Sergeant Belch And Detective Smallberries – Burnt Corn Police Department

 

Homicide Sergeant, Crispian Belicheri, a twelve year veteran of the Burnt Corn Police Department, known as Belch to everyone in Burnt Corn, and his partner, Detective Ivan Smallberries, were sitting in their unmarked patrol car. Belicheri was reading the Burnt Corn Daily Gazette’s sports page, wondering how the Burnt Corn Hornets could have blown a 24 point lead at halftime and lose to the Monroeville Zephyrs in a double overtime, while Ivan picked his nails with a small, red Swiss Army Knife.
The sun was just beginning to crack the horizon on that chilly Saturday morning with a hint of dampness in the air when their police radio squawked, “Hey, Sarge, we caught another one, out in Golden. A dead body lying in the driveway of one of them old shotgun houses they built in the ’40’s and ’50’s. I’m headin’ that way now. Is Smallberries with you?”
“Yeah, as always; we’ll be there in five,” he replied, folding up the paper and tossing it in the back seat to join a pile of empty coffee cups and fast food bags along with some dirty gym shorts and tennis shoes.
Detective Smallberries tripped the blue light and siren as Belch pulled away from the curb.
The area called Golden is located on the North side of Burnt Corn and got its name from the old sock factory that used to be there, Golden Hosiery Mills. It was once the largest employer in Burnt Corn before all the jobs went out of the country leaving the residents of Burnt Corn, like most of the South’s small towns, without employment. Now all that’s left around the area of the dilapidated mill, standing in disrepair, are the old clapboard houses, that once provided homes for Golden Mills’ employees. They are now occupied by people on welfare and food stamps and an occasional retiree or two, attempting to live on their meager social security checks and Medicare.
“You think Burnt Corn has a serial killer on its hands? This is the second murder this month. Before that the last murder in Burnt Corn was in 2007, the year before I joined the force,” Detective Smallberries said as he unwrapped a piece of Juicy Fruit gum and jabbed it in his mouth.
“I don’t think so. Two don’t make a serial,” Belch replied.
By the time they arrived on the scene, Patrol Officers, Howitt Fiehls was taping off the area around the house with yellow crime scene tape and his partner, Natalie Klad, was bending over a body that was lying in the driveway.
“Who is it, Natalie Klad?” Belch asked as he bent down to get a closer view. The victim was wearing a stained white sleeveless t-shirt and dark navy pants sans a belt. Tattoos filled both arms. He was thinner than gruel and his skin was as gray as a cold winter day, probably due to the loss of blood. He was sporting a third eye high up on his forehead.
Natalie Klad looked up and replied, “The vic is John McCubbin, a cook at Lloyd’s Diner. He was ex-army with a couple of assault charges and no appreciable skills. He was enrolled at Snead State Community College for a couple of weeks until he found out he was supposed to attend classes. He dropped out and bounced around the country for a while, going from one job to the next, abandoning a wife and several girlfriends before landing back here after his mother died and he inherited this house. As far as we know, he has kept his nose clean since he returned.”
“Did you find anything on the body?”
“Nothing but that bullet hole between his eyes. His wallet was emptied of everything except his driver’s license and insurance card. Any cash he might have had is missing.
Lloyd said he pays him in cash every Friday so he should have been flush. McCubbin works the night shift. Everyone in Golden knew it was payday. Anyone living in this burg could have offed him. Every Friday they are like rats, eyeing a piece of cheese. Looks like somebody was waiting for him when he got in this morning. The front door was opened about three inches when we got here but it appears McCubbin never made it inside.”
“You go in it, the house, I mean?”
“Yeah, just to make sure nobody was in it. We cleared it and Fiehls started stringing tape.”
Belch stood up, placing his hands on the small of his back, he stretched out his lean six-foot frame. “Make sure you keep everyone out, especially that dick wad Max Fly character and any of his cohorts if they happen to come by. Everyone has the right to be stupid but Max Fly is abusing the privilege.”
“Will do, Sarge,” Officer Klad replied.
Belch looked around, getting a lay of the neighborhood. It looked pretty seedy.
“Who lives here?” he said, pointing at a freshly painted house next door, sporting an immaculate lawn and a freshly poured driveway.
“A lady named Lilly Jablomey and we think her boy Haywood. But nobody is home.”
“Nice clean place. What do you know about her?”
“From what we know, she retired from working at the Hairy Arms Apartments doing maintenance work or something like that. She cleaned the apartments when tenants moved out. She is one of those hard-used blue-collar women who have neither the energy, the disposition, nor the brains to plan and carry out a successful murder like this.”
“Okay, we’ll go talk to her,”
“She isn’t home. We checked.”
“Okay, we’ll wait,” Belch said, walking back to his squad car and opening the trunk. He turned to Smallberries. “Hey, help me get this out.”
“Is that a net?”
“Yes, take this,” he replied, handing Smallberries a can of tennis balls.
“Tennis balls? What are they for?”
“Tennis of course.”
“No, I mean what are we going to use them for?”
“To play tennis.”
“To play tennis?”
“That’s what I said. Listen, if you are going to repeat everything I say, I’m going to put Duct tape over that pie hole of yours. Follow me and tie that end of the net to the pole leading to the electric meter on the side of the Jablomey house and I’ll tie the other end on the tree on the other side of the driveway. There we go. Now grab that racket.”
“Are we really going to play tennis?”
“That’s right. This driveway is perfect for us to volley. Whoever poured it did a great job.”
“But, I don’t know how to play tennis.”
“It’s easy. Here, shake my hand,” Belch said, holding out his hand and grasping Smallberries right hand. “This is how you hold the racket like you are shaking hands with it. Now get over on the other side of the net and let’s get some exercise.”
“Why don’t we get some lunch at Finn & Hattie Frye’s Fish ’N Chips Restaurant and just sit in the car drinking coffee and eating like other cops do?”
“Look at those love handles on you, Smallberries. Tennis is good for working on your obliques.”
A short while later a car came to a stop in front of the Jablomey’s house as Belch slammed a backhand past a diving, perspiring, and gasping Smallberries.
The lady in the car was staring directly at them. Shortly she got out and walked over to where they were playing tennis.
“What in the hell are you two doing?”
“Waiting for you to get home. “Thought we would get a little exercise while we waited.” Belch replied. “Are you Lilly Jablomey?”
“Yes I am,” she replied, sternly.
Belch reached into his pocket and removed his badge and ID. “Who poured your driveway, by the way?”
“Who poured my driveway? Are you nuts? Why are you here?” She yelled as she stared at his gold shield.
“Belicheri, are you Polish?”
“Italian. You can call me Belch. Everyone does except my wife. I don’t think it’s necessary to tell you what she calls me.”
“I can imagine. Now, what is it you want?”
“You have a nice driveway. Great pitch, should give you good drainage and very smooth. Was it someone from Burnt Corn who put it in for you?”
“What? Yes, yes, um Billy Watamaniak. Billy lives out near Monroeville off Highway 84. He and his brother, Tommy poured it.”
“That’s good, they did a great job. I’ll have to keep them in mind. Now, how well do you know your neighbor, John McCubbin?”
“I don’t know him. He only moved into his mama’s place about a year ago. I know what he looks like and that he is as mean as an ol’ junkyard dog. He wasn’t here much but when he was, all he did was complain about this and complain about that. All I gave him was my middle finger. That’s all he deserves.”
“Well, somebody gave him more than their middle finger, he was found shot this morning. That’s him lying in his driveway over there, you know anything about it?”
“Shot? Heck no. Why would I know anything about that? I don’t know nuthin’.”
“You sure?”
“Yes I’m sure and I don’t give a damn either. As I said, I ain’t no fan of his. If anybody needs to be jerked to Jesus, it’s that boy, John McCubbin.”
“Well, I don’t know if he is with Jesus or not, but he ain’t here no more. Who’s that sitting in your car?”
“What difference is it to you?”
“We’ll want to speak with him. Does he live with you?”
She glared at Belicheri for a moment.
“’No, it’s my boy; he’s just visiting.”
“He doesn’t live here?”
“No.”
What’s his name?”
“Haywood.”
“Ask him to get out of the car, please.”
A tall lanky young man, sporting gold ear studs with an acne-scarred round face got out of the car and casually loped up the driveway with his fists clenched. There wasn’t much to him. He didn’t look hard. In fact, he didn’t look like much. He was already bristling.
.“What the heck you doin’ in our driveway?” he yelled.
“ Calm down, now. I’m just teaching him how to play tennis. Is it your driveway? Your mother said you don’t live here.”
“I don’t.”
“Well, then you don’t have anything to say about it, do you?”
“Well, it ain’t a city park. What are you doing here?”
“Your neighbor, that guy living next door? He was shot and killed and we would like to know if you know anything about it?”
“Hell no. Why’d I know anything about it?”
“That’s what we are asking you. Where were you between nine p.m. last night and five this morning?”
“I was here with my momma all night.”
“Did you hear anything that sounded like it might have been a gunshot?”
“Hell, what night don’t we hear gunshots? Something is going down in this neighborhood about every night.”
Belch noticed Officer Natalie Klad walking over and he left to go meet her.
“What is it, Officer Klad?”
“One of the neighbors just informed us that McCubbin was actively involved with a group out of Monroeville that operated a chop shop. Do you think he might have got crosswise with those boys and they took him out?”
“It’s possible. A chop shop, huh? What do you know about this chop shop?”
“Nothing much. We did a joint sweep of the place a few months ago with the Monroeville Police Department but didn’t find anything. Monroeville thought they might have been tipped off by someone before we got there.”
“Okay, give Smallberries their address and all the names you have associated with it. We will head over there after we finish here. Oh, and tell Smallberries to get over here. We have to finish our tennis match.”
“Okay, Belch.”
After Belch and Smallberries finished playing tennis in the Jablomey’s driveway, they took down the tennis net and put it in the trunk of their squad car along with the racquets and balls and crawled in the front seat. Belch grabbed a can of Right Guard and handed it to Smallberries. “Here, use this. You sure sweat a lot, even for a fat guy. We’re going to Monroeville and talk to some boys about a chop shop.”
“Do you want me to switch on the lights?” Smallberries asked, tucking in his shirt after spraying his armpits with deodorant and handing back the Right Guard to Belch.
“No,” Belch replied, pulling out his shirt and giving a short pump of Right Guard to each armpit, “No point showing our hand if there’s no need. That’s being poker savvy, something else you probably never played.”
“No, I’ve played poker. My wife and I play liars poker with her folks every Friday night when I am not on duty.”
“Liars poker, yeah, that’s good. Liar’s poker. Geez.”
The faded red and white wooden sign nailed over the door of the alleged chop shop read, Rench Exhaust Repair – Alan Rench Proprietor. “I’m surprised he knew how to spell proprietor,” Belch said as he got out of the squad car.
“Hey, look, Belch, isn’t that Max Fly’s car, the Fly Mobile? Do you think they heisted it and are gonna chop it up?”
“Are you kidding?” There isn’t a market for ’58 Oldsmobile parts, except in Cuba. I got me a bad feeling about this, Smallberries. Whenever anything concerning Max Fly pops up, things don’t seem to turn out in my best interest,” Belch said slipping his Colt from its holster and easing up the walkway, staying to the side of the doorway with Smallberries staying close behind him.
Belch pushed the door with the toe of his boot, and it swung open on well-oiled hinges. He took a deep breath and slipped quietly through the doorway and into the office with Smallberries in lockstep behind him. Belch thumbed the safety off his .45 and peered around the door facing the work bay area.
“Oh shit,” Belch exclaimed, holstering his .45.
“What is it?” Smallberries asked?
“Come on, it’s that damned Fly. Max, what in the hell is going on here?”
Max Fly and his assistant, Chico “Zippy Doo” Rodriguez, were standing over three greasy mechanics, trussed up with their hands tied behind their backs.
Max Fly looked up and put down the phone, “Oh, Belch, how are you? Hey, Smallberries, how have you and that pretty little wife of yours been doing?”
“Pretty good, Max. Our third anniversary is next week. You ought to…”
“Shut up, Smallberries,” Belch yelled. “I asked you a question, Fly.”
“Belch, I was just calling your office to let you know we broke up the chop shop that’s been operating out of this place. I know you and the Monroeville Police have been trying to get the goods on these guys for a long time now. We have it all on tape right here,” he said, holding up a small tape recorder. Where they got the cars and where they were selling them. Zippy Doo and I were operating our own sting on these guys. The Monroeville Police are on their way over here now.”
“You son of a bitch, Fly, you got your damn nose in my business way too much and it’s going to get blown off one of these days.”
“Now don’t get yourself too worked up, Belch. We also have them on tape confessing to a murder last night. Evidently, they killed some guy over in the Golden district of Burnt Corn by the name of McCubbin. You hear about any murder over there?”

