Daniel Bird Daniel Bird
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" - The misty rain caused myriad rainbows of the light to flicker in his eyes and the smell of fresh coffee invaded his senses causing his nostrils to flare like those of a half starved Cayuse smelling water. - " Nice detail Don!

Daniel Bird Daniel Bird
Recommendations: 47

" - He was thinking of the paycheck as he swung his lean six foot fame out of the cab and crunched his way across the wet gravel to the door. He was hungry. - " I think you meant "frame" Don. Just came across it and thought I would share that with you!

Daniel Bird Daniel Bird
Recommendations: 47

"Oh yeah, " He said, standing up so he could get his wallet from the back pocket of his Levi jeans. - Just a tip Don. Saying "he stood up and reached for his wallet." Would suffice, as Ron McGraw's character is quite apparent, and automatically we (The Reader) imagine him reaching in his back pocket, just as we imagine him in jeans. And the BRAND of the jeans is not necessary, and quite irrelevant, acting like a sort of 'speed bump' taking away from the natural flow of the sentence.

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Don Yarber Don Yarber
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She had a friend.

This writing contains explicit content and is only for adults. You have been warned.

My first attempt at mystery writing in short story form.


       Ron McGraw rolled the rig across the gravel connecting the roadside café to the highway and watched the neon light blinking off and on, “EATS”
wondering just what the hell that meant?  Did the sign eat people?  When you walked through the door did a giant mouth chew you up?  He thought of a stand up comic’s routine, “Here’s your sign.”
       The misty rain caused myriad rainbows of the light to flicker in his eyes and the smell of fresh coffee invaded his senses causing his nostrils to flare like those of a half starved Cayuse smelling water.
       He felt good.  Money in his pocket and on the last leg of his trip back west, before hitting the border at Needles, then the gradual descent across the desert, Barstow, San Bernardino, then the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, a two grand paycheck waiting for him.
       He was thinking of the paycheck as he swung his lean six foot fame out of the cab and crunched his way across the wet gravel to the door.  He was hungry.
       “This place will either eat me, or I’ll eat it!” he said to himself.
       He hurried his footsteps and then suddenly found himself reeling backwards, almost losing his balance, almost falling, waiting for the blows he felt would be coming.  He braced himself and took a stance that would let him swing a hard right hand, but no blows came and he glanced around.
       A burly man in well worn khakis mumbled something and ran, swaying, to a battered old Pontiac convertible parked near the highway.  The man was in his fifties, bald on top, with a fringe of gray shining like a half halo in the misty rain.  He limped slightly and staggered heavily, finally coming to the car, he pulled himself into the seat, started the engine and slung gravel everywhere as he roared out onto the highway.
       The truck driver brushed thin fingers through a mop of unruly copper colored hair, then felt the two day stubble of beard on his face.  The smell of coffee hit him again and he hurried through the door.
       The place was empty except for the waitress, a pretty girl in her early twenties, by her looks.  She was hastily mopping up something from the floor, and her miniskirt revealed long, shapely legs.  She stood up gracefully and turned to McGraw smiling.  Her face was thin and pale but with high arching eyebrows and pretty blue eyes.  Her smile revealed Colgate teeth with no trace of unevenness.  
       He smiled back.
       “What’ll it be, Cowboy?” she asked.
       “What’ve you got?” he asked, chuckling.
       “Well, the specialty of this fine establishment at this hour of the night is chili.”
       “Then I’ll take it, and a cup of that great smelling coffee.”
       “My name is Patsy,” she said.  “What’s yours?”
       “McGraw.  Ron McGraw.”
       “Glad to meet you, Ron McGraw,” she said, headed for the kitchen to get his order.
       “Coming or going?” she said over her shoulder.
       “Coming, I guess,” he said.  “Depends on which way you call going?”
       “Towards the coast is coming, back towards Flagstaff is going.”
       She sat a bowl of steaming chili down in front of him, dropped a spoon and some crackers on the counter.
       “We don’t get too many truckers in here,” she said.  “Mostly locals.”
       “Well, you got me,” he said.  He ladled some sugar from a glass container into his coffee, raised the cup and sipped.  It was hot.  Real hot.  He sat it down and used the spoon to shovel two ice cubes from the glass of water she sat next to his bowl of chili.
       “That’ll be two fifty,” she said.
