An Old Cowboy Just Doesn’t Know When To Quit

Mustangs Rounded up by Helicopter copy-small-17

Ol’ Jughead Thompson and me were leavin’ outta Spooner, Wisconsin heading for Eau Claire for our next rodeo. It was 11:00 pm Friday, August the fourth and we had to be in Eau Claire by 10:00 am Saturday for the draw for Saturday night’s rodeo. We got a late start because we had to wait for Jughead to stop pissin’ blood.

I been knowin’ Jughead for going on thirty years now and I was hopin’ he learned a lesson in Spooner. At least he wouldn’t take a full finger tuck this time. He would play by the rules. Earlier tonight his bronc stood quietly as he pulled his riggin’. When he nodded, I opened the gate and he got wadded up into the gate. I thought they would give him another chance to nod but before he could get settled back in, that big flathead saw the crack in the gate and he blew out of the chute. His head, neck, and everything just disappeared as he bucked and kicked. For a moment ol’ Jughead actually looked like a bareback rider again until that damn flathead jerked the handhold out of his hand and it wasn’t long before Jughead was flat on his back. He was out for a few seconds and didn’t remember much when he came to. He said he recalled the horse’s head almost touching the ground and then the lights went out.

We picked him up and loaded him in my rig and then I went and got our horses and loaded them before we took off for the Spooner Hospital.

The doctor there in the ER wanted Jughead to spend the night but he didn’t want to forfeit his rodeo fee in Eau Claire, so we left. We no sooner hit the outskirts of town when I had to stop so he could piss out some blood.

My name is Bill Toft. My friends call me Buck, or when they are jabbin’ at me, Buck Toff. When I was younger, I rode saddle broncs and bare backs, but now I’m too old for that. No way I want to put myself through that pain anymore. My body hurts just gettin’ outta’ bed every mornin’

We arrived in Eau Claire in the middle of a heavy rain. Jughead drew #88 name of Widow Maker.

“I’m gettin’ on that son of a bitch,” Jughead declared.

“Don’t you think it’s about time you acknowledge the corn. You just ain’t made out for riding bucking stock. You have a lot of heart, little talent, and no quit in you. Like a bull, you don’t know when to quit. That’s a recipe for a quick death, little buddy. Let’s just stick to being pick up riders and hauling rodeo stock and leave the rest of this shit to the young ones. You ain’t going to like hearing this, Jughead, but…”

“Some things are better off left unsaid,” Jughead replied, glaring at me.“But you are going to say it anyway, aren’t you,Buck?”

“Yep, can’t help myself. If you do this, you will be sucking blended food through a straw for the next six months. Worse case, you’re going to end up in the bone orchard.”

“Hell, I still got some kick in me, Buck. I know I can ride this horse. Look at him. That horse looks dead.”

“So do you Jughead. I gotta say this, you lasting eight seconds on that horse is as likely as the Pope leading a gay pride parade.”

“Well, we’ll just see, won’t we?”

“Yep, common sense is like deodorant. The ones that need it the most don’t use it.”

“I assume you are referring to me?”

“Yep, Jughead, I am. Listen, if you feel yourself losing it, just choke that horn, will ya?”

“No way. Ol’ Jughead never has and never will be caught choking the horn. It just won’t happen.”

Well, that ‘ol dead horse threw Jughead ‘bout up to heaven and when he landed, he landed on his head before a hind foot from that bronc landed down on his chest.

I was looking down at Jughead in a crowd of cowboys and he gave me a warm smile as well as a thumbs up. Then I heard someone say, “Okay boys, let’s get as many hands as we can under him and lift him onto the stretcher.”

They put him into what I assumed was an ambulance. I crawled in after him and we took off. The driver was cursing as we hit some pot holes.

“I don’t know if I’m going to survive this one, Buck Toft,” Jughead groaned.

“You’re going to make it, Jughead. I remember that time in Noches, Texas, about twenty years ago, when you were in the recovery room and your spleen ended up in the operating room trash can. You walked away from that one. You’ll walk away from this too. From now on, we will spend our time spreading hay and hauling bucking stock, not trying to ride ‘em.”

Jughead nodded, smiled, and closed his eyes.

“You all right back there?” the driver asked, as the stretcher rolled across the floor and slammed into the side of the vehicle.

The ambulance driver wasn’t actually an ambulance driver, he was tending the beer tent and he had to close it down when they asked him to drive Jughead to the hospital. Actually, it wasn’t an ambulance, it was an old yellow cab and the driver was slurring his words.

“Damn, the gate is closed. Hey, girls, have them boys open that gate,” he yelled. I was sitting next to him. He turned around and was holding a can of Blatz Beer.

