Ursa Non Gratis

Part IV.

Rudy - Picking up the pieces.

Aw man, right in the middle of a good run on the vids, the phone rings. I'm into the show, let it ring, figure if its important enough, they'll call back. And they do. Seven times they let the phone ring for a minute, then call right back.

I really want to watch, so I deactivate the phone. Have to patch the wall later. Spare cable's in the garage, ain't too worried 'bout it. Bogart's about to kiss the girl. Knock on the door. I open the door, gun pointing at the gut of whoever's there, but there ain't nobody there.

"Rudy, will you put that thing away," a voice calls from the bushes on the side of the door frame.

"Duck, how the hell are you?" I ask the rhododendrons.

"Let me in and I'll tell you," she counters as she eases herself out of the bushes and into the office. She smells like soil and old oil. Means she sneaked past the dogs, slipped around through the back and came in through the bushes. Never could figure the girl out, but that's why she stayed in the military when I booked.

Missed Bogart, damn. Girl's like that, ruin everything, and just when you're ready to yell, boom, they drop something cool in yer lap. Duck ain't that different.

Simple run she says. Then she says, it should be. I've heard 'bout the rows at Jamaica Blues, and Lady D's. Give her the eye, then smile. Sure.

She nods and hands me the instructions. Pick up in the AM, 0800, take folks fer a ride, no problems. Two Border Crossings and I'll be havin' soma Gran TwoBear's Chili by midnight.

She knows me, know's I'll do it. Trolls gotta make a living, and Duck always pays well, usually I can wrangle a toy outa her, but this time, she's too worried. Hands me her backpack and smiles.

"I'll be at Willies tonight,"she tells me, then heads out the back door. Try to warn her 'bout the dogs, but stop. Girl knows them well enough. Go back but the movie's over... Feelin' down till I look inside the pack. Duck always has the coolest toys and she's nice enough to share. I'm up late playing.

Up at five, tune the 'Cuda, then start working on the Behemoth. She's tuned and primed when the first guy arrives.

Cool customer, quiet guy. Eyes big as coke bottles. He waits, then comes in. Offer him a cup a' joe. Shady customer's next. Kinda slips in, stays in the shadows. One takes a cup, the other just watches. Don't care which, 'bout then Dragger shows up.

Dragger's an old bud. Same biz. Got his van and toys, but no room in the Bo. Tell them to park in rear. Lady's the last to show, wiry, nice set of ... boots. Military, I know the type. 0800 we head out. One quick stop at Willies, we're on our way.

Uneventful trip, kinda a letdown. Me with all sorts of new toys and nobody to use em on. Go figure. Pull up to the border check. It's Ray, all business. Asks me what I've got.

"Equipment for TwoBear's place," I say. Its true enough, and that's all he needs. We chat.

Sends his wishes along and we're movin' again. Next stop, Pueblo. Stop on the other side. Michael TwoBears is there, we get waved through. He slaps the back of the Bo was we pass. I chuckle. From the sound, somebody had their gain up too high in back.

Chili's good, but they got their worries. Me, I got a job to do, hate to eat and run, but like I said, a Troll's gotta make a living...

Copyright 1998 - M.T. Decker

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