The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man

BOOK: The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man
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To W. Chase Cameron

My son, my best man





Title Page

Copyright Notice



1. A Conversation with Albert Einstein

2. Money for Nothing

3. Something Feels Wrong

4. Repo Madness

5. Exactly Fifteen Miles an Hour

6. The Slander Clause

7. There Never Was an Alan Lottner

8. The Soul of Lisa Marie

9. To Swipe or Not to Swipe

10. I'm Not Dead

11. Where the Bodies Are Buried

12. What Everyone Does in a Situation Like This

13. Out of Control

14. And There She Was

15. No, I Did Not Mean to Do That

16. What the Psychic Said

17. You and Me, Kermit

18. The Man with the Shovel

19. A Funeral for a Friend

20. Why They Died

21. Face-to-Face with a Snake

22. The Numbers Stop Adding Up

23. Katie, Me … And Her Dad

24. Too Subtle for Me

25. Those Psychic People Are Crazy

26. Free and Clear

27. A Meeting with Sheriff Strickland

28. Fear of Drowning

29. No Time Left on the Clock

30. Have You ID'd the Body in the Alley?

31. The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man


Acknowledgments, Apologies, and Afterthoughts

Excerpt from
The Dog Master

By W. Bruce Cameron

About the Author






I'm afraid.

I'm afraid, and I don't know

I glance around out my windshield. If I'm in any danger at all it's from this road I'm bouncing along on, a rutted indentation in the leafy forest floor that looks like it was last traveled by covered wagons. At any moment the two-track might fade away like an old rumor and then I'll just be driving cross-country through the Michigan woods in an Oldsmobile station wagon, plowing into trees and rocks. I'm alone and if I break an axle it will be a long hike back to the highway.

But that's not what's bothering me. The vehicle I'm driving was built by General Motors during what must have been a national steel surplus—the front end sticks out like the prow of a battleship. It looks as if it were designed to run into things. I'm not afraid of crashing.

No, this is more basic, more primitive, a chilling call from somewhere in my deep subconscious that startles my pulse rate and causes my eyes to widen involuntarily. Just as I crest a small rise I ease my foot onto the brake, coming to a groaning halt.

There is absolutely nothing to see but acres of stunning oak and maple trees, lit up by a blazing autumn sun and waving their branches in the gentle breeze as they drop their leaves to the forest floor in an audible rain of color. I am deeply committed to a road to nowhere and can't reverse course save by driving backward for at least four miles—I doubt my car would forgive me, and I
my neck wouldn't. But that's what my instincts are urging me to do: back up. Get out.
an inner voice whispers.

Escape from what?

After a time I overrule my instincts and push ahead, rolling my eyes as if I have a passenger to whom I am apologizing for such squeamishness. It's a beautiful day, and the property I'm heading out to show is a pretty piece of land on the river—the leaves will be dancing by on the clear water in a colorful flotilla. I was looking forward to it until I came down with a case of the jitters.

At a sharp bend I see something that gives me a start: two men standing beside a pickup truck. They both raise their heads and stare at me as I bounce past, not reacting at all to my attempt at a jaunty wave. I know one of them, it occurs to me, but for some reason I can't think of the name. From their surprised expressions, I can tell that neither of them are the person I'm meeting—besides, my prospect said he'd bring his wife.

After less than ninety more yards the road ends and I've arrived at my destination: the remains of a cabin that burned down nearly ten years ago. Rusted bedsprings and flattened tin cans among the broken glass tell the story of a place that nobody bothered to rebuild after some campers apparently got the bright idea of starting a fire in a chimney full of debris. Now the chimney is all that's left, crumbling with age but still standing defiant. I wheel my car through the yellow weeds and stop where the front door used to be. When I shut off the engine the resulting quiet makes me want to turn it back on. I'm still that uneasy. Still don't know why.

I slide out of the car, hesitate, and then walk a few paces to peer at the rusted handle of an old-fashioned icebox lying by itself in the grass. There's not much else to look at except the river, just ten yards across at this point, so I stroll down to its banks and stare into the dark-green water.

A flash of gold catches my eye. Curious, I reach for it, the current numbingly cold against my wrist.

I'm holding a class ring: Kalkaska High School. It's probably valuable to someone—I decide to put it in my pocket and drop it off at the principal's office the next time I am in that small town. The ring has initials stamped into the inside. Someone would probably like to have it back. My resolve to turn it in makes me feel good about myself, a mission with unselfish aim.

