I kill rich people 2, p.31

I KILL RICH PEOPLE 2, page 31

 

I KILL RICH PEOPLE 2
 



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“It’s not easy, but it sure beats the hell out of goddamned goats!” she said. “At $85 an ounce, we could gross a hundred thousand dollars, not even counting the extra shake. And it’s not like we’re robbing or hurting anybody.

  “You’ve always been a Boy Scout, but just think about it, please. You don’t need to worry about the law; state police don’t bother us, we’re small potatoes, and nobody will elect a sheriff who goes after the small growers. No way. People around here are all doing something or other outside the lines to make ends meet. Have to. Sheriff messes with growers, he’s liable to come home to a pile of ashes where his house used to be. Like I said, New Millennium Moonshine.”

  *****

  “Fine. I don’t care.” Mouse waved her arms as if to say it had nothing to do with her.

  “Mouse, don’t be like that. Six hands are better than four. With Johnny, we can get in the second greenhouse this year. That more than pays for itself.”

  “Whatever.” Mouse got up from the table, swung the refrigerator wide open and leaned her head inside, slowly coming back out with a can of PBR. XMercy was letting him get all up in their shit, this guy she hadn’t seen in more than twenty years, back when she had been around lots of guys.

  “Mouse, please. Sit down and talk to me. You’re my partner, in my life, in our business. He’s just going to work for us. We could double the crop. Buck and Lyle said they’d take as much as we bring them. Come on. It makes sense, you know it does,” XMercy said.

  They had both seen the flashlights at the bottom of the meadow, seen work boots tracked on the Mylar the next morning. Mouse included a shotgun purchase in their supplies list for the season, but saying she’d handle it and doing that were two different things. Diesel or not, Mouse might talk, but she had never walked the walk. Investing in a war veteran could be good insurance.

  “We’re treating this like business or we’re not doing this at all,” Mouse demanded. “We get a full crop in, he gets ten percent capped at ten thousand dollars. Works out over a thousand a week. If it rains all summer, we won’t see a decent return. That happens, he gets half. That’s if, IF, we do this. I’m not saying yes so you don’t say another word about this! And for Christ’s sake don’t tell him what we stand to make. None of his damned business.

  She stood up and said, “I’m taking the credit card, I’m driving up to Fayetteville, I’m getting on the library computer, and I’m checking him out before we decide another thing. You hear? Not a word ’til I get back here. We go over a background check and then, then, we decide.”

  “You can just go to Judy’s, use the computer there. Why drive twelve miles when you can drive two?”

  Mouse glared. “You go to Judy’s and it’s everybody’s business. You want private, you drive the extra ten miles.”

  *****

  Spencer had just left the single-wide after finishing breakfast inside it five minutes earlier. The legs were getting better every day, not ready for swinging a splitting maul, but steadier on stairs and secure enough that he could shift directions in a single stride, no longer having to put two feet down and baby his knees. He took the stairs fast, confidently, stepped inside the trailer then had to wait on his eyes. He didn’t think to knock before walking back in.

  All the months of low fluorescent lighting left his eyes slow to adjust between light and dark.

  When they adjusted, XMercy was standing in front of him. She was bare from the waist up, her wild hair clipped on top of her head. Both her breasts were inside the kitchen sink as she soaped her armpits. His eyes bugged wide before he turned away.

  “Same Johnny,” she laughed. “You’re still not over them! They’re just tits. No big deal.”

  He straightened tall, squared his feet, turned left-face and marched straight back out the door. He was still standing at attention when she joined him a few minutes later. She had let her blouse absorb the excess moisture, which left her armpits ringed and the cotton clinging to her breasts. Spencer lost his train of thought, nervously embarrassed. She had been doing that to him since he was a kid.

  “Is there, ahem, is there any place where I can get online around here? Check email?”

  XMercy crossed her arms below her breasts, forcing them out and forward. “Sure. Judy’s Café, there in the General Store, they’ve got internet. Buy a maple bar and ask Judy if you can use it,” she said.

