Don’t mess around with him. He’ll steal quarters off a dead man’s eyes. Borrowed to the Bone.
July 26, 2013
A VG Serial: Borrowed to the Bone
Willy didn’t see how his day could get any worse, but it did when the clean-cut stranger mentioned his Uncle Clark.
Willy examined the clotted blood where his pinky used to be. “How do you know Clark Mallory?”
The man kept his eyes on the road. “Well, when you mentioned your last name was Lawless, I figured you to be one of Purcell’s sons. Purcell and I go way back, and he introduced me to his brother-in-law quite a few years ago. Where is old Clark these days? Haven’t seen him in years.”
Willy tried to get his mind off his throbbing finger long enough to think of an answer. He had not expected this. “Haven’t seen him in quite a while, myself.” When there was no response, Willy decided to test the waters a little more. “You knew he did a little stint in Seagoville, didn’t you?”
The man turned and smiled. “I heard about that. Purcell always said he would steal the quarters off a dead man’s eyes. A man with as much talent as Clark could have been a lawyer or banker. Too bad.
“That’s what my mama always said.”
“Still, even with all that bad business, he was always pleasant to be around. Always an interesting conversation to be had.
As they approached Willy’s drive, it dawned on him that he had only given the man general directions when they left the bar. How does he know where I live?
The man stopped at the path that led to Willy’s shack. “This is your place, right?”
Willy pulled the door handle and found it locked. “Yep. You can just let me out here.”
“Really like those big oaks.” He turned to face Willy, his face only slightly showing by the light from the half moon reaching through the oaks. “Listen, Willy. I really need to get in touch with Clark. I loaned him something that is valuable to me and I would really like to get it back.”
Willy pulled the handle again. “A man that loans my uncle something don’t expect to get it back.”
Willy felt the car turn cold. The man’s demeanor changed. “I do. You tell him that Hoyle Broom dropped by and he needs to get in touch.”
“Like I said before, I ain’t seen him in months. Don’t even know where he lives or his telephone number. Nobody sees Clark less he wants to be seen.”
Hoyle killed the engine and stepped out. When Willy heard his door unlock, he stepped out and headed toward the house at a brisk pace. Hoyle caught up and stopped in front of him. “Look, Willy. The folks I work for are less patient than me. If we don’t find Clark, they’re gonna take out their frustration on you. We don’t want that to happen, do we?”
Hoyle reached out a callused hand with manicured nails and gave Willy a slight, but firm, slap on the check. The bitch slap reminded him of Junior, the man who had hit him with the phone receiver in jail.
Hoyle looked toward Willy’s shack. “You don’t want to ever lie to me or my friends, Willy. I can help you, but not if you lie to me. Now, you get hold of Clark and find out where my property is.”
“Say I am able to do that. How do I get in touch with you?”
“The restaurant next to the Meatloaf. Leave me a message there if I’m not there.”
Willy watched the black LTD drive off.
He called in sick the next day, complaining of a broken finger, and spent that day and half the next one trying to get Colleen’s old Pontiac to start. When he finally did, he went directly to Trez’s house. Trez had taken the day to nurse a hangover.
Willy turned down a morning beer and got right to the point. “We have to find Clark. This thing is blowing up in our faces.” Willy related his conversation with Hoyle the previous night, giving him credit for the broken finger. He didn’t want to mix problems with the loan shark with his other problems.
Trez stared at him a long time before speaking. “Wonder if they know where I live? You could come over here until it blows over.”
“You got room for four?”
“Was just talking about you.”
“You want me to leave my wife and kids alone over there? Besides, this man found me outside a bar. He knows a lot about me and I expect he knows just as much about you. Even knows Daddy.”
Trez stood. “Let’s go look for Clark.”
In the driveway, Trez stopped when he saw the Pontiac. “Why are you driving that piece of crap?”
“Pickup got stole.”
Trez snapped his fingers. “I thought that looked like your truck down at that chop shop on Singleton. Bet it was. Come on, they may not have cut it up yet.”
The truck was hidden a block away from the real chop shop in a small garage at a private residence. Trez had a friend who worked in the shop and knew about the place where they held cars until they were ready to be cut up.
They were inside the garage in a matter of minutes; Willy found his extra key in the tool box and drove his new truck slowly out of the neighborhood, feeling alive again.
They spent the rest of the day traveling to Clark’s old haunts, including the house they had lived in on Gould Street in Pleasant Grove. The house was vacant and falling in. They tried all his old watering holes and felt obligated to have a beer in every bar just to get the conversation moving. When they finally stopped at Fat Boy’s near Willy’s house, they were drunk.
Trez raised his beer bottle and clinked it against his brother’s. “I say we just tell ‘em about the feed sacks and be done with it. Stuff’s too hot to do us any good, anyway.”
“Clark said they would have no reason to keep us alive if they get their stuff back.”
“I been thinking about that. Makes no sense. Looks to me like they aim to kill us if we don’t turn it over or find Clark for them. Even if they don’t kill us, they can make life damn miserable. You got a broken finger already. May be your neck next. What if they go after that crazy woman you’re married to and try to beat it out of her?”
Willy’s smile was involuntary. “Maybe we ought to let them do just that. Getting hold of that bitch would serve ‘em right.”
Trez laughed out loud. “So, what do we do?”
“Well, we put out the word we’re looking for Clark. Maybe somebody will contact one of us in the next few days. We’ll let him deal with the Dixie Mafia.”
Willy stopped in his driveway and leaned his head against the headrest, screwing up his courage to face Colleen. He forgot to turn off the headlights. When he leaned forward to push the knob, he saw something moving under the porch and reached for the shotgun he kept in his gun rack.
He almost shot it before he realized who the creature was.
Chapters of the serial are published on Friday.
You can learn more about Borrowed to the Bone and other titles by Jim H. Ainsworth on his Amazon Author Page.