MYSTERY LAKE

The man was alone with his thoughts, thoughts about the girl. The girl he met at the lake where they talked for hours while the gentle winds pressed her translucent dress against her slender frame.The first time he saw her she struck him as being vulnerable. She had long, dark hair. He couldn’t recall the color of her eyes. Brown, he thought. A dark brown. She was just – pretty.
Yes, pretty. She had pleasing features, clear skin. She wore makeup. Lots of eye makeup. That’s all he remembered.
He wasn’t particularly fond of heavy makeup.
They sat by the edge of the lake and talked for hours. When she said she had to go he was surprised at how late it had become.
He told her he wanted to see her again.
She reached into her purse, a clutch, really, and pulled out an elegant gold inlaid vellum card.
It said her name was Prudence. There was no other information inscribed.
He looked up and her lips lightly brushed his cheek before she turned and walked away. She looked back over her shoulder and purred, “If you like, I will be here again tomorrow,” and she disappeared into the night.
“Jake, my name is Jake,” he called after her. He didn’t know if she heard him or not.
He dreamt of her that night. She was floating in the lake. The water was murky and her body was floating face up with her long dark hair spreading like fronds of dark seaweed, washing up on shore like frayed ropes. Her eyes were bloated from the water and were opened wide like they were surprised at what they saw. Her clothes, that alluring gossamer dress, was ripped by the jagged rocks and had disintegrated into rags. He woke with a heavy dread. It took him a moment to realize where he was. The t-shirt he wore was damp with sweat. He had to go back to the lake to find her. To make sure she was safe, protected.

The sound of the wind and the night creatures gave tongues to the forest as he walked with a sense of urgency he had not felt before. The shadows from the trees lining the trail danced across the small dirt pathway leading to the lake.
He saw a slight movement far away through the damp mist and then the roar of a car approaching. Soon a ray of light knifed through the dark, illuminating the area around him. He stepped deeper into the woods the pitch of his heart rising. A cool breeze caressed his cheek. He hoped they hadn’t noticed him. He was pretty much exposed. His only chance was for them to pass him by.
The car drove on and, with a sigh of relief, he continued to walk.
About fifty yards to his left was the clearing and the lake where he and Prudence met the night before. A sadness and foreboding fell upon him. He shivered slightly and pulled his overcoat closer to his neck, attempting to keep the chill away.
There is no point in turning back now, he thought.
Two dark shadows appeared in front of him, wearing hats and hunkering down in their overcoats. They were preparing to get into a boat tied to the dock. Soon he heard the oar-locks groan as the oars dipped into the water.
He ran as fast as he could. The lake was bordered by rocks and shaded by trees. The only boat left when he arrived was a small skiff. The shallow water, rippled against its side, rocking it gently back and forth. He looked inside and was relieved to see that there was a set of oars lying across the seat.
The boat with the two men was a good distance ahead of him by the time he started rowing, only a fading shadow in the evening mist. Occasionally, he would see a beam from the flashlight one of the men used to guide their way across the water. It appeared they were heading straight to the island Prudence was telling him about, where young kids would go to drink and party.
He saw their boat tied to a tree and silently rowed about fifty yards away before going ashore.
The darkness on the island surprised him and it was difficult walking through the trees and brush.
He heard a thud off to the left. He grabbed onto a small sapling and braced himself.
Then he heard a snapping of a twig, It was close.
He tried to muffle his raspy breathing by placing his hand over his mouth. He crouched against the tree, hunched over with his knees to his chest. He listened to the sounds of footsteps as they approached.
A beam of light struck his face, blinding him. A set of shining eyes locked onto his.
“What are you doing here?” A gruff voice called out from behind the light.
“Why I,I,I, I’m looking for a friend. Who are you?”
“Don’t come any closer. This is a secured area.”
The man lowered the light and replied. “I’m Sheriff Welsey. What’s your name?”
“It’s Jake, Jake Martin.”
“Well, who is this friend you are looking, Mr. Martin?”
“ I don’t know for sure. Just Prudence.”
“Just Prudence?”
“Yes, that’s all I know. You said this is a secured area. What happened?”
“There has been a murder out here and we are still gathering evidence.”
“A murder?”
“A local girl, Prudence Vanderbloom. Floated to shore last week. She was pretty bloated by the time her body was found. It is evident that she drowned.”
“Prudence? That can’t be.”
“What do you know about this girl?” the Sheriff asked, showing him a picture of an attractive young girl whose features closely resembled the girl he met.
For a long moment, he stood frozen, holding his hand to his face. He was unable to speak. He wanted to run home, fall back in bed and stuff his head under his pillow and wish this all away. “Nothing,” he said. “Nothing at all. I just met her last night and she said she would be here again tonight and I should too if I wished.”
“When did you meet her?”
“Last night. Right over there,” he said pointing to a group of trees about twenty-five yards away.
“Listen, pal, I don’t know what you are trying to prove or what you are doing out here, but Prudence drowned last week.”
“Why, that can’t be! I was with her last night,” he shouted. Blood drained from his head and his fingers shook. A thousand thoughts raced through his mind. What is going on? He couldn’t move. He just stood there, shaking in his damp clothes. Then he saw something in the Sheriff’s hands. Handcuffs.
“I want you to turn around and put your hands behind your back,”
“No…,” he said, but he didn’t get to finish. He was slammed to the ground, hitting his cheek and splitting his lip.
The Sheriff was straddling him and grabbed his left wrist and clamped a steel cuff tightly around it.
“You have the right to remain silent…”

MAX FLY – GENTLE DENTAL FILL ‘EM AND DRILL ‘EM

 

Wanda Winchester
Reconciliation Expert
Zippy Doo, Head Of our Displaced Persons & Pest Control Divisions

My name is Max Fly, I’m a private eye and a damned good one. It was a Tuesday afternoon and it was raining cats and dogs and I just returned from the offices of the Burnt Corn Hippogryph, Burnt Corn Alabama’s weekly newspaper, where I dropped off a press release stating that our firm, Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations and Pest Control Services, was just named as Burn Corn’s largest, and only law firm, Dewey, Cheatam, & Howe, LLC, as their in-house investigators. I was dripping wet.

I hung up my dark brown oilcloth duster and white Stetson hat and unbuckled my rigging that held my Smith and Wesson .357 revolver and threw it next to my partner, Zippy Doo’s, that was hanging on the coat tree behind the door as I dropped down heavily into my chair. I was exhausted. I was wearing my Dan Post cowboy boots, my tight skinny Wrangler stretch jeans,  my bucking bronc belt buckle, and my yellow Snead State Community College sweatshirt. I lit a Cohiba and I grabbed a PBR out of the cooler sitting on the floor between my desk and Zippy’s.

Chico “Zippy Doo” Rodriguez, a sort of illegal green card carrying Hispanic from Matamoros, Mexico (his green card is a forgery), who heads up our displaced persons and pest control divisions, was seated next to me finishing a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. He let out a loud belch as he stacked his third empty on top of a pyramid of cans on the edge of his desk which he had started building last week. We were in the middle of discussing the recent and untimely death of Alabama’s longtime State Senator who was from Burnt Corn, Miss Dixie Normous, who was struck and killed by a transit bus driven by Van Ryder, one of the proprietors of the Burnt Corn Shuttle Service and Transmission Shop which is located off State Highway 84 on the outskirts of Burnt Corn, Alabama when the phone rang.

We both reached for it. Zippy was faster and he got there first.

“Max Fly, Private & Nefarious Investigations, and Pest Control Services. What do you want?”

I made a mental note to work on Zippy’s phone etiquette.

“Yeah, okay. How much do I owe you? What, $6.95? That’s highway robbery. I ought to turn you into Sheriff Wyatt Hertz for price gauging,” Zippy yelled as he slammed down the receiver.

“Who was that?” I asked.

“That little Chinese guy, Sum Tsing Wong, who owns that new Chinese Restaurant,  Soon Fatt Chinese Take Away. Wanda and I are sharing a plate of Shitake Fried Rice with Water Chestnuts. Sum Tsing Wong is on his way over with the delivery.”

Wanda is Wanda Winchester who is our Reconciliation Expert and also serves as our firearms instructor when she’s sober.

“Are you paying for it out of petty cash?” I asked.

“Yep. I’ll give him a buck tip, even though he is overcharging for that stuff. I know how much rice you can get for $6.95. Hell, when I was in Viet Nam an entire village could eat rice for a month on that kind of money.”

“You were never in Viet Nam, Zip. Since you are paying for that out of petty cash, I’ll take a little plate of it to see how it tastes.”

“Help yourself. You know she wants to be cremated, don’t you Max?”

“Who wants to be cremated?”

