Read The Deputy Online

Authors: Victor Gischler

Tags: #crime, #fiction

The Deputy (7 page)

BOOK: The Deputy
4.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

CHAPTER NINE

I parked in front of Molly’s house, behind her dad’s Peterbilt.

I rocked the boy in my arms until he quieted down some. I didn’t like what I was about to do. This wasn’t really Molly’s thing, but I trusted her to be a good person when all was said and done. And I didn’t exactly have a whole lot of choices.

I climbed her front steps, the boy on one hip, and knocked. It took a while, and I knocked again. Molly wasn’t going to get much sleep tonight. I worried briefly that Roy might’ve snuck home after I left. I’d shoot him. Swear to God, I would shoot him.

But Roy wasn’t home. The door swung open, and Molly stood there in panties and a t-shirt. She rubbed her eyes.

“I need help, Molly.”
“What?”

I pushed in past her.

She closed the door. “Is that Toby Junior?”

She’d never seen the boy. They’d both been in my life so thick, it hadn’t occurred to me how separate they were. Of course she’d never seen him. “Yes. He’s had a scare.”

She looked me over. “What happened to you?”

“I’m in a lot of trouble, Molly.”

“Tell me.”

“I killed Billy Banks.” She’d hear about it soon enough anyway.

She gasped, her hand going to her mouth.

“It was self defense,” I said too quickly.

“Why?”

“I think Billy was smuggling illegals. Or working with some Mexicans. I don’t know. You remember that news story a few years ago, the truck with all those dead illegal aliens in the back? Earlier tonight I found a truck just like that, padlock on the back to keep them inside. Parked in the firehouse.”

“No fucking way. They were dead?”

“No, not dead. Live ones.”

“Why here?”

“Beats me. You got any milk?”

“I think so.”

“Can you warm it up and bring me a cup?” I sat on her couch, held the boy. He wouldn’t let go of me, kept shivering.

“I’ll put it in the microwave.”

“No, you’re not supposed to do that. Can you heat it in a pan?”

“Give me a minute.” She went to the kitchen.

I rocked the boy in my arms, something overwhelmed him, shock or exhaustion maybe because I watched his eyelids sink down. His cheeks were tear-smeared. In a moment he breathed steadily, back to sleep. I could not imagine holding my head up among decent people if I let anything happen to him. I was supposed to be a dad.

I settled him down on the couch, made a ring of cushions around him, then went into the kitchen. Molly had four different size pans on the counter, her head stuck in the refrigerator.

“We don’t have any milk,” Molly said. “There’s Mellow Yellow and carrot juice.”

“It’s okay. He’s asleep. But we’ll need milk in the morning.”

“Morning?”

“I need your help, Molly.”

Her eyes went round. “Oh, no. I don’t know anything about kids.”

“I have to go back out there. I can’t take the boy. He has to be someplace safe, okay? I trust you.”

“Come on, Toby. There’s got to be some old lady you know who can do it. I’ve never even been a baby sitter.”

“Molly, look at me. There’s serious shit going on.”

“I can’t. I’ve never even changed a diaper.”

I put a hand on each of her shoulders. “Molly, I’m begging you. Look at me. Please. I’m begging you.”

“Okay, okay. Crap. I don’t know what he eats or anything.”

She was right. I’d fled the trailer without the diaper bag. No wipes or diapers or ass cream. Nothing. It wasn’t like dropping off a stray kitten. The boy needed things.

“I’ll make a run to the store. I’ll get diapers. I need you to do this.”

“I’ll do it, but what if he gets sick or—”

“He’ll just sleep. It’ll be fine.”

She sighed.

I took her into my arms, felt relieved when she hugged me back. Her head tilted up and I bent to kiss her, felt her tongue slip into my mouth, one of her warm hands on my neck. We let it go on like that for a while. I didn’t want to leave, but knew I had to. I slipped out of her arms, stepped away.

“I’ll be back with diapers and milk. Soon.”

I paused on the way out, touched TJ’s head. I hoped he hadn’t been traumatized. I hoped he’d sleep peaceful and have good dreams and not wake up asking for Mommy. I made silent promises to him.

Outside, I hopped in the Nova, lit a Winston and headed for the Texaco.

