as shitty as the outside. It was decorated with cheap furniture bought at the base second hand store and smelled of generic liquor, overflowing garbage, stale smoke, and beer farts. On his way to the tiny kitchen he passed the most expensive item in the house, his new computer, an iMac, and noticed that he had left it on all day. Funny, he thought he had remembered shutting it off prior to the leaving for the club. His memory must be going south with the rest of his body.

He put his weekly staples away in the kitchen. Three cartons of Camels, loaves of white bread, instant coffee, Velveeta, Spam, bologna, chips, diet generic cola, and of course, a half gallon of whiskey. The cheapest shit they had on the counter. He had survived on this diet for almost his entire naval career.

“You live like a fucking pig, Chief.”

Wyatt whirled around and almost fell over from the combination of vertigo and flat ass fear. Standing in front of him in the doorway of his kitchen and aiming a military issue .45 caliber Colt Commander at the Chief’s head was an enormous muscular man who was wearing silver wrap around shades, shorts, and a Gold’s Gym “San Diego” t- shirt. His hair was bleached snow white and worn in a semi-mohawk fashion. Wyatt had to clamp down tightly on his sphincter for fear of shitting his pants.

“Who are you?” he barely stammered out.

“Trouble with a capital fucking T. That’s for sure, dipshit. Now put your dick skinners in the air where I can see them and move into the living room. Real slow now. That’s the boy.” He gestured the Chief towards the door with a wave of his pistol.

Wyatt moved into his living room and sat down on the couch without being told to. He had to or his legs would have given out they were shaking so badly. The intruder pulled up a chair and sat across from him.

“You don’t have any idea what this is about, do you? You little prick!”

Wyatt didn’t say a word, just shook his head. It was all he could do to keep from throwing up much less speaking.

“The short version of the story is that you’re a pervert and need to be permanently wiped off the face of the fucking earth so let's cut out all the bullshit.” The man grinned at him.

The Chief thought he was going to pass out but he had to do something. And fucking quick! This was no goddamn time to lose control here! Think, man! Think!

“I have no idea what you are talking about.” That was the best he could manage considering the circumstances.

“Then what do you call that box full of porno I found in the hidey hole inside the closet of your bedroom and those files of naked kids in your computer? Which you may also be interested in knowing that I erased from your hard drive using this handy little software kit that I brought along with me." Mohawk shook his head in disgust. "Man, you are one sick fuck. How can you look that shit?”

Wyatt looked at him quizzically. “If your a fucking cop why did you erase my files?”

The big man leaned his head back and roared with laughter. “A cop? You think I’m a cop?

The Chief was now on panic overload. “If your not a cop, then who the hell are you?”

He removed his sunglasses and looked the Chief in the eyes. “Have you ever seen Apocalypse Now? I'd be surprised if you hadn't. Old Navy fart like you must have seen it a dozen times.”

Wyatt nodded weakly.

“Well, Chief, just like old Marty Sheen said in the movie. I’m been sent to terminate your command.”

“What the fuck for?” Wyatt shrieked.

“Actually just you boning all those kids would do it alone for me but you’ve got different problems. Some folks with a shitload of muscle want you out of the scene.” Mohawk leaned down into his gym bag and pulled out a manila folder, set it down on his massive thighs, and paged through it.

“In twenty five years of service you only had one shore duty stint, the rest was at sea. Jesus Christ! Your either one ignorant motherfucker or just plain stupid. But anyway, your one stint on shore duty was as an Admiral’s personal driver, gopher, booze buddy, and overall bootlicking flunky. An Admiral Callaway. Correct?”

Wyatt nodded his head weakly.

“Well, dipshit, as you may or may not know, it doesn’t matter, your old buddy has now retired and is quite active and successful in politics. He is in fact being groomed for the big time. He’s got it all going for him. He’s charismatic, intelligent, and best of all, he’s black. Plus the President himself just loves his sorry ass. The man is definitely going places.”

“What’s this got to do with me?” Wyatt croaked out.

“What’s it got to do with you? What are you, boy? A fucking retard? You think the higher ups want to put Callaway in Washington, playing grabass with the President everyday and all of a sudden the media stumbles onto the fact that his old driver and drinking buddy from his Navy days is a big time fucking child molester? Holy shit! They’d have a field day!”

“But how would they know? How do you know?” 

Chief Petty Officer (Retired) Wyatt was close to crying for the first time since the family dog died when he was ten years old. His dad had stomped it to death one night in a drunken rage after the Hawkeyes had failed in a Rose Bowl bid.

Mohawk pointed to Wyatt’s computer. “By that, you dumb shit. Your dirty little secrets have been traced by that. Did you actually think that when you were corresponding with those freaks over in Europe that you were on some sort of secured line? The Internet is a fucking party line. The FBI is on to your ass. Your sex broker from Amsterdam is an agent, you dumb bastard! Plus your ex is a loud mouthed bitch when you drop a little green her way. Soon as she was paid off the feds pulled her green card and she was put on the first flight back to Manila. She’s probably turned a couple dozen tricks by now.”

Mohawk chuckled softly as the Chief bent over with his face in his hands and sobbed. “By the load of shit I found in your bedroom and on your computer I would guess that you would almost make the FBI’s top ten list. If I had the time I'd love to dig around in your basement or out in the backyard. I've got a gut feeling there are some little secrets buried around here. You seem to fit the profile. Who knows what I might find?” He paused for a little dramatic effect. “But I’ve got a way out of this for you, Chief.”

Wyatt looked up, teary eyed. Was there some hope here yet? Maybe he could pay this big son of a bitch off. He didn't have much money but he'd gladly sign his pension over to him if he had to. Money, yes! He'd offer him the Amsterdam trip money.

“How? I’ll do anything. I have some money.”

“Money? Shit! I'll take your money if I want. No, Chief, you're gonna have to do yourself.”

“What the hell do you mean?”

Mohawk rolled his eyes. “Damn, boy, you are a retard. Kill yourself! I’ll give you two ways. You can hang either hang yourself or OD on pills and booze. I’ve got the pills. The bottle even has your name written on the prescription. Straight from Balboa Naval Hospital. That will probably be the easier way. Don’t you think?”

Wyatt stared in horror. The couch cushion underneath him turned wet.

The big man went on. “They really want your ass. They even had someone put a consultation in your medical record saying you were being treated for depression and the pills are actually prescribed.”

Wyatt finally spoke. “I’m not gonna do it. You’ll have to kill me.”

“Well, I can sure do that. In fact before you interrupted me so rudely I was going to give you that option. This .45 I have was actually taken from your last ship and reported stolen. I’ll just take it and jam down your throat and blow your brains out. No one will notice for weeks. Your mail doesn’t even get delivered here. You have a post office box for all your dirty little secrets. Your neighbors hate you. By the time someone does notice the stink the evidence will be minimal. The cops won’t care anyway. Your just another retired alcoholic military puke who couldn’t handle the civilian world.”

Mohawk reached into his gym bag and set the prescription bottle along with a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label on the coffee table.

“Look at that. I’m even treating you to a good bottle of hooch for your final hours.”

The Chief couldn't or wouldn't answer him.

His assassin cracked the seal on the bottle on poured a stiff shot into a glass. 

"Do it, Chief. Do it for your country. Hell, man, it's better this way. If the cops arrest you it's going to be a shitload worse for you. Do you know what they do to child molesters in the joint. It ain't fucking good I can tell you that."

He handed the glass and the bottle of pills to the Chief.

