Authors: Mick James
Bobby ended up telling
him the story. He told him the entire story, almost. About going to Kate’s apartment, Moonies, Foxies, those idiots shooting at them and how he took off down the alley to get away. That was the point where the young man told him he was Kate’s son and Bobby made the decision to leave out the part about buying her the cheapest bottle of vodka he could find, dressing her and dumping her in front of Moonies in a quasi-comatose state so he could flee the scene.
“So Bobby, what you’re telling me is you saved her life.” The young man’s eyes watered up as he gazed at the wooden urn.
“Anyone would have done the same thing.”
The young man scoffed, “Don’t bet on it.”
“I just wish I could have prevented what happened later. We talked about her going there, I suggested she go home or I was even willing to get her a hotel room. She just wanted to go to Moonies and begged me not to call the police. She was fairly insistent so in the end I went along and did what she wanted. I wish I could change all that now,” Bobby said and sort of let that hang out there for a moment hoping the opportunity would present itself so he could get up and leave.
“You did your best, man,” he said, then sort of came back to reality and focused on Bobby. “You need a ride or anything?”
“Me? No, thanks, I’m parked right out front. Kind of you to offer, but its not necessary.”
“Come on, we’ll walk out together, the three of us,” the young man said, then went over to the card table, picked up the urn and tucked it under his arm. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
They walked down the dimly lit hallway together, past the small office and out the front door.
“Thank you, gentlemen.” A voice called from the office, but never left the glare from the TV to see them out.
They stood out on the street, Bobby’s car sat at the curb, wheezing.
“That yours?” the young man asked.
“Yeah, that’s me. Look I…”
“What happened to it?”
“I told you, someone pulled along side of us, a burgundy Escalade. They lowered the window, stuck a cannon out, I slammed into the side of the Escalade a couple of times, but they still got two rounds off before I pushed them into some oncoming traffic. I just wanted to make sure Kate, I mean your mom was safe so I hit the brakes and drove onto the sidewalk then took off down an alley. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t follow.”
“You really did save her, man,” he said looking at Bobby’s windshield.
“They were aiming for her, weren’t they? She was sitting right there in your passenger seat. You didn’t have those quick reactions they would have shot her, right then.”
There seemed to be no advantage to telling him Kate was passed out in the back seat having just finished throwing up.
“Yeah, they stuck that pistol out the window I knew they were aiming for her so I slammed into them, figured it would be the one thing they wouldn’t be expecting.”
“And that’s your car?”
“Yep, one of a kind. I get some money saved up, I’m gonna get that windshield replaced.”
“Better do it sooner rather than later, cops take a dim view of that sort of thing.”
“Yeah, things are just a little tight right now. But it’s first on the list.”
“Say Bobby, I wonder if I can ask a small favor of you.” He said it in a way that eliminated the response “No” right off the bat.
“Possibly, what is it you need?”
“I’ve actually got an appointment in a bit. I wonder if you wouldn’t mind taking my Mom home with you, just for tonight, keep her safe. I’ll come by later and pick her up. That sound okay with you?” Again with that tome of voice that said “No” was not an option.
“It would be my pleasure, be happy to help.”
He handed Bobby the urn, then pulled his phone out, swiped his finger across the face, pushed the screen twice and asked, “What’s your number?”
“To tell you the truth, I’m just switching cellphone carriers so I’m sort of between numbers,” Bobby lied.
“You got an address?”
Bobby told him.
“Great, got it. I’ll be in touch, Bobby,” he said, then shut the phone off, nodded and crossed the street.
Bobby placed Kate’s ashes on the floor of the passenger seat, then watched in his side mirror as her son stepped inside Harold’s, “Home of the all day happy hour”. Bobby climbed behind the wheel and drove Kate back to his place.
He set her urn on the kitchen counter and put a pizza in the oven. He was a little curious and opened the lid on the urn, it looked like it had been filled with cat litter. Maybe it had and Capitol City just dumped folks in a large hole somewhere. He decided it might be better to just focus on the pizza.
He’d been moved up
a notch in the pecking order of Marci’s roster. Violet Oxley had been subpoenaed to testify in a court case. He was to drive her down to the Courthouse. Then sit with her in the hallway outside courtroom ‘2’ cooling his heels until she was called to testify. His guess was, at three-thirty-five in the afternoon that it had grown too late in the day for Violet to be called. Unless, of course, there happened to be a real jerk on the bench presiding, which there was as a matter of fact, her honor, Judge Susan Eckersbe, a decidedly unhappy individual. Back when he had been practicing he’d had the distinct displeasure of finding himself in her courtroom on a couple of occasions. Those appearances had never seemed to go his way.
