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Jack & Jill (Part Five)

Jack & Jill (A Love Story)

A Jack Collier Story

By Brett N. Lashuay

 

 

Read last week’s entry here.

 

Part Five: King, Cole & Fiddlers Three

 

            I went back to my office, because one needs the first things first. If I was going to go chasing a possibly kidnapped girl out of state, I was going to carry my weapons with me. I also wanted Debbie to know what was going to be going on for the next couple of days. So to the office I went, ready to face any disapproving glances she might send my way.

 

            “I’ve got to go to Georgia tonight and I’m not sure when I’ll be back.” I said as I came into the office.

 

            “How come?”

 

            I quickly explained the situation with the cell phone and the pepper plantation. She looked unimpressed, but she didn’t glare at me or anything. She nodded and went back to the typing she was doing. I dismissed myself and went into the office heading for the safe.

 

            The safe in my office is big and old fashioned. It’s touchy and difficult to open, but it wouldn’t be for an experienced safe cracker. That’s not the point though, keeping others out isn’t as important as keeping me out. I ran my hand over the smooth, heavy green door of the safe as I started to work the knob. Two tries later I’d actually gotten the combination right and swung the door open. I used to keep a single fire safe in the larger safe, which is were I kept my two guns, but now there was a second fire safe in there. I took both safes and walked to my desk with them.

 

            I got my keys out and opened the older fire safe, which was just big enough for my Marley thirty-eight and the Webley Automatic Revolver along with their holsters. I took them from the safe and closed it, locking it to release my keys from it. I then sat back and looked at the second safe. This was about the same size, but it had a different cargo. I fiddled with my keys as I considered the contents.

 

            I opened the second fire safe and pulled the cloth off the pair of twenty-two caliber automatics. A twenty-two is not a horrible thing, in and of itself, just not very good for killing unless you are practiced with them. These were killing instruments though. The fact that each gun had been modified with a fixed single piece silencer had made it clear what these guns were for. They weren’t legal, not in any way shape or form. It’s not just that suppressors aren’t legal in Michigan, these guns weren’t legal anywhere. The guns had been stolen, they’d been used in at least a few murders, and these two had been taken off a man I’d killed. A State Trooper had given them to me, thinking I might need them when I’d killed the hit man who carried them.

 

            I’d never used them, not once, but I was going into a place I didn’t know and the situation looked murky. These were exactly the kinds of guns I absolutely couldn’t get caught with though, which is why they’d just sat in the safe until now. I did know how not to get caught with the wrong type of gun though, and the materials on these weapons resisted the notion of finger prints for obvious reasons. I picked one of the guns up and checked it, noticing that it was not only loaded but had a round primed should I want to start shooting people right now.

 

            I set the gun down on the desk and thought about it for a moment. I put it back in the fire safe and closed the safe. If I was going to do something with them, I wanted to pack them in a less public place than my office building’s parking lot. If I decided not use them, I could bring them back to the office and no harm done.

 

            I went back to my place and packed up a few things, putting the car in the garage to protect it and my privacy. It was there that I decided what I would do with the silenced pistols. I would pack them, but I would do so in a way that a paranoid person would do it. So I’m paranoid, it’s the only thing that makes me even a little bit smart.

 

            Most people wouldn’t be able to tell this from just looking at the Hudson, but it’s not a stock car. The old man who sold it to Tom Freedom had begun his criminal career running booze for the Purple Gang. When prohibition ended, he came to the conclusion that there was still a need for a fast car filled with illicit booze so he kept it up. The Hudson had more horses than the Grand National and more places to hide things than any car should. If you knew where to look, there were hidden panels in the back of the seats and under the dashboard that were just big enough for a bottle of whisky or a silenced Drexel automatic if that was what you had in mind. I decided on the spot under the dashboard because behind the seats were hard to reach since this car was made before bucket seats were standard.

 

            I packed up the rest of the car and was off within the hour, starting south and heading for Banbury Cross, Georgia. I’d fielded one call from Piper, telling me they would expect me, and another from Debbie asking how long I thought I’d be. I left a little while later, knowing that I would be drawn inexorably back to Michigan again, no matter what. I must be safe outside the state because Michigan wouldn’t let me get killed anywhere else because it wants the pleasure of crushing me itself.

 

            I drove a long way, but somewhere around ten at night I decided to stop and get a room. There was a time when I would have driven the whole way in one go, but I wanted to be daisy fresh when I got there and besides I wasn’t twenty anymore. I didn’t go for anything fancy, just stopped in a holiday inn located some where that looked like a nice enough area that my car wouldn’t get stolen. That worked out well, because the car was unmolested when I came out the next morning.

 

            I drove the rest of the way, following the instructions that Piper had given me. There were fields and fields of peppers, waiting to be picked by the workers who were bent over the fields, working at something. I pulled up to the large house, which was more like a manor than the farm house I’d been expecting, and saw the four of them sitting on the large white porch. One of them, the second from my right, was wearing an old west holster with a big pearl handled revolver sitting in it. The other three didn’t show obvious guns, but they might have had them.

 

            “Howdy.” The fattest of the group said as I got out of the car and started towards them. “You must be the detective.”

