The sun shone down as I sat astride my 2016 Ultra Classic Limited Low. I had decisions ahead of me. Big ones, like what I was going to do about killing Dexter Green, and little ones, like if I was turning left or right out of Ron’s driveway.
When it came to Dexter, I was getting to the point of having more questions than answers. It’s been over a week now. Never having killed a man before, I expected to have my face plastered on whatever passed for post office wanted signs these days. If it was, I hadn’t seen it.
I started the engine, letting her think about what she wanted to do, and the two of us headed out to the right. We tracked up and to the right, connecting the dots through Maryville, Greeneville, and Johnson City, Tennessee. We crossed into Virginia, keeping to the routes that kept us in the national forests and away from people as much as we could. It was a stop in Bristol where I set my destination for the day. Roanoke, Virginia and the man who four out of five Americans knew as Greaser.
Greaser was a gear head, one of the best mechanics I had ever met. If he had a spirit animal, it was the 5.2 litre Voodoo V-8. His mother named him Earnest Cunningham, but back in the day, he wore his dark hair combed back in one of those big ol’ pompadours, the way the greasers did in the 1950s. The name stuck so well that when the preacher asked his bride if she promised to love, honor, and everything else Earnest she said she most certainly did not. She was marrying Greaser and this Earnest fellow could go to hell.
It all got straightened out and Greaser and Bethany have been married long enough to have three kids and six grandkids.
The GPS led me to a pretty little two-story house tucked back into some woods. The sun was setting as I followed the driveway around to the right of the house, to a detached garage with four bays and two more under construction. Two of the garage doors were up, the lights were on, and old Greaser was coming out from under the hood of a car.
“I cleared a space out for you,” he said, pointing to the end bay.
I hadn’t seen the man in three years, if I did my math right. His silver hair was still in the pompadour that was his signature. He’s put on some weight and there were lines to his face but who was I to judge. Bet he wasn’t waiting for whirly lights to pull him over because he’d used a Ford 150 as a blunt force weapon.
“Hippy, man, how is it you never change?” he asked, moving a pink, plastic motorcycle out of his path. “Come on, tell an old friend your secret? Good, clean living?”
I had just planted my boots upon his concrete when I stopped. “Greaser, if you’re gonna insult me like that, I’m gonna climb back on my bike and keep on riding.”
He threw his head back and laughed. “God, it is good to see you. Come on in. Hope you’re hungry. Bethany saved enough food to feed a baseball team instead of the two of us. I hope you don’t mind, she and the girls ate already. Audrey, she’s my youngest, she and our granddaughters moved in about a year ago.”
“That explains the pink,” I said, thumbing toward the plastic bike. “I knew your tastes were out there but, well, I was worried about you for a minute.”
“I’m enough of a man to wear pink,” Greaser said, his chest puffing out. “But that piece of machinery belongs to Caitlin. She just turned five.” He chuckled and leaned in. “She asked me if I could tune it up for her. ‘Parently, it doesn’t go fast enough. She said it’s lackin’ on turns, too.”
“Sounds like you have a little Greaser in the making.”
“A little daredevil is more like it. I caught her making a ramp yesterday. Don’t tell her mother.”
“Did you help her?”
“Well, of course I did,” he said, leading me toward the house. “She was going to do it one way or the other. I could teach her to do it right.”
And that had me thinking back to all of the stupid, dumb ass things I tried to jump a bike off of. It was long before I understood how ramps worked. Funny how much blood you spilled learning things the hard way.
Inside, Greaser’s house sounded a lot like mine when the family was over. Voices of young girls screaming “he’s here” carried over motherly directions to “slow down” and “stop running in the house.” Dogs were barking, don’t know if they were saying the same as the girls or the ladies, but they were insistent. In the background, a television show with an over enthusiastic laugh track found the situation hysterical, which it was.
“I’m Caitlin,” the older sister announced as she landed in front of me, then pointed to the toddler attached to her mother’s hip, “and this is Victoria but everyone calls her Tory.”
“Hey there, Tory,” I said to a sweet little this of about two. Thumb in mouth, she hid in her mother’s neck. She wanted no part of me.
That was okay. Every kid’s different. “Do they call you Caty?” I asked Caitlin.
“No,” she said simply, her large blue eyes watching me. “You ride a bike? I do, too.”
“I saw. I heard your Grandad is going to give it a tune-up.”
“Yes. I asked him to put a V-8 engine in it, but he said the frame couldn’t handle it.” She shrugged. “Maybe Santa will bring me one that can.”
