The loan shark didn’t quite get what he thought he would.
August 16, 2013
A VG Serial: Borrowed to the Bone
Willy slept in a drunken stupor on the shop floor. His eyes popped open with another burning question to match his pounding headache. How do I find Broom before the loan shark comes for my pickup and for my hide? He penciled out a message to Broom saying he might be able to help him find his goods if he could help him out with a fellow who loaned him money. He put it in an envelope and left it at the restaurant.
Willy reluctantly drove the Pontiac to work, leaving his pickup behind the shop. The construction foreman was furious for the work missed, but needed Willy’s skills badly enough to let him return to work. Considering the state of his head, he put in a good day’s work. His nerves were still shot when he walked through the gate at quitting time.
Just as he feared, the loan shark was in the parking lot, sitting on the hood of the Pontiac in a new pair of boots and a big belt buckle. Willy scanned the area for the two thugs who usually accompanied him, but they were not to be found. He drew courage from that. “You come alone?”
He slid off the hood and pulled back his coat to reveal a gun belt complete with holster. Willy saw that the holster contained a Colt .45 with bone grips. “My boys got more important business than your skinny ass. Seems hard times is making all you deadbeats try to skip out on loans. We’re spread pretty thin, but I aim to take you off the list today.”
Willy took a deep breath and decided to chance it. “I got the money. You just need to follow me over to this little bar where the fellas from work hang out. One of them is loaning me enough to cover the two grand I owe you.”
“Two grand? You keep forgetting the juice. It’s up to twenty-five hundred now. You get in the car with me and leave that junker here.”
Willy turned and stared boldly at the man who had been making his life miserable for longer than he cared to think about. He sized him up, noted the proximity of the gun, and determined that he could take him, gun and all. If it came to that, he would. The leech had sucked his last drop of blood from Willy. If neither Broom nor Clark was at the Meatloaf, he would do whatever was necessary.
No sign of Hoyle Broom in the bar’s parking lot or inside the bar itself. The loan shark was getting irritated when they didn’t find him in the restaurant, either. No sign of the LTD he had driven Willy home in, either.
Just was Willy was about to reach for the gun, he felt a hand on his shoulder. Hoyle’s deep voice was welcome. “This the guy you owe money to, Willy?”
The shark was not amused. “Sure as hell is. You the man gonna cover his debt? You don’t look much like a banker.” Hoyle was still dressed as a construction worker.
“The wife and I are hard workers and savers. We occasionally help out a friend when we’re able to. They always pay us back with a reasonable rate of interest. It’s more than we can make in a savings account.”
“I could give a shit less about your personal finances. Just hand over the two grand plus five and I’ll be out of your hair.”
Hoyle pointed toward the alley and spoke politely. “It’s in a box in the trunk of my car. That’s probably why you didn’t see me when you walked up. I was staying close to it. Come on over.”
Hoyle opened the trunk. The bottom was covered with a white sheet and four pillows. “It’s just under that pillow on the left. Let me move it and you can have your money.” Hoyle removed the pillow, revealing a shoe box underneath.
The shark opened the box and saw that it was filled with twenties and hundreds. Hoyle pointed to the stash. “Would you like to count it?”
“Damn right I want to count it. What’s with all the pillows, anyway?” The shark bumped his cowboy hat when he stuck his head almost into the trunk, removed the bills and started peeling them back into the box in rapid order.
Hoyle chuckled softly. “I spend a lot of time in my car or in bad motels. I like my creature comforts.”
The shark was just past a thousand in counted bills when Hoyle pulled the .45 from his belt, stuck a pillow against his head and fired twice. He handed the Colt to Willy, picked up the shark’s legs and dropped him into the trunk. The movement was so swift that the loan shark lay dead in the trunk before Willy could utter a sound.
Broom picked up his hat and threw it in the trunk. “Pitch the gun in the trunk and get in.” Hoyle stuffed the cash into his pocket, closed the lid and they drove away.
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.