“How’s he doing?”

“Not good, he’s rolling around like a damned billiard ball,” I yelled.

“God damn right it’s rolling. We’ll get him there in no time. Now don’t let him die on me. He’s pretty old to be doin’ this, ridin’ broncs, ain’t he?”

“That’s what I’ve been tryin’ to tell him.”

Turns out Jughead didn’t last the ride. I don’t know if it was the ride on the bronc or the ride in that old Yellow Cab that did him in, but deep down in my heart, I know’d it was his stubbornness that finally did him in. He just didn’t know when to quit. I think the good Lord finally did him a favor calling him home but I sure am going to miss that boy.

Max Fly – U977 German U-Boat

UFO Athens Ohio 1965
UFO Athens Ohio 1965

 

Max Fly and Hap Schultz are recruited by an outed CIA agent who heads up a clandestine element of agents that believe that the JFK assassination was orchestrated by former Nazis and their boss, Allen Dulles and that it goes higher than that – much higher.
Max and Hap resurrect their rodeo career as the cover for their covert activities as they travel the circuit from Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before they head to Mexico and finally South America as they search for missing Nazis. There, Max and Hap find themselves falling into a vortex of a bizarre hidden society and the unknown living hell framed by the Nazi Party.

In the beginning…

You work like a son of a bitch for weeks on end and nothing makes sense. You begin to wonder why you are wasting your time and your client’s money. You are confused and lost in a convoluted world of lies and misleading statements. But then one day it clicks. Somebody tells you something. You think of something you saw, read, or heard and suddenly, everything makes sense but here’s the kicker, most of the time you wish it didn’t. Because the things we are hired to figure out are some of the most revolting things in the world.
One day you wake up and find yourself thrust in the midst of other people’s flotsam and you wonder how you got there and that is exactly what happened to me. The story I’m about to tell you is true. It happened a long time ago and some of the details are becoming blurred in my old age. It all began in the winter of 1969, December to be exact, six years after the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Let me rephrase that, my involvement began in December of 1969.
The story of the Kecksburg incident begins at 4:45 PM, December 9, 1965.
From northern Canada to western Pennsylvania, thousands of witnesses described “an orange fireball tearing across the evening sky towards the southeast, followed by a trail of smoke. Thirteen witnesses included pilots spread throughout Ontario, Michigan, and Ohio. They were along the flight path of this bell-shaped object.
Once over Ohio, however, the object clearly demonstrated that it was not a typical meteor, nor a crash in the ordinary sense of “space debris,” for according to witnesses, it stopped, stood still “for a few seconds” and then changed its course towards Pennsylvania.
Then I got that phone call, the one that would change my life forever.