CHAPTER TEN

I was halfway down the Six back to the Texaco when fatigue sat on my chest like a five hundred pound gorilla. So tired. The night had rubbed me raw, the adrenaline leaking away, leaving me feeling wrung out. I almost nodded off at the wheel, slapped my own face to keep awake.

I pulled into the Texaco, went inside.

The same girl was on duty. She looked tired too. She opened her mouth to say something but thought better of it after getting an eyeful of me. I didn’t even want to think what I looked like.

I grabbed a half-gallon of milk, a pack of diapers, wipes and three energy drinks, took it all to the counter. The girl rang it up, and it came to like a million dollars. Fucking convenience store prices. I had my wallet this time and paid.

Back in the Nova I popped open one of the energy drinks. It tasted like melted cough drops and propane. I saw these high school kids all over town drinking them all the time. What the hell was going on with their taste buds? I made myself drink the whole thing then started the car and headed back to Coyote Crossing.

The drink kicked in a mile from town, like triple caffeine pulsing through my veins. Eyes open wide. I felt the juice humming through my veins. I drummed the steering wheel in time to Golden Earring. It wasn’t usually my kind of music, but my old band had done a really twisted, kick-ass cover of this song, so I let it play. A lot of these old bands weren’t so bad. I flew through the night wired on the energy drink, the music lifting the car through space and time. The full moon hung yellow in the sky like the devil’s cream pie.

I caught sight of them in the rearview mirror a split-second before the Mustang slammed into the back of the Nova.

I swerved, the two right tires going off the road and kicking up dust. I jerked the wheel, got the Nova back in the center. They’d blazed up behind me hard and fast with the lights off. They bumped me again, and I heard the tinkle-crunch of the back end dying. The rear bumper went clanging down the highway.

Motherfucker!

I stomped the gas. I might as well have been trying to escape on a Big Wheel. The Mustang slammed me again hard. I guessed they might be pissed at having to change a tire. They switched on the headlights and I winced at the brights. On the next slam, I lost control, the Nova spinning in the road, the Mustang’s headlights a bright blur across my windshield. I ended up pointed the opposite direction, hands white-knuckled on the wheel and Golden Earring still pounding the speakers.

The Mustang roared past me so close on the driver’s side it clipped the mirror with a sharp crack. The motor had stalled, and I turned the key, pumped gas and she fired up again. The Mustang was making a slow turn and coming back.

I fishtailed, pointed the Nova dead into the oncoming headlights and pressed the accelerator until the engine screamed murder. A good old-fashioned game of chicken. Let’s see who had the balls and who didn’t. Who’d blink first, him or me?

Me.

I wrenched the wheel right as hard as I could, skidding the Nova sideways. This part of the Six was elevated two or three feet, so the shoulder went down at a steep angle. The Nova tilted alarmingly, and I thought I was destined to be upside down. I fought the wheel, every muscle in my body straining, great sprays of dust kicking up on either side as I straightened out and headed back for the highway. I bottomed out as the Nova climbed the shoulder and hit the highway. I got up to speed.

The Mustang’s headlights filled the rearview mirror in no time flat.

I thought it was coming up to smash my rear again, but it swerved up alongside and the two cars bumped side to side. I turned the wheel toward him, put a nice dent in his passenger side door, but he came back double-hard and I almost left the road again. He came over, and I slammed the breaks, let him get in front of me.

My turn, asshole.

I gave it the gas before he could get set, and bashed him a good one in the rear end. One of my headlights winked out, but I killed both his tail lights. Score one for the deputy.

My minor triumph didn’t last long. He sped up, juked and jived, braked hard and was along side me again. He careened into me hard, and this time I did go off the road, went down the steep embankment, the car started to tilt. I panicked, turned the wheel the wrong way, and the car rolled.

The Nova became a shook-up snow globe of crap, candy wrappers and soda cans and fast-food wrappers flying as the car slid to a stop upside down, the remaining headlight flailing uselessly against the dust cloud which had swallowed the car. I felt like I’d been flung into another reality.

I new they’d be on me soon. I unbuckled the seatbelt, uncrumpled myself. I couldn’t get the door open, so I rolled down the window, scrambled out and pulled the revolver. I coughed, blinked against the swirling dust. I wiped at my eyes, something sticking. There was a gash over my left eye, and I smeared the dust and blood across my face. I leaned back against the Nova, kept the gun up, waiting for somebody to come kill me.