Dying by booze and pills in real life is a lot different than in the movies. You just don't slip off into a peaceful little nap. Wyatt had quite a tolerance to depressants from years of hard core drinking so it took almost the entire bottle of Johnny Walker along with two bottles of Budweiser to wash down the bottle of barbiturates. Along the way the dumb shit began to cry and confess his life’s regrets to his hit man who was busy trying to watch NORTH DALLAS FORTY on HBO, while relaxing in the Chief’s easy chair.

By about midnight it was over. Wyatt had gone into a series of convulsions and had barfed all over himself, but was now laying quietly on his couch. Mohawk packed up the Chief’s massive collection of porno in two large cardboard boxes, wiped the place down for prints, and then checked and double checked Wyatt’s pulse. He pulled out a cell phone and dialed in a number.

“It’s over. Come get me.”

Exactly one half an hour later his phone vibrated on his hip.

“Go ahead.” he answered.

“All clear?”

“Clear. Come on in.”

“One block away. Out.” The phone clicked off.

He peeked out the curtain and saw the black van roll into the driveway with its lights off. The driver got out and walked briskly up the sidewalk and walked in the front door. Without saying a word the two men picked up the boxes of smut, turned the heat in the house on high, walked out the front door, put the boxes in the van, gave the area a quick look around, got in the vehicle and drove off.

Mohawk reached into his gym bag and pulled out a mirror, a switchblade, and a little brown bottle. He tapped a small amount of white powder out of the bottle onto the mirror and cut two thin lines with his knife. The driver glanced over anxiously while his passenger took a gold tube hanging from a chain around his neck and snorted both lines up.

Mohawk smacked his lips and leaned his head back. “Tasty. Pure Bolivian flake. Those Coast Guard boys sure take care of us, don't they?”

The driver grunted. “I could sure use a taste of that.”

“You know the rules, buddy boy. Drivers cannot indulge.” Mohawk wagged his finger at him.

He rummaged around in his bag once more and pulled out a silver cigarette case. He popped it open and fired up a joint of Colombian Gold.

“Enough, goddamn it.” The driver yelled.

His passenger chuckled. "Suffer, bitch."

The drove in silence until they turned onto Harbor Boulevard.

“Pull over at the next deserted parking lot." The van swung in.


Mohawk got out and quickly broke down the .45 and threw all the individual parts as far as he could out into the bay and then hopped back up into the van. The driver pulled out and headed towards the San Diego Naval Station.

"Any problems in there?"

"No, dude. Went like clockwork."

The van was pulling up to the sentry at the naval station. The Marine guard popped to attention and saluted the blue officer’s sticker on the van. They rolled on in silence until they pulled up to a plain cinder block building. The driver honked the horn once and the garage door began to go up. The van pulled in and the door closed behind it.

They were inside the burn room facility where all the base classified material was disposed of. The furnace was cranked up and burning red hot. There was no one inside on the floor. The two men got out of the van and walked the two boxes of porn over to the open door of the furnace and threw them in along with their cell phones. The driver put on a face shield and raked the boxes apart with a long metal rake. The heat was incredible and the boxes and their contents were reduced to cinders and ashes within minutes. When they jumped back into the van the garage door began to open and they pulled out into the night.

Once more they drove in silence until they reached the passenger’s motel.

“Two hours and I’ll be ready.”

Mohawk walked into his room, stripped down, and went into the bathroom. Taking an electric clipper he shaved his hair down close to his scalp and began to cover the remaining burr with a men’s hair dye. After showering, he changed into a Marine Corps bulldog t-shirt and a pair of faded Levis. Glancing into the mirror he now looked like a jarhead out on the town. He then put all of the clothes he wore on the job into a plastic garbage sack along with the room drinking glasses and anything else disposable that he might have touched and put the garbage sack in his gym bag. He then busied himself wiping down as many areas of the room as he could with a towel. Satisfied, he sat down and cracked open a ice cold pint bottle of Guinness to await his ride to the airport.

The driver was there two hours on the dot. Warren Zevon was singing softly on the stereo about lawyers and guns and money and the hit man leaned back and closed his eyes. When he opened them they were already parked at the unloading zone of the airport.

"Well, Jimmy, I guess you better take this off of my hands," he handed the driver his coke vial and remaining joints, "Don't want to get busted carrying on a goddamn airline. Wouldn't that be the shits after what we were up to tonight? The bosses would be certainly pissed." 

The driver slapped him on the shoulder. "Thanks, Jake. You take care. It's always a fuckin' good time working with you. Give me a call next time you're back in town. I'll have the wife set you up with her sister. Man, the broad is hot! We'll get a babysitter and we can all hit the town."

The two shook hands. "I'll do that, Jimmy. Soon as I take care of this business over in Pearl Harbor. I got some leave coming and I sure as shit could use a vacation. Counting tonight, the hit in Orlando, and this one coming up in Oahu, I'll have done three jobs in just under a month and a half. I'm wiped. What the fuck, at least the weathers been good."

He jumped out of the van and walked inside the terminal and headed directly to the men’s room where he stuffed the garbage bag from the hotel down deep into the trash and covered it with used paper towels.

He had just enough time to buy a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and a USA TODAY before catching his flight out of San Diego.

After settling in his seat he was approached by a flight attendant who’s better days were behind her but who would still do in a pinch. His hormones were always racing after a job.

“Going to Hawaii on leave, Marine?”

He gave her his All American, God and country smile. "I wish. No, on business. Seems like it's always business these days."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

JUMPING OFF THE VINCENT THOMAS BRIDGE
BY
SCOTT L. ANDERSON


There was no other way to say it. He was a dirty agent.

But after over two decades working in the witness protection program, with less than a month to retirement, it was all going straight down the crapper unless this intelligence report that just came across his desk was accurate.

 
Agent Jerry Banks had always played the system. The skels that he lorded over had always been more than willing to cut him in on the action to keep from going back to the joint. The whole program was a joke. Did the idiots up in Washington actually think that you could take a career criminal, promise him immunity after he snitched off all his buddies, change his identity, move him to some backwater shithole, and from then on he was going to live a normal life like John Q. Citizen? Christ, what a joke!

 
But Banks had severely underestimated Jake Morrow. Morrow was most likely the biggest drug dealer that the U. S. military had ever called one of it’s own. A Navy SEAL stationed out of San Diego, Morrow had run a huge operation involving over fifty sailors stationed on the area’s many ships. Every time one of these naval vessels returned from an overseas cruise, one of Morrow’s contacts on board would be bringing back pounds, sometimes tons, of high grade marijuana, cocaine, or heroin. Morrow, a weightlifting fanatic, also had a big hand in the growing steroid black market. After earning an estimated 1.5 million dollars in only two years, Morrow had been busted on a sting operation and had been sentenced to fifty years at the Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks in Kansas.

 
Jerry Banks had cut a deal with Morrow to get him out of the slammer. To earn his semi-freedom he would have to roll over all of his major connections on the west coast. To keep his freedom, the ensuing busts would have to provide a sufficient bonus to Jerry’s retirement fund.

 
The problem, of course, was that Banks did this all without Washington’s approval. He had paid off the warden of the Disciplinary Barracks to keep Morrow on their roster while Banks carried out the drug busts. Agent Banks never planned on letting Morrow remain free. He also never planned on having a .357 magnum shoved into the back of his skull in the parking lot of Kansas City International only two hours after gaining Morrow's release. Banks had been forced to lay down on the greasy floor while Morrow's rescuer, a big cowboy redneck, had removed the cuffs from Morrow's wrists and had cuffed Banks to a Toyota. 
Morrow had disappeared into the wind like a fart in the wind.