       “Oh yeah.” He said, standing up so he could get his wallet from the back pocket of his Levi jeans.
       “My wallet!” He said suddenly, looking towards the door.  “I bet that guy got my wallet!”
       He started towards the door.
       “Hold it, Mister,” she yelled.  
       McGraw turned to face her.  She was holding a snub nosed revolver pointed about even with his belly button.
       “I’ll be back in a minute,” he said.  “That guy that just left here must have taken my wallet.  It’s got all my money in it, about two hundred bucks.  I’m going after him.”
       “Hold on,” she said, still holding the gun with one hand.
       Then she unbuttoned her blouse with the other hand.  One button at a time.  McGraw stared, transfixed, as she unbuttoned the last one and using her free hand pulled first one sleeve of the blouse off her shoulder, then the other.  She dropped the blouse on the floor and stood there in front of him with bare breasts.  
       McGraw had seen topless waitresses before but not in a roadside eatery.
       “What’s going on?” he asked.
       “Us.” She replied.
       He sat down, not taking his eyes off of her.  He picked up his spoon and started to eat the chili.  It was good but he hardly noticed.  The gun in her hand and the fact that she was topless occupied his senses.  He finished his food and drank most of his coffee.      
       “Mind telling me why you’re pointing that gun at me?” He asked.
       “Oh, I forgot,” she said, putting the gun under the counter.
       “I don’t get many good looking guys in here, Cowboy.  You’re the best thing that’s walked through that door since I can’t remember when.  It’d be a shame if you left in a hurry.  Forget the wallet, the chili’s on me.”
       “Thanks a bunch,” he said, “but now I’ll never catch that guy that took my wallet.”
       “What guy?” she asked.
       “You mean you didn’t see that guy that left here right before I came in?  He nearly knocked me down.  I’m sure he’s got my wallet.”
       “I didn’t see anyone,” she said, smiling.  “Now if you’ll wait till I lock up, you can give me a ride home in that rig of yours.”
       He was staring at her breasts now, watching them rise and fall with her breathing.  
       “Sure, Patsy,” he said.  “You don’t need a gun to kidnap me, though.  I’ve been on the road for two weeks.”
       “My mother always told me you truck drivers didn’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain,” she said.  “Now I know.”
       She sat next to him in the cab.  Her perfume filled the air and McGraw could feel the gnawing in his groin.  There hadn’t been a girl in his life for a long time.  The words of an old song came to his mind:  “When a man needs a woman”.  He needed someone.  This pagan beauty would do.
       In her apartment she stripped and held out her arms to him.  He went to her, holding her close, kissing lips that were sweeter than the coffee.  
       He lifted her and carried her through a door into her bedroom and gently lowered her to the bed.
       “Not yet, Cowboy,” she said and left the room.  “I’ll be right back.”
       She was gone quite a long time.  He undressed and got into the bed.  When she returned they lay next to each other kissing for a while.
       “I’ll bet you think I’m crazy.” She said.
       “Who’s complaining?” He said.  “Are you sorry?”
       “No.  Shut up and make love to me.”
       “I shall, in all my best, obey you, madam!”
       She laughed heartily.
       “What’s wrong?” he asked.
       “A truck driver that quotes from Hamlet.  Shakespeare!” she said.
       He started laughing then, giggling at first then a full hearted, deep chested laugh.
       “What’s wrong with you?” She asked.
       “A topless waitress that knows when a truck driver quotes from Hamlet!”
       They drifted off into a frenzy of pleasure.
       The sun was shining when he left.  Three miles out of Pinetree he saw it.  Down in a ravine, not far from the road, lay the Pontiac convertible, upside down.
       He hit the brakes and fought the wheel to keep the trailer from jackknifing.  When the rig finally stopped he climbed down and ran back down the shoulder and scrambled down the embankment to the car.
       The body was mangled on a pile rocks where it had been thrown.  
       McGraw had just reached the dead man, knowing that his wallet would be in the pocket of the blood stained khakis the dead man wore.  A shout from above and behind him made him turn.
       “What’s going on here?”
       McGraw could see the voice belonged to a uniformed officer of the law.
       “That’s a good question.”
       “You just get here?”
       “Yeah.  Found him just like that,” McGraw said.  “I think you should check his clothes, he stole my wallet last night and I’d like it back.”
       “You’re crazy, Mister,” the officer said.  “That’s the mayor of Pinetree.”
       “You’d better come with me, Mister.” The officer drew his service revolver. 3 comments