“You can ask him,” I said, not trying to hold back a smile. Greaser had his hands full all right.
“Will you take me for a ride?” she asked. “I still have fifteen minutes until my bedtime.”
“Caitlin,” her grandfather said. “Mr. Conner just got here, and he’s had a long day.”
She was disappointed but not surprised as she turned away.
What the hell. Somebody should have a good day. “I have a little gas left in the tank. You need real shoes, Caitlin. Not those girly things.”
She hooted and hollered, feet pounding on stairs somewhere that I couldn’t see but we all could hear.
Greaser shook his head. “You didn’t have to do that, Hippy.”
“You didn’t have to let me crash here,” I said back.
It sounded like a pack of dogs tried to come back down those stairs all at one time. I looked to the doorway, expecting the girl to scream bloody murder. Instead, she landed on the linoleum bright eyed and out of breath along with two eighty-pound dogs who looked like they expected a ride too.
“Get your jacket, Caitlin,” her grandmother said. “It gets cold on a bike.”
“I’m fine,” she said, taking my hand.
“Get a jacket,” I said. “Something wind proof.”
Her eyes widened. “Are we gonna go fast?”
“No!” Bethany answered.
Caitlin swung her gaze to me.
I held up my hands. “Her house. Her rules.”
“Dang.” Her little shoulders slumped. “Fine.”
“I better help her or Lord knows what she’ll come back with,” Audrey said, handing Tory to her mother and following her daughter out.
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” Bethany said.
“I give my grandkids rides all the time.” That statement was 100% true. However, none of my children had given birth to the reincarnated soul of Evel Knievel. If we went faster than Bethany would have approved of it was still half the speed Caitlin wanted me to go.
And to be truthful with you, I would have loved to have found a stretch of back road and opened the engine up for the child. But we found a happy medium and topped it off with ice cream, bringing some back to the others. It’s a good day when you can have dessert followed by a home cooked meal.
Audrey’s girls climbed into her bed, which gave me the room formerly known as the guest room. I wasn’t happy with Greaser and Bethany about the situation. I had other options. I could have taken the couch, although my back would have been pissed to high heaven. I could have done a hotel or a motel.
“It’s all right, Hippy. I wouldn’t have said so otherwise.” Greaser ran his hand over his face, the lines deeper than before we started the conversation. “Audrey’s in a situation. Her deadbeat husband walked out on her and the girls. We knew thing weren’t great between them, then she calls and said he told her he doesn’t want to be a husband or father anymore. Just like that, he left them. But Hippy, that’s all he did. He won’t divorce her. He’s not supporting the girls. He barely sees them. Sometimes I wonder if Tory really knows who he is. Or if he cares if she does.”
Greaser shook his head. “How does a man do that to his family?” he asked, his voice breaking. “Marriage isn’t easy. I can understand if he didn’t want to be in his marriage anymore, fine, that’s one thing. But how do you turn your back on your children?”
“I don’t know,” I said truthfully. “It’s never been something I’ve understood.”
“He hasn’t left town. And this isn’t a big city. Everyone knows everybody’s business. Audrey couldn’t stay in the house, emotionally. I don’t know if it was the right thing or not, but I get it. That’s when she moved in here.”
“Does she have a lawyer,” I asked. “Doesn’t she have rights?”
“She’s got lawyer and the lawyer’s been trying,” he said. “But what is he supposed to do when Brad won’t do anything, like turning over his income documents? The lawyer’s stuck. Audrey’s stuck. The girls are stuck.” Greaser’s fist pounded the table. “And Brad’s the pig wallowing in the mud, enjoying every minute of it.”
“Everything okay in there?” Bethany called out.
“My hand just slipped,” Greaser called back. “Everything’s fine.”
The next morning, I climbed into one of Greaser’s three trucks and accompanied him to the three-acre plot Angela affectionately referred to as his playground. Those who didn’t look on the place with as much kindness or vision might have used words like junkyard or heap. The property was situated along what was once a private airfield and the building had begun life as a hangar. A plastic sign over the man-door announced it to be the home of “Merry Go ‘Round.”
“So you got a business now?” I asked, standing behind Greaser while he unlocked the door.
“Have been for a while,” he said. “Ended up with so much side jobs, I had to step back on day work. Bethany’s still working at the hospital, so we could ride on her benefits.” He looked over his shoulder and grinned. “Never in my life thought I’d be a small business owner. Come on in.”