“Dixie Normous. I think she’s doing it because she realized that her last hope to have a smoking hot body is to be cremated. Claire Voyant, the personal secretary for Hugh Cheatam, called and said that Mr. Cheatam would appreciate it if we showed up for Dixie Normous’ celebration of life.”

“Where is it going to be held?”

“They took the body to the Barry M. Stiff Funeral Home in Monroeville. The celebration is at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow.

The door swung open, almost toppling the coat tree that stood behind it that was holding our Smith and Wesson .357’s, coats and other paraphernalia, and in strutted this little bald Chinese man, Sum Tsing Wong, carrying a small white bag that, I have to admit, gave off a tantalizing aroma.

Zip grabbed the bag from him and said, “What’s this? This can’t be the entire order. Not for $6.95.” Zip opened the bag and looked up at Sum Tsing Wong and yelled, “Something’s wrong, there’s no fortune cookie in here? What kinda Chinese joint doesn’t serve fortune cookies?”

“I sorry, but Hymie Horowitz’ Food Service truck it break down this morning and no make delivery. So no fortune cookie. Now you pay.”

“You get your food from a Jewish food service? I can’t believe this. Not much in here,” Zip said, still peering into the bottom of the small white bag.

“Horowitz truck have rice too. This all you get today. Call again and you might get more. Now you pay.”

After Sum Tsing Wong left, muttering under his breath because he couldn’t convince Zip to cough up the $1.00 tip, Wanda walked in and sat down and opened the lower drawer of her desk and pulled out her bottle of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and an empty jelly jar, pouring in a couple of fingers of the brown liquid. We shared what little there was of the Shitake Fried Rice with Water Chestnuts and we each cracked open another PBR when the phone rang again.

Thankfully Wanda got it before Zip did.

“Good afternoon, Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations and Pest Control Services, how may I help you?”

“Oh hi, Evelyn, how are you?”

“Good, I am glad to hear that. Really? When? Okay, I’ll pass that on to Max. He’s sitting right next to me. We are finishing our lunch. Shitake Fried Rice with Water Chestnuts.”

“From that new Chinese restaurant that just opened up in Burnt Corn, Soon Fatt Chinese Take Away. The little owner is so cute. His name is Sum Tsing Wong. Isn’t that funny?”

“I know.”

“Yes, yes, a three bedroom and two baths; that’s right as long as it’s not too far out of town. Okay, I’ll tell him. I’ll see you then, goodbye.”

Wanda hung up and grabbed her can of PBR. It was empty.

“Zip, would you mind grabbing me another Blue Ribbon?” she asked.

“On its way,” Zippy replied.

“Well, aren’t you going to tell us who that was on the phone and what the call was about?” I asked.

“Oh, I’m sorry, that was Evelyn Sackryder, from Sax Real Estate Brokerage over in Monroeville. She has been looking for a house for me and she thinks she found one that is pretty close to the office here in Burnt Corn.”

“Okay, but you said ‘I’ll pass that on to Max’ so what will you pass on to me?”

“Oh, she said something fishy is going on over at the Gentle Dental Drill ‘Em and Fill ‘Em Family Practice on Payne Avenue. The front entrance was open when she drove past it and it was still open about thirty minutes later when she returned. She thought you might want to go over and see if everything is okay.”

“Why didn’t she call Sheriff Wyatt Hertz or his deputy, Hiram Firam?”

“She said she did, but nobody answered the phone.”

“That’s not surprising, nobody is ever there,” Zippy burped, “I don’t know why us taxpayers even bother providing an office for those two clowns.”

“You don’t pay taxes, Zip,” Wanda, who also doubles as our bookkeeper, said.

Zippy ignored her. “Did she call over to Patty Mae’s All Night Bar and Pool Hall? They’re usually there getting comped for something.”

“She did and Patty said she thinks they are over in Monroeville looking at Dixie Normous’ body before they set it on fire.”

“Okay, finish that PBR and grab your shootin’ iron, Zippy. It looks like we got us another situation here. Wanda, you try to reach Sheriff Hertz over at Barry M. Stiff’s Funeral Home in Monroeville and see if he can break away and get over here.”

“I’ll get the Fly Mobile,” Zippy yelled as he strapped on his rigging while checking the chambers of his Smith and Wesson .357 to make sure it was loaded.

Dr. Ken Hurt opened the Gentle Dental Drill ‘Em and Fill ‘Em Family Dental Practice in May at 100 Payne Avenue in downtown Burnt Corn and has seen a steady growth in business ever since. Most of the residents of Burnt Corn had been driving the fifteen miles to Monroeville to get drilled and filled at Dr. Henry Drewel’s Dental Office who on numerous occasions was heard saying, “When I’m in doubt, I pull ‘em out.”

Burnt Corn folks find it more convenient to be able to walk downtown in Burnt Corn and be sitting in Dr. Hurt’s chair within five minutes and still be able to make it back in time to enjoy the various activities available in Burnt Corn, like hearing local author, Rhoda Book, recite her poetry or Clay Earth, proprietor of the Burnt Corn Nursery and Cemetery and his wife, Helen Earth, sing the famous aria Glück das mir verblieb from the 1920 opera Die tote Stadt (The Dead City), in acapella in the Burnt Corn City Park.

When Zippy and I arrived at the Gentle Dental office, the front door was still wide open and we both drew our .357’s as we entered the building.

The lights were on and soft soothing music was coming from the speakers in the ceiling but no one was around.

I turned to Zip and motioned for him to follow me. “Stay close, in case someone decides to shoot. It will give them someone else to aim at.”

We looked in both procedure rooms and the chairs were empty as was the doctor’s private office. While there, we heard a noise coming from behind a locked door across the hall. The sign on the door said “Storage Room.”

We tried the door but it was locked, we would have to kick it in. Normally, Tommy “Sneakers” Corona, head of our Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Division, did the kicking in of doors for us because he had his black belt in karate but he was unavailable; he was vacationing in Cosa Rica.

“You want the honors of kicking in the door, Zip?” I asked.

Before he could respond, we heard a muffled voice in the storage room say, “Please, don’t kick it in, a spare key is in the middle desk drawer in the lobby.”

Zippy found the key and we were able to open the door and untie the doctor and his young assistant, the lovely Ginger Vitus.

About this time, Deputy Sheriff Hiram Firam drove up in his Chevy Caprice with his blue lights flashing and his siren blasting. He entered the office with his service revolver drawn, a Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum.

After we brought him up to date on the information we had, he sat down with Ms. Vitus and Dr. Hurt to fill out his report.

“So, do you know who did this to you?”

Ivan Oder, Number 3 on Burnt Corn’s Most Wanted List

“Yes we do, Dr. Hurt said. “It was Ivan Oder. He came in for a cleaning but his teeth were so bad I told him we couldn’t clean them that he would be better off having them extracted. He misunderstood me and thought it would only be one or two teeth, but we had to extract almost all of them.

“When he saw how many teeth were gone he went crazy, saying we made him look unattractive and he would have a difficult time dating anyone. When presented with the bill he refused to pay and pulled out a gun demanding his teeth back before forcing us into the storage room. Before he left, he took all five tanks of laughing gas.”

“He took what?” Deputy Firam asked.

“Nitrous Oxide; it’s a controlled substance and can easily be overdosed. We mix it with oxygen. I think I heard him say something about using it to fill balloons. If he doesn’t know what he is doing, he could die.

“Maybe we should get the Drug Enforcement Agency in on this since it’s a controlled substance?” Zippy interjected.

“I can handle this,” Deputy Hiram Firam spat at Zippy before looking in the direction of the cowering Ms. Ginger Vitus.

“Usually it’s high school kids around graduation time who steal laughing gas. We never had an adult steal it,” Dr. Hurst said.

“Can you give me a description of this Ivan Oder?” Deputy Firam asked.

“I can do better than that. We have his picture. It’s on the Happy Face Wall along with all of our happy patients. We were going to take it down anyway. Some of the mother’s of the children said their kids were scared of it. I told Ginger we should only have children’s pictures up there anyway.”

“Do you think you can catch him, Deputy Firam?” Ginger Vitus asked, batting her eyes coyly at the portly officer.

“He can run, but if he does, he’ll only be going to jail tired ‘cause we’ll catch him, little darlin’. That you can bet your teeth on.”

“We are sure fortunate to have you around, deputy. I feel safer already.”

Zippy turned to me and stuck his finger in this mouth and rolled his eyes.

After Deputy Firam finished up and left, taking Ivan Oder’s picture with him along with Miss Ginger Vitus’ telephone number, I approached Dr. Hurt and suggested that he contact Burnt Corn Good Humor Alarm and Security Systems, that we monitored them 24/7. If he had, we could have been here much sooner and most likely have apprehended the perp.

“I think I will call them tomorrow. Thank you, Mr. Fly. Would you care for a cleaning?”

MAX FLY, FROM BURNT CORN TO BURNING BUSH

Max Fly, Private Eye
President & CEO of
Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control

 

FROM THE UPCOMING NOVEL MAX FLY, U977

 