      “What for?”  
       “Take a look at this!”
       McGraw looked.  He hadn’t noticed it before, but there were two neat round holes in the khaki shirt the man wore.  
       “Wait a minute,” he said.  “You don’t think I shot him?”
       A sudden chill passed over him.  He knew that if they searched the cab of his rig they would find his 38.  Two rounds had been fired.  He had shot twice at a jackrabbit while at a roadside picnic area somewhere in Texas.
       “I didn’t shoot him,” McGraw said quickly.
       “Can you prove that?”
       “I thought a man was innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around,” McGraw answered.
       “My deputy found a gun in your truck with two spent rounds.  Doesn’t look good for you, trucker!”
       “I fired those rounds at a jackrabbit in Texas!”
       “Can you prove that?”
       McGraw thought fast.  
       “I can prove I didn’t shoot this man.”  He was thinking of Patsy.  After last night he was sure she would remember seeing the man in the café right before he came in.
       “Take me to Patsy’s café.”
       A few minutes later they were talking to Patsy.
       “Patsy,” he said.  “I’m just a poor truck driver.  All I want is to get my wallet back and deliver this load to Los Angeles.  Please answer my questions truthfully.”
       “Sure, Cowboy,” she said, blowing smoke at him.  She stubbed out her cigarette and sauntered away to pour coffee for another customer.
       “Well, Patsy,” the constable said.  “Mayor Bennett got himself killed last night.”
       “He did?” she said.  “How?”
       “We didn’t know till we went back to the wreck for his body and found this truck driver there,” drawled the constable.
       “Patsy, tell this clown where I was last night,” McGraw said confidently.
       “How should I know, Mister?” Patsy said. “I’ve never seen you before in my life.”
       “Come on, trucker,” growled the constable.  “I’ve heard enough.”
       McGraw was not about to go to jail in this crummy little town for the death of a stumble-bum mayor.  He faked a hook at the constable’s midsection and swung a hard right that caught the officer on the chin and set him down hard.  He ran out the door then the lights went out.  It started as a small gray cloud, then swiftly grew into a huge black covering that engulfed him and swirled over and around him and he went down to the bottom of a pit called pain.  There were no rockets going off, just pain.  No noises, just pain.
       He came to with a sense of lost space and time jingling in his head.  At first he thought he was in the sun, a bright light was shining in his face.  His hands were strapped on either side of him.  Then as consciousness returned he realized that the light was from a penlight flash.  The hand holding the flashlight was attached to an arm that ran up a white sleeve and connected to a well built man in his early forties, dressed in a white smock.
       “I’m Doctor Daniel Shale,” the voice said.
       “Well, I’m going to patch your head up and fix you well enough to stand trial.”
       “Trial for what?” McGraw asked, dreading the answer.
       “Nothing so light as the beating you gave Constable Tracy.”
       “Well tell me.”
       “O,K. McGraw, the Doctor said.  “I guess there’s no harm telling you.  You see, you’ve stumbled onto something bigger than you ever dreamed of.”
       “I’m listening,” McGraw said, and tried to sit up.  The effort started the pain in his head again.
       “It’s like this, McGraw.  Pinetree is the most unusual community you’ve ever been in.”
       “You can say that again,” McGraw mumbled.
       “You would never guess but you might have stumbled onto the answer sooner or later.  Now it doesn’t matter.  We’ve got you where we want you.”
       “Where’s that?”
       “Pinetree,” said the doctor.  “It is the only town in the United States that is composed of citizens who are, every last one of them from the age of fourteen up, addicted to the use of heroin.”
       “Heroin!” squeaked McGraw.  Then he remembered the look in Patsy’s eyes.
       “Yes, Heroin.” continued the doctor.  “Every man and woman in this town is an addict.  They have been for the past ten years.  We have children in this town nearing the age of twelve.  When they reach twelve we start them lightly.  By the time they are fourteen they will be totally addicted.”
       “You’ve got to be crazy!” McGraw said.
       “Maybe so,” Doctor Shale said.  “But we’ve got a good life.  We don’t charge anyone here an exorbitant price for their fixes.  All the people have to do is come to me.  I started them all out, one at a time when I came here.  Now I am in total control.  I own the town, lock stock and barrel.  No one does anything that I don’t know about and approve of, including Patsy.”
       “Everyone here is hooked.  They won’t leave and they won’t sing.  I control their source.  I grow the poppies in the hot houses at the edge of town, I make the heroin here in my lab, and what we don’t use we export.  We are probably the richest little town in Arizona.”
       “Pinetree was a choice community to come to when I arrived.  Now I own every piece of property from here to Flagstaff.  What’s more important is I own every person in this town except one, and he’s dead now.  You’ll be tried for his murder by a jury that owes its allegiance to me.”
       “What about Bennett?  Why wasn’t he addicted?”
       “Bennett came here a few years ago, looking for his daughter.  He found out what was keeping a good looking girl like Patsy here.  He was an alcoholic, he didn’t need heroin, he needed alcohol.  He wouldn’t leave without Patsy, and she wouldn’t leave, so we made him mayor.”
       “The other night he went to Patsy and begged her to go away with him.  She refused.  He got mad and said that he had spent enough time trying to save her from hell so she could go to hell, along with the rest of this sick town.  He said he was going to Flagstaff to the DA and blow the whistle on Pinetree.”
       “Let me see if I can guess,” McGraw said wearily.  “Patsy called you and you got Tracy to force him off of the road, then finish the job.  You were afraid I would ask questions so you tagged me for the murder.  Right?”
       “That’s close enough,” the doctor said.
       “So now I stand trial for the murder of Bennett and you’ve got the whole town back to yourself, huh Doc?”