 
For three weeks Banks had heard nothing. Then this little bit of information floated to him:

 
The USS Dixie, a destroyer tender home- ported out of San Diego, had been robbed one day before payday. Two white males had walked up the brow of the ship at approximately 0020 hours on a Monday morning, flashed their military I.D.s and had been allowed onto the ship. The finance officer had been on duty that evening and had been awakened by a knock on his stateroom door at 0120. When he answered the knock he was greeted by the sight of a large man with a rubber Richard Nixon mask on. Tricky Dick was holding a .45 in his hand. He was ushered up to the finance office, which was already opened and the financial officer, Lt. Perry Palmer, was forced at gunpoint to open the ship’s safe which contained the payroll for the entire crew. A tidy sum of over two hundred thousand dollars. The two thieves had packed the cash up in plastic garbage bags, wrapped them up with duct tape, and had placed the bags inside of two large scuba diving bags. Duct tape was wrapped completely around the whimpering body of Lt. Palmer, and he was locked up in the office and wasn’t discovered missing until the following morning when he didn’t report for morning muster. Two lines were found leading from the main deck of the ship down to the water line.

 
Banks had two suspects in mind, which he was not presently sharing with authorities involved in the active investigation. This thing had Morrow and his redneck buddy written all over it. Tony Hendrichs, an old marijuana dealing buddy of Jake’s, who had been busted in the sting, had been stationed onboard the Dixie prior to his arrest. Hendrichs had been a Gunner's Mate, and one of his duties on the Dixie had been the cutting and issuing of keys on the ship. 

It all fit.
 
If the civilian authorities arrested Morrow on this charge, everything was going to explode in Jerry’s face. He poured a generous amount of Chivas Regal over the ice in his glass and fired up another Marlboro while he dialed the number in Kansas. Colonel Morgan answered on the second ring.

 
“I’ve got an idea where Morrow is. What I what to know is if you can handle your end of the bargain if he’s where I think he is?”

 
Morgan sat up in the chair behind his desk. “What do you have in mind?”


“From what I can gather, he may be holed up in San Pedro, California. I’m planning on flying out there in about six hours, and if I find him, I’m going to try to bring him down with either a tranquilizer or stun gun. I’m going to have a flight crew ready to fly us straight back to Leavenworth.”


“I can lock him back up, that’s not a problem. But have you ever thought what would happen if he gets hold of the media about this? He has nothing to lose. I’d be fucked big time. And so would you, my friend.”

 
Banks took a hard hit on his Chivas. “Now you listen to me you gutless little shitbird. We can make this all go away if you don’t run around like a schoolboy pissing in his pants. As soon as I get Morrow back to your prison, you get him down to the hole and make it look like a suicide. Slash his wrists or string him up so it looks like he hung himself. But for shit’s sake don’t beat the son of a bitch to death and then say that it happened during a cell extraction like they did to that convict in Oklahoma. That’ll bring to much heat. You got me?”

 
Morgan was silent for several moments. “Banks, what happens if you can’t take him? What if he doesn’t come easy?”

 
“Then we’re double fucked. I’ll put him down and as soon as I contact you, report him missing on the next count. Report him as escaped. That’s all we can do. The investigation will be worse that Watergate, but it’s our only option.”

 
“Make goddamn sure you get him, Banks,” Morgan hissed in the phone.

 
“You just do your job, I’ll do mine.” Banks slammed the phone down and grabbed his intelligence folder.

 
The reports on Tony Hendrichs showed that he had purchased a home in the San Pedro area while he was stationed at the Long Beach Naval station. A records check also had shown that he owned a deep sea fishing rig that was kept in a slip in Long Beach harbor and was regularly hired out for charters. Pretty impressive for a E-6 in the military who’s ass was now sitting in the brig.

 
Banks, on a whim, had placed a call to a Naval Investigative agent in Long Beach who had done a quick stakeout at the house. Banks had given him a bullshit song and dance story about how he had information that drugs were possibly being dealt to sailors on the navy ships in the local shipyards by some shipyard employees living at that address. 
Although there was not a lot of activity around the house, the one occupant the NIS agent had seen was definitely yardbird material. Big pickup truck covered in NASCAR stickers and the perp himself was all redneck. Right down to the cowboy hat and boots. Fucking bingo!

 
Banks glanced at his watch. Might as well call flight ops now and get that flight going to Long Beach. No need to put off the inevitable. He slammed down another shot. The stress was getting to him, his bottle of liquor was getting dangerously low and he was starting to feel it’s effects, but a couple of toots of blow would help take the edge off that. He pulled out a replacement bottle of Chivas and threw it in his briefcase with the file, his service revolver, stun gun, and tranquilizer pistol.

 
**

 
A Lear jet that had been confiscated by the government from a high rolling smack dealer was waiting on the tarmac. Banks had taken a seat facing the rear of the aircraft so that he wouldn’t be observed cutting his lines on the side of his briefcase and taking shots of Chivas straight out of the bottle.

 
As the jet taxied toward the hanger in Long Beach, the agent checked the clip in his .45 caliber service weapon and placed it in the holster on the back of his belt next to his handcuffs. He put a spare clip in his jacket pocket along with a blackjack and a stun gun. He didn’t really want to get that close to Morrow. Better to bring the big moose down with the tranq gun. 
The jet stopped with a sudden lunge as it entered the hanger and Banks toppled over into the aisle. “What the fuck?” he shrieked.

 
The pilot looked out through the cockpit door. “Sorry, sir, I’m not use to the brakes in this rig. They seem to real touchy,” said the young pilot.

 
“I’ll show you touchy, asshole,” muttered the agent.

 
Banks gathered up his jacket and briefcase and headed towards the open hatch where the pilot stood by. “Uh, excuse me, sir.”

 
Banks glared at the officer. “What now?”

 
“Your nose, sir. You have something right here.” The pilot made a wiping motion under his own nose.

 
Banks wiped his nose with the back of his hand and saw a dusting of the coke he had been snorting on the flight. “Oh. Yeah. Thanks.”

 
A generic government four door sedan sat outside the hangar with the keys in the ignition. Banks fired it up and turned the dome light on to check his map for the directions to the suspected house. Had to cross the Vincent Thomas toll bridge over to San Pedro, follow the road into town, stay on the main drag for about seven blocks, take a right and head up the hill. Not too bad. If things went smooth, he could pop Morrow, cuff him and load him in the trunk, and be back here to load him up on the jet within a half an hour.

 
Banks reached over and took a pull off of his bottle. Shit! He quickly pulled the jug down as he met an oncoming San Pedro police car. Better cool it here. Wouldn’t be a good time to get a driving while shitfaced charge.

 
Banks took a right and started up the hill as he squinted at the houses and mailboxes for street numbers. There it was!


He maintained his speed and went down another block before he turned around and parked about a quarter block away. There was a pickup in the driveway. No lights on in the house, but he could see the blue flickering light of a television set through the closed curtains. He got out of the car, put the tranq gun down the front of his pants, and crossed the street and began to walk down the dark sidewalk. 
The house was just your basic rental shack. Square little dump with a living room in the front, kitchen in the back, and two small side bedrooms off to the side. Banks walked down a little further and crossed back over. Walking up to the side of the pickup, he took a quick glance in, nothing besides empty Heineken bottles. He reached in and opened the glove box. Just a couple of maps. He ducked down and and crept into the back yard. With his flashlight he looked into the two garbage cans. Same thing in there. Lots of beer bottles, pizza boxes and buckets from the Colonel. Nothing to show who might be inside.