There is a place out there that lies on the fringe of the law. A world of people who cross borders, lose themselves in a crowd. A world that knows where illegal papers can be found, visas, licenses, whatever is needed to move about.
They are easy to find if one mingles with the right kind of people, those who live on that fringe. There are ways to cross borders, avoid checkpoints, and to exist away from the eyes of law enforcement officials. You learn where places are where you can go to meet people with similar interests. People who deal in guns and ammunition, some in information, and others in smuggling of goods or people. These are the people who comprise the underbelly of society. This is the world I know, the one I am most comfortable moving around in and this is why people hire me, to find people in this seedy underworld of humanity.
My name is Max Fly. I’m a private investigator and my firm is located in Burnt Corn Alabama where we specialize in finding errant husbands, outing people who file fraudulent insurance claims, and the occasional people who jump bail. What we don’t do is deal with drug and weapons dealers. That is until the day I received a call from an old friend in Atlanta requesting that I speak to an associate of his whose son recently died from multiple gunshot wounds while in downtown Atlanta. Apparently, he was making a crack cocaine purchase. As I mentioned, we normally stay away from drug-related cases due to the danger associated with it. But, I owed my friend a favor and he turned in the chit, so…
Two days later I left my friend’s office, located on the tenth floor in the Federal Building on Peachtree Street, with a dossier about two inches thick on the guy he wanted me to find.
My next stop was at the Atlanta Police Department, the Homicide Division, where I got as much information as I could squeeze out of an Atlanta Homicide Sergeant, a Loretta Lincoln, who was heading up the investigation. She was a cute little thing, about five foot nothing, but I could tell we wouldn’t be the best of friends when she told me she didn’t appreciate me monkeying around in her business. Luckily my client possessed some leverage with the mayor of Atlanta and was able to pry loose a meager amount of information from the lovely sergeant. Enough to get me started, anyway – a name.
From reading over the files, I found out the main suspect, a Cletus Cooper Morgan, was born and raised in northwest Georgia in a small town called Burning Bush. Up to this point, I thought the burning bush was in Midian near Egypt.
I filled up the Fly Mobile, a 1958 Oldsmobile 98 with its powerful Rocket V8 engine, with twenty gallons of high test gasoline and pointed her north.
I pulled into downtown Burning Bush around three in the afternoon and found a parking space in front of an old weathered building that looked like it once housed some sort of hosiery or sewing mill, one of the countless textile plants you could find throughout the southern states into the ’90’s that used to provide a living for many of the women in the rural south before President William Jefferson Clinton decided to hurry the process of sending all the manual labor jobs to Mexico and points south by pushing through that damned North American Free Trade Act.
The building was painted a bright yellow with brown trim around the windows and doors to match the brown and yellow sheriff’s badge that was painted on a sign hanging over the front door, declaring it was the home of the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office, Bodean Johnson, Sheriff. I did a little background check on this unincorporated community prior to leaving Atlanta. Burning Bush is located in the northwest corner of the state near Chattanooga, Tennessee and was named after the nearby Burning Bush Baptist Church. It is so small that the population isn’t given but there are 1095 members of the Baptist church listed, so I assumed the population of the town would be pretty close to that of Burnt Corn, Alabama, somewhere around 100-300 close-knit residents. I also figured that would make it easier for me to find the man I was looking for. Evidently, he had roots in the community. His great-grandfather owned a farm between Burning Bush and Fort Oglethorpe.
By the time I arrived, I had been driving about three hours and found myself a little road weary. As I stepped out of the Fly Mobile onto the cracked and heaving sidewalk, I noticed an attractive and very shapely redheaded woman standing across the street, staring at me.
“What’s your name, handsome?” she asked.
It was apparent her eyesight was 20/20. “Max,” I replied. “What’s yours?”
Della Daisey. Della Daisey Morgan. You got a last name?”
“It’s Fly, Max Fly. Did you say your last name is Morgan?”
“Yes, I did. Why do you ask?”
“No reason, just curious.”
“What kind of car is that?” she asked pointing at the Fly Mobile.
“It’s a 1958 Oldsmobile 98. You are just full of questions, aren’t you? Are you a cop?”
“Ha, ha, no I’m not. What you doin’ in front of Sheriff Floyd-William Floyd’s Office? Lookin’ for someone?”
“Yes, I’m looking for someone. I’m a private investigator.”
“Well, good luck Mr. Max Fly, Private Investigator. If you’re looking for something good to eat, stop by and see me. I can be found down the street at the Della Diner and Dance Studio. Maybe you can show me your private investigator’s badge?”
“Did you say, ‘and dance studio’?”
“I did. We provide live entertainment after 6:00 p.m. on the weekends and Thursday nights,” she replied as she walked away.
I watched her bottom twitch left to right as she walked away, wondering how she did that so provocatively.
After cooling my heels for the obligatory twenty minutes, a burly deputy whose name tag told me his last name was Johnson, ushered me into the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff was a thin, balding older man, at least in his mid-sixties. I was informed that the sheriff held the post for the past thirty-five years and is as well established in Burning Bush as any elected official could expect to be.
He stood and grasped my hand. His hand was warm and his shake was firm.
“Name’s Floyd-William Floyd, you can call me Will. Everybody does.”
“The sign says, Sheriff Bodean Johnson.”
“That was the previous sheriff. I just ain’t got around to changing it yet.”
“How long you have you been sheriff here?”
“Going on thirty-five years, I guess.” He was looking at the card I gave to the burly deputy in the front of the office.
“Max Fly from Burnt Corn, Alabama now visiting me at Burning Bush, Georgia, such irony. What can I help you with, Max Fly, Private Investigator from Burnt Corn, Alabama?”
“I’m looking for someone, Sheriff. He goes by the name of Cletus Cooper Morgan. Here’s a picture of him it’s about ten years old, but it’s the best I could find. I have been hired by a firm to try and find this guy. He is a former boxer who boxed under the name of Kid Morgan, small-time but he got far enough to get into the ring with Danny Cyclone Ciorrocco but that was as far as he got. Cyclone knocked the last nut out of his grill and Cletus quietly faded away until he showed up in South America, dealing in illegal weapons, portable rocket systems, and high tech devices such as night vision scopes, radio sensors and certain explosive detectors. He participated in different types of security operations with foreign governments. Basically, he was doing things he wouldn’t want his mother to know about.”
“You don’t know his mamma.”
“No, I don’t. He was involved with the killing of hundreds of peasants in remote villages and left the bodies for the families to find. He was serving many clients down there. It didn’t matter what their political persuasion as long as their money was green.
He became a partner in a bean processing factory in Jamaica and went on the CIA payroll. Now they are trying to keep a lid on it but it is hard, considering the activities Cletus participates in.
They said he’s into kidnapping, extortion, and robbery, and engaged in the bombing of an El Salvador civilian airlines and hijackings as means of raising money for political upheavals in South American countries-upheavals in which the CIA played an active role.

Apparently, he is heavy into the shipment of drugs and gun running that started while he was down in Buenos Aires, Argentina, training with their military, which is one of the most brutal and are considered pariahs in other parts of South America. The feds found a canceled plane ticket with his name on it showing he flew out of Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires last week. His destination was Atlanta.
“That sounds like something our Cletus would get involved in. Why are you needing to find him, Mr. Max Fly, Private Investigator from Burnt Corn, Alabama? I’ve never been to Burnt Corn. Is it a nice place?”
“It is. A bit larger than Burning Bush, but still nice. My client’s son got mixed up with Morgan about five years ago and ended up dying at the end of a Mac10. My client was told by a former agent with the DEA that Morgan was pushing about 20 kilos of cocaine into Atlanta every month and they believe he was supplying someone near Chattanooga. Then come to find out, ol’ Cletus has family in these parts, Burning Bush, to be exact.”
“I know Cletus. I haven’t seen him in years. He left to play football down at Valdosta State back in ’63, I think. That didn’t last long. I figured it wouldn’t. As soon as they asked him to read something he was beyond his pay grade if you know what I mean. He ended up in the United States Army and served in Southeast Asia for a couple of years. He came out more screwed up then he was when he went in.”
“If he was to be around these parts, where would you guess he could be found?”
“The Morgans got a homestead ‘bout five miles north of here.”
“How would I get there?”
“Mr. Fly, the Morgans have a reputation around here and it ain’t a good one. If you have no need to, then don’t go near their place. They’re a mean bunch if there ever was one. Ol’ Pa Morgan was known to run shine out of the hills behind his farm and then his oldest boy started growing’ that funny tobacco that all them hippies like to smoke. I was with the ATF and the DEA a few years ago when we arrested the oldest boy, Duane Dale Morgan. We burned down a few acres of his weed. The feds didn’t keep him very long. When he came back he was into something entirely different. He was cookin’ up some of that methamphetamine that seems to be the elixir of choice for all the big city folk nowadays. We had to go up there again and now they throwed his butt into the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. Still there, as far as I know.
If you just feel you have a need to stir up a hornet’s nest, then, by all means, go on up. It’s pretty easy to find. You just head north outta town on Burning Bush Road toward the Burning Bush Baptist church. When you get out about five miles, turn right on Poplar Springs Road and go about a half mile and turn right once again on Peggy Sue Drive. About a mile down you’ll see a small dirt road going off to your left into the woods. There ain’t no mailbox or nuthin’ markin’ the place. You just have to take my word for it. Turn down that dirt road and you won’t have to worry, one of the Morgans will find you.”
Sheriff, Meth is no longer the drug of choice, it’s crack cocaine and it’s taking this country by storm. It’s easy to make. It’s cheap and it’s highly addictive. They say one hit is one too many and a million hits are not enough.”
“I just met a Della Daisy Morgan. She doesn’t happen to be related to the Morgan family we have been talking about, is she?”
“I believe she is a cousin. Probably a kissin’ cousin. Up here in these parts that could mean anything. But that red hair gives her away. Ain’t no way you can hide that.”
Well, now the feds are gathering string on Cletus hoping they can put him away. They have to find him first and that’s where I come in.

 

MAX FLY PRIVATE EYE AND THE PHAT HO CAPER

This is another episode from the files of Max Fly, Private Eye, President and CEO of Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control Services located in downtown Burnt Corn, Alabama, where we have been protecting the innocent people of Burnt Corn from murder, narcotics distribution, robbery, extortion, loansharking and other nasty mafia behavior for over ten years. We are also licensed as pest control agents.

Max Fly, Private Eye
President & CEO of
Max Fly Private & Nefarious Investigations & Pest Control
Zippy Doo, Head Of our Displaced Persons & Pest Control Divisions

My name is Max Fly, Private Eye and I am a damned good one at that. The night in question was a hot Friday in July, the office was thick and heavy with cigar smoke in spite of the oscillating fan that was blowing in humid air from downtown Burnt Corn Alabama. The flashing red neon lights from Patty Mae’s All Night Bar and Pool Hall, located across the street next to the Burnt Corn All Night Diner and Laundromat, were dancing eerily on the office wall as Wanda Winchester, who heads up our reconciliation division, walked in with two large five cheese pizzas, a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, a box of Cohiba Cigars, and a quart of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.

Wanda Winchester
Luigi Licavoli, V. P. Operations

The pizza was from We Serve It Hot Pizza Parlor located next to the Burnt Corn General Store which is next to the Mockingbird Inn out on Alabama Highway 84. Normally their driver, Freda Livery, would bring the pizza to us but she has been experiencing some personal problems lately and we found it to be quicker just to drive out and pick it up ourselves. I was sitting around the card table with Chico “Zippy Doo” Rodriguez, head of our Displaced Persons & Pest Control Divisions, Tommy “Sneakers” Corona, head of our Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Division, and Luigi Licavoli, V. P. Operations. We were playing a game of Canasta, a card game I learned while on an assignment in Uruguay a few years ago, and which I taught to my staff upon my return. I was wearing my brown freshly polished Dan Post cowboy boots, my tight skinny Wrangler stretch jeans, sporting my bucking bronc belt buckle, a blue Snead State Community College sweatshirt, and my new white Stetson hat, which was cocked back on my head. I looked really good.