JFK Murder Solved – Fiction By David Hesse

He glanced at his watch. It was 11:45 pm and the street was still deserted. He had been standing there for fifteen minutes. It was a Sunday night and the buildings were dark. A lone streetlight cast shadows across the street and sidewalk and he watched the mist as the wind blew it across the yellow beam put forth by the light. It was remarkably quiet. Not a sound. Nothing!
Earlier that evening, the fog moved in and soon after the heavy mist began to fall. The tall thin-faced man pulled the collar of his trench coat up around his neck and pulled down the brim of his hat to keep the dampness out. Nothing about him drew attention. He kept an eye on the phone booth down the street. It was still empty. He reached into his breast pocket and removed a package of Chesterfield cigarettes. He tapped the package on the back of his hand and bent down and removed a stick with his teeth. He replaced the package in his pocket and removed his lighter. He spun the wheel, igniting the flint and a flame shot up momentarily illuminating his lined and haggard face. He hadn’t slept in two days. He snapped the lid shut and returned it to his pocket. The smoke he exhaled was lost in the thick fog that enveloped him.
He looked around. He didn’t see anything, but he felt it. He didn’t like the feeling. He stuck to the plan to make sure he wasn’t followed, but you just never knew. From experience, he knew he couldn’t trust anyone and it was one helluva way to live your life.
He glanced at his watch once more. It was 11:53. He took one last drag of his cigarette and flipped it in a nearby puddle. He listened to the brief hiss before the butt was extinguished.
He inhaled deeply and looked to his right and left once again to make sure nobody was around before he moved out. Hurriedly, he crossed the street to the phone booth. He stepped in and closed the door. A light went on. He wrapped his hand in his handkerchief and smashed the light, enveloping him in darkness. He lifted the receiver and dropped in a dime. He knew the number by heart and had dialed it many times in the dark. The phone rang once before it was picked up. There was complete silence on the other end.
The tall man said, “7-1-1-3-4. I’ve been burned.”
“Where are you?”
“Zone three, drop one.”
“Stay there.”
The line went dead.
He hung up the phone and took a deep breath. He lit up another cigarette and hungrily sucked in the smoke. His throat was raw. He had been smoking too many of these things. He opened the door and tossed it across the sidewalk. He reached under his coat and removed his gun, a 9mm Beretta. He chambered a round and put his hand and gun in his outside right coat pocket. Even though he dry cleaned the area he could never be too careful.
Quickly he walked to the corner and turned left heading toward an alley behind an old warehouse. He stepped into the shadows and waited. His mind wandered to his earlier conversation with Serena and he couldn’t erase it from his mind.
“Paul, she said, “I have the bona fides, documents that prove the CIA along with a German expat, one of those Paperclip Nazi’s, named DeMohrenschildt, a Dallas oil geologist and close friend of Lee Harvey Oswald’s, was in on the plot to kill John F. Kennedy and it goes higher than we thought. Paul, this makes me sick.”
It had been so long since anyone called him Paul, he had to pause for a moment to gather his thoughts. “Okay, put it together and meet…”
Was that a click on his phone, or hers? “Selena, did you hear that?”
“Yes, I have to go. I’ll meet you…”
Those were her last words. He heard her scream and a moment later an unknown voice came on the line.
“You’re next Paul. We know where you are.”
The line went dead.
It wasn’t long before a black Lincoln limousine pulled around the corner and came to a stop in front of the alley. The back door opened as it slowly rolled by and Paul jumped in closing the door behind him.
When he caught his breath he said, “We lost our Asset, Selena. They got to her this morning and they outed me. They called me by name.”
As they drove away his handler looked at him and gave him a scotch. “We are going to have to bring you in, Paul.”
“Why? I am about to tie this whole thing up. We got ‘em right where we want them. What we gathered isn’t chicken feed. It’s some serious stuff.”
“No, we don’t.”
“What?”
“Your swallow was killed last night. She was beaten and raped and dumped in the East River. They found her body this morning. She is currently at the morgue. Her apartment was trashed and her camera, typewriter, and files are all gone. Nothing.”
The tall man was quiet for a moment, taking this all in. If this was true, all the work he put together for the past year was ruined, compromised. Without supporting documentation, all he had was his word and he would be going up against some of the most formidable men in the world, not just the CIA but the President of the United States himself.
Paul threw back the scotch and looked over at his handler and found himself looking down the barrel of a silencer.
“I’m sorry Paul.”
Phatt, the sound of the silenced gun was the last thing Paul heard before the .22 caliber slug entered his skull, mixing up what was left of his brain. The slug didn’t exit his skull. It was the perfect caliber round for an execution.
He died instantly.

The Big “H” A Short Story By David Hesse

 

 

Hat and Boots

“We’ve been waiting for you.”
The sound of the blast had been deafening. Blood and brain were splattered against the mirror hanging behind the couch. One of the hinges on the door to the kitchen was blown off. Smoke and the smell of gunpowder filled the air. The guy who stood next to me was now in my grasp. I could feel the flutter of his heart against my hand as his life left him. His face had been ripped like canvas; whoever I was holding, would not have an open casket at his wake. I felt something warm running down my face; blood. I was shot. My left shoulder was also covered in blood, my blood. It oozed out of the holes put there by the rat shot fired from the twelve gauge sawed off shotgun in the hands of the person standing against the far wall. I heard the cha-chunk of another round being chambered. There were two of them. They were small and thin and dressed in black and covered in tats. They looked like kids, both were wearing white hockey goalie masks. Their eyes shone like black obsidians through the slits in the masks. One held the shotgun and the other held an automatic Tec 9 with a 32 round clip. Both weapons illegal. The Tec 9 since 1994. The sawed-off shotgun since1934. But that doesn’t matter. The bad guys still have them.
I was paralyzed and numb; frozen where I stood. The black eyes behind both masks stared at me. The one holding the shotgun pointed it at my face and squeezed the trigger.
I sit up in bed, drenched in sweat and gasping for air, another fucking nightmare. My body feels limp and I am unable to speak. My head feels like someone is applying hydraulic pressure to it. I don’t know where I am at first. I look around. The surroundings are unfamiliar to me. The furnishings are cheap. So is the television sitting on the maple dresser against the wall at the end of the bed. On the wall over the television set hangs a mirror. I see my face looking back at me. I hardly recognize myself. What I see scares the shit out of me. I look like a fucking zombie, an upright cadaver. I am pale and clammy. My cheeks are drawn-in; my breathing is slow and shallow and erratic. I feel for a pulse, it is erratic as well. I must have lost twenty pounds. I look at my hands. My skin and fingernails have a purplish-black color to them.
It all comes back to me slowly. I am an undercover agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency and have been for the past ten years. Now I am through. I wanted out for a long time and finally, they came for me. During those years undercover, I did some shit I would just as soon forget. I started on flea powder, the big H, about three years ago and that’s why they brought me in. That and the fact my cover was blown. I was told to stay away from the heroine, that blue magic. They said that it would kill me. I now wish it would have.
I was forced to shoot up by members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, better known as the MS-13 gang, considered by the FBI as the most dangerous gang in America. I think the FBI has that right.
I leaned over the side of the bed and vomited into the trash basket. It looked like it wasn’t the first time.
I smelled. I couldn’t remember the last time I bathed. My clothes were torn, threadbare and filthy. I couldn’t remember the last time I washed them.
I throw the bedcovers off and stand. My legs are shaky. I stagger into the bathroom and turn on the cold water, I throw it on my face before cupping my hands and greedily drinking. My stomach begins to toss and convulse again. I grab the toilet bowl and let it go. Nothing but yellow bile comes up. I can’t remember the last time I ate.
I flush the toilet and turn to leave and notice a prescription bottle on the counter. It says Buprenorphine. It comes back to me now. A woman brought me here yesterday and gave me this drug. It is supposed to stop withdrawal symptoms and my craving for heroin.
There was a knock on the door. I freeze and my heart feels like it will burst through my chest. My breathing is shallow.
The handle on the door turns slowly and I hide behind the bathroom door. I look out between the door and the wall and see a statuesque woman walk in with a purse over one shoulder and carrying a paper bag and two cups of coffee. She has short dark hair and is wearing a dark skirt and jacket.
Tentatively I walk out into the room.
“Where am I?”

