“He’s shot!” I screamed. “Sundog is shot.”
At that moment, for the first time in my life, I found something inside me that would have made Mother Teresa proud. The nurses at Mercy General –where I worked as a receptionist– would have also been proud. Heck, maybe even my mother, had she ever given a shit, might have given me a point or two.
I leapt on Sundog, knocking him to his side.
He screamed again as I lifted the foot and felt it crunch. My nursing instructor’s voice kept telling me what to do. “If it’s broken, then protect it from further injury with a splint.”
That despicable Sundog screamed, “My foot!”
There was something so satisfying about the biggest blowhard on the south side screaming with pain. I hated him, but it was no reason to not help him.
I looked for an object to splint Sundog’s foot and found the TV remote.
Explosion number four hurt my eardrums. I’d been so intent on getting Sundog’s leg splinted I failed to notice the two men wrestling three feet from me. I shook my ringing head and slid the remote next to Sundog’s ankle.
“Get me some tape or something to bind this,” I yelled. No one moved. When bullet five left the gun and drilled a hole in the kitchen wall, I screamed the words again.
Ms. Stalworth leapt off of the couch and sprinted through the door in the kitchen. A moment later she handed me a roll of duct tape.
The men were still wrestling.
“Pull a strip and wrap it around where my hand is.”
Ms. Stalworth pulled a long section of gray tape from the roll and ripped it with her teeth. The wrap was neat and clean. The ankle was bound. Sundog had passed out.
Bullet number six left the gun. Ms. Stalworth and I jumped when the great Yamelda Keating slammed through the kitchen door and whanged nutcase in the side of his head with a cast iron frying pan. As he crumpled, the gun fell to the floor.
Long ago, I’d come to the end of my rope around that Stalworth bitch. I wasn’t going to shoot her. I was just going to even the score by terrorizing the living daylights out of her. I wanted to scare her out of her ramshackle home on my fifth fairway. I wanted her to take her fucking chickens and move out of my neighborhood.
The gun going off the first and second time was simply another tactic, but Henry hadn’t exactly responded like I wanted him to and I was forced to wrestle with him. Jesus, I was fifty-seven for god sakes. My wrestling days had long since passed, but there I was, man about town, Mr. Shaker and Mover, tux and all, being wrestled to the floor.
The third bullet was accidental. While I was fighting for my life and my tux was being torn to shreds, the gun went off.
The fourth bullet I let loose on purpose. I was getting tired, and Henry was winning. I wanted it to stop. I pointed the gun at Henry’s arm and fired to stop the nonsense, but I missed.
Every explosion after number four happened on their own. God, I was running out of steam. I got an upper hand for a moment and clobbered Henry with the butt of the pistol.
I couldn’t believe things got crazy so fast, but there I was swinging the pistol around and getting all of my little ducks back in a row when a freight train hit me from the side.
As consciousness faded, I realized I’d lost everything. I’d lost my house and my business. My wife left years ago when Tenican Heights took a dump. The flood took the last of my fortune. My biggest loss was the opportunity to even the score with Stilwalsky.
CHAPTER 12 TURNING TIDE
“You knocked him out,” the tall, skinny guy said.
Dirty Waitress Suit pointed. “Somebody get the gun.”
Henry, who’d wrestled that idiot Trunk to the ground, sat on the floor moaning and holding his bleeding head.
Since Billy was in good shape in the kitchen, it was time to check on my cameraman in the bathtub.
I stepped over Harry and snatched the chrome cannon from the carpet. It was the biggest gun I’d ever seen.
I looked at Blonde Twit tending Sun Deck, or Sun Duck, or was it Sun Dick. I’d seen him with Billy. “Your boyfriend going to be okay?”
The girl sneered. “This one’s not my boyfriend.” She pointed at Billy still wrapped in Saran Wrap, who’d just opened the kitchen door. “He was my boyfriend, but he’s an asshole.”
Billy said, “Will someone cut me out of this cocoon?”
I could see why Billy dumped her, but I was curious. “Why’s that?”
“He’s a liar.”
I looked at Billy and his face was scrunched.
I turn to Twit. “I don’t get it, you’re dumping him?”
“In the six months we’ve been together, he was never once straight with me.”
Billy scrunched his face. “That’s not true.”
Stalworth came in with a length of clothesline.
I pointed the gun at Harry. “Tie him up, then we’d better get to the bottom of this mess before the cops show up.”
Stalworth flipped Harry on his face with her foot and wrapped the rope around Harry’s wrists behind his back. “No one’s called the police. Phones are out.”