 
The drapes were pulled tight on both bedrooms and the bathroom. The back door appeared to have had the window knocked out of it and had been replaced with a piece of plywood. He tried the door, it was locked tight. Banks crept back up the driveway to the side of the living room. The curtain to the room had about a inch to spare at the bottom of the window, just enough for the agent to attempt a look inside.

 
Sitting on a ratty sofa, while she drank a Mountain Dew and munched on some pretzels out of a bag, was a woman wearing nothing it appeared, other than a T-shirt and a pair of panties. She seemed to be alone and it didn’t look by the decor of the place that the house was occupied by too many people. The living room had a couch and old recliner and the TV, that was it. Shit! The agent’s instincts told him that this might have very well been a wild goose chase. Better check it out though. Banks pulled out his badge and walked up the front steps.

 
He gave the door an official rap. Through the door’s window he saw the woman stand up and walk to the door. She looked out out quizzically and Banks flashed his badge. She opened the inner door but kept the screen door latched. The TV was blaring. Some made for television movie produced for idiots just like her.

 
“Can I help you?” She was bleach blond, white trash, wearing a Raiders shirt that was cut down to show some ample cleavage and which barely covered the worn white panties she had on. Banks glanced down, he swore he saw a glimpse of her bush.

 
“Uh, good evening, mam. Sorry about the late hour. I’m Special Agent Jerry Banks. We had an attempted burglary at the Bank of San Pedro and one of the suspects has been reported in this area. I’m conducting a door to door check to see if anyone in the neighborhood has seen anything out of the ordinary.”

 
She glanced back into the living room and turned back and smiled at Banks. “Hang on a sec, I need to turn that damn thing down.” As she walked back into the living room, Banks noticed what a fine ass she had.


The television shut off, bathing the room in darkness. Sudden movement. The coke and booze had delayed and clouded the agent's response time. Holy shit!
 

Something was charging the door. Banks fumbled for the tranq gun as a fist exploded through the mesh of the screen door and drilled the agent directly in the nose. Banks felt the cartilage snap as he staggered back and fell down the short set of steps. Jake Morrow charged out the door, down the steps, and kicked Banks savagely in the stomach as the agent tried to regain his feet. Banks blindly tried to grope through the grass to find the tranquilizer pistol, but Morrow punched him twice in the kidney, and then reached down and grabbed Banks by the throat and front of his belt and proceeded to actually military press the agent over his head with a maniacal scream and then slam him down across the metal handrail of the steps.

Banks came down across the handrail on his sternum and felt something crack. A cloud of red was crossing his vision and he felt himself beginning to black out. Morrow now had him by the front of his shirt and was raining one handed punches to the agent’s head. Banks’ survival instincts were trying to kick in but all he could do was feebly try to cover his arms around his head in an attempt to ward off the blows.
 
“Get some, get some, get some, get some, motherfucker!’” Morrow was screaming. He let go of Banks who slumped to the ground and began kicking him savagely in the ribs. “Get up and fight me you fucking pussy,” screamed the frustrated Morrow.

 
“The police are on their way so you better just stop that right now!”

 
Somebody ran up behind Jake, wrapped his arms around him and twisted him away from Banks.

 
“Goddamn it, Jake! We gotta get the fuck out of here! The neighbors are calling the cops!”

 
Jake broke free of the grasp and took a wild roundhouse swing at the person who quickly ducked and moved out of Jake’s range punching range.

 
“Jake, stop! It’s me, goddamn it.”

 
Jake stopped in his tracks and stared at his partner and then down at the battered and bloodied agent, who was now face down in the grass and not moving. If he hadn't been stopped , Banks would surely have been beaten to death.


"Jake! Come on, goddamn it! I got over here as fast as I could. I got a call from my contact at the Navy base, he said this fucking cop had been calling and asking about the house! We gotta get the hell out of here!"
 
“I’ve already called them, they’re on their way!”

 
The two men turned to see a large Hispanic woman, her rotund body illuminated by her porch light, standing in the front yard of the house next door. “I’ve already called,” she repeated.

 
His partner jammed some car keys in Jake’s hand. “You go! Take the truck. Me and Angel will get our gear and take his car.” He pointed down at Banks. Turning Jake towards the truck, he gave him a light shove. “Go! We’ll meet you at the boat.”


Jake gave Banks one more solid kick to the rib cage of Banks for good measure, “You were lucky this time, you prick,” and ran to the truck.

 
“Angel, grab the bags and let’s haul ass.” He rolled the agent over to search for his car keys. Banks had his Colt .45 in his hand and reached up and jammed it into his chest.

 
The force of the slug blew him up and off of Banks and deposited him on his back . A large red blossom stained the front of his embroidered cowboy shirt. He never heard the screams of Angel and the woman next door.

 
Banks rolled back onto his stomach, pushed himself up onto one knee, and began firing wildly in rapid succession at Morrow as he was backing down the driveway. The sound of the firearm and the slugs hitting sheet metal and glass was deafening.

 
Jake dropped down sideways on bench seat of the truck and stomped on the gas, as the truck shot out of the driveway, across the road, and into a neighbor’s Camaro, setting off its car alarm. Jake sat up and threw the gear shift into forward and tore out of the driveway and down the street, taking out the side of a El Camino as he raced by it.

 
Banks staggered to his feet, popped out his empty clip, and slammed its replacement home. Looking down at his feet, he saw the lost tranquilizer pistol, but as he reached down to retrieve it, he was suddenly driven back down to the ground.

 
“You killed him you son of a bitch!” Bank was once more down on his back as the punches pounded down on his face from the ring covered fists of the enraged woman. Blindly reaching up, he jammed the tranq pistol under Angel’s jaw line and fired the dart. She screamed as she grabbed at her throat and rolled over onto the grass. Banks had put enough dope into that dart to bring down Morrow, a steroid monster. Shot into a woman Angel’s size would probably fry her brain and put her into a nursing home and eating Cream of Wheat for the rest of her days.

 
Banks once more staggered to his feet. Neighbors were pouring out the front doors of their houses and the agent had to fire two rounds over the heads of two men to back them away from his car. They turned and hightailed it down the street.

 
Banks jumped in his car and glanced up at the rearview mirror. There was so much blood across his head and face that he couldn’t even see where it was coming from. He looked like he had been in fire fight, as did the neighborhood. Bodies were sprawled across lawns, cars were destroyed, their alarms screaming as loud as the neighbors. The agent looked backed down and saw a man coming down the street carrying what looked like a shotgun. Banks threw the car in gear and floored it. The man tried to get out of the way but was knocked airborne by the force of the impact and crashed into the windshield, shattering it, before he rolled off the side onto the street.

 
Jerry kept his foot right down to the metal. He had heard Jake's partner tell Morrow to meet him at the boat. He had to have meant Hendrichs’ boat that was moored over in Long Beach. The fastest way to get there was the route that Bank’s had just used. Over the Vincent Thomas Bridge.

 
****

 
The truck was dying fast. By the time Jake hit the bridge, steam was pouring up from the shot out radiator and the engine was screaming like it was running out of oil. A slug must have pierced the engine somewhere and all the idiot lights on the dashboard were lit up. He was a quarter of the way up the incline of the suspension bridge when the engine gave up the ghost. Jake wrestled it over to the side and jumped out. He started running up the bridge.

 
Car were flying by him as he ran. You could hear the sounds of the police sirens all the way onto the bridge. Sounded like they had called out for reinforcements. Jake was almost to the top of the bridge when he looked back over his shoulder and saw Banks coming up the bridge.