  “Take the ATV. It’s not street-licensed, but nobody cares. By the way, if you have army clothes, wear them into town, would you? They appreciate service and it wouldn’t do any harm to let people know you’re staying here.”

  Spencer lifted both legs into the Polaris, pleased that he could do that without needing to grab his pants and lift his leg over the side panel. He had already stretched; he was now able to grab his toes and hold for a ten count; the thigh ached, but his back and arms felt limber, catlike. The left leg gave more trouble while he slowly worked into Tai Chi. Hammer with fist was still impossible, but repulse the monkey he had again, right and left, grace and snap, too.

  He drove the dirt road with the sunshine on his face, feeling good until he shifted onto packed gravel and felt suddenly vulnerable. No weapon, no means to evade. He didn’t even know the trails, he realized. Handing every advantage to the enemy.

  He still could make no sense of it all. The waterboarding, the isolation, how rinky-dink the prison turned out to be. No lawyer. No hearing. No trial. All those other cells…were there other prisoners in them? He had no idea who had held him prisoner or who might be after him now. How much more was going on that people didn’t know?

  Jesus, Captain, he was starting to realize. It might be worse than you thought. Maybe it is already happening. What if all those cells held people who disappeared? No arrests. No trials. What if more of that was going on right under everybody’s noses, right beneath American streets?

  He was on a sixteen-foot wide gravel road, dense trees on both sides. A perfect ambush location. He should have had a spotting scope, binoculars at least. Something. Don’t make it easy for them!

  Ahead of him the gravel turned to paved road, trees stopped. A fenced wrecking yard. No movement there. High points, elevations sixty meters above the town on two sides. Anybody who knew the job could be dug in there above the two-dozen buildings and houses sighting down on him and he’d never know it.

  “Just do it. Earn your pay, soldier.” How many times had he said that to himself? Fuck it anyhow.

  A kid wearing a bright red vest greeted him from the cash register at the door to the hardware store.

  “Café?” Spencer asked.

  The kid pointed down to center aisle to the back of the store. A nutty, deep scent of coffee wafted through.

  “We’re offering two keys for the price of one and a free keychain with an LED light,” the kid offered. “Pretty cool deal.”

  Spencer declined and headed down the aisle. A woman behind the counter held a red book in front of her face. Spencer saw a rough, wrinkled hand. Between the long fingers he read the title “Existentialism and Human Emotions.” Jean-Paul Sartre. He wasn’t familiar.

  “XMercy says you do great maple bars and maybe I can use your computer for a little bit,” Spencer said.

  One hand came off the book; a finger pointed to an old-fashioned covered cake plate, then to the plates beside it.

  Under the cover were thick maple bars eight inches long and three inches wide. A meal by themselves, butter-edged with a thick caramel-brown glaze. He was about to lift one with his fingers when the book smacked down against the countertop just as he saw the tongs.

  “How can a man be happy in a world devoid of external significance and meaning?” she read aloud. “Maple bars. Help yourself.” She had the self-assured voice of a woman who knew who she was and where. Piercing blue eyes, graying yellow hair that looked experienced rather than old, and a face ambi
guous to age. She looked like his mother; at least, how he thought she might have looked.

  “Pale bars are two-fifty. Internet’s free.” She reached behind her, retrieved a silver-colored laptop computer, and pushed it across the counter. “You Mac or PC?”

  “PC.”

  “Well there’s a MacBook Pro on the back table. It’s pretty easy to use, but I’m here if you need me. I’m Judy. Who are you?”

  “I’m Johnny. XMercy’s cousin.”

  “From when she was just plain Mercy, then? Oh that girl!”

  “Um hum.”

  “That’s fine.”

  *****

  Once he had Safari opened, Spencer got the hang of the Mac pretty quickly. He started by searching “shooting at Citi Field.” He got: “MMO Fan Shot.” “Miguel Cabrera Sends Shot into Second Deck.” Nothing.