Tommy “Sneakers” Corona, Heads our Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Division

Zippy was about to deal the cards when the buzzing began. It was coming from the alarm monitoring panel we had installed when we contracted with the Burnt Corn Good Humor Alarm and Security Systems to monitor the alarms installed in the businesses and private residents in Burnt Corn, Alabama.
Wanda dropped the pizzas, cigars, and PBR in the middle of the table, scattering plastic chips in all directions, she kept the Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey clutched to her ample bosom, and walked over to the panel where lights were flashing and the buzzing continued indicating a break-in was in progress somewhere. She flipped a switch and the noise stopped.
“The alarm has been tripped at Phat Ho’s Curly Que Hair/Nail Salon and Massage Parlor. Do you think it’s a false alarm?”
“Most likely,” Luigi Licavoli uttered as he gathered some of Zippy Doo’s plastic chips, stuffing them in his jacket pocket. “Who in their right mind would break into Phat Ho’s place?”
“I saw that Luigi,” Zippy yelled reaching out and grabbing Luigi’s arm. “Give ‘em back.”
“I’m going to give her a call and let her know,” Wanda announced. “Should we bother to call Sheriff Wyatt Hertz to get him to go over there? It’s Friday night and he usually can’t be found until morning unless he is spending the night with Lacie Shorts but she is on that weekend cruise down the Saugahatchee Creek she won in that drawing at Patty Mae’s last month.”
“I will call the sheriff as soon as Luigi coughs up my chips,” Zippy screamed.
“Oh, all right,” Luigi yelled, slapping the plastic chips down on the table in front of Zippy.
“Do we have any clean glasses in here, Max?” Wanda asked looking around the room while she unscrewed the cap on the Fireball bottle.
“In the lower lefthand drawer of my desk,” I replied.
Wanda pulled out the drawer and took out a glass. “Hey, ain’t this the one where the clothes disappear on the girl as you add the liquid?”
“Yeah, don’t use that one it’s my favorite. Use one of the other ones with the PBR logo that Sneaker’s took from Patty Mae’s place.”
One of the many services that we provide the residents of the lovely metropolis of Burnt Corn Alabama is residential as well as business alarm monitoring and we were busy at work fulfilling our duty.
After Zippy confirmed that Sheriff Wyatt Hertz and his deputy, Hiram Firam, were nowhere to be found, we went into action.
“Okay, listen up everyone,” I bellowed, “it appears we are on our own. Everyone grab your rigging and Smith and Wesson .357’s. Make sure they are loaded and you only have five in the box. I don’t want any unwarranted shootings. Zippy, you and Luigi will cover the back entrance of the Phat Ho’s shop. Sneakers, you come with me and Wanda, fill the cooler with some PBR and bring some pizza in case we are in a standoff.”
“You got it, boss,” she replied as she threw back what was left of the Fireball in her PBR glass.
“I’ll bring around the Fly Mobile,” Zippy hollered as he ran to the door.
“Zip, we don’t need the Fly Mobile.The Phat Ho’s place is next door,” I responded, shaking my head.
“Okay, boys, and girl, let’s git ‘er done.”
Once I was sure everyone was in place I nodded at Tommy “Sneaker’s, who had a black belt in Karate, to bust down the door.
Sneaker’s lifted his left leg and spun around, sending a mighty kick aimed directly at the lock below the door handle.
“Holy shit,” Sneaker’s yelled, grasping his knee and falling to the ground. “I think I busted it.”
“The door?” I asked.
“No, my knee.”
I looked over and noticed the door was still shut and appeared not to have been damaged at all from Sneaker’s roundhouse kick when Wanda walked up to the door with the cooler filled with PBR and the box of five cheese pizza in her hands.
“You should know that Phat Ho never locks her door, Max,” she said as she turned the handle and the door opened.
“Can you walk, Sneaker’s?” I asked.
“I think so,” he replied.
“All right then, grab your iron and stay close to me. If someone is in here, it will give them someone else to shoot at.”
We noticed a faint light in the back of the shop and as we approached we could see someone sitting in the chair while another person was bent over opening a cabinet drawer.
“Damn,” Sneaker’s whispered, ‘that’s Ronnie Blokkenbak, that former Auburn University football player who just moved here from Monroeville.
Ronnie Blokkenbak was sitting in a chair with curlers in his hair and a big hair drying bonnet over his head, reading the National Enquirer while his girlfriend, Sue Flay, a part-time cook at the Waffle House out on Highway 84 was holding a bottle of Dippity Doo hair gel and rummaging through a drawer next to the chair where Blokkenbak was seated.

Ronnie Blokkenbak Former Auburn Football Star
Sue Flay

I hollered, “Freeze, you mothers and get down on the floor.”
I looked over at Tommy Sneaker’s Corona who was laid out flat on the floor with his hands over his head. “What are you doing, Sneaker’s, I’m talking to them, not you.”
About that time the back door swung open and in came Zippy Doo and Luigi Licavoli with their .357’s pointing at Sue Flay and Ronnie Blokkenbak.
Ronnie’s eyes got as big as they did when he was about to be hit by that big Alabama defensive lineman in the Iron Bowl up in Birmingham back in ’72. The one that ended his football playing days for good.
Then Wanda Winchester came in chewing on a piece of the five cheese pizza when she recognized Sue Flay.
“What in cornbread hell are you doin’ in here, Suzie and who is that thing with them metal things in his hair?”
“Why, Wanda, that’s my new beau, Ronnie. You know, the one I told you about, the football hero from Auburn?”
“He played football?”
“He sure did and now he is going to be a big shot attorney, as soon as he gets accepted in law school somewhere.”
I had enough of all the girl talk and broke into their conversation, “You do realize, Sue Flay, that breaking and entering will most likely keep Ronnie Blokkenbak from becoming a lawyer just like the lickin’ he got from that big ol’ Bama boy back in ’72 ended his football playing days.”
“What breakin’ and enterin’ you talkin’ about, Max? That Phat Ho said I could come in here after hours and use her facilities whenever I needed to. We do what they call bartering. I get her some free cheese eggs and grits and a side of hash browns, which she likes scattered, smothered, covered, and chunked, and in turn, I get free use of her facilities. That way we don’t have to pay taxes.”
We holstered our irons and confirmed with the Phat Ho that Sue Flay was telling the truth and they actually were in a business bartering group.
We made amends for interrupting and scaring Sue Flay and Ronnie Blokkenbak by sharing our PBR and five cheese pizza with them while Ronnie’s hair finished drying.
Later that night, after picking up empty cans of PBR and disposing of leftover pizza, I wrote my report to the Burnt Corn Good Humor Alarm and Security Systems, informing them of our fast response time to what turned out to be a false alarm at the Phat Ho’s Curly Que Hair/Nail Salon and Massage Parlor.
I am one lucky man. I get to do what I like to do best, protect the good people of Burnt Corn, Alabama and I get paid well to do it.

Tuintsunde Mescalero Renegades – Texas Bounty Hunters

 

They saw a pack of Mexican Red Wolves, wearily watching their approach on the distant horizon. They stopped and watched them for a moment before kicking their mounts as they climbed upward. The wolves turned and scampered into the sage and Creosote bushes that lined the vista and disappeared.
They were cotton-mouthed and dusty, sweaty, and growing weary when they stopped to water their animals. They hadn’t seen or tasted water for a long time.
Shoots Plenty felt he had something important to say.
“This is the land where the shunkaha is lord.
“Why don’t you speak English so I can understand what you are saying, you old squaw? What is a shunkaha?”
“You should know our language, Wasichus. The white eyes call him wolf the Mexicanos call him Lobo, but he is shunkaha to the Lakota. But even he is disappearing because of your people, Wasichus.”
“Are you sure he just ain’t hiding because of this heat you’ve been complaining about?”
“I am sure because now we see many more coyotes. They have moved in where the shunkaha used to be. The coyote is smart. The white eyes will not make the coyote disappear. He is too smart for the white eyes.”
Esben absently nodded his head as he scanned the horizon for any movement. Shoots Plenty had been talking for the past month about how the white man drove the Lakota from their ancestral land. He silently agreed with just about everything Shoots Plenty said, but he wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of letting him know.
“I dreamed that I was back in Paha Sapa and I was with Gray Grass and she was braiding my hair. Do you dream, Wasichus?”
“No, I don’t have time to dream. Dreams are just a waste of good sleep.”
“When our Creator sleeps his sleep is filled with dreams of His creation.
My people tell of the time He saw strange things in His dream. He saw animals crawling on four legs, some on two. Some flew with wings, some swam with fins. There were plants of all colors covering the ground. Insects swarmed everywhere. Dogs barked, birds sang. People called out to each other. Everything seemed out of place. The Great Spirit thought He was having a bad dream. He thought nothing could be this imperfect.
When the Great Spirit awakened, He saw a beaver nibbling on a branch. He realized the world of his dream became His creation. Everything He dreamed about came true. When He saw the beaver make his home, and a dam to provide a pond for his family to swim in, He then knew everything has its place, and purpose in the time to come.
We must not question our dreams, Wasichus. They are our creation.”
“Why are you dreaming of Gray Grass? You have been spending a lot of time with Carmen.”
“I dream of both women but not at the same time. That would not be wise.”
Above them Esben noticed a falcon circling, looking for a meal.
“You see that, Shoots Plenty?” he said pointing to the sky. “It’s not too hot for that Falcon to come out and look for food.”
“He probably smelled your one-eyed mule and thought it would make a tasty meal.”
At that moment they saw movement behind the plateau in front of them. They looked at each other. Shoots Plenty motioned with his hand in the direction of some Pinyan bushes.
“We are being watched, Wasichus.”
Esben kicked his mule, “Let’s ride.”
Outside of Tornillo, they came upon the bodies of a family of six Anglos. They were scalped and their eyes were poked out and they were all stabbed up. Their throats were cut too, and they were full of bullet holes. The woman’s breasts were cut off and they all were butchered between their legs. The odor of rotting flesh was overwhelming. Flies were everywhere.
“Reckon they killed everyone or did they take the rest prisoners?” Esben asked.
“I do not think so. Why take prisoners? It is not the way for the Tuintsunde Mescalero, who you call renegades.”
“How far are they ahead?”
“I would say they are here and they know we are here.”
After burying the six Anglos they continued toward Tornillo. When they got there it was deserted. They both glanced down at the dust below them and were shocked at what they saw. There were tracks of at least a dozen rigs, buckboards, wagons and carts as well as horse tracks, all shod, headed in the same direction – east.
“People left for a reason, Wasichus,” Shoots Plenty said, gazing in the direction the tracks led.
“Afraid of something.”
“Apaches.”
“Tuintsunde Mescalero Apaches. That’s who they are afraid of and who we came looking for. The people of the town have not vanished into thin air, they made a sudden frightened panic-stricken rush to get away.”
“I feel evil in this place,” Shoots Plenty confessed.
They looked over the desert toward the mountains while a lonely dust devil danced around them. Nothing met their eyes save an unbelievably vast stretch of desert.
“The Tuintsunde Mescalero are getting bolder and are on the warpath, burning, killing, maiming. The people of the town fled like sheep. Let’s get ready.”
Shoots Plenty didn’t argue. They tethered their animals in the trees near the shady spot they found. They loaded their rifles and Colt .45’s along with the Winchester ‘73s they took from Max Bentley and Wilson Kerrick and opened boxes of ammunition and then lay out, Esben lighting up a cheroot.
“Those small smoke sticks smell almost as bad as your one-eyed mule. You should only smoke Kinnikinnick.”
“I want to see the Tuintsunde Mescalero when they come for us, not some narcotically induced ghost.”
“When the renegades smell your smoke stick they will know you are a white eyes and think you must be a mule skinner because you smell so bad. That is why you should smoke Kinnikinnick it smells better. The Mescalero will think you are their people when they smell it and then we could ambush them.”
“Once you told me, Silence is the mark of respect; so, respect me.”
Before long they viewed a band of renegade Tuintsunde Mescalero appear over the horizon. There were twelve of them heading their way at a gallop.
As soon as they were in range, Shoots Plenty picked up his Henry rifle and began firing off as fast as he could aim, getting off five quick rounds.
Soon four Apaches lay dead on the ground and a fifth was dragging himself with his hands toward some brush, attempting to escape.
Esben rolled out three shots, all of them hammering into a Mescalero’s chest and throwing him backward off his horse.
At the same time, Shoots Plenty fired from behind a barrel at the front riding Mescalero. One of the slugs smashed the Mescalero’s elbow; the second tore his throat out. He went down with blood pouring from the wound. It looked more black than red in the fading afternoon sun.
One renegade had rapidly fired his gun at Esben but missed with every round. He was desperately thumbing fresh cartridges into the cylinder as Shoots Plenty and Esben were firing at the rest of the Mescalero’s who were falling around him. He snapped the weapon closed and lifted it, grinning as he aimed it at Esben.
It was Esben’s gun that was empty now. He couldn’t do anything as the renegade thumbed back the hammer of the old Army Officer’s Colt .44 revolver.
When the renegade was about to pull the trigger, Esben left his feet in a dive, snatched one of the Winchester’s from the ground as he rolled over, and came up firing. There were two shots left in the rifle and he put both of them into the Mescalero who was firing at him. The renegade went over backward and twitched a couple of times, and then lay still as a dark bloodstain spread over the front of his shirt.
When the dust cleared Esben and Shoots Plenty stood over ten renegade Mescalero’s dead bodies while they watched the last two riding hard toward the Rio Grande and back into Mexico.
Shoots Plenty, holding the scalp of the renegade who had crawled for cover in the surrounding bushes, said, “How will your Captain Smith know that these Mescalero are the renegades that he wanted us to kill? All us Indians look alike to you white eyes.”
“He’ll know. Let’s get these bodies loaded on the horses that were left behind and get them photographed and sent off to the captain. We got more work to do.”