Inside was dark except where light sliced past us through from the open door. Greaser flipped some heavy switches, each with a solid click. “Still got the old mercury lights. We gotta give them a minute.” He flipped a few others and a line of LEDs instantly responded. To my right was a small office, the door open. Nearly in front of me was old, round kitchen table covered with mail, magazines, and anything else that didn’t have a place. That included the four mismatched chairs. Stretching out along the wall as far as my eye could see was a kick ass work bench, loaded with tools and a hell of a lot neater than the kitchen table.
Slowly, one lumen at a time – that the unit science types use to measure the amount of light the human eye can see – the mercury lights heated and great space of the hangar came into full color view.
“Holy hell, Greaser!” I laughed in amazement at the world my friend had built. Take a museum with one of every motor vehicle you’ve ever seen, cross it with machines that did work – from vintage farm to factory presses with tubes instead of buttons, and spread all of those around vintage carnival rides, then put them together under one roof. That is what I saw. “When are you going to start to charge admission?”
He looked around and sort of laughed at himself. “I’m a premier restorer of anything mechanical, if you believe the Yelp reviews. Own about half of what you see, the other half are jobs.”
The door behind us opened. “Mornin’ Greaser. Boy it is one pretty day out there. I’m thinkin’ it’s right to work in the back forty…” The man who talked before he looked saw me. “I’m sorry. Didn’t realize we had a guest.”
“This ain’t no guest,” Greaser said. “This is Hippy. A good friend from way back in Indiana. Hippy, this is Jackson, my electrician.”
“Good to meet you, Jackson,” I said, holding out my hand. “Well, consider me free labor for the day. What can I do for you Greaser?” We argued back and forth about the value of a good meal and a clean bed. I ended up with Greaser’s short laundry list of maintenance on the building and property. He’d pay for materials and anything else I needed. Jackson would be my extra set of hands.
After inspecting the different tasks, I opted to begin with tearing off a piss poor overhang someone built over the back entrance. It was hanging on by a nail, literally. If it wasn’t taken down, it would be coming down on it’s on sometime soon and taking part of the building siding with it. Beyond the pain and suffering it would save my friend, this project gave me time to talk to Jackson.
The man was about the same age as Greaser’s Audrey. And, sure enough, they’d only been a year apart in high school. I asked if he knew her husband and his face changed from easy going to negative.
“We were in the same class,” he said. “On the same baseball team for years. I was at their wedding.”
I was on a mission to find out if Brad was the deadbeat Greaser painted him to be. He wouldn’t be the first parent to put blame everywhere except on their kid. Teresa works in a school and tells me the stories all the time. I suppose, if you want to be positive about things, you could say those parents are standing up for their kids, you know, being their shield.
Reality is, people don’t learn to stand if they’re always sitting. You don’t learn to run if you’re always being carried. You don’t learn to fly if you never leave the nest.
Now, I can equally suppose, if you leave the nest before you learn how to fly you can be like “oh shit” and then crash to the ground.
There’s gotta be a balance. Learn to fly, then leave the nest.
“The thing about Brad,” Jackson said, pulling me out of my own head, “is he’s all about Brad. I think he liked having a girlfriend and he liked being engaged and getting married. Even being married. I thought he was happy anyway. Until…”
He trailed off. There are somethings you aren’t supposed to say out loud, like someone you personally know and once liked didn’t like being a father. And, if I was reading into what he was saying, likely it was because being a father wasn’t about him, it was about someone else.
Were kids inconvenient?
Oh, fuck yeah. That’s why you shouldn’t have them until you want them.
Because when you want them? The price of inconvenience is a raindrop compared to the ocean of love and the other good shit.
“I get it,” I said, then brought the conversation to the jacked-up canopy. Another problem had found me, now I needed some space to find a solution.
I stayed with Greaser for a few more days on the excuse of getting his “honey do” list done. You know me by now. I needed to do my fact checking on Deadbeat Brad. That was easy. First because, at her attorney’s and everyone else’s advice, Audrey documented the hell out of Brad’s deadbeatness. Second, because a smile and a smoke will still get most anyone to talk about anything. Roanoke was ten times the size of my hometown, but it was a small city or a large town. It was the kind of place where your kid’s current second grade teacher was your second-grade teacher and the cop pulling you over knew your father. Third, because I called back down to Chattanooga and Max’s teenage boy scouted Deadbeat Brad on the social medias for me.
If that boy wasn’t on my side, I’d be scared.
Anyway, I had an awesome idea, but it was more than I could handle on my own. I brought Greaser and Jackson in and we spent a day setting the stage, so to speak. The question was how to get Deadbeat Brad out to the hangar.