  He tried “Police officer killed at Citi Field.” Results: “Mets Third Baseman Visits with Family of Slain Poughkeepsie Police Officer.” “Police Detective Killed in Fall Apprehending Shooting Suspect.”

  Detective Sergeant Tremaine Bull was fatally injured during the heroic solo arrest of Dimitri Vosilych, the primary suspect tied to the so-called IKRP killings. According to Department spokesmen, Bull, a decorated veteran and member of the Department’s elite Intelligence Unit, had been working on the case since the first attack. He and other members of their squad had closed in on the suspect just weeks earlier but were prevented from capturing Vosilych when the boat they were in caught on fire. Detective Bull was investigating a lead on his own at the time of the confrontation that took both his own life and that of the suspect. Funeral arrangements, to include full Department Honors, will be announced over the next few days. Spokesmen for the mayor, the governor, and the Chief of Police have all announced that they will be in attendance.

  Spencer stared at the page before placing the cursor over the highlighted and underlined name then tapped on the mouse pad. Nothing happened. He tapped again. Nothing. Judy noticed and walked toward him with her book in hand. He closed the laptop. She opened it without hesitation, tapped the pad and opened the link to Dimitri Vosilych.

  “It gets finicky. Oh boy. Dimitri Vosilych. Mouse and that stupid tattoo. Is she making you listen to her baloney?” Judy spun the laptop back to Spencer. “She’s actually a hard-working kid, just can’t get her head around fitting in. It’s boring for her to be like other people. As though other people are all the same. She doesn’t see nuance. It’s got to be Halley’s Comet or the Aurora Borealis because a sky filled with regular stars isn’t good enough. Hell, never mind me. I’ll go back to my book. You read about the mysterious man of the people, Dimitri Vosilych.”

  Spencer ate through the maple bar and continued reading thirty pages of articles related to Dimitri Vosilych: psych profiles, reports on links to al Qaeda, a reporter’s journey to the Bulgarian town where he grew up that included YouTube clips on interviews with the headmaster at the school where Vosilych had taught for two years. He was described as a quiet, introverted intellectual: “Not one who makes a strong impression that he could do such things, but you never know.” Vosilych was known to have traveled to several countries, including Lebanon and Pakistan, where he may have received training and instruction. He was in the United States on an expired student visa. A coalition of Tea Party Congressmen called for an investigation into why the State Department and Homeland Security continue to fail in the apprehension of travelers and students remaining in the country sometimes for years after their visas have expired. At least 4.5 million people are in the country illegally after their visas expired, including multiple suspects from the Boston Marathon Bombings.

  He was enraged. When he left, he hoped that nothing he said or did let Judy know how he felt.

  Nobody trains in Lebanon or in Pakistan on a KAC M110. He pulled over the Polaris and closed his eyes, covering them with his palm and imagining the 850 yards across open water. Mamaroneck. Scan one, right two, right three, right four, five, left six, left seven, left eight. Breathe, Relax, Aim, Slack, Squeeze. One BRASS (male, fifty, wife on left wearing rubies and diamonds looking at him… center forehead. Two BRASS (male, center forehead). Three BRASS (blond, tall, no heels). Four BRASS (orange outfit). Five BRASS (blue outfit, blue heels). Six BRASS (hiding under table).

  The incandescent blinding bolt in his mind’s eye jolted him back to the present. There’s no fucking al Qaeda loser who could make those shots. Nobody, not the British SAS, not the IDF’s elite units, nobody but the United States Armed Forces teaches a soldier how to make those shots. Nobody!

  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

  “Callie,” Owen pleaded into the phone, “I’m done messing up. I’m not drinking anything, not a drop. I’ve been working out at the 100th and running the whole length of the beach every single day. The house is gone. Tremaine is gone. I get that now. My home is where you and Liam and Casey are, Callie. I want to come home.”

  “Did they reinstate you?”