Nobody did.

I belly crawled up the embankment, saw what had happened.

Fifty yards away, the Mustang had gone off the road on the other side, its nose over the embankment. It scraped bottom as it rocked back and forth, gunning its engine, trying to unstick itself. The back tires kicked up dirt and rocks. It would rip free any second and come back for me.

I reached back into the Nova and grabbed the bag with the diapers and milk. I began jogging across country back to town. It was less than a mile away, the lights clearly visible. Even with the moon out, they wouldn’t be able to spot me across the vast black of the night landscape. Let them hunt for me near the flipped Nova. I jogged a minute and allowed myself a quick look back.

The Mustang was loose again, cruising slowly. It parked more or less near the overturned Nova, the headlights stabbing the night. If I got lucky, maybe they’d piss away a whole hour cruising around the wreck looking for me.

I turned back toward town and kept jogging.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

>
"Holy crap!” Molly muffled herself to a hoarse whisper.

“What happened?”

“How’s the boy?”

“Still sleeping. Are you going to be okay?”

“It looks worse than it is. Mostly dirt. Let me in please.”

She stepped aside, and I handed her the convenience store bag on the way to her bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror. I wasn’t pretty, face a caked mix of blood, dirt and sweat. I filled the sink with cold water, splashed my face. The water stung the cut over my eye. I ignored it, kept splashing until I looked almost human again. I wiped my face on one of Molly’s clean towels, smudged it brown and red, tossed it on the floor. I drained the water, turned on the cold tap again and scooped handfuls of water until I got the dirt taste out of my mouth.

I took a leak, flushed.

Molly hovered in the hall, waiting for me to come out.

“Toby, stay here. Every time you go out there, something—”

“I have something to do.”

I walked past her and into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator. She’d put my other two energy drinks in there. I took them. There were two chicken legs on a plate. I took them too. Back in the living room, Molly looked at me, frowning with her whole face, arms crossed. I didn’t have time to think of anything I could say to make her feel better. I looked at the boy. He was still sleeping. Good.

I went toward the front door.

“Toby, please.”

“Molly, just watch TJ, okay? Stay here and watch him.”

I left quickly before she could think of anything else to say to me. I went through my pockets until I found the right set of keys. I unlocked Roy’s Peterbilt and hauled myself up into the cab. The truck was a fucking monster. I sat, looked over the gearshift and gauges, trying to remember back a few years when I’d driven a pal’s big-rig a total of twice just for laughs. I started the engine and cranked the air-conditioning.

The air felt good. I sat there a second, not moving, just letting the air conditioning hit my dirty, sweaty skin.

I sat and ate the chicken legs, tossed the bones out the window. The armrest was also a storage compartment for CDs. I flipped through Roy’s music collection with a raised eyebrow. He had Celine Dion, Kenny G, Lionel Richie, Abba Gold, Three Tenors, Sade, Britney Spears, Seal, Clay Aiken …

Damn, Roy. What the fuck?

I shoved Abba into the CD player, drowned out the opening seconds of “Dancing Queen” grinding the Peterbilt into first gear. The thing finally lurched forward, and I was off and running. I eased out of the residential neighborhood, trying not to flatten mailboxes or picket fences as I went. I made a wide slow turn onto main, found the alley I was looking for the other side of Skeeter’s.

I pulled past, then attempted to back in but had to stop before taking out a railing on Skeeter’s front deck. I pulled forward and tried again. Five more tries, and I’d cussed every bad word I could think of, but I finally backed the rig into the alley. I killed the lights, but left the engine on with the air conditioner blowing.

I sat and watched Main Street, popped open an energy drink and choked it down. Abba sang “S.O.S.” S.O.S. Damn right. Abba wasn’t so bad. I would never admit that to a single living soul.

I fished the box of .38 ammo out of my pants pocket and reloaded the revolver. Instead of sliding it back in the holster, I set it on the passenger seat where I could grab it fast. I knew Karl was probably steaming, waiting for me at the stationhouse, but I had something to take care of that just wouldn’t wait. And fuck Karl anyway. Just fuck that guy.

Fuck everybody.

