“Paris” used the same bow-legged squat and lift she’d used to get Monterrey Mick through the topless bar parking lot to lift “Daddy” Teagarden out of his wheelchair. She leaned him against the battered Dodge 300, shoved, hard, and folded him into the passenger seat.
“Goddam, girl. You’re gonna sure as hell fuck me all up you don’t start paying attention. I’ve a mind to kick your ass.”
“You ain’t kickin nobody’s ass, TG.” Paris opened the back door and shoved the folded wheelchair where the back seat should have been. “Least of all mine.”
“You could show some respect for my condition. Like not waiting till three in the morning to tell me what you already told my brother about two million dollars in a redneck’s briefcase.”
“So what? You find a girl who ain’t workin’ to drag your redneck ass to Louisiana where that two million dollars is at? Fuck that with Madonna’s gold-plated dildo.” She unwrapped a huge, square chunk of gum, popped it in her mouth. “‘Sides, we’ll sail right by them two maggots Cletus an Orrin, them waitin’ in that trailer for the Beach Boy to sober up an tell them what I already know. ‘Sides again, they ain’t got no TV, and I seen that Bobby B an his whore like a thousand times on the TV in Tyler. You know, every time that whore come on the bar manager maggot would say, ‘She’s got such a sweet ass’. Me, standin’ right there. Like he never seen mine, and still sayin’ that shit about hers? I’m glad the Cartel –”
“Cartel my sweet ass, Paris. Shut the fuck up about the Cartel and Tyler. Get us to Lafayette.” TG pulled a Smith & Wesson .500 with a scope out from under his seat. “You pick em out, I’ll pick ‘em off.”
“Shirley?” The pregnant girl put a hand on her right hip, stretched her back over it while she surveyed the scene inside the Loves Travel Shop shit and shower stall. “SHIRL!” She ramped her voice up a notch. “You better get in here!”
The shift manager rolled her eyes at the cashier, scooted off the ripped Budweiser stool behind the candy bars and cigarettes. “Connie?” Shirley sidestepped the yellow mop bucket on her way into the Loves men’s room. “Sweetie, I done told you, there ain’t no kinda science project leftovers in a men’s room I ain’t already seen. So –”
Connie arched her back to the other side, pushed the last shit and shower stall door open again.
Shirley looked over the two men on the floor of the stall. One black, one white, both naked. Cable tied together back to back, forehead to ankles, with hard rubber Kong dog toys taped in their mouths. Phones, clothes, empty holsters and shoes were neatly lined up on the flip-down shower bench.
“The kink some fellas have to get up to keep their danglers happy…” Shirley checked the timer outside the stall. “They owe us for two hours and fifteen minutes.” She left the Kongs taped in the men’s mouths, checked the cable ties. “Yep, these’re the big ol’ jobs like the phone company uses. I kept the bumper on that old van I sold with a coupla them things.” She turned in her investigative squat to the girl who’d screamed. “Run fetch us a pair of dikes, Connie.” She caught the girl’s confusion. “Not them two lezbos workin’ the Subway. Side cutters. Big ones.” She squeezed her hand like she was cutting the cable ties with invisible cutters. “Dikes? From the tool box under the cash register? Before that baby drops?”
Bernie eyed the two antsy, shuffly, rumpled men standing in her doorway at the Best Western. “You’re who, again?”
“FBI.” The one in hooded sweats and ratty Red Converses with frayed laces flashed a badge for a spilt second.
“Yeah. FBI,” the other, shorter one said. He had borderline mutton chop sideburns and was wearing what looked like plaid double knit golf pants from the Seventies, complete with two-tone patent leather shoes.
“Yeah?” Bernie shifted her gaze back and forth between them, her finger twitched on the Ruger behind her back. “Our regulars are where?”
“Hadda go. Home. Back. Home. To the office,” plaid pants jammed.
“That’s right.” Red Converse’s backed him up. “The home office. Re, uh, re, uh –”
“Reassigned.” Plaid pants elbowed his partner. “You got the money, babe? We’re ready to move. Out.”