Billy yelled, “Someone cut me out of this!”
I handed the gun to Henry. “It’s out of bullets. If Harry acts up, whack him.”
I walked down the hall and looked in the bathroom. Shawn was still shaking, so I turned the water on to finish filling the half-empty tub.
A moment later, Stalworth yelled, “He’s getting up.”
I raced back into the living room as Harry was lifting onto one foot. I came in low and gave him a body slam, forcing him hard against the wall. He released a gasp of air and slumped to the floor.
I dusted myself off. “That ought to keep him.”
Henry had passed out.
My lover, my man, my future husband, the father of my children, yelled, “Will someone get me out of this wrap? I’m burning up!”
I came out of a frozen dream, sitting on an uncomfortable chair in a strange kitchen feeling like a popsicle wrapped in plastic.
“What the fuck is going on?” I growled as Yamelda bolted from the kitchen. What kind of weird sexual stuff was she up to?
I remembered the boat splitting in half and me landing in the freezing water, but I had no memory after that. I struggled to get loose, but the binding was too well wrapped.
I couldn’t figure out the commotion in the next room, so I tipped forward and finally got to my feet. The wrap was so tight, I could barely stay standing much less waddle toward the swinging door. In the few minutes it took me to get to the door, I quickly went from cold to being overly heated. Sweat was pouring from my face.
When I pushed through the door, stumbling and almost landing flat on my face, I said, “Will someone cut me out of this cocoon?”
I scanned the scene and Tammy was talking to Ya-melt-a.
“He’s a liar.”
She turned to Tammy. “I don’t get it, you’re dumping him?”
“In the six months we’ve been together, he was never once straight with me.”
I moaned, “That’s not true.”
I should have kept my mouth shut. Yamelda thinking I was a liar could just work.
Harry Trunk lay in the floor with his hands tied. A trickle of blood dried on the back of his bald head.
I pointed at him. “What’s going on?”
Yamelda, the-pain-in-the-ass, Keating was looking at me with glassy, I-love-you-Billy-Marlin, eyes. Oh God, I hate that look. She leapt to her feet and pushed me into the kitchen.
“What the fuck is going on?”
She grabbed a butcher knife and pointed it at me. Is it some kind of cult ritual thing? They already did Trunk, now it was my turn?
I backed up. “Hang on one second.”
She smiled. “Hold still.”
I gave a resigned sigh and sat in the chair. She had me. There wasn’t much I could do.
What happened to our plans and the seventeen pillowcases I’d worked so hard for? It was more booty then I’d ever seen. How close had Dog and me come to some paradise in Peru with all the coke we could snort?
Yamelda brought the knife in close. “Stop squirming.”
She carefully slid the knife between my arm and chest splitting the plastic wrap enough for my arms to be free. I wriggled out of the rest. I pulled on my wet shorts and soaked Levis.
Not giving her a second glance, I walked through the door into the living room and stared at Harry looking at me from the floor. “What are you doing here, boss?”
Stalworth spoke. “He tried to shoot me.”
Last night I took Harry’s coin collection, his three gold watches, some jewelry, the three banded bundles of ten thousand dollars. I was glad he didn’t have the gun.
“Anyone get hurt?” I asked, keeping an eye on Harry.
Yamelda came through the door. “Amazingly not.”
Dog Man spoke from his place on the floor. “The Dog is hurt.”
Yamelda rolled her eyes. “No bullet holes, I mean.”
I looked around the room at the holes in the walls and ceiling. “All those bullets and no one got hurt.”
Harry rolled to get to his knees.
Yamelda pointed the butt of the gun at him. “Harry.”
It was too bad Yamelda and me hadn’t hit it off. She and I could do some real damage in this town. Her with the mike and me with, well, all those things I know how to do.
I looked again from Harry to Yamelda and felt something else in her longing gaze. It was a different look, but I couldn’t read it.
Billy Marlin was the sexiest man I’d ever met. While I pointed the gun at Harry, I didn’t know if I could keep my hands off him.
I handed the empty gun to the tall skinny guy. “You keep an eye on Harry. We got to get some warm clothes.” I grabbed Billy by the elbow, but he yanked his arm free and glared at me. “I’ll get my own clothes.” He stomped off toward the bedroom.
I turned to Marylou. “You got anything dry for him?”
“My cousin’s clothes were left from last winter. They’re in the spare bedroom. I’ll get them.”
“I’ll get them. Anything I shouldn’t use?”
“Well, no, I guess not.”
I heard the reluctance in Marylou’s voice, but I didn’t care. I wanted to be alone with Billy, pronto.