Ten minutes crawled by, and I finally saw the Mustang come rolling down Main from the west. I knew he hadn’t given up on me, knew he’d come back this way sooner or later.
I knew it, you cocksucker
. Under the street lights, the Mustang looked rough. My upside-down Nova had clearly lost the battle, but the Mustang had taken a pretty good beating. The front was mashed in like somebody had punched the car in the nose, scrapes and dents along the side. The cherry paint job was crusted with dirt and grime.

Good. Fuck you, Ford Mustang Mach 1.

They passed, and I counted to thirty. Then I flipped on the headlights and pulled out of the alley, followed the Mustang. I kept it to the speed limit. If they thought I was up to something, they’d simply hit the gas and fly away.

We headed out of town going east, and I felt sure I knew where they were headed. The Mona Lisa Lodge was the only motel for miles and miles and it was two minutes from Coyote Crossing. I eased up, let the Mustang pull ahead of me. I couldn’t let them get too far. Hard to follow with their tail lights out. Blamed myself for that one.

Until they fired me I was the law. But this was about more than that. This was payback. I shifted gears and kept pace. Hell is on your heels, you sons of bitches.

The Mona Lisa’s green neon sprouted on the horizon. There wasn’t much to the motel. A dozen rooms lined up in a row and a dank office with an ice machine and a Pepsi vending machine. Probably Widow McCarthy on duty at the desk or more likely sleeping one off in the back office. I knew what the inside of the rooms looked like. Plain earth tones, dingy yellow tile in the bathrooms. No pictures on the wall. Two fuzzy channels on the TV. I’d been to the Mona Lisa twice with Molly when her Dad was in town, and we couldn’t wait. I’d told Doris I’d picked up a late shift. Molly had told her dad she was sleeping at a friend’s.

I wondered if I could convince Molly to stay in Coyote Crossing and marry me. Maybe she would learn to love the boy. That made me laugh. Hell. She probably didn’t even love me. Might as well pull the moon from the sky and put it in my pocket. And anyway, I was probably going to jail.

The Mustang pulled into the hotel parking lot, parked in front of the room at the far end of the line. I didn’t slow the Peterbilt, drove right on past, just another all night trucker on his way to nowhere, USA.

I made it a quarter mile down the highway, decelerated and made a slow U-turn. I paused in the road, let the truck idle. I lit a cigarette. Let them get comfortable in there, drop their guard.

I headed back for the motel, working my way up through the gears. I thought about killing the headlights but switched on the brights instead. “Waterloo” blasted from the speakers. I hit the Mona Lisa’s parking lot full speed, angled myself toward the Mustang.

The Peterbilt plowed into the driver’s side with a
pop crunch
, like hitting an empty soda-pop can with a baseball bat. The big-rig pushed the Mustang up on its side, and I shoved it along like that for a second until it bounced out of the way. I headed back for the road, turned for another pass.

Two Mexicans spilled out of the motel room, guns in hands, a guy in red and the honcho in the black shirt. I aimed the rig at their front door and started shifting gears. Kept leaning on the horn. They lifted their pistols.

I blasted the big-rig’s horn at them just as they opened fire. Slugs punched through the windshield a foot to my right, spider-webbing the glass. The next shot inched closer, and I hunched in my seat, still shifting and pressing the gas pedal. I didn’t quite get up to speed like I’d hoped, but I guess I was making my point because both the Mexicans fled back into the hotel room.

Bad move. I blasted the horn one more time before the Peterbilt smashed through the door and window, dust and rubble

raining down on the rig’s windshield. I put it in park and killed the ignition, grabbed the revolver which had slid to the floor and climbed down from the cab. I stumbled on the rubble. An arm in a red sleeve stuck out from under the rig’s front tire. I decided I didn’t want to see any more.

I got to my feet, slipping on the loose rubble. The rig’s headlights stabbed through the swirling dust in the motel room. A figure emerged through the beams of light, like a ghost drifting through the dust cloud. He came closer, and I saw it was the honcho in the black shirt, one hand clutching a pistol, the other wiping at his eyes. He coughed hard, waved the gun in front of him.

I pointed the revolver at him. “Drop the gun,
amigo
!”

He coughed again, blinked the dust out of his eyes. “
Puerco
!”