Jake stopped running. He had no gun, his weapon was back at the house. He was defenseless out here all alone.

 
The sedan screeched to a halt. A bloodied and battered Special Agent Banks jumped out of the car and sighted his pistol at Jake. He was holding his side and gasping like a big fish who had just been pulled up onto a dock after a hard fight.

 
“Put your hands where I can see ‘em, motherfucker.”

 
“You look like shit, Jerry. Better get to a hospital.”

 
Jake put his hands on the top rail of the bridge and hoisted himself up, balancing himself by holding onto the one of the huge cable supports.

 
“I said freeze, asshole,” screamed Banks.

 
“What are you going to do now, Jerry? If you shoot me and I fall in the bay, how are you and Morgan going to explain how I wound up dead in Long Beach harbor when I’m suppose to be sitting in Leavenworth?”

 
Jake could see from his vantage point the blue lights of the police cars as they came racing down the turnpike towards the bridge tollbooths. Cops. Prison.

 
“Morrow, if you turn yourself in, I promise, I can make this all go away. But we don’t have much time. It has to be now!”

 
“Go fuck yourself, special agent!” Jake stepped off the bridge and disappeared into the night.

 
“Goddamn you, Morrow!” Banks ran as well as he could in his condition to the side of the bridge and looked over. It was total darkness. He could barely see the water. It must be damn near a two hundred foot fall to the waterline from there.

 
Banks could hear the screaming of the brakes and tires coming from the police cars, but he didn’t turn around. He kept staring down at the water, looking for any sign of Morrow.

 
“Let me see some hands! Right now!” 
Banks didn’t turn around or raise his hands. “I’m a government agent,’ he said wearily.

 
“I said show me your hands, goddamn it!”

 
All these years. All these years and it comes to this, thought Jerry Banks. Jumping like Morrow just did flashed through the agent’s mind. Fuck that! He was afraid of water and he couldn't swim.

 
Special Agent Jerry Banks spun and raised his pistol. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

ROBBING SKYNYRD’S GRAVE
by
SMOKEY DAFINO




The detective ground his Camel out in the ashtray and made a hand signal to someone standing behind the two way mirror. Within seconds a uniformed officer walked in the interrogation room and slapped a legal notepad and a cheap Bic pen down on to the table. The detective waited until the officer walked out and closed the door before he spoke again.
“Write everything down that you told me. Don’t forget a fucking thing.” He pushed himself away from the table and stood up. “Take your time. I’m going to check out your story. We’re going to check this Nate Kurtis guy out and see if he exists and then go over to that crackhouse and toss it. See if you’re feeding me a line of horseshit.” He lumbered towards the door.
“You want me to write down everything?”
The detective stopped halfway out the door. “Don’t write anything if you don’t want to. It’s your fucking funeral.” He walked out and closed the door.
The pen shook in his hand like a dog shitting out a big peach pit.

***

He just couldn’t keep his eyes off of that rolled up rug stuck off in the corner. The flies must have finally smelled there was a body in there because they were buzzing around it. They had been inside the house for a couple of days now and since there was no air conditioning in there it was starting to get pretty fucking funky.
“Are you listening to me, motherfucker?”
That snapped him out of his trance. “Uh, yea. Sure, man.” He stammered.
“It‘s called the Crossroads curse, man. It‘s a known fucking fact that anyone who recorded that song after Robert Johnson did wound up regretting it. Clapton, Allman Brothers, Skynyrd, the shit hit the fan after they recorded that song.”
“Which Robert Johnson?”
“Which Robert Johnson? Jesus goddamn Christ! You call yourself a black man and you ask me which Robert Johnson?”
“Yea, man. Which Robert Johnson? I guess your talking bout the singer. Shit, I‘m sorry I didn't know which motherfucker you was talking about. Christ!"
“Robert Johnson wasn't a fucking singer, dude. He was a bluesman! Everybody wanted to copy his ass. The problem with that though is the crazy motherfucker sold his soul to the devil to get what he wanted. Met Satan down at some crossroads here down south and they cut the deal. But what’s fucked about it is that he didn’t get famous until long after he was dead. He was banging some dude’s old lady and the husband poisoned his ass. And that deal with the devil is still going on.”
Jesus Christ, he was getting sick of this shit. He didn’t care if they had all the crack in Nashville in this goddamn house if it meant sitting here listening to his big asshole all day. And he very goddamn well knew who Robert Johnson was. Shit! He was born in the same town that the dumb motherfucker died in. Greenwood, Mississippi. What a shithole of a town that it. All these white boys running around thinking their asses are so cool talking about what a fucking influence Robert Johnson was to them. Listening to those old scratchy ass records of his. Including this dipshit honky sitting across from him.
“You got bats in your fuckin’ belfry if you think I’m gonna believe that line of voodoo horseshit. That sounds like some witchcraft crap my grandma would be babbling about.”
“I really don’t give a shit what you believe. I was there and I saw it happen and whether you believe it or not doesn’t mean a good goddamn to me.” Rising to his feet, his partner walked over and stood over him sitting on the ratty couch. “And give me my pipe and torch you freeloading asshole. I’m getting sick of you smoking up all the shit. It’s time you start carrying your weight around here.”
“All right, Nate. Calm the fuck down. I told you I was good for it.” 
“Don’t tell me to calm the fuck down! Get your ass off the couch and let me sit down there before I kick your crackhead ass.”
Even though he had only know Nate for just a couple of days, Bobby “Bugs” Grissom knew better to question the big man when he got in these moods, so rather than stirring up further shit he grabbed his forty of Olde English 800, picked his ass off the couch as requested, brushed away some crack vials and used up syringes with his foot, and sat back down against wall farthest from the rolled up rug.
Nate took a long hard hit on the pipe, closed his eyes, and eased his head down on the back of the couch. The son of a bitch had to have had the strongest lungs he had ever seen, thought Bugs. He could hold a hit off the pipe for what seemed like close to a minute. 
Bugs took a pull on his bottle and settled back against the wall. God, it was times like these he wished his was back on his grandfather’s farm. Away from this city, this dope, this booze, this big cracker who ordered him around like he was his bitch or something. He missed his grandma, she was the one that had nicknamed him Bugs. She said that when he was a baby that he always scooted around the floor like a little doodlebug, and the name stuck. And now she was dead and he was such a fucking lowlife he had missed her funeral.
Farm life had been safe but it had been boring, so as soon as Bugs quit high school he had moved off to the city. To a series of meaningless, minimum wage dead end jobs that almost always ended up with Bugs telling the boss, who was almost always white, to go fuck him or herself. And that was almost twenty years ago! He never had gone back to Greenwood once even though his grandma called and wrote least twice a month to try to convince him to come back. 
Now she was dead. When Bugs got the phone call, he had cashed his final check from his last job, a car detailing business where he had busted his ass all day long under a hot sun waxing rich asshole’s foreign cars for dog shit wages, and had gone down to buy a bus ticket for the ride back home. Along the way stopped in at a local joint in his neighborhood that was known for its cheap beer and as a hangout for local crack dealers. Crack was a taste that Bugs had recently acquired and he knew he’d need a rock or two to get him through the long trip home on the Greyhound.
His connection, Devon, was always sitting down at the end of the bar on the same stool nursing a Johnny Walker Red. But he wasn’t there that night. There was a big white motherfucker sitting there instead and no one was bothering his honky ass because the motherfucker was big! Scary fucking big! Hair down to his shoulders, no front teeth, and covered with scars. And he had a weird smell to him. Like an old goat. 
Bugs had walked in the bar and it was like Nate knew exactly what he was looking for. He waved a beefy arm to Bugs sit down alongside of him.
"I got what you're looking for."
"What are you? Some kinda cop?” asked Bugs. “And where the fuck is Devon?” 
“Devon is history. He took a fucking vacation. This is my turf now.“ The big man chuckled under his breath. “Do I look like a fucking cop to you?”
“Motherfucking cops come in all sizes and shapes around here?” replied Bugs.
The man nodded his head. “Fair enough. Tell you what. Take this rock,” he handed Bugs a single rock in a vial, “go out back and burn it and if you don’t think that’s the best crack you’ve ever smoked or you still think I’m a cop, I’ll walk out of this bar and you’ll never see me again. And as a bonus I‘ll give you this.” The dealer reached into his pocket and flashed a wad of hundreds.
It was the best goddamn crack Bugs had ever smoked. He wound shutting the bar down with Nate and then smoking crack in Nate’s ancient Cadillac until dawn. He didn’t even remember how he got back to his seedy apartment. He wound up missing both his bus and his grandma’s funeral.

