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Jack & Jill (Part Eight)

Jack & Jill (A Love Story)

A Jack Collier Story

By Brett N. Lashuay

 

 

Read last week’s entry here.

 

 

Part Eight: Jack Sees Jill

 

            I followed the Fiddler Bothers in their truck for some time until we came to a medium sized house that backed onto a bit of woodland. I couldn’t be sure how far the forest went, but it was far enough that I couldn’t see the next house behind his. The driveway was just a few blocks of poured concrete which looked like it had been poured over a dirt drive way and died into grass before more than three long squares. Cole had actually driven off the concrete drive and onto part of his lawn, where the path continued to the back yard. I stopped the car and got out while the three brothers piled out of the F150.

 

            Cole was on the porch, and the brothers went up it to flank him as they had done on the previous occasion when I had come walking to them on a porch. It was already hot, even though it would be cool weather back home for another two weeks. I had slipped out of my suit coat and take my tie off as we drove. I’d even unbuttoned my shirt and pulled it out of my pants. That left me with the t-shirt Debbie had bought me for my birthday exposed. It had the Hudson Motors logo on it and spoke about how you could get service for your car at the former dealership turned museum in Ypsilanti. Since I drove a Hudson, she had come to the conclusion that I needed as much paraphernalia for the company as possible.

 

            As I walked up, I glanced up at the house and saw a young girl in the window. She was blonde, she looked enough like the picture Piper had given me, I didn’t look long. I glanced back down at the trio as they mounted the steps and acted like I had just been looking at the house for a moment.

 

            “He kept up pretty good.” Joe announced as he mounted the stairs and slapped Cole on the shoulder. “He drives almost like a country boy.”

 

            “We have country roads up north too.” I said shaking my head.

 

            “Yeah, but they’re real country roads around here.” Daryl said and laughed.

 

            I laughed too, just to look friendly. I was becoming their best friend after all, the best buddy any of them ever had. Except Dave, Dave was on to me. I didn’t mind Dave being on to me though. Dave was a reasonable amount of trouble and I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble. Dave was a back woods bad ass, but I’d killed seven professionals with one blow.

 

            “So where do you hide them?” I asked, pointing to my left and starting to walk as a natural place to go around the house. “In the back?”

 

            “Yeah.” Cole jumped off the porch like an old fat bullfrog, but he landed steady and without fuss. “C’mon.”

 

            We walked around the back of the small house, and I counted the windows and marked their position. Most people don’t think about it, but you can pretty easily guess the layout of a house from the outside. There are only about fifty house designs in America, and even those are pretty standard once you look around enough of them. The wonderful thing about American architecture is that it values space over imagination. It would be a lot of big square rooms, stacked next to each other.

 

            When we got to the back of the house I saw how shallow the woods really were, I could see some of the sheds for his back neighbor. I would hate to say that the lie simply fell apart there, but that’s what happened. There was no large barn, no deep woods to hide in, nothing. Why did they bother lying anyway? I was supposed to be their buddy and they weren’t supposed to suspect a thing. It seemed terribly unfair to me that they would try such to keep up such a lame lie.

 

            “Okay guys.” I said putting my hands on my hips. “Tell me what the fuck is really going on.”

 

            “What’d you mean?” Joe asked, trying to look innocent.

 

            I’m pretty sure the look I gave him could stop clocks, it stopped him from grinning like and idiot that was for sure. I looked around the four of them, and if they intended to bum rush me they had their positions all wrong. No one was covering my back, there was too much room on my left flank. There would be space enough to shoot me to pieces without worrying about too much crossfire though.

 

            “I’m here to help you.” I said distinctly. “I’m supposed to help make the shit die down so you can do business.”

 

            “Yeah?” Cole asked.

 

            “Yeah.” I said pointing over my shoulder. “So why try and get me to believe that you hide your workers in a wood that shallow? A four year old could find one illegal from the street in there.”

 

            “Yeah.” Dave said softly. “Simple isn’t it?”

 

            “There is no INS trouble, is there?” I asked.

 

            “No.” Cole said.

 

            “Shall I guess?”

 

            “Go ahead pretty boy.” Dave rasped and folded his arms.

 

            “Why not just tell me instead of starting a new story that will fall apart?” I said.

 

            “Mexicans get out of hand sometimes.” Cole shrugged. “You know how it is. Sometimes they decide they want to get tough and demanding and we’ve gotta teach ‘em whose boss around here. That screws up a day’s production though.”

 

            “Is that all?” I asked, arching my eye brows and choking back my disgust. “Is that what all the secrecy is about? Doing strike breaking?”

 

            “Old man Piper wouldn’t approve.” Dave hissed.

 

            “Old man Piper’s daddy paid old Purple Gang members to break strikes when the unions first moved into Michigan.” I informed him, falling back on my scraps of history friends had told me. “Piper is management, he understands.”