“That’ll be easy,” Greaser said. He pulled out his cell and dialed the man in question. “Bradley, I’ve had enough of this. I want you out of my daughter’s and granddaughter’s lives and I’m willing to pay.” The muscle in Greaser’s jaw ticked as he listened to the response. “We’ll talk about that but face-to-face. Come to the hangar. Tonight. Nine o’clock.” He ended the connection and put the phone down. “He’ll be here,” he said, and then paced away from us, going deep into corner where light didn’t penetrate.
Jackson joined us for dinner at Greaser’s house. Greaser and I worked the grill while Jackson pushed the girls on the swing. Bethany and Audrey were in the kitchen fixing sides.
“She knows something’s up,” Greaser said grumpily. “Bethany. I can never get away with anything with her.”
“You don’t have a poker face,” I said. “What did you tell her?”
“Just what you said. That there was a problem that need taking care of and that only you, me and Jackson could do it. She shouldn’t worry and we’d be back after a few hours.”
I shook my head. “And people say I talk. Stay here while I fix this.” I went in and had a conversation with Bethany. By the end, she pretty much knew everything.
“After,” she said, “Audrey will need to know. Brad will use it against her. You can’t leave her in the dark. She needs to be able to prepare herself for what he might throw at her.”
“I can see that,” I said, conceding that a deadbeat who won’t get off the couch for their own child’s birthday would weaponize what Greaser and I did. If he could. “We’ll take precautions,” I said, and went to turn to the door.
A hand on my forearm stopped me.
“And I want to watch.”
Nine o’clock and the gravel parking lot was empty except for Greaser’s truck. Jackson’s truck and my bike were parked at the back door, where a new canopy safely hung, impossible to see without rounding the large building.
“He’s late,” Jackson said as straightened the black tarp over the tall frame.
“It’s a control thing,” I said from where I checked the rigging on the old carnival ride again. “It’s a all-about-Deadbeat Brad-thing.”
“He’ll be here.” Grease stood at the small window overlooking the lot. “Even if he doesn’t plan to take my money, he’ll want to see me sweat.” He turned toward us, running a hand over his silver hair. “It’s like Hippy said. It’s about control for Brad.”
Jackson crossed his arms. “And we are going to take it.”
Artificial white light flashed through the window. Silently, we went to our places. I went to the rig, stepping into the shadows where I wouldn’t be seen. Until it was time.
Jackson slid into Greaser’s office. Within steps, Jackson would have Deadbead Brad at an advantage.
Greaser went to the door and opened it. “Bradley. Thanks for coming.”
“I was surprised you called. More surprised at what you said.” Then Deadbeat Brad walked in. “What makes you think I want your money?”
It was the first time I’d put eyes on the man. He wore shorts and a polo shirt. His hair was cut neat enough, and he had a goat-tee that hung a few inches down his neck. There wasn’t anything special about him. I mean, if I was a woman, he wouldn’t have done it for me but, just the same, if I saw him in a Walmart my head wouldn’t go to deadbeat.
“When haven’t you wanted money, Bradley?”
This was one of the trickiest parts of the sting. Greaser keeping it together. He didn’t have a temper, he wasn’t that kind of man. But every man could be dangerous when he was facing the one ripping his child down one tear at a time.
“It all comes down to money,” Jackson said, stepping out of the office. Which was not part of the plan.
Deadbeat Brad whirled, his arms out, ready for a fight. “Jackson. What are you doing here?”
“Making sure Greaser doesn’t kill you. Have a seat.” Jackson gestured to one of the seats at the table. “He has an offer for you and didn’t trust himself not to do something more. Isn’t that right, Greaser?”
Greaser nodded as he sank a chair and then found his voice. “This needs to end.”
Jackson musta picked up on the same thing I did. He stepped in, smooth as butter, though.
Deadbeat Brad pulled out the chair next to Greaser and fell heavily into it. “Daddy swooping in as usual to making this better for his little girl?”
“That’s what good parents do,” Greaser said. “That’s something you wouldn’t know anything about.”
“Greaser,” Jackson warned softly.
Deadbeat Brad sat up quickly, leaning forward and jabbing at Greaser with his index finger. “Watch what you say to me, old man. I’ve left Audrey and the girls alone. If I wanted to, I could make it worse. So much worse.”
Greaser shook his head, bit his tongue. “Divorce her. You both can move on.”