Devil’s Tower But The Sioux Know it By Another Name

 

Sioux Warrior

The two men sat their horses facing west. One was a white man who came from Sweden to the western states to hunt beaver pelts many years ago when beaver hats were all the rage in Europe. The other an Indian, an old Lakota Sioux warrior whose people had hunted the land for many years, ever since the Anishinabe, the First People, forced them from the Minnesota Territory. The two had been friends a long time. They met a few moons after the great victory of ’73, when the Sioux along with their brothers the Cheyenne, defeated Yellow Hair Custer and his men at the Little Big Horn. Neither man had liked General Custer. The white man had worked as a scout out of Fort Laramie under the command of General Crook when Custer was under Crooks command as well. He rode with Custer a few times and considered him incompetent as well as arrogant. He felt Custer got his due. The years since then had passed quickly and they saw many people arrive and a change come over the land. They knew people like them would soon be forced to flee or die.
They were watching the sun fade in the west behind a tall rock jutting out over the Wyoming plains.
“Do you see that rock?” The old warrior asked his friend.
“Of course I see that rock. I ain’t blind. It’s Devil’s Tower.”
“That is the white man’s name. We have no devil in our beliefs. We got along well all these many centuries without him. You people invented the devil and, as far as I am concerned, you can keep him. But everybody these days knows that towering rock by this name, so Devil’s Tower it is.”
“So, what about it?”
“My people have another name for it. We know it as Bear Rock and there is a story to that.”
“Ain’t there always with you Indians?”
“I suppose. When you get close you will see on its sides there are many, many streaks and gashes running straight up and down, like scratches made by giant claws, bear claws.
Well, long, long ago, two young Indian boys found themselves lost in the prairie. You know how it is. You Wasichas get lost all the time. The boys shot their toy bows out into the sagebrush and went to retrieve them. They heard a small animal make a noise and went to investigate.
They came to a stream with many colorful pebbles and followed that for a while. Then they came to a hill and wanted to see what was on the other side. You know how that is, you Wasichus are always curious. Well, on the other side they saw a herd of antelope and, of course, they had to track them for a while.”
“Is there a purpose to this story, or are you just having fun at my expense?”
“That too. When the boys got hungry they knew it was time to go home but found they did not know where they were. They started off in the direction they thought their village was but ended up farther away from it. At last, being very tired from all that walking, they curled up beneath a tree and went to sleep.
The next morning they rose and walked some more, still headed the wrong way. They ate some wild berries and dug up wild turnips, found some chokecherries, and drank water from streams. For three days they walked toward the west.
On the fourth day, the boys had a feeling that they were being followed. They looked around and in the distance saw Mato, the bear. This was no ordinary bear, but a giant grizzly so huge that the two boys would only make a small mouthful for him, but he had smelled the boys and wanted that mouthful. The earth trembled as he gathered speed and got closer to the boys.
The boys started running, looking for a place to hide, but there was no such place and Mato was much faster than they were. They stumbled, and the bear was about to pounce upon them. They could see his enormous, wicked teeth. They could smell his hot, evil breath. The boys were old enough to have learned to pray, and they called upon Wakan Tanka, the Creator:
“Tunkashila, Grandfather, have pity, save us,” they prayed.
“All at once the earth shook and began to rise. The boys rose with it. Out of the earth came a cone of rock going up, up until it was more than a thousand feet high. And the boys were on top of it. Mato the bear was disappointed to see his meal disappearing into the clouds.
Have I said he was a giant bear? This grizzly was so huge that he could almost reach to the top of the rock, trying to get up, trying to get those boys. As he did so, he made big scratches on the sides of the towering rock. But the stone was too slippery; Mato could not get up. He tried every side. He scratched up the rock all around, but it was no use. The boys watched him wearing himself out, getting tired and finally giving up. Soon Mato left, growling, and grunting as he disappeared over the horizon.
The boys were saved.”
“How did they get down, old man? They were not birds. They could not fly. I suppose you are going to tell me that father Coyote came to save the day again?”
“No, not this time, Washichus, it was Wanblee, the eagle, he has always been a friend to our people. So it must have been the eagle that let the boys grab hold of him and he carried them safely back to their village.”
“Yeah? So why are you telling me this?”
“To let you know that the Sioux have been to the top of that rock and back down again. Wakan Tanka made it so. No white man has been there.”

The Loveable Loser

ASU Alternative Spring Break 139

 

Zippy Chippy, a bay gelding, boasts a pedigree that includes Northern Dancer, Buckpasser, Bold Ruler, Man o’ War, War Admiral and Round Table—some of the fastest horses of all time but none of all that special blood coursing through his veins could help him win a race. In one hundred starts, he won zero. That’s right, he never won a race. But, there is a moral to Zippy’s story as there usually is when it comes to horses.
Wait, he did beat a minor league baseball player in a forty yard dash in 2001 and he also beat a harness racer named Paddy’s Laddy. He beat out Paddy Laddy and his rig to win by a neck after he spotted the trotter a twenty-length lead.
After his win, Zippy’s owner said, “It feels good to win but it doesn’t count until we do it against thoroughbreds.
He’s mean, he kicks, he bites, but he has a home forever with me and my daughter.”
The last time Zippy Chippy raced against other thoroughbred horses it ended up as his 100th loss. It occurred on September 10, 2004, in the Northampton Fair at the Three County Fairgrounds. He went off at odds of 7-2, making him the second betting choice.

A host of fans were there that day to cheer him at the start and to take his picture, prompting his jockey to say, “It would be nice if people took photos at the end of the race too.” However, Zippy Chippy finished last.
Eventually, in 1995, his owners gave up on him and Felix Monserrate, who had boarded Zippy Chippy, purchased him in a trade for a 1988 Ford truck.
Zippy was finally banned from competing at many tracks. Why was he banned? Not because he was a perennial loser, but because sometimes he would refuse to leave the gate, or he would bite the other horses, or he would just pull up in mid-race.
But Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Home where he currently resides tells us that winners don’t always finish first. He has more visitors than any other horse at the retirement home.
Watching Zippy lose all his races became a very popular pastime. In fact, his profile got more reads on the Blood-Horse website than stories about Kentucky Derby winners did. He also made more money off the track than he ever did on it through merchandise sales and other endorsements.
And how many horses are voted one of the year’s “Most Intriguing Characters” by People Magazine? Only Zippy Chippy and he received that honor in the year 2000.
There is even a book written about him, which I have to admit, I haven’t read. It’s available on amazon.com. It’s called The Legend Of Zippy Chippy.
Zippy Chippy is the spokeshorse for racing horses. He went on tour in Kentucky in the summer of 2012 to bring attention to the safe retirement of racehorses.

Two hundred and fifty years before Zippy there was Stewball, or Squball, or Sku-ball. It is believed his name is bastardized from Skewbald, which is a horse with patches of white on a coat of any color, except black. A Piebald is a horse with patches of white on a coat of black.
The difference between Stewball and Zippy is that Stewball was a very successful racehorse on the track in England and Ireland as well as off the track.
His name instilled the words to an old song, a song sang by many people over the years but made popular in the 1960’s by the folk group, Peter, Paul, and Mary.
For your singing pleasure, here are the words.

Oh, Stewball was a racehorse, and I wish he were mine.
He never drank water, he always drank wine.

His bridle was silver, his mane it was gold.
And the worth of his saddle has never been told.

Oh the fairgrounds were crowded, and Stewball was there
But the betting was heavy on the bay and the mare.

And a-way up yonder, ahead of them all,
Came a-prancin’ and a-dancin’ my noble Stewball.

I bet on the gray mare, I bet on the bay
If I’d have bet on ol’ Stewball, I’d be a free man today.

Oh, the hoot owl, she hollers, and the turtle dove moans.
I’m a poor boy in trouble, I’m a long way from home.

Oh, Stewball was a racehorse, and I wish he were mine.
He never drank water, he always drank wine.