 

            “Yeah?” Cole asked.

 

            “Yeah.” I nodded. “I’ll tell him nice and quiet, and he’ll understand.”

 

            “Maybe we don’t want him knowing about it.” Cole said, putting his hand on something near his back him. “Maybe we want to keep it quiet.”

 

            “If that’s a gun you’re reaching for you’d better throw down.” I said, not reaching for the Marley on my hip. “If it’s your wallet, name a figure.”

 

            “I like that.” Cole’s face broke into a wide smile and he put his hand into his front jeans pocket. He pulled out a thick wad of bills that were folded and barely contained by a rubber band. “I like a man you can reason with.”

 

            “I’m reasonable.” I said smiling at him like I was dumber than a sack of bricks. “I can easily just tell him that the INS is cracking down and shit is going to happen no matter what.”

 

            Cole took the band off the money and started to count out hundred dollar bills. He counted out twenty of them before stopping and then slipped the band back around the bills and stuffed them into his pocket. He folded the hundreds over once and held it out to me. I took a step forward and took the fairly paltry bribe of blood money from him. I slipped it into my pocket and looked at the three brothers, two of which were smiling and one of which was Dave.

 

            “I can give you that every month.” Cole said, sounding proud of himself.

 

            “That’ll do.” I nodded, while inside I was disgusted both at my complicity and my cheap price. I might be a cut rate detective, but I always thought I’d sell out for more than this. “Well, I suppose I should go back to the plantation then. I can pretend to poke around for a few more days and go home.”

           

            “We’ll come back with you.” Dave said, and I must say he looked a little more relaxed now. He looked like he knew what I was now. I was a guy who could be bought off for two grand a month.

 

            I got in my car and started down the road, the Fiddler’s in their F150 followed soon after me. I didn’t know how closely they would be watching, so I declined pulling out my cell phone. I wanted to make a call right there and then, and then I remembered a function my new phone had. I still had my windows rolled up, so I just turned off my radio, put the phone in my lap and turned on the speaker phone. I dialed a number and waited.

 

            “Hello?” The voice of Alice Liddell came up from my crotch, which is something I normally would welcome. It had never happened because Alice and I had never had the chance yet.

 

            “Hi there Alice.” I said checking my mirror. “I’ve got you on speaker phone because I’m in a situation.”

 

            “What kind of situation?” She asked. The Fiddlers were far enough back that I didn’t need to worry too much.

 

            “If the guys in the car behind me know I’m talking on the phone they wouldn’t like it.” I said.

 

            “What’s going on?” She asked.

 

            “How would you like a promotion?” I inquired.

 

            “You can get me promoted?”

 

            “I’m working a kidnapping case.” I told her. “Only I’ve stuck in my thumb and pulled you out a plumb. There are about a hundred illegals at the Piper pepper plantation where they do the pickling. They’ve been mistreated by the sort of scum the INS is supposed to protect them from. I think they’re even killing some of them. I’ve just accepted two grand to keep the whole thing from old man Piper because Cole King and his three assistants the Fiddler Brothers are pulling something on the side. If you take them all in, you get to decide what they’re up to beyond murder and human trafficking.”

 

            “How long have you been there?”

 

            “Oh, about three hours now.”

 

            “Sweet Nancy Reagan.” She said.

 

            “When do you think you could get here with a lot of agents?” I asked.

 

            “A few hours unless I send in the local police.”

 

            “No locals.” I said. “I’ve got an idea they’ve been bought or scared. Piper owns a lot of land and employs a lot of people out here. King’s probably been using that as a lever.”

 

            “Maybe you’re just paranoid.” She said. “You’ve been accused of that before, you might remember.”

 

            “That only counts if you give weight to the word of some trained and educated doctors.” I told her. “And as we both know, the government spurns the work of informed and intelligent experts in favor of well paid shills.”

 

            “Do you have a well paid shill?”

 

            “I have the word of a cheap detective who took two thousand dollars as a bribe to look the other way.”

 

            “Crap, we could go to war on your word.” She said and then sighed with thought. “I couldn’t get there until late tonight.”

 

            “That’s fine.” I told her. “Just give me a buzz when you’re coming.”

 

            “I’d like to give you more than just a buzz.” Her voice changed into something less than professional.

 

            “Ah, but I’m almost to my destination, so I have to stop you there.”

 

            “Damnit.” She muttered.

 

            “Sorry.” I said as I hung up on her.

 

            I hated to do that to her, but there was no way to prevent her from trying to flirt a little more, and that could be disastrous. I glanced in the mirror and found that the Fiddlers were still more or less the distance they had been. Either they didn’t suspect a thing, or they were waiting until I wasn’t in the car before they decided to kill me.

 

 

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February 25, 2010 - Posted by | Fiction, Jack |

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