I climb back to the flattened, burned-out footprint of the cabin. The couple I'm meeting isn't here yet: I hope they aren't intimidated by the sad shape of the road and are back at the turnoff, trying to decide whether to risk their car's suspension. I don't want to spend any more time here alone than I have to.

I whirl and gasp, then laugh weakly. The two men by the truck have followed me on foot, and are marching toward me now with oddly serious expressions. Perhaps they believe I am trespassing; I will have to explain my business.

“Hi there,” I call, clearing my throat. “Incredible day, isn't it?”

They are less than twenty yards away. The one I know—now what is his name?—is average height, midthirties. It strikes me that the reason I can't remember what to call him is because he looks different; he has a full head of jet-black hair now, whereas the last time I saw him his scalp was covered with only a few wisps. A toupee. I must remember not to stare when I am talking to him, even though it looks as if he's covered his head with a dead house cat.

The toupee guy's companion is short and muscular, with green eyes and skin still dark from a summer working out of doors. He looks like a laborer, one of the men I've seen engaged in an interminable road project in town, and as if to dress the part he carries a short shovel in his hands.

The one I know exchanges a look with the other as they close the gap between us. Neither of them answers.

And that's when it hits me: It's
these men
I'm afraid of. I fling an arm up just as the laborer swings his spade at me.

I catch the blade of the shovel with my forearm and crash against the side of my car, gasping. The other one is reaching for me but I keep spinning, trying to ignore the pain. I fall to the ground and roll and the shovel misses me, biting dirt instead.

They are both right there but the one with the toupee slips a bit in the mud and that is all I need to leap to my feet and run, my numb arm flailing uselessly at my side. They are right behind me, making their first sounds as they grunt and gasp in pursuit, but then after twenty, thirty yards, they fade away.

I'm in shock, but out of the fog of my confusion it occurs to me that I can run. I'm good at it. I look down and I am wearing runner's shoes, and even with the fear coursing through me my legs are almost joyously strong, pumping up and down in an even rhythm. I can run faster than they can, faster and longer, and I am going to get away.

As I pound down the road I think about the one with the shovel. No expression, his green eyes watching me, looking at the place on my head where the blade of his weapon would hit. He was trying to kill me. Why did this happen? How could something like this be happening?

I hear their truck and look over my shoulder. Like a fool I have been running on the road, I am still on the road! They are less than thirty yards away, coming very fast. I turn and leap into the woods to my right. A low branch slaps my shins and I stumble and fall, sliding on the wet leaves. It's okay, I'm okay, and I'm back up. They won't catch me now. I duck and weave, stumbling over the stumps and fallen trees littering the forest floor.

Then I'm down again, falling hard. My right leg is completely numb, and when I roll and try to leap back up, it won't cooperate, sliding uselessly beneath me.
I stare in disbelief at the crimson stain of blood soaking through my pants at the calf. I touch the muscle and it feels shredded; my finger finds a small hole in the cloth.

I've been shot.

No fair, no fair,
I want to sob. Now that I understand what's going on I can compensate, and I am hopping forward on my left leg, gritting my teeth. I am moving much more slowly now.

No fair that they have a gun.

Then a mighty blow knocks me forward and I don't even feel it when my head bounces against the dirt. When I come to a stop I am on my back, looking up at the clear blue sky, orange and red leaves cascading in lazy circles down onto me.

This is the last thing I am ever going to see,
I tell myself. Towering over me is a massive oak tree, more than four feet in diameter. A wet, black hole big enough for a man to sit in lies just below the split of the oak's two mighty limbs. I stare at the tree, memorizing it, wanting to take something with me when I die.

I hear the two men approach, moving slowly. They stand above me, just out of my vision. I am unable to turn my head to look at them, to ask them why they have killed me. The question asked by everyone ever betrayed: How could you do this to me?

“Thought you said no one ever comes out here,” one of them accused. “You know who he is?”

“Never seen him before.”


“I didn't want to shoot him. Now what?” I get the distinct impression he spits as he poses his question.

“Well, we can't just leave him. There would be forensics on the bullet. And a murder right now…”

There is a sigh. “I suppose we'll have to bury him right here, then.”

“I think so, yes.”

A gust of wind and the oak creaks, then there is a rattle as hundreds more leaves release their hold and cascade to the ground.

“He breathing?”

BOOK: The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man
8.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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