“I’ll pay for anything he messes up.”
“They were throwaways. I hadn’t gotten around to taking them to the thrift store.”
“We’ll get some for my cameraman too.”
I tugged at Henry’s shoulder on the carpet. “You okay enough to get some clothes for Shawn?”
He groaned, touched the lump on his head and got to his feet. Dippy Blonde put her hand up. “I’m still cold.”
Dog Face nursed his ankle. “Dog Man too.”
Stalworth stood. “I’ll see what I can do.”
I glared at her. “I’ll be back in ten minutes. You come get the rest of the clothes when I’m done.”
She shrank back into her chair.
I followed my Billy down the hall and turned left past the bathroom. I swung the closet door open and picked out a pair of sweats and a plaid shirt. In the dresser I found socks.
Billy was in Marylou’s bedroom, the one we’d trashed the night before. He was sitting on the bed when I walked in with the clothes.
“Get the fuck out of here,” he murmured.
“No problem,” I said. “Just thought you wanted something warm to wear.” I held out the folded clothes.
“Thanks.” His voice was softer. He accepted the clothes, stripped his wet pants and began to climb into them.
I was beside myself. I wanted to take him. It was all I could do to not leap on his naked body.
“Why don’t you like me?” I asked the question for the first time in my life. I didn’t want the catch in my voice, but it was there.
He pulled on his left sock without looking at me. “I like you okay, I guess. I have other things on my mind.”
“What could you possibly have on your mind?”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“Give me a try. I might surprise you.”
He finished pulling the sock up his ankle and looked at me. “Sorry, it’s personal.”
Sorry it’s personal. What a dick. Sorry it’s personal. I pulled him out of the drink, brought him back from hell’s gate and it was too personal to tell me. The ungrateful twerp.
I wanted to tell him what I was thinking, but for some ungodly reason, I didn’t. For the first time in my life, I cowed to a man. “I understand.”
It seemed to work, because Billy looked at me with his cute little boy face. “You do?”
“There are things that are too personal. I have a bunch of them myself.”
“You do?” I said. This was a first for me. I had never in my life had a female come close to saying she understood. Yamelda was the last person in the world who I thought would understand anything. What she said added to narrowly escaping certain death, left me vulnerable.
Although I didn’t let loose and cry, because any man worth his salt would never cry, especially in front of a woman, I did however pucker, my chin quivered, and my eyes got glassy. I couldn’t help it.
“Are you okay, Billy?”
There was another first. A female asked if I was okay. Not even my drunken mother ever asked if I was okay.
I was experiencing a number of firsts. I’d found my pot of gold. Sundog and me were about to live in the lap of luxury for the rest of our lives, and this woman was…
I looked into Yamelda’s melt-your-heart, sky-blue eyes as her chin quivered.
“I get the feeling you don’t like me, Billy.”
“You’re okay,” I said. There it was, all of the guilt crap. I saved your life, Billy and it was so good the other night, why don’t you like me?
I was preparing myself for the worst. I got my guard up and was ready for the onslaught, but it didn’t come.
Instead, she said, “You’re probably the first guy I ever really liked.”
Where was the lecture about truth and honesty? Where was the, you-owe-me discussion? Where was the, I love you Billy, crap, I’d heard so many times from so many females?
Instead, she said, “I have a hard time liking men. I guess they scare me.”
“Women scare me.” I’d just revealed more about myself to her than any other woman I’ve ever been with.
Yamelda reached out her hand to shake. “Maybe we can be friends.”
Something unexpected happened to me. Some kind of shift took place while revealing myself. It was my first time trusting a woman with anything. I reached out to shake hands, to be friends, but something overcame me. I had never thought about it, nor had I ever wanted to think about it.
Yamelda, blue-eyed, Keating was the sexual fantasy of every man in Clancy’s Bar and Grill, probably half the state for that matter. She was the woman with tits to die for and the woman who two nights ago had worn me ragged. Suddenly, she looked desirable again.
The next second after I shook her hand, I yanked her onto the bed on top of me and she let out a muffled yelp.
I pulled her close. I felt her womanly body and reached for her lips with mine.
I felt cold hands search down from my bare chest. There was a pressing, a tongue searching, but then Yamelda turned her head and grabbed my neck with her teeth. Not a tender grabbing either. She was trying to draw blood and it drove me on.
I grabbed her blouse and ripped every button in one pull. I tore the clips and released her breasts from their restraining bra. When I saw her for the second time, I buried myself between her tits.
She giggled, then rubbed herself back and forth across my scratchy beard.