“Not yet. Give me a minute?” Bernie deadbolted and chained her door, flipped the small brass horseshoe over the peg. She grabbed her oversized purse full of Beretta and ammunition, slipped out the sliding glass door onto the patio and stopped in her tracks. She bent over, looked under the gull wing door of a short, squatty, rumbly custom painted dwarf pickup with a Swamp Vue logo on the short, glossy wooden bed panel.
“Get in.” The car was moving before she pulled the door down. “Agent Hyland didn’t get the password text back from the escorts. He called, said to meet him out back. Told me they’re out of it, ‘here’s the money, good luck.’”
“Weasle-y asshole. And whatever this is we’re riding in that’s not our rented Camry came from where?”
“Down bayou a ways. It’s half a plan.”
Bernie stuffed a clip in the Beretta, dropped the pink Ruger in Bobby’s lap. “I hope the other half is comfortable and makes a lot less noise.”
Orrin and Cletus, with Mick propped up in the back seat of the Cutlass, waited out the early Tuesday morning in the Best Western Parking parking lot. “Ay-un-gee…” drifted out of the car’s speakers for, by Orrin’s count, the forty-third time.
“God dammit.” Orrin lifted a .45 off the seat between his legs and shot the Cutlass’s CD player. Twice.
Cletus threw himself into the back of his seat and turned toward Orrin, squealed. “Da fuck, you?” His eyes were the size of golf balls.
“‘Da fuck’ is you brought one fucking road trip mix tape and it’s the fucking Stones. You don’t ask nobody, you just go on with three days of ‘Ay-un-gee’ and the rest of that skinny, ugly, wrinkly assed fag Stones bullshit. ‘Da fuck’ is enough fucking Stones.”
They sat in silence, wrapped in the smell of close quarters cordite for a few minutes until Cletus pulled a joint out of his shirt pocket. He lit it, fingers shaking, hit it hard to calm down. “I told you about can’t be too much Stones.” He passed the joint low across the seat.
“And I’m tellin’ you can’t be enough of this shitty weed to never, ever get all that boo-shit out my head.” Orrin hit the joint deep, handed it over the seat to Mick.
Mick gave the joint a cursory look. “What is it you guys smoke in Texas that you have to roll Cohiba size spleefs?”
Bobby idled around to the front of the motel, pointed across Bernie to a faded maroon Monte Carlo. “Now would be a good time to shoot up that car before those two break your door down and…Shit. Here they come.” Bobby threw up a blue smoke screen of burning rubber.
Mick glanced up in time to see Bobby light up the miniature truck. “There! That fucked up baby pickup thing. That’s –”
Cletus floored the Cutlass, The Monte Carlo with two fake FBI agents jumped the curb, skidded around the Best Western driveway, took out a row of 3 brass luggage carts in the process. Paris, parked facing the wrong way, slammed the 300 into reverse, knocked a Prius out of the way when she cranked the wheel and never took her foot off the gas when she dropped into drive.
Bobby shot out of the parking lot, through cross traffic and hit the I-10 East on-ramp at 85, almost flat spotted the tires when he had to slow down and look for an insert point in a fleet of semi’s flying formation. Bernie looked over her shoulder, checked the makeshift robbery posse jockeying for position coming up the ramp behind them.
“I don’t know what this thing is, but I hope it’s half as fast as it is loud.” The first bullet chipped the Lexan rear window, the second came through the band of aluminum above it. Bobby yanked the wheel and burned down the interstate shoulder, caught up with a truck hauling a concrete bridge support, cut in underneath it and onto I-10.
Bobby yelled over the exhaust roar. “Remind me to take the Lexan all the way up on the back of this thing.”
Bernie opened her eyes, saw the front bridge support trolley and the semi hitch-plate five feet in front of her at 75 miles an hour and screamed. “You plan on getting shot at again?”
“Didn’t plan on it this time,” Bobby yelled. He checked the driver’s side rearview, burned rubber in third gear when he blasted out from under the bridge support into the left lane.