Max Fly In Buenos Aires, Argentina

The phone rang.
“Rocco’s Pub.” It was Bubba, Rocco’s three hundred pound bouncer
“Hey, Bubba, is the Rocco Man there?”
“Just a moment. Rocco, it’s the Cheese Head. Can you talk?”
“Yeah, give me a moment. I’ll get to my office. Hang up the phone after I pick up.”
I could hear laughter and chatter in the background and then Rocco was on the line.
“Okay, I got it, Bubba, thanks.”
I heard the extension click as Bubba hung it up.
“Cheese Head, you still there?”
“Still here, whatcha got?”
“The connection’s good, like you are on the south side or something. Okay, I got this from Harry last night. The magazine rented you an apartment. It’s the one they told you about. The first-month rent has been paid and the key is where you would expect to find it. Inside you’ll find more detailed instructions.They want you to write an article on the Buenos Aires Cowboy Fair, La Feria De Mataderos. It’s a weekly fair with folk dancing, handicrafts, and food, as well as gaucho demonstrations.”
“I’ve heard of it.”
“Do they do the polka down there?”
“Don’t think so. At least I haven’t seen it yet, but there are a bunch of Krauts walking around. Anything else?”
“That’s it.”
“Thanks, Rocco, I’ll be in touch.”
It was a studio apartment in the Puerto Madero district where rusting ships and decaying warehouses littered the area. I walked in and cleared off space on a bookshelf and set down my bottle of brandy. Now I was moved in. I found my instructions. They were from my handler.
He said to go to La Capilla, a boliches, a nightclub, in downtown Buenas Aires. It had been dry-cleaned and I would meet a deep cover agent, an agent of influence, a raven who had been working Buenas Aires the past three years. She had been briefed and was waiting for contact with me. She was in her late 30’s, about 5’ 4” and 110 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. Her codename was Snake. She knew my code name and had more information about the Nazis and what happened in Poltava, Ukraine.
When she walked in the La Capilla it was already after midnight and the bar was still crowded. She was wearing jeans that hugged her like they meant it and a crimson T-shirt stretched tight across her breasts. She had on an open leather jacket, and tennis shoes and wore a holstered and belted six-shooter, a .357. She walked to the bar, turned, and stood with her elbows on the counter and her ankles crossed. Her eyes were as cold as hung beef and her mouth pitched at an angle that made me squirm in my seat as if I had a diaper rash. She promised trouble. She was my contact and damn if I didn’t know her. Medusa, still tough as nails.
She ordered a drink and took a sip and then looked around. Our eyes locked on each other as I walked toward the bar. Her eyes lifted from mine. They were blank, clouded, lost somewhere in the long roll of her life.
“Hi, I’m a Cheese Head from America, the state of Wisconsin. Names Max, may I buy you a drink?”
“Sure, you can call me snake, I’m from Georgia.”
After the drinks arrived, she thanked me.
“You’re welcome,” I replied.
“I see you are still walking on the green side instead of lying under the brown side, Max,” Medusa said.
“I am. Guess I’ve been lucky. How long have you been in this racket?”
“A long time.”
“I was told you would have some information for me?”
She laid an index finger against my lips. “Shhh, quiet my love. Not here. If you want to hear my story, you must have patience. Are you hungry, Cheese Head? The fresh pasta, calamari, and Patagonian wines are particularly good, as are the desserts. Perhaps you could buy me dinner after we finish our drinks?”
“I’m always up for a late night snack,” I replied.
“I know you are,” she replied with a smile. “I see you are back to writing once again. The vaqueros down here are an interesting breed. Very tough and manly. I have enjoyed myself while here.”
“I can only imagine.”
“Yes, please, imagine. It gets el toro raging in you, Cheese Head. I like you best when el toro is loose and running free in your mind,” she smiled.
I looked around and noticed a fat man in the far corner of the bar, eating a sandwich and drinking a beer. Later he was still sitting there. His sandwich was gone but his beer was untouched. He was looking in our direction.
“You notice that fat man in the far corner?”
“Yes, he’s been watching me for awhile now. He hasn’t touched his beer.”
I got up and gestured for Medusa to get up.
“Let’s go over there,” I said. “A little more privacy.”
She picked up her purse and I led her around the corner to a booth in the back.
I was facing to the front of the bar so I could watch the movement of the fat man with the sandwich and beer. He didn’t appear.
“Look,” I said turning back to face her. “The man who has been following you may have killed one of my assets, Selena, so you have to be careful. I am trying to be patient but I need you to answer my questions about Poltava.”
“Everyone wants to eat but only a few are willing to hunt, Max.”
I knew what she meant. Medusa wasn’t afraid to hunt and she was damn good at it.
She reached into her bag and removed a brown manilla envelope and began to unwrap the string holding the flap closed. She removed a sheath of papers about one inch thick. The cover sheet was marked, “STRENG GEHIEM” in bold red letters.
“What’s that mean?”
“Top Secret.”
“Is the whole report in German? I can’t read German.”
“That’s okay. That’s why you have me.”
I looked at her smiling face.
“I thought I have you for other reasons.”
“That too,” she replied with a coy smile. “This report has been very difficult to get. Nobody in law enforcement gives anything away for free, pissing matches over pride and turf too often leaving everyone with nothing to show for it except wet shoes,” Medusa said with a frown. 
“I had to be very creative,” she smiled that knowing smile.
I nodded my head acknowledging her hidden meaning.
“Let’s finish our drinks and go to my apartment. I have a bottle and you can translate what you have there.”
“I thought you would never ask.”

It took us about five minutes to walk to my new apartment. We were pretty sure the man with the sandwich and beer didn’t see us sneak out but we retraced our steps, just in case.
We didn’t see any sign of him.
I opened the door and ushered Medusa in.
I poured a hook of brandy in each of our glasses and sat down next to Medusa on the well-worn couch. She took a solid drink and reached into her bag and took out her report and began to read.
“Have you heard of Konstantin Ivanenko?”
“No, I haven’t. Who is he?”
“A Russian ufologist.
“Ufologist?”
“Someone who studies UFOs. Ivanenko was an expert, Max.”
“An expert on UFO’s? Is that like an expert on looney tunes?”
“Before you cast aspersions, Max, listen to this report.
According to Ivanenko, the Nazis established a German base in the Muhlig-Hofmann Mountains in Antarctica. It was discovered in 1938 by German Captain Alfred Ritscher. The area was renamed Neuschwabenland, New Swabia and was known only as Station 211. The Richter expedition’s scientists used their Dornier seaplanes to explore the area and discovered ice-free lakes that were heated by underground volcanic fissures and they were able to land on them. It is believed that the expedition was to scout out a secret base of operations. and the facility is known only as Base 211.
Now, if you had been a Wehrmacht soldier at the railroad station in Poltava, the Ukraine, during the summer of 1942, you may have seen a very strange-looking military unit. The unit consisted of women, all of them blond and blue-eyed, between the ages of 17 and 24, tall and slender, with sensational figures.
“My favorite kind.”
“Every kind is your favorite kind, Max. Each woman wore sky-blue uniforms and Italian-style garrison caps with the insignia of the SS. You might have thought the SS had recruited a platoon of high-class call girls, but the truth was far stranger than that. You would have been looking at Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler’s latest brainstorm The Antarctic Settlement Women or ASF. The secret Fatherland of the new 1000 year Reich.
Ten thousand of the racially most pure Ukrainians were transported in 1942 by Martin Bormann to the German Antarctic Base 211, in the proportion of four Ukrainian women to one German man.
If true, this would mean that Himmler transferred 2,500 Waffen-SS soldiers, who had proven themselves in combat on the Russian front, to Station 211 in Antarctica. This may be the source of the myth of the Last SS Battalion.”
“Are you trying to tell me that Nazi’s are living under ice in Antarctica?”
“I’m trying to tell you it’s possible and that it’s possible that life actually existed there long before the Nazi’s got there. There is strong evidence that Antarctica was charted long ago by unknown people when temperatures were much warmer.
In 1947, Admiral Richard Byrd went to Antarctica on Operation Highjump. They said the reason for the operation was to test military hardware under extreme conditions, the suggestion that it was a combat operation aimed at dislodging Nazi troops from their secret Valhalla has always floated in the air.
But that wasn’t all: Vice-Admiral Byrd had apparently stumbled into a magnetic anomaly that messed up his navigational equipment and his radio. He radioed back reports of seeing a completely different, verdant landscape under his aircraft.
It is believed the observatory contains vast crystals which put forth a certain kind of magnetism, which is used as a guidance system so that large spaceships could land at that location.”
“Where did you get this information?”
She was smiling in the mirror.
“South America, Buenas Aires, in particular, is crawling with ex-Nazis, including Richard Gehlen and Otto Skorzeny, Hilter’s former bodyguard. These pigs still like young women and have a difficult time keeping from bragging. Más loco que una cabra con pollitos”, they are crazier than a goat with chicks. It isn’t hard getting information out of them.”
I stared at her.
She smiled, “It’s a job, Max, and I’m damn good at it. “Echar un polvo, I get paid to fuck,” she smiled again.
“What do you think? Would you like to visit Antarctica?”
“I don’t think so, but thanks for asking.”
“Ok, well, I’m tired.”
“If you would like to make an old timer happy one more time, I sure would like you to spend the night with me.”
“ Max, you are more a survivor than an expert when it comes to women. I planned on staying.”
I woke to an empty bed.
I started some coffee and filled a cup. I walked to the little refrigerator and pulled out a carton of milk and added a couple of fingers to the steaming hot liquid and sat down on the couch, and thought about the evening before. If Medusa stayed on my calendar, I didn’t think I would make it to the end of the week. She sure had some unusual information on the Nazis living in Antarctica and I was trying to see how this all tied into the tragedy that happened on November 22, 1963.
There was a soft rap on the door. I picked up my revolver and went to see who was there.
It was Medusa. I let her in.
“I just got word from your handler. Your shadow has been thrown in jail.”
“What? When?”
“Last night. We have to go.”
There was blood on her chin and some on her hands and a spattering of blood on her shirt.
“What happened to you?”
“That fat man from last night? He followed us. I had to take executive action.”
“He’s dead?”
“What do you think?”
I felt like the glue that was holding the world together, was finally letting go.

Super Warriors: Drugged Up GI’s

HOME:

I felt the liquid creep through my veins and the tension and fear leave my body. I was mellow.
I was trying to escape all the ears in the walls. Every night it was the ears, always the ears.
Yesterday silence was the only friend I had. I thought the bottom was the only place I’d been but I wasn’t there yet. No matter how hard I tried I was always behind.
Tommy got into a fist fight. He didn’t fare well. His right ear was almost severed and he re-broke his nose and dislocated his ring finger. I didn’t know if we would be able to remove his wedding band without cutting it off. I fixed him up the best I could using my wife’s sewing kit to sew on what was left of his ear.
Thanks, Doc,” he whispered.
That night I watched the needle take another man and silently I cried.