A pounding on his door woke him up. Shit! It was already after eight at night. Passed out the whole fucking day. It was Nate at the door.
“Come on. I need a favor from you.”
“I don’t know, man. I ain’t feeling too good.” Bugs had replied.
“I don’t give a hot shit how you feel. You smoked a lot of rock on the house last night. Least you could do is help me out with a little favor.”
Nate stared into Bugs’ eyes and Bugs tried his best to meet the stare but the motherfucker was scary! And he did have a point. He had smoked a lot of Nate’s dope for free last night. Oh what the hell!
They drove the Cadillac down the alley of an abandoned old apartment high rise and parked at the end. Nate pulled open a rusty side door and the pair climbed up seven flights of a urine and shit infested stairwell that was littered with used up needles.
On the landing, Nate pulled Bugs close to him and whispered in his ear. “Fourth door down on the right. You knock on it. Give two short raps. Wait a second. Then give three more. The dude will open the peephole then.”
“And then what?”
That got the glare from Nate again. “Just fucking do it!”
Nate pressed himself against the wall while Bugs stood in front of the door. He gave two knocks. Paused. Then gave three more. 
The peephole popped open. “What do you want, nigger!” A partial black face peered out.
Nate pushed Bugs to the side shoved a gigantic pistol in the peephole and fired twice. Bugs puked all over the wall while Nate pried the door open with a crowbar. They found a gym bag with over a thousand hits of crack in it and about nine grand in cash.

***

“What the hell! Did you piss your pants?” 
Bugs snapped his eyes open. He had nodded off and his forty ouncer had tipped over and soaked his crotch. Nate was sitting up and glaring across the room at him.
“I’m talking to you and you nod off like a fucking junkie! I sound like a retard sitting here babbling to myself.”
“I’m sorry, Nate.” Bugs stood up and tried to wipe off the front of his pants as best he could. 
Nate leaned back on the couch.
“I was there, Bugs. I was there when the plane came down. I saw it all. And now I’m as cursed as those poor sons of bitches were on that plane.”