Blue Magic and, Where did you say Max Fly came from?

Author At Golden Colorado copy

Women speak about 7,000 words a day and men speak about 2,000 words a day. What does that mean? I’m not sure, I just read that; but it is just one of the many differences between the sexes and those differences are what I try to gently point out to my readers through my main character, Max Fly. Gently probably isn’t the correct term as Max is pretty blunt when it comes to expressing his feelings about the opposite sex.

In my books, Max Fly and three of his friends, Homicide Detective Harry Marshall, bar owner, Dan Cirrocco, known as the Rocco Man, and Hap Schultz, appear in each episode and spend a lot of time pointing out that women are erroneously considered the gentler sex. Actually, these guys are real but not their characters. Dan Cirrocco owns Rocco’s Pub in Jasper, Georgia. I have known Dan over 35 years and enjoy having a few brandy manhattans in his establishment. He is a stand-up guy and has the perfect personality for owning a bar and restaurant. I have taken the liberty to move his pub to Wauwatosa, Wisconsin for purposes of the novels. Hap Schultz is a friend and poker pal whose name just rolls off my tongue and is a perfect fit for the irascible character who has that name in the Max Fly books. The real Hap is a successful businessman and a far cry, or maybe a short cry, from the Hap Schultz portrayed in my books. Harry Marshall was never a homicide detective, but he was a dear friend of mine for over sixty years. He lost his life to cancer a year and a half ago and many of our conversations over the years have been woven into my stories. He was one of the wittiest people I have known. By writing about him I feel his presence every day and that’s a good thing.

Someone recently asked how I came up with the name Max Fly and I had to think about that for a moment before I could answer and say I don’t know. Actually,  it just rolled off my pen one day. When I think of names my mother’s maiden name always comes to my mind. My mother was Swedish and her maiden name was Hjerstedt and when I was a youngster, I was glad I didn’t have to learn to spell it. So, I decided that I would name my character Max Hjerstedt and have him change it to Max Fly so Harry Marshall would be able to spell it.

For those of you who haven’t fallen down the rabbit hole yet and read one of my Max Fly, Private Eye novels, you have missed out on an afternoon of fun and debauchery. Well, debauchery at least. Max enjoys a fine brandy, a smoking cigar and hot women and he personifies what I think constitutes a typical macho male back in the 1950’s and 60’s when political correctness didn’t prevail and there weren’t any “safe places” for someone to go to when they were offended. If you didn’t like what someone said about you, it was settled by rolling in the dirt trying to knock out the last nut in the offending guys grill. When it was settled the winner would buy the loser a beer and they would walk away, not necessarily friends, but respectful enemies.

Max is someone who has had a difficult time finding his place in this world. He has been unsuccessful in his jobs and his love life but somehow he continues to land on his feet mainly because of the support of his friends and, so the story goes, even a blind squirrel can find a nut.