“Why should I?” he barked, his face turning ugly. “You know how much it will cost me? Buying out the house? Child support? Why should I sign over my paycheck to her?”
Greaser mimicked Deadbeat Brad’s pose. “Because you only own half the house. Because they are your children, too.”
Deadbeat Brad launched to his feet. “Fuck you, Greaser.” When Greaser rose, Deadbeat planted his hands on his chest.
Instead of Greaser staggering backwards, he caught Deadbeat’s hands, pinning them to his chest. Forty some years of working with his hands had given Greaser the power of Popeye, if you all remember who he was. And Greaser didn’t need to eat spinach.
Jackson was quick on the handcuffs, not that Greaser let go even after Deadbeat was bedazzled in silver.
“What are you fucking playing at, Jackson?” Deadbeat went for bravado and failed. “Greaser. Let me go.”
Greaser was calm. Scary calm. “Why should I?”
Deadbeat didn’t have an answer.
“Jackson.” In the name, Greaser gave a quiet order.
His man complied and, in another two minutes, we were back on our original plan. Deadbeat was cuffed and in route to the rig. He cursed and then threatened, running the gambit from cops to rape.
Jackson punched him then. Made him bleed. I’m pretty sure it was the first punch the kid had ever thrown, and it was a good one.
Deadbeat was quieter after. He knew this shit got serious.
In front of him was a carnival thrill ride created by Greaser and modified by me and Jackson. The platform sat chest high. Deadbeat Brad’s seat was at the base on a post that went higher then those hanging mercury lights. Some ten feet in front of the seat was a bank of twelve televisions on a black metal rack. The screens were off.
Between Deadbeat Brad and the televisions was another adaptation from the carnival. The prize wheel. Only our wheel didn’t have prizes.
I stepped onto the platform, to my position next to the computer Jackson set up for me. I pressed the first key stroke and stage lights came on, right in Deadbeat’s eyes.
“Turn those off,” Deadbeat ordered. “I can’t see.”
I ignored him and initiated the second sequence. The twelve screens flashed to life, each with two feeds from a camera somewhere on the black web. Faces of all nationalities peered out, many leaning in to get a closer look.
Jackson climbed onto the platform and took his post behind a mounted camera. The light on the side of the camera changed from red to green.
“Jackson. I know who you are,” Deadbeat said, threat clear in his voice.
“After tonight, everyone’s going to know what you are,” Jackson said. “We are live.”
Deadbeat Brad blinked, ducking his head to see. “Who are you? Who are they?”
“I am your host. Couldn’t you tell by my suit?” I asked. The shirt, jacket and tie were borrowed from Greaser, but the jeans and boots were my own. I looked respectable from the waist to the neck, which was all Jackson’s camera would capture. Next, I did a Price Is Right wave to the monitors. “They are your audience, our contestants” I enabled the audio feed and spoke in my best host voice. “Welcome, friends, to Fuck the Fucking Fucker, a gameshow of reconciliation.”
“A gameshow?” Deadbeat asked, his voice choirboy high. “Of what?”
“Reconciliation,” I said. “It’s a Catholic thing, where you pay for your sins.”
“I don’t have any sins.” His denial was rapid and adamant. And long. And empty. “You gotta believe me.” He turned to the audience. “You gotta believe me. They’re crazy. Greaser? Where are you?”
“It’s just you and me, Deadbeat. And our audience. Here’s how our game works. One of our audience members will be selected at random to play. I’m going to read one of the deadbeat things you’ve done and then spin this.” I turned and pressed another button, a spotlight lit. “This wheel. Our contestant will press the red button on their screen to stop the wheel we will learn the price for that transgression. The game continues until we run out of deadbeat moves you’ve made, which will not happen, all of our contestants get a turn, or you become incapacitated.”
“Incapacitated,” he squealed. “What the hell does that mean?”
“We’ll find out. Our first contestant is Tokyo459. Here is your deadbeat moment: Deadbeat Brad did not help plan the birthday party for his younger daughter’s first birthday. He also didn’t buy a present.”
“I was working,” Deadbeat shouted.
I put the wheel in motion.
Tokyo459 watched carefully and then gave a shout of, “Now!”
The indicator at the top lit as did the slice of pie that was there at the time. “BURN,” I read. “My lighter, three seconds, you name body part.”
“What!?!” Deadbeat shouted.
Tokyo ignored him. Well, he ignored what he was saying. He paid plenty attention to Deadbeat’s body. “His chin. I want to see if goat-tee burns.”
“ You can’t do that,” Deadbeat shouted.