      “Right McGraw.  Either you stand trial for the murder of Bennett and face the death penalty, or you can join us.  I’ll keep you here and start you on heroin, little at a time till you get hooked, then you won’t leave on your own.”
       “Some choice, I’m dead either way,” McGraw said.  “Go on.”
       He didn’t want to hear more but the strap that held his right wrist was weakening each time he strained against it.  He needed time.
       “Well there isn’t much more to it,” the doctor said.  He then rambled on about the details of making heroin from poppy seeds, all the while McGraw was straining on the strap holding his wrist.
       “You’d be happy here, McGraw.  Patsy likes ;you, she might even let you stay with her.”
       The strap was loosening enough to get his right hand free.
       “Life is better than death, Doc,” McGraw said.  “Why don’t we get started on that dark horse of death?”
       “That’s the sensible thing to say, McGraw,” the doctor said.  He turned his back and went to a cabinet.  He got a hypodermic needle and a vial of liquid.  As he prepared the syringe, McGraw worked his right hand free.
       The doctor turned back to the table where McGraw lay and paused.
       “Now this won’t hurt a bit,” he laughed.
       As he brought the hypodermic needle lower, McGraw swung his right hand up, grabbed the syringe and plunged it as hard as he could into the doctor’s left eye.  The doctor screamed in agony and staggered back, pulling the needle from his eye.
       McGraw furiously worked the strap on his left hand.  The doctor stopped screaming and went to the cabinet.  From where he lay, McGraw could see the doctor open a drawer and reach for a gun.  McGraw’s heart was pounding like stampeding horses in his head and thunder in his chest.  
       He jerked desperately on the strap.  At last it gave.  He sat up and pulled at the straps on his ankles.  The doctor raised the gun.
       McGraw thought fast.  He felt with his right hand and grasped the only thing he could find.  It was his shirt, hanging on a door knob.  He flung the shirt.  It hit the doctor in the face, causing him to lower the gun and step back.  McGraw jerked again on the ankle straps.  They broke.
       He rolled off of the table just as the gun roared.  The noise in the small room was deafening.  His pulse was beating so hard he could feel it in the roof of his mouth.  He crawled under the table and grabbed the doctor around the legs and shoved with all his might.  They both went sprawling across the floor.
       Somehow he found his hands on the doctor’s throat and he squeezed as hard as he could.  The doctor’s hand was coming up with the gun.  McGraw saw the hypodermic needle and grabbed it with his right hand and plunged the needle deep in the doctor’s good eye.  The doctor screamed again.  McGraw pushed with all his might on the end of the syringe.  It popped the eyeball out of the socket and the needle careened off of bone, and sank into the doctor’s brain.  He twitched a few times then stiffened and died.
       Ten minutes later when McGraw opened the door of the café, Patsy looked up from the floor she was scrubbing.  McGraw glanced at her hands.  No gun.  Then he saw that she was scrubbing the same dark stain she had been mopping when he first laid eyes on her.  All of a sudden he knew.  She had shot Bennett.