 

            “That’s right.” I said, pushing my hat back and looking at the group. “Are you Mister King?”

 

            “You can call me Cole.” Cole said smiling, and I thought I caught a false note in his Texas accent. “These are my boys, the Fiddler brothers.”

 

            “Hi.” The oldest looking one said. “I’m Daryl Fiddler.”

 

            “I suppose this is your brother Daryl and you other brother Daryl right?” I asked.

 

            Daryl Fiddler’s face darkened though I can’t say why. After all he can’t have heard that joke more than ten thousand times in his life, it had plenty of giggle left in it. Cole laughed and slapped Daryl on the back.

 

            “Don’t get mad at him Daryl.” Cole told him. “This is the guy who once popped a guy’s eye out for bothering him.”

 

            “There was a little more to it than that.” I said.

 

            “I’ll bet.” Daryl said.

 

            “I’m Joe.” The one who looked like the middle child and wore the holster said. “This here is Dave.”

 

            “Hi there.” Dave’s voice was soft and rasping.

 

            “So you’re gonna find out why we’re getting raided so much huh?” Cole asked.

 

            “That’s right.” I nodded. “Has anyone come to you guys suggesting that they know how they can make it stop?”

 

            “What’d you mean?” Joe asked.

 

            “I mean, has anyone said that if you pay someone or get out of town or something all the problems will go away?”

 

            “Naw.” Cole said. “Nothing like that, should there be?”

           

            “Maybe.” I said. “Tell you what. Call all your laborers together. Maybe one of them knows something.”

           

            “Sure.” Dave rasped. “We’ll get them together for you.”

 

            “Who are your competitors?” I asked. “Has it been the same INS people every time?”

           

            “He sure do ask a lot of questions.” Joe growled to Cole. “Shouldn’t be asking so many questions.”

 

            “He’s supposed to be asking questions.” Cole turned his head to Joe and the look on his face was enough.

 

            There was something that didn’t need to be said, because Cole had said it a thousand times. Joe clearly wasn’t the smart type, but Dave might have been. I saw the look on Dave’s face, even though Joe couldn’t see it. Dave probably didn’t know I could see his face, or I suspect he wouldn’t have allowed the look to cross his face like that. Cole continued to look at Joe for a few seconds too long, until Joe looked down at his shiny cowboy boots. Cole then looked back at me, trying to smile.

 

            “We got competitors.” Cole nodded at me. “But I can’t think of anyone around here who wants to put us out of business by hassling us.”

 

            “So no one who might want to do anything else?” I asked, putting my hands on my hips. “No vandalism? Nothing like that?”

 

            “Naw.” Cole smiled. “Just the INS been cracking down on us.”

 

            “Shit.” I said looking out at the field where the green plants were starting to grow. “Is the old man just being paranoid?”

 

            “That’s right.” Daryl agreed, and smiled far too wide. He liked the idea, but it hadn’t occurred to him before. “He don’t know about how all the farms have been getting hassled lately. All that bullshit about illegals and stuff.”

 

            “Yeah.” Joe smiled, and Dave looked like the only thing that prevented him from stabbing Joe was that they shared a mother. “He don’t come down here much. Don’t know nothing about what goes on here.”

 

            They were doing this all wrong, and Dave could tell. Cole knew something was wrong, but it was Dave who was really the smart one there. Cole pushed his cowboy hat back, smiled down at me and then looked out at the field. He looked out at it for a long moment and then looked back at me.

           

            “Tell ya what.” He drawled the fakest accent I’d heard him do yet. “Why don’t you unload your car and put your things in the guest room? We can gather up some of the workers, you can maybe talk to them. I suppose you can ask if any of them are actually illegal or anything.”

 

            “Yeah.” Joe smiled way too big again. “Make it look like you really tried to figure out what’s going on and then tell old man Piper that it’s just how things are going right now.”

 

            “Yeah.” I agreed with a nod. “I could probably do that.”

 

            “Dave, you show him the guest room and we’ll get the hands together.”

           

            “Sure.” Dave said.

 

            We went up to a smallish guest room, which had little more beyond a bed and a set of drawers with an old Panasonic TV on top of it. It would be comfortable enough, but a hotel would have been better really. At least at a hotel I would have an actually private room, but the price was right here and it was probably helping that I would be where her phone was last.

 

            “I’ve heard about you.” Dave said as I put my suitcase down on the bed. He didn’t have the hick voice of his brothers, but the sort of sweet drawl that made me want to avoid turning my back on him. There was something dangerous in that voice, something educated and knowing.

 

            “Oh yeah?”

 

            “I heard that you killed seven people in five minutes once.”

 

            “Six.” I said as nonchalantly as I could. “I killed the seventh later. It was all in the same twenty four hour period though.”

 

            “Still.” He raised his eye brows. “An impressive number.”

           

            “I got lucky.” I said. “Catch me out on another night on a lonely road and I might not be so lucky again.”

           

            “Have to see sometime.” He smiled and walked to the window. “They’ve got the workers assembled. You should probably go talk to them so they can get back to work soon.”

 

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February 5, 2010 - Posted by | Fiction, Jack |

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