Chinese Premier Chou En-lai told the president of Egypt in 1965: “Some American troops are trying opium, and we are helping them. We are planting the best kinds of opium especially for American soldiers in Vietnam…Do you remember when the West imposed opium on us? They fought the war with opium. We are going to fight them with their own weapons.

VIETNAM:
I fell in love with a Saigon butterfly of the night, a whore named Kim Lien and she kept my plumbing clean. She looked like a bottle of cheap wine and worked on Tu Do Street and swore in English like a sailor. But she was mine and I was hers. We had a need and we filled it for each other.
She told me she was a hired wife for a CIA agent in Saigon. “He had a lot of money, money to burn. The CIA was accountable to no one in the United States government. Congress did not have a clue what money they had or how they spent it. That the CIA was its own government with its own set of rules. He didn’t care what happened to his money. He said he could always get more. The mother fucker kicked me out because I could not cook his stew properly. I was not a good housewife, he said.”
She told me she started working in tea houses when she was 10 and now she only worked for her father on his Flower Boat, a sampan, and for her brothers who pimped her out on dry land.
She informed me she was 19 but I don’t think she was a day over 16.
That night I held her hand for the first time in the bottom of her father’s sampan. I kissed her for the first time five minutes later and it was then that I gave her father 300 piasters so we could spend three hours together. I gave him another 100 piasters for some opium. We smoked it before she cleaned my pipes.
I told her I loved her in front of a bar on Tu Do Street with her brother standing on a nearby corner.
I proposed to her in front of the Meyerkord hotel, ranked #11 by the GIs, #10 being the worst and #11 being beyond the call of duty.
We were wed by a Buddhist monk on her father’s Flower Boat.
We spent our romantic honeymoon in a hooch I rented for 1200 piasters a month.
I delivered our first child in that hooch two months later. A boy. He didn’t look anything like me.
Lien told me, “In my village, they call our son bui doi (“dirt of life”). I am shamed.”
I held her close to my chest as she sobbed. We shared a joint and made love.
“Don’t worry, Lien everything is going to be all right. Let’s live life like there is no tomorrow because for us, there may not be. Let’s make love all afternoon. I don’t have to be back until this evening.” We shared some opium.
HOME:
I wept at night as I thought of her and my son and what fate had in store for them. I feared my bui doi boy more likely than not, was forced into prostitution along with his mother.
I still meet her in our secret meeting place and our small son joins us. In my mind, miracles can happen. I need miracles.

VIETNAM:
It was 1969, Saigon, South Viet Nam and it was raining, again. It rained every day since we got in country.
“Name’s Pappy Smith,” he said, holding a half-empty bottle of Tiger beer which he told us tasted better than the Viet Cong Bia Hoi.
He had skin like leather and welcomed us to Viet Nam, “You are in for a helluva fight. The average age of a ground pounder over here is 19 years old. The average age of a ground pounder when he is sent home in a body bag is 19 years old. I’m 35 and I have spent three tours in Nam and three years in Korea when I was younger than you are today. I went along with General MacArthur, chasing those fuckin’ slope heads right to the Yalu River before Mr. Truman and the rest of those fuckheads in Washington stopped us. If they woulda’ let us finish business back then, you boys wouldn’t be here today.”
He stopped his orientation long enough to finish off the rest of his Tiger beer.
“You may not believe this, but the sun does shine here once in a while. You boys just missed all the fun, the big Tet Offensive. Of course, it was a huge surprise to the folks back home, and the reporters claimed it was a victory for the NVA even though we won. We set the NVA back quite a bit killing millions of the little Gooks. But you would never know it reading the Washington Post and the rest of the American press. Obviously, to our newspapers, black is white.
“You are all fresh meat, our new Cherry Boys, and I’m your caped superhero and you always trust your caped superheroes, not one of them butter bars back there,” he said jabbing his thumb over his shoulder referring to the gold bars on the shoulders of the new second lieutenants that just arrived and were being processed in behind us.
“I’m telling you up front even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there. So always be doing something positive. Be alert it could mean your life and more importantly, mine.”
We knew now when he was around we never sat down.
“Okay, shitheads, let’s saddle up I’m going to show you how to ride the skids. You Cherries will sit in the middle and watch this time. After that, I don’t give a fuck where you sit. Just don’t sit in front of them Door Gunners.”
“Hey you,” Pappy said, pointing in my direction.
I turned around and looked at him and replied, “What, Sarge?”
“You our medic?”
“Yep,” I replied.
He looked at me a bit and finally said, “I don’t know what they told you in doc school back in the states, but here is the real story. You and me go out on the first unsecured insert and stay out and return with the last pickup. You and me are on call 24/7, 365 days a year until you either rotate out or you buy the six-by-three farm. I do it because I get the big bucks, you do it because you are the most important man here. We all need you. Now, di di mau, haul ass, and get your shit together.”
HOME:
I dreamed of Lien and our son again and woke up crying.
My wife asked me if I was okay. I wanted to tell her “Fuck no. What do you think? I’m fucking nuts. I’ll never be okay. But I told her, “Yes, everything is fine. I just had a spell.”
My wife takes me in her arms and rocks me. She’s a good woman and she loves me and I love her too. She thinks it’s PTSD that makes me cry. I don’t tell her. She wouldn’t understand.
“When do you see your grief counselor again?”
“Tuesday.”
“Do you think it is helping?”
“I think so,” I lied.
“That’s good. Do you want to go with me to pick the kids up from school?”
“I looked at her for a moment and said, “No, I think I’ll go see what Tommy is up to.”
“Please don’t do drugs again, please. The kids haven’t seen you straight in over a week. They are scared and so am I. Please, please don’t go.”
I grabbed her and pulled her close. I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t lie to her, not anymore. I felt the warmth of her tears soaking my chest. I knew I was going to shoot up with Tommy. “I love you,” I said.
I felt like a shit when I left.
VIETNAM:
Our squad consisted of Bizo, Bug, Cotton Top, Dizzy, Doo Rag, me and Pappy Smith. We didn’t know each other’s real names and never did. To all of them, I was just Doc.
We were quiet as we contemplated what we were about to do and talked in hushed tones about our families and loved ones, and what we were going to do after our tour was over.
We packed our rucks, drew fresh ammo, cleaned our weapons and filled our Canteens and tied them on the back. For me, being the medic, I made sure my Aid Bag was packed and that I had enough dressings and meds for the next 10 days. Everyone was nervous about what was about to happen.
I passed out twelve Dexedrine to each man. We would be alert!
Then Pappy yelled, “Saddle Up and climb the hill to the pad the birds are on the way.”
And then we could hear them, that distinctive sound of the Huey’s as they approached the firebase; the chopping sound of their blades getting louder and louder the closer they got. It was at that moment as they were about to descend to pick us up that the adrenaline started to kick in. We got up, crouched over, and ran with our hundred pound rucks, weapons, and ammo toward the birds. We turned around as we got there and jumped on board. We sat with our legs hanging out of the bird; we were no longer Cherry Boys. We talked about the times we went out on recon and how we forced the “Cherries” to sit in the middle.
Once the Huey’s arrived and we were situated the bird ascended and the firebase receded as we banked and headed for our LZ.
As we approached the LZ we could see all the activity around it, the smoke and artillery fire and then the final dusting by the Cobra gunships flying down below us.
Then it was our turn, the 1st Bird, we made our way down. The Crew Chief and the Door Gunner unleashed their weapons spewing rounds on the LZ and perimeter.
We rode the skids in so we could get off faster and then we made our way to the perimeter to watch and wait until the last bird dropped its load.

HOME:
The needle goes in and I can feel it relieving the pain. I smile and look over at Tommy. Is he dead? I laugh. I don’t know why I laugh because I am sad.
I start to shake and my mind goes back to Nam. Then I silently cry.

VIETNAM:
While in Nam, Dizzy would shoot up and get high and we would ask him, “How’s the war going, Dizzy? He’d respond saying, ‘real smooth. Today we’ve got ourselves a real mellow war’.
When Dizzy was killed, we tried to convince ourselves that he was just high, in a higher place, that he had taken so much dope that he was up there floating in the clouds somewhere. To help us believe this, we all smoked what was left of Dizzy’s dope.

HOME:
I was catching bass and getting drunk the day I found out I was being sent to Viet Nam where I learned to hate my brother. Viet Nam robbed me of my liberty and I realized that I wasn’t going to live forever and then I realized that I was as free as I would ever be. You do what you do. It don’t mean nuthin’.
VIETNAM:
The bombs started falling pounding my brain and all I wanted to do was disappear.
I couldn’t see the bodies for the clouds of dust. It made me wish I was in Wisconsin drinking Mad Dog 20 20 not caring where I was or what I was doing. I was just a poor boy. Many times I walked away from trouble but I couldn’t walk away from this.
My dad told me to do what I could do and do it well. Shit, I don’t think this was on his list.
I was holding Pappy Smith’s body close to mine while pressing a field dressing against the gaping wound in his stomach, hoping his intestines would stay in. We were waiting for the last bird to drop its load and come back for us. This is why Pappy got the big bucks.
The bird finally arrived. It came with the dust and left with the wind and took the rest of our wounded and Pappy from us. This time Pappy didn’t make the last pickup. I was alone.
I tried to shut my eyes and get him out of my sight, but I couldn’t.
VIETNAM:
I stared down at the man I killed, more a boy, really. There was a star-shaped hole where his left eye was. His face was bloated. He hung upside down from a branch in the tree he used for his sniper position. Strips of skin were missing from his face; he was thin, like a woman with a concaved chest. His straight black hair was streaked with blood and hung toward the swampy ground below him. I felt nothing, absolutely nothing.
HOME:
I saw Kim Lien standing in the heavy mist ahead of me on the dock by her father’s Flower Boat.
“Lien, where are you going?” I sob.
“I’m going to find Tommy. Do you wish to come along?”
“Yes,” I cry.
She yells at me calling me pretty boy and to hurry. “Di di mau, dep trai.”
She beckons to me with her hand before turning and walking to the boat
I put the needle in my arm one last time and smile before calling to her, “Lien, please wait for me. I can’t make it alone.”
WAR:
You pay for your sins and this war was filled with more than enough sins on both sides.
The Vietnam War was many things and among them, it was a pharmacological war.
A 1969 investigation by Congress found that 15-20 percent of soldiers in Vietnam used heroin regularly and that over 40,000 soldiers returned from Nam as drug addicts.
The armed forces issued over 225 million tablets of stimulants to our troops, mostly Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), an amphetamine derivative that is nearly twice as strong as the Benzedrine used in WWII.