“Goodness, I almost hope they don’t call me, now,” Violet said at three-forty.
“I’m pretty sure they won’t, this time of day they usually like to wind up around four. Gives the attorneys time to file motions, get things lined up for tomorrow. The judge will be able to beat the traffic home.” He raised his eyebrows to emphasize the joke which seemed to bring a smile to Violet’s face.
“I hope you’re right.”
“Trust me, I’ve been around this particular block more than a few times”
At four-ten the bailiff stuck her head out the door and called, “Violet Oxley?”
“Dreadful,” Violet said an hour and a half later and not for the first time. “Just positively dreadful. Where do I send my complaint? Because believe me I’m going to write one. That woman could do with a good thumping,” she said, then stared out the window of Bobby’s back seat.
It was almost six and they were still inching along in rush hour traffic. They weren’t being helped by the construction lane closures that had this section of Snelling Ave. going from three lanes down to one. There wasn’t a construction crew within sight to save Bobby’s soul.
“Yeah, that’s Judge Eckersbe. Not a very happy person.”
“I should say not. She practically shouted at me while I sat in that chair out in front of everyone trying to gather my thoughts.”
“The witness stand.”
“It was worse than being on stage. For pity’s sake, I thought it just might be important to give correct information. She apparently couldn’t be bothered to grant me the second or two I needed to gather my thoughts before I began. Dreadful, absolutely dreadful.”
“No argument from me, Ms Oxley,” Bobby said then turned off Snelling and headed West on Larpenteur. He turned right two blocks down and then pulled into a toney cul-de-sac a few moments later.
“Just pull up in front if you would. I don’t want you dripping oil on my driveway.”
“Yes ma’am,” he said and pulled up next to her mailbox.
“Thank you, Bobby. You’ll be here at eight-thirty tomorrow morning?”
“I will,” he said and climbed out to open the rear door for her.
“Try not to be late. I’ll be waiting,” she said, then stepped out and walked up the driveway to her front door. She unlocked the door and stepped inside without looking back.
He gave her the finger from behind the passenger door and drove off.
Bobby was just tidying up the kitchen area after dinner when someone knocked on his door. Since he didn’t have a peep hole to look through he had to ask, “Who is it?”
“Kate’s son. Here to get my mom.”
He glanced over at the kitchen counter. Fortunately, he had just removed the plate he’d washed and leaned against the urn to dry along with the fork he’d set on top of it. He opened the door.
“How’s it going, Bobby?” The young man smiled and walked in. He was dressed in a nondescript T-Shirt and jeans, the T-shirt stretched taught over his muscular chest. The fabric around his large biceps looked like it was about to rip. A black guy about the same age and size followed in behind him. The guy had a toothpick hanging out of the corner of his mouth. Neither one bothered with any form of introduction.
“I set the urn right over here, on the kitchen counter,” Bobby said making a beeline for the urn. He kept talking as he grabbed a dish towel and wiped a few drops of water from the fork he’d left on top. “Lovely little bit of wood, I’m sure she would be pleased,” he smiled and pretended to polish the top and sides.
“Not sure she’d even know,” her son said looking around the sparse surroundings before he asked, “Exactly how long you been living here?”
The two visitors both looked at Bobby like he was nuts.
“Just a couple, well maybe four weeks. I’m sort of getting resettled.”
Kate’s son nodded and smiled. “You just got out, didn’t you?”
His visitors grinned.
“I knew it. Picked up on it the other night, you had that sense about you. A fella can tell, just a certain way about you.” He flashed a quick smile, then got serious, very serious. “So maybe those two you mentioned, driving the Escalade, maybe they were looking for you all along.”
“The shooters? Not likely.”
“You locked up with some bad asses, you give ‘em some of that privileged boy attitude? A lot of folks don’t like that shit.”
“I wasn’t locked up with real criminals, I was with bankers, lawyers, and accountants.”
“Not real criminals? Shit, now that’s funny. You think that’s funny Arundel?” he said to his sidekick.