***

Mississippi is one hell of a good place to grow weed. Environment wise, it’s almost perfect. It has semi-tropical weather, is mostly rural, and is covered with a deep thick woods to hide the growing plants from the spying eyes of the DEA flying above. Even in the Seventies, bootleggers of corn liquor and moonshine were still running stills and the back roads of Mississippi, so many folks simply turned a blind eye to the longhairs who were just growing what they considered to be just a harmless weed that grew along they road anyway. 
Nate Kurtis and his older brother, Perry, had been growing high grade marijuana outside of Gillsburg for over four years. They had started up just a few months after Nate had come back from his tour of Viet Nam, and they were both well on their way to becoming very wealthy men.
Perry, with the benefit of a college deferment and a lazy eye, had managed to avoid both the draft and the war. But Nate, who was as healthy as a horse, and had poor grades in school due to his lackadaisical studying habits, wasn’t as lucky. Rather than waiting for the army to call, he had beaten the fuckers to the punch by enlisting in the navy, and had spent his one year tour in Nam on a PBR. A PBR in navy terms is Patrol Boat River. A PBR in civilian terms is a highly armed fiberglass boat, which runs up and down the rivers harassing the shit out of rice farmers all day long. Life expectancy is short on a PBR since you are cruising up rivers totally encased by jungle and are basically sitting ducks for heavy fire from the gooks.
But Nate had been lucky. Although he had been in his share of firefights, he left Viet Nam after a year relatively unscathed. But he learned a new trade while serving Uncle Sam. For almost six months, his boat had onboard a South Viet Namese guide, who in his civilian job, was a farmer of rice and a strain of high test marijuana called Buddha, which he traded to the young crew for beer, C-rations, skin magazines, and American cigarettes. On a two week R and R, while the rest of the crew had flown off to Bangkok for cold beer and warm pussy, Nate had gone with the guide to his village, where he had been given a crash course in the fine art of cultivating tropical weed.
Nate smuggled out a small packet of seeds in the mail to his brother who had grown a couple of the plants in his closet under a grow light. His response had been more than enthusiastic, so Nate began sending home as many packets of the seeds as he dared without getting busted by the military mail censors. 
When Nate returned home, the American taste for pot and getting high was running rampant, and the smoking public was demanding a better buzz than they were getting from the shit that was being smuggled up in rusty vans from Tijuana. When the Kurtis brother’s strain of Buddha hit the market the demand became overwhelming and their growing project quickly expanded. Within a year, they went from growing the weed in the basement of an old rental house to the couple of acre strip hidden in the woods on the backside of a large farm outside of Gillsburg. It took two grand a year for the farmer who owned the property to not notice what was going on a strip of land he never paid any attention to anyway. Shit, if two hippies wanted to give him two thousand dollars to hang out in a swamp full of snakes and gators, they were more than welcome.
The guide and his family had survived the communist takeover in South Viet Nam and he continued to route seeds to the brothers via a complicated scenario of mail drops. The first year the covert farm had yielded five hundred healthy plants of Buddha, each female plant produced close to a pound of resin soaked, mind altering buds. Rather than sell by the pound, the brothers had broken the buds down to quarter ounce, shrink wrapped gourmet packets and sold them individually. 
In the second the season the farm had yield over a thousand plants. Two years later, in 1977, after expanding the farm even further, Nate needed a calculator to figure out how many six to eight foot plants were growing on the farm. Perry had graduated with a degree in business, and with his savvy on handling a buck, and Nate’s skill with the farming and the plants, both men soon had very impressive portfolios. The farm was high tech now with an intricate irrigation system covered by a camouflage canopy, and surrounded by trip wires and claymore mines. The brothers traveled back and forth to the farm on eight wheel all terrain vehicles with wagons towed behind them. They were always armed. Perry with a pistol while Nate preferred his illegal M16.
It was late October and Thai had been the years crop. It was a strain of marijuana that required a slightly later harvest date, usually by now the plants had long been pulled and moved to a safe house for drying and further processing, but this year’s crop had been huge and it had taken several weeks to complete the harvest. It was always a sad time for Nate. During the growing season he lived almost around the clock at the farm while he tended to the plants, his only company being two pit bulls who helped him stand guard duty although they spent the majority of time chasing and wrestling each other. Nate slept in a tent but preferred a hammock if the weather was decent. He loved the quiet and peacefulness of the woods as he gently tended to the plants that he referred to as his “girls”. Harvest time meant leaving the woods, and worse, the cutting down of the girls. He almost felt like he was committing murder.
It was early afternoon and the brothers had been working quietly, the remaining plants leaves had already been cut down and loaded up in the van, but what remained from the plants had to uprooted and mulched and the soil had to be turned over to ready it for next spring’s crop. Nate suddenly bolted to his feet, scaring the shit out of his brother. Perry was well aware that his brother's time spent in Nam had finely tuned his senses and he respected this, so something was definitely amiss. More than once his instincts had steered them clear of danger or arrest.
Perry nervously looked over at him through his Coke bottle thick glasses.
“Nate! What is it? You hear something?” he whispered. Perry began to look around the woods nervously as he pulled his Colt .45 from his belt holster, expecting to see cops or DEA agents peering out from behind the trees.
Nate silenced him by holding out his hand. The sound was coming from above but off in the distance. It was some sort of aircraft but it wasn’t the sounds of it’s engines he was hearing. Nate had witnessed many aircraft crashes when he was in Nam and it wasn’t at all like you see in the movies, with the plane or helicopter shrieking overhead, it’s fuselage aflame, engines coughing and backfiring, and the pilot bravely fighting the wheel while screaming out for everybody to hold on.
This was a whistling sound that Nate heard. The aircraft’s engines had shut down and the plane was quickly gliding down to the ground.
Suddenly the plane was directly over them, so close that one of it’s wings brushed the treetops. It suddenly banked to the right and then moments later there was a crash so loud and powerful that the ground literally quaked under their feet.
“Holy shit. Did you see that?” Perry shrieked as he looked over to his brother. Nate was already running towards where the plane had gone down.
“Nate! Nate! Goddamn it, Nate! Where are you going?”
“Hurry the fuck up,” Nate yelled over his shoulder, “and bring the first aid kit! There’s gonna be a lot of injured people.”
Doing as his brother told, Perry grabbed the bag, and ran after him. About two hundred yards away he came onto his brother, the crash site was that close. Nate had knelt down behind a group of palmetto plants, he turned and placed his forefinger over his lips as Perry approached and squatted down.
For being the sight of a plane crash it was deafly quiet. There had been no explosion or fires.
“Could be a dope plane. There’s a couple of them staggering around that survived the crash and they don’t look like your normal run of the mill plane crew. If it is dope they’re probably armed to the teeth. Better hang back and check it out to be safe.”
“It’s a Convair. An old prop job.” Perry knew his planes. For a while the two had contemplated branching off into smuggling but after careful consideration they had deemed it too risky. “Fucker broke up on impact and it doesn’t look like everybody made it. You can see a couple of bodies farther over past the wreckage. One of them looks like he got thrown right into that tree trunk.”
Suddenly one of the crash survivors yelled out that he was going for help and took off running through the woods. Perry felt a chill run down his spine as he suddenly recognized just who he was watching.
“These guys aren’t smugglers, Nate! They’re a band! That’s Skynyrd! And that dude who just took off is their drummer! We gotta get the hell out of here. This place is going to be crawling with more fucking cops than we’ve seen in our lives in about five minutes!”
“Skynyrd! Are you sure? Holy Christ. We gotta help them, Perry.”
“Are you out of your fucking mind? Soon as help gets here they’re going to want to know just what the hell we were doing out here in the middle of this goddamn swamp. In about a day we’ll go from being heroes to getting buttfucked at Parchman state prison. Now let’s get the hell out of here.”
Nate hesitated for a second and then gave his brother a grin. “OK. You’re right. But hold on for a minute. Man, I gotta get a souvenir of this.” He dropped to his belly and low crawled towards the wreckage while Perry sat down and contemplated having a nervous breakdown. Minutes later, Nate was back, dragging a guitar case behind him.
“All right. Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Back at the camp they packed up everything they could fit onto the wagons, and with the dogs sitting on top of the loads, headed out in the opposite direction of the main highway.
They’d never return to the farm again.
Sirens could be heard off in the distance when they pulled on to the old farm road where they had their van parked. Nate loaded the weed and the dogs into the back of the van while Perry pulled the ATV on to the trailer.
Nate had just jumped into the drivers seat and closed the door when he heard the voice.
“Just hold it right there, asshole!”
Glancing in the side mirror, Nate could see his brother standing in the middle of the road holding his hands high in the air. He was being covered by what looked to be a sheriff’s deputy with a very large caliber pistol. Nate had been so preoccupied with getting the hell out of there that hadn’t heard the officer’s vehicle drive up. 
But he did remember what Perry had just said about winding up in Parchman Prison.
No goddamn way was that going to happen.
“You in the van! Step out slowly with your hands up!”
The cop was making a rookie mistake. He had moved away from his vehicle and was standing in the middle of the road with no cover and no back up.
Nate rolled over to his right and crawled over the bagged up marijuana into the back of the van, picked up the M16, jammed a clip in, flicked the switch to full auto, and without hesitation began firing at the deputy straight through the glass of the back door window. The officer was only able to get one wild shot off before he was cut down, his Smokey hat flying off as he took a head shot. 
The sound of a automatic weapon being discharged on full auto inside of a van was unbelievable and the pit bulls went nuts. For some reason known only to them they decided to attack the front seats, tearing them to ribbons. Nate kept his finger down on the trigger and continued to strafe the deputy’s body after the officer had gone down on to the gravel road, and he kept firing until the clip was empty and the rifle’s bolt slammed back and locked.
Nate dropped the M16 and slumped down against the wall of the van. Smoke filled the cargo hold and the smell of cordite hung in the air. The pits had stopped their assault on the seats and were staring at him with insanity in their eyes.
“Have you lost your fucking mind! Jesus fucking Christ! You just killed a goddamn cop! Do you know what they do to cop killers in this state?” Perry’s face appeared in the blown out window. His face was ghostly white and covered in sweat. 
Nate didn’t answer. He just sat there frozen against the wall while his brother jumped into the van and drove them the hell out of there.

***

“You’re a cop killer?” Holy shit, thought Bugs. This motherfucker is crazy as a shithouse rat. I gotta get the hell out of here.
“That was almost twenty years ago. What with the plane crash and all, there was just too much goddamn confusion. The investigation went nowhere. We were never even questioned.”
“But Nate, holy shit, a fucking cop! You know they must still be looking for your ass. How have you stayed on the run for so long without getting picked up?”
“Prison, man. I spent the next eighteen years after that in Parchman. Just like Perry said we would. That‘s the last fucking place they would be looking for me at.”

***

The brothers were paranoid and rightfully so. The van was driven out to a remote area, stripped clean, doused with aviation fuel and burned down to the frame. The murder weapon was broken down and thrown off a bridge in pieces into a lake.
The word on the street was that the cops were rousting any dope dealer they could get their hands on. After the deputy was found dead it hadn’t taken long to find the pot farm and the cops to put two and two together. Nate and Perry agreed that the smartest thing to do was lay low for a couple of months and then sell the year’s crop in bulk to a dealer in New Orleans.
Nate took off for a couple of weeks and went off to Memphis. He took the guitar from the crash sight, a Les Paul, and sold it to an up and coming country star who he often sold weed to. The singer had been heavily influence by Skynyrd and jumped at the chance to buy a piece of history from the crash. The singer never even got a chance to play the guitar. Two days after he bought it, loaded on a combination of booze and ‘ludes, he drove his car off a road and into a tree. He was pronounced DOA at the hospital.
Nate never told Perry about the transaction. 