  “I’m working on it. Lieutenants Benevolent Association says I haven’t got anything officially charged against me. They say after eight weeks unpaid leave I am automatically entitled to a hearing. That’s just two more weeks. My rep says no way they’ll add more time, not after losing my partner and how Tremaine died.” He could hear her breathing, but Callie wasn’t responding. Just silence.

  “I’m looking for a new place, Owen,” she finally said. “East. Maybe all the way to Syosset. I want the boys in a good school in a good neighborhood as far from the city as I can take them.”

  “I’m good with that.”

  “It’s not your decision.”

  He pressed the cell phone into his forehead, breathing, just breathing, being careful not to let the anger rise. “I understand that. You’re entitled. I was thinking, when I can get all this behind me, I can maybe sit the captain’s exams. I can apply all through May.”

  “That’s all you, Owen, you, not me! You don’t get it. I want more. Me.”

  “What do you want? Do you want to go to Hawaii? You want a new car? Cal, I’ll get it for you, I just need to know what you want! Let me see you,” he pleaded. “Please, Cal. I don’t want to talk on the phone.”

  “Owen, you’re not going to come here so we end up getting naked and rubbing uglies like that is going to make things all better. It won’t! Yes, we’re great together in bed. So what?”

  “Don’t Cal. Please. What about the boys? They need a dad.”

  “You think the boys were better off in North Corona?” Cal screeched. “Casey out running ’round with the little gangstas? Liam peeing the bed because he got bullied every day? You think that’s better? Really? Do you, O? Open your eyes!”

  *****

  “Al, meet me for coffee,” Owen asked Al Hurwitz over the telephone. “I’m doing better. I’m off the drink, I swear. No problem. That’s all over, Al. It’s behind me.”

  Al had reluctantly agreed. Owen arrived early. He was in the booth when Al came into the coffee shop. He looked better, clear-eyed, clean-shaven, dressed up in a dress shirt and a jacket with pale gray chinos.

  “I’m working on Callie to go to couples counseling,” he told Al, blurting sentences in quick bursts. “I’m working on me, Al. I’ve been going to therapy. I know I can’t fix other people and I’m working on me. I’m learning how to listen. I enrolled in an online course. It’s about discovering my own interests, apart from the family and the job. Like, I don’t know, art or cooking or speaking another language. Irish history maybe.”

  “Where are you staying?” Al asked him.

  “I’ve been renting Tremaine’s place. In Brooklyn. Just for now. It’s in probate.”

  “Are you meshuggah?” Al griped in complete disbelief. “Nutty in the head? Did you listen to anything I told you, anything Major Gonzalez said?”

  “It’s not like that,
Owen protested. “It’s just a place to stay. I did listen. I listened a lot.”

  He lifted the spoon and swirled it in circles in the dark liquid. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference,” he recited quietly. “Al, I need my family back. A few months ago you said you could help us get back on our feet. Does the offer still stand? I need to know before Callie…well, I need to know. Will you still do it?”

  Al removed his glasses and carefully wiped each lens with his napkin. “A lot has happened since then, Owen. I had just buried my mother. I’m retired and living on a fixed income now. I might do some traveling. I’ve got the money from the apartment, but I might to want to buy myself a place instead of renting. I’m thinking about it.”

  “I just need a break, Al. Just a leg up. Temporarily. Two weeks and I’ll be back on the job, money will be coming in. It’s all good.”

  Al’s face didn’t show the look of confidence Owen was hoping for.

  “If I put down a down payment and all of you move in,” Al asked him, “what happens if things don’t work out?”

  “But they will work out,” Owen insisted. “That’s what she wants. If she has a house, like what Shelley has, Callie is going to be happy! It’s all good. Al, everything is going to be great!”

  Al took out his wallet and placed a five-dollar bill on the table, then scooted across the booth to get to his feet. Owen reached out and caught his wrist.

  “Owen, I can’t take on a down payment for a house! You declared bankruptcy. What am I going to do, take out a mortgage, too? You need some money, I’ll help you. But you and your wife need to work things out for yourselves. I can’t fix them for you.”

 
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