       She stood up slowly.
       “Hello, Cowboy,” she said.
       “Hello, Patsy,” he said through clenched teeth.
       She retreated behind the counter and he knew she was going for the gun she kept there.  He didn’t care.
       “Tell it to me, Patsy,” he said.  “Remember this, above all else, to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
       “Why did it have to happen this way, Cowboy?” she asked.  “You should have left.  I gave you a chance to leave.”
       “Sure, Baby,” he snarled.  “Left this rotten, stinking, God Forsaken, drug addict town to you and the Doc, to prosper in the sun, huh?”
       “Now I know.  You shot Bennett, not Tracy.  You shot your own father because you couldn’t give up the horse.  I’m not that kind of Cowboy, Patsy.  We ride different horses.”
       “Bennett wasn’t drunk when he bumped into me outside.  He had been shot.  He was running for his life.  He probably died before his car went off the road down there south of town.  You shot him, and that was the end of the only man who knew about this town.  Then I came along.  What took you so long in the bathroom last night?  Getting shot up with a fix so you could love me in high style?”
       He spit the words out, angering more with each syllable.
       “There’s only one thing that I want now, Patsy.  That’s my wallet.  Who’s got my damned wallet?”
       “You and your damned wallet,” she said, bringing the gun from behind her.
       “Yes, Patsy.  I stumbled into something because I thought your father, Mayor Bennett, stole my wallet.  Now I don’t know.  Who has got it, Patsy?”
       “Look, Cowboy,” she said.  “I wanted you to get in that rig parked out there and get on the road.” She fired three rounds over his head.  
       “You can’t kill me with that gun, Patsy.  You fired two rounds at Bennett.  Does that revolver hold five rounds or six?  Or do you even know?
You just fired three more.  If it’s a six shooter you’ve got one chance to kill me.  If you miss, I walk and tell the world about you.”
       He walked towards her.
       “Stay where your at, Cowboy!” she hissed.
       “Do it, Patsy,” he said.  “Pull the trigger.  Don’t miss, now.  I’m walking out of here, but first, I owe you something.”
       He walked to within two feet of her.  She held the gun relentlessly on his midsection.
       Suddenly he reached out and slapped her across the face, hard.  Her head snapped sideways and she nearly lost her balance, but swung the gun back at him.
       He turned his back and headed for the door.
       She pulled the trigger.  The slug tore an inch of flesh from McGraw’s side but he kept walking.  She threw the gun at him and missed and he walked out of her life.  
       He got the first aid kit from the cab of his truck and patched the hole in his side.  He knew he could make it to Needles to a doctor.  
       He cranked the starter till the diesel roared to life, then before shifting into gear, he reached above the dash to a recess where he kept his log book and cigarettes.  He couldn’t believe his eyes when his hand came out with his wallet in it.

                            THE END.

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