“I said drop it.”

He fired way over my head. I pulled the trigger four times, red blotches sprouting across his chest. He twitched a little before collapsing to his knees, hovered there a moment, then toppled over.

I stood there breathing hard a moment, everything so quiet except the splashing from the bathroom where a pipe had torn loose. The place smelled like cordite and plaster dust and blood and the big-rig’s overheated engine. Another smell too, permeating the mix. Somebody’s bowels had let go.

I felt nauseated, backed out of the motel room, careful not to trip over rubble. Outside I gulped clean air. The lights were on in the motel office, so I headed that way. I didn’t hurry.

Inside at the front desk, Myrtle McCarthy was coming out of the back room, wearing a blue terrycloth robe, rubbing her eyes and putting her glasses on. She got a load of me and flinched. I could smell gin ten steps away.

“You okay, Toby?”

“I’ll live, Miss McCarthy. Just wanted to let you know there’s been a little trouble. You might want to call your insurance people in the morning.”

She looked past me at the big-rig still parked halfway into the motel room. “Hell and blood, how’d that happen?”

“It’s a long story, ma’am. I’m afraid those Mexicans are dead.”

“The one in the other room too?”

One of my eyebrows went up and made a question mark out of itself. “Other room?”

“They took two rooms right next to each other when they checked in.”

“Can you let me have the pass key, ma’am?”

She reached under the counter, came out with a key on a big green keychain, a picture of the Mona Lisa on it. She hesitated a second before handing it over.

I took the key. “I’ll be right back.”

I walked back down the line of rooms, a little faster this time. There were no lights on in the room next to the one I’d wrecked. I put the key in, turned the knob and went in fast at a crouch.

The room shook with two quick pops of gunfire, white flashes form the center of the darkness. The bullets chewed plaster off the wall an inch from my face. I went low, fired twice without aiming. When I squeezed the trigger a third time, I heard
click
.

“Fuck!”

I tossed the revolver away and threw myself in the direction of the flashes. Another shot went off , and I felt the heat of the blast on my face. I barreled into a body and we both went over. The guy was smaller than I expected. I ended up on top, punched down as hard as I could, felt and heard the smack of flesh. I punched again. I felt for his hands, found the pistol and grabbed it.

I stood, panting, backed up against the wall and flipped on the light switch. The gun in my hand was a silver .25 automatic. A little, inaccurate piece of crap. You’d need to shove the thing straight up your target’s nose to hit anything. I looked at my opponent and saw I’d just punched the shit out of a woman. My mother would have been disappointed. I wouldn’t lose any sleep. The bitch had tried to shoot me, after all.

She was a light skinned Mexican, maybe twenty-nine or thirty years old, big wads of brown hair piled on her head, messed up a little from sleeping. I figured she’d been in bed since she wore only black panties. Her breasts stood up for themselves, big but not drooping, thin waist, long legs. She worked herself into a crouch, then stood slowly, keeping her eyes on me the whole time, like a cat trying to decide between fight or flight.

I kept her own automatic pointed at her chest, retrieved my revolver and shoved it back in the holster.

We looked at each other a few seconds. I didn’t exactly know what to do with her.

“Are you going to arrest me now, cowboy?” One side of her mouth curled into a sly smile. She had only a light accent.

“You are so fucking under arrest.”

She trailed a finger under one of her breasts. “Like this? You’re going to take me in naked?”

“Get something on. You reach for anything other than clothes, and I’ll unload this toy pistol on you.”

She did it slowly, like she wasn’t bothered at all. She slipped a cottony dress with a tight floral pattern over her head, stepped into a pair of stringy sandals.

She held out her hands. “You want to cuff me.”

I didn’t have any cuffs, but I mumbled out the Miranda rights. I’d memorized them, had even practiced them in front of a mirror.

I’d killed at least four men that I knew of, but she was the first person in my career as a deputy that I’d ever arrested.

BOOK: The Deputy
4.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Corpsing by Toby Litt
The Deception by Catherine Coulter
Reversing Over Liberace by Jane Lovering
Dog Gone by Cynthia Chapman Willis
Gents 4 Ladies by Dez Burke
Hunted: BookShots by James Patterson
Kate Remembered by A. Scott Berg
Blood Sisters by Graham Masterton