When he returned from Memphis the two brothers worked day and night breaking the crop into pounds. They loaded the dope into the back of a rented U-Haul for the trip to New Orleans. Neither of them bothered to take a look at the back of the truck.
Twenty miles into the trip the cops used a burned out taillight to as an excuse to pull them over. Mississippi is not a state where you want that shit to happen to you. The load was big enough to get them both fifteen to eighteen in Parchman. They hired the best lawyer they could find. It didn’t do shit for them. They were both sentenced to the maximum.
The brothers were separated at the prison and put in different cell blocks. Parchman’s population consists mainly of black inmates. Perry had been to Viet Nam and could handle himself. Perry had been to college and could not. He became the prey of a bigger and stronger inmate.
Two weeks into their sentence, Perry tried to hang himself. It didn’t quite take. He wound up busting his neck but survived if you could call it that. By the time the guards found him his supply of air had been cut off too long. Perry was now basically a vegetable. He’d spend the rest of his life in a state hospital where attendants not much higher up on the IQ scale than him would take their turns on him.
Nate hunted down the inmate who he suspected had punked out his brother. He found him in the weight yard pumping out reps on the bench. Three hundred and fifty pounds like it was nothing. He waited until the inmate strained to push up the last rep then rushed forward and slammed the bar down onto his chest, crushing his sternum. He then savagely kicked the unconscious inmate in the head as many times as he could until he was pulled off of him by a guard who Nate turned on like one of his pit bulls. By the time it was all over the guard had a set of crushed ribs, broken nose, and a nasty gash on his forehead that took over fifty stitches to close. 
The kangaroo court held by the prison administration could almost rationalize the attack on the inmate. They couldn’t for the assault on the guard.
Nate was sentenced to segregation. The hole. For eighteen years he refused to back down from their shit. He spent almost his entire sentence in that single cell. 
He eventually lost touch with reality. He began to hallucinate and hold conversations with old blues singers that had spent their time in the prison decades before he had. On occasion, he’d throw a handful of shit or a cup of piss through the bars on to an unsuspecting guard. The goon squad would be called. Nate would get his ass beat and a shot of thorazine for his troubles, but not before a few guards took some good shots.
Time had not meaning for him. It was just his existence. 
Then one day the cell door to his isolation cell opened up and it was over.
The guard was huge. A man of few words. He had known Nate almost his whole career and despised him.
“I’m only gonna say it once, asshole. Get your shit together. You’re outta here. Your sentence is complete.”
At eight in the morning he was locked down in the hole. By noon that same day he was on a bus wearing a set of cheap prison issued civilian clothes with forty dollars in his front pocket.
Just like that.

***

Bugs felt like puking again. He took a hit off the pipe and washed it down with a hit off the bottle. Fuck, he had to calm down! Get a hold of himself! He couldn’t believe the shit he was hearing from this crazy fucker. Nate was sitting across from him and grinning like fucking Satan himself.
“You’re scared, aren’t you.”
“Fucking right I’m scared! I’ve know you two days and you get me to help kill this motherfucking crack dealer and then you tell me you’re a goddamn cop killer! Shit yea, I’m scared. I just wanted to go home!” Bugs screamed out.
Nate grabbed the gym and poured the crack vials on to the coffee table and split them roughly in half. He put one half back into the gym bag along with a fistful of hundred dollar bills. Probably more fucking money that Bugs had made in his whole shitty life. He tossed the bag to Bugs along with the keys to the Cadillac.
“Then take off, asshole. Run back to Greenwood. When you get back there why don’t you try to find that mother of yours. The one who ran off and left you to be raised by your grandmother. Ask her who her grandfather is. Who your great-grandfather is. I’ll bet his last name is Johnson.”
Bugs fumbled with the locks on the door and then stopped. He turned out around slowly.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Your great-granddaddy checked out too early. He hasn’t quite paid off his debt. It‘s time you help pay up.” 
The insane, maniacal laughter chased Bugs down the stairwell. He jumped in the battered old Caddy and took off for home. The home he wished he had never left. 
The cops pulled him over before he had gotten out of the city limits. The taillights were burned out.
He smelled like a brewery. The car wasn’t registered in his name and hadn’t been re-registered for years. He had a gym bag full of crack and hundred dollar bills. 
He was on his way to county jail.
When the cops opened the trunk they might as well just bypassed county and gone straight to the penitentiary.
Devon, his old dealer was in the trunk. Wrapped in plastic with his throat slit.
It took about a New fucking York fucking minute for him to dime out Nate Kurtis.

***

The detective strutted in and slammed the door.
“Your story is full of fucking holes, shit for brains!”
“What do you mean? You haven’t even read it yet.” Bugs handed the cop the notepad. The cop threw it down on the table without looking at it.
“I don’t have to read it. We get over to the crack house and part of your story checks out OK. We did find a dead crackhead rolled up in a rug. But there wasn’t anyone else in there. No Nate Kurtis.”
“Motherfucker probably took off! He sure as shit ain‘t going to sit around waiting for the fucking police to show up!” 
The detective ignored Bugs and flashed a signal to the mirror. Another plain clothes cop came in carrying Nate’s pistol, a combat knife, and something rolled up in a piece of dirty old canvas.
The cop slammed the pistol down in front of Bugs. “By the size of the hole in the crack head’s forehead I’d wager that this is the murder weapon. No prints on it. Wiped clean. Ballistics will check it out.”
“That’s Nate’s fucking gun!” Bugs screamed out.
The knife hit the table.
“This big fucking pig sticker is wipe clean too. But I’ll bet forensics proves that it’s the knife that slit Devon’s throat.”
“I’ve never seen that goddamn thing in my life!” Tears streamed down Bugs’ face.
The detective continued to ignore him. He laid the canvas covered object on the table almost reverently and unrolled it.
“But this is the most interesting item we found and we didn’t find it in the crack house,” he paused and looked up at Bugs, “we found it in your apartment.”
It was an M16 rifle.
“That’s not mine!” Bugs protested. “I don’t even know what the fuck that is.”
“That’s an M16 military rifle. The same kind of rifle that killed one of our deputies over twenty years ago. The case is unsolved but I think we just may have stumbled to a huge fucking missing piece of evidence. I think it‘s going to break the case wide fucking open.”
“Nate killed that fucking cop! It’s in my goddamn statement! Just read the goddamn thing! Nate wasted his ass! He told me!”
The detective opened up a file folder. He leafed through the papers and placed a faxed copy of a mug shot from Parchman prison in front of Bugs. A younger Nate Kurtis stared up at him.
“Is that the same Nate Kurtis that killed Devon Williams, the crack dealer, and who told you that he killed the deputy twenty years ago?”
Bugs nodded his head. “That’s him. Motherfucker has set me up.” His voice was a whisper. His tears formed a little pool on the table.
“Well let me let you in on a little secret, asshole. I just got off the phone with Parchman Prison. Nate Kurtis was doing a fifteen to eighteen year stretch for trafficking in marijuana. His first year in Parchman he severely assaulted an inmate and a corrections officer. He was kept in lockdown almost his whole stretch.”
The big cop stood up and walked behind Bugs and rested his meaty paws on his shoulders. “Nate Kurtis was found dead six months ago by the midnight shift officer. Somehow he smuggled a razor blade into his cell. Slit his wrists. ”
Bugs felt his bowels turn to liquid.
Bugs could smell the cigarettes and coffee on the man’s breath as he leaned over and whispered in his ear.
“It took me twenty fucking years but I’ve finally got your ass. You’re a lying piece of shit and I’ve got the evidence to prove it. I’m gonna make sure you fry in hell for this.