“We got a fire extinguisher,” I assured him. One magically appeared by my boot, put there by Greaser. I moved it near to Deadbeat’s chair. He tried to avoid the flame of course, but he could only move so far. His goat-tee didn’t catch fire but it smolder and stunk.
It freaked the son-of-a-bitch out.
“I’ll do it,” he shouted. “I’ll divorce her. I’ll give her child support.”
“Nice to hear,” I said. “Our next contestant—”
“I said I’d do it,” he shrieked. “Aren’t you gonna stop?”
You could see it in his eyes. He didn’t get it. So, I cut him some slack. “Deadbeat, you mistake what’s going on here. This isn’t some bullshit scare tactic to get you to man up and do the right thing. You’re passed that.”
He shook his head like it was on a swivel.
“Look, you could have done things straight from the start,” I said. “Sat down with your wife, figured things out and made the split. When people can’t figure it out for themselves, that’s when lawyers and courts get involved. Sometimes courts make the best of bad situations and sometimes there’s only making bad situations worse. Then there’s the path you chose. Stall. Duck. Deny. Meanwhile your children are growing, which means they need clothes, and to grow they need to eat, which means they need food. You haven’t provided for your children. You’re a deadbeat, Brad.”
The insult soaked in, turning his ears red. “You act like I’m the only person in the world who is trying to protect myself—”
“From your own children? There are other deadbeats in the world. Male and Female. But you’re the only one here. BloodLov3r, you’e up. Since Deadbeat left his family, he averages having his daughters twice a month for four hours, always bringing them back early. Let’s spin the wheel.”
“All they do is cry!” Deadbeat sounded a lot like what he was accusing his babies of doing.
“And…..STOP!” BloodLov3r slapped a keyboard. “Soar? Damn it. I wanted slice.”
I turned and pressed another button. Hydraulics hissed and a roller coaster harness lowered over Deadbeat, locking him in securely.
But not too firmly.
“Count down, BloodLov3r.”
Deadbeat was frantic, trying to figure out what was about to happen to him. BloodLov3r drew out the countdown, enjoying the fear he was inciting. “…3…2…1…Go!”
Behind the rig, Greaser ran the mechanism that lifted Deadbeat thirty feet straight in the air. It prolly felt like it was going to launch through the top of the hangar. But he didn’t. He slowed to the top, then fell back down. Gravity, well, she’s a bitch. He fell until the last few feet, then those hydraulics kicked in again, cushioning the landing.
Feet on the ground, Deadbeat was sweating and white was a sheet. His chest rose and fell, rose and fell.
Soar couldn’t come up again or I’d lose Deadbeat before we got any learning accomplished.
As it happened, it wasn’t a worry. The wheel stopped on CREEPY twice. One was a huge ass spider, probably hyped up on steroids, and the other three centipedes. Deadbeat pissed himself when the latter crawled up his short leg.
SLICE was hit on. The woman owning it had me cut carve the word “deadbeat” into his chest.
BURN hit two more times. The first one was applied to the back of his knees. An unconventional yet effective choice. Balls was predictable but a crowd pleaser.
Deadbeat wasn’t at all cooperative and so our little game was exhausting for all of us. Greaser and Jackson had to play roles. We talked about it and knew it was likely. They didn’t hesitate, even when Deadbeat spit on them.
Then the indicator lit up SOAR again. Deadbeat paled. Our contestant punched the button as soon as it appeared and Greaser had him flying before he could cry, “No!” As soon as he landed, the player hit it again and Greaser had him back in the air. The third time he came down, he was passed out.
We closed the show out and hustled Deadbeat into his truck. Greaser insisted on driving Deadbeat home. If he woke up, he wanted to be the first face he saw. Jackson and I followed, just in case. There was no trouble. We left Deadbeat in his truck, having taken the pound of flesh, and went back to the hangar to dismantle proof of the night.
The sun was rising when I sat on the borrowed bed. I pulled off my boots, my feet grateful for the cool morning air. It was too early to call Teresa. Still, I picked up my phone, thinking about it.
The screen flashed to life. Missed texted messages were stacked up, almost half a day old.
Call re: Dexter Green
He was dead man walking
You may have killed him, but someone murdered him first.
No Brads were injured in the making of this story, but there should be a special place in hell for deadbeats of the male and female variety.
According to Merriam Webster, first known use of the word f*ck as a verb dates to the 14th century
I wish I make half the stuff I invented for this episode. That would be cool.
Welcome to April, Josh. Godspeed.