“Listen, they weren’t after me. Just for starters they were looking for your mom at Foxies. I’d never even been there before, Foxies. I told you one of them tried to go in the ladies room after her and I had to stop him. Told him to get the hell out of there, he backed off, went away, once he realized he’d have to deal with the likes of me. Then they were out on the street looking for her. Hey, they would have got her right then and there if I hadn’t pulled into traffic the way I did. I tried to lose ‘em in traffic, but the bastards found us, somehow. They would have had her for sure if I hadn’t reacted when they shoved that pistol out the window, it looked like a .45 or maybe a .357, big damn thing. Most guys would have frozen under fire. I didn’t have that luxury. I slammed into them a couple of times, then jumped the curb, raced down the sidewalk and blasted down that alley so I could get her the hell out of danger. I lost count of how many rounds they got off. Of course, I was more than a little preoccupied at the time.”
“You knew they were following you?”
“Following me? You think if they were trying to kill me I would have shown up at the funeral home? Hell, I’d be halfway across the country by now. Instead I brought her ashes home and …”
“Okay, I get it. You can’t take a little joke, Bobby, sorry. I didn’t think you’d get that upset.”
“I’m not upset,” Bobby half yelled.
“Good, glad to hear it. So, like, what are you going to do about furniture? I mean, this is more than a little pathetic.” He glanced over at the stolen blanket and pillow lying on the floor next to the suitcase and the three brown paper grocery bags holding clothes.
“I like to live simple,” Bobby said.
They both nodded, but didn’t say anything.
“And you were what,
a banker?” Arundel asked and glared.
“Actually a lawyer, with an accounting background, a CPA.”
“But not a criminal,” Arundel said. He smiled coldly and moved the toothpick with his tongue from the left to the right side of his mouth.
“I never shot anyone, never meant to harm anyone.”
“Right, leave that to us folks without them fancy college degrees,” Arundel said. “You just left them penniless. Left ‘em to fend for themselves in a world where your kind make all the rules. ‘Course, if they needed any help it would just be cash up front. Kinda like them insurance types. You know, you pay year after year, then when you finally file a claim they don’t pay it and then they raise your rates just cause you tried to get what was owed you in the first place.”
“It wasn’t like that.”
“Oh really, then just what the hell was it like, Mr. Lawyer, accountant?” Arundel moved a half step toward Bobby.
“All right now, Bobby you’ll just have to excuse Arundel, here. He holds some points of view ain’t all that popular with certain folks. But he don’t mean no harm, now. Do you Arundel?”
“Just making a point,” Arundel said and gave Bobby a hard look.
“Tell me again about these two looking to go after my mom.”
“In the Escalade?”
Her son nodded.
“Well, like I said, they were driving a burgundy Escalade. I think it got pretty smashed up, maybe even totaled, but I wasn’t going to keep your mom there while I checked it out.”
“What’d they look like?”
“Can’t tell you too much. Both white. Younger, maybe mid-twenties, the one I stopped from going after her in the ladies room at Foxies, he was the same one put the window down when they drove alongside and then shot at us. He had dark curly hair, sort of a pug nose. They were both big, maybe not the size of you two, but not little. I’d say they were in pretty good shape.”
“And the other one?”
“The other one, the driver. I only caught him for a few seconds. Not dark hair, but not blond either, brown maybe heading toward red. Some might call it ginger colored.”
Arundel gave a quick glance, just a flash of his eyes, but Bobby couldn’t determine what, if anything had been communicated.
Arundel asked, “The one in the ladies room…”
“He never got in there, I stopped him and wouldn’t let him in.”
“…he have an accent?”
“Not that I recall, he might have said just two or three words. I don’t remember an accent, but like I said, I can’t be sure.”
Arundel nodded and rolled his toothpick over to the other side.
“You guys think you know who it is?”
They both shook their heads no, but in a rather unconvincing manner.
“Why would someone want to hurt your mom?”
“That shooting a while back,” Kate’s son said to Arundel.
“Sexton’s,” Arundel replied, then nodded like it all made sense.
“Thanks for keeping an eye on my Mom.”
“Not a problem, you want to put her in a paper bag, I think I’ve got a spare around here,” Bobby said opening the cabinet below the sink.
“No, you hang onto her. I’ll grab her a little later on. We’re out of here, take care of yourself, Bobby.”
“You’re not taking the urn?”
“I just told you, I’ll get it a little later,” he said and they walked out the door.
From where he stood Bobby watched them head down the stairs then he walked over, closed his apartment door once they were out of sight and made sure it was locked.