Hot. Fuckin’. Damn.

“Okay,” Aiden guzzled half his second Mountain Dew. “It started when old man Murphy run into me over to the big Exxon there on 59 an asked would I like to make some easy cash. I laughed, y’know, like what the fuck, old Murph wants me to mow his yard for two bucks like when I was a kid. But he gets up in my ear all kinda creepy an says so quiet I can hardly hear him, ‘No, I’ll pay you three thousand dollars to wear a costume for no more’n half a hour an help me scare the shit outta some people.’ I told him he’d lost it, but then I knew he was in on whatever Dad was doin’ in the old lawnmower shop that was buyin’ the big ass TVs an the satellite dish that gets like twelve-hunnerd channels, so maybe old Murph, he does have three thousand dollars. He says email him how to deposit money in my account an I say no prob. But no lie man, I ain’t got a clue how that shit works. So I go to the house an tricked Ivy into showin’ me how to set it up by gettin’ her to show me how to send her some money, tellin’ her it was for her helpin’ out an when Dad forgets to pay her ‘cause he forgets to pay everbody, even Mom.”

“What happened after you scared the shit outta your Dad and Virgil Green?”

“That’s where it gets crazy an a little fuzzy. I’m tellin’ ya, I was high as fuck off bein’ in that suit, man, and Murph, he’s freakin’, sayin’ ‘take it off, take it off, they’re gonna kill you’ so I peel outta the suit—”

“You were high? You didn’t use the respirator?”

“The oxygen tank? No, man… I thought it was some old guy thing, oxygen an all. Like the commercials on TV?”

“Jesus, Aiden,” Bash took a few beats to clear his head. “So… Tell me what you can remember after Altus Murphy decided Virgil and your dad went off to get a gun so they could come back and shoot you. Do your best an I’ll take into account you were high from sniffin’ dry cleanin’ fluid.”

“Cool,” he cupped his hands over his face, rubbed his forehead with his fingertips for a long minute, “‘Cause man, I mean…”

“High as fuck. I got it, Aiden. Murphy?”

“Murph? Oh, right… Well, he says that shit about gettin’ shot an all, an he fuckin’ lights off outta there like he’s got a Roman candle up his butt, leavin’ me holdin’ this stinky ass fuckin’ monster thing costume. If Dad and Greenie are comin’ back, y’know, I don’t want ‘em to find me holdin’ it so I just start shovin’ all the shit Murph brought in a trash bag, tie it off an drop it in the river where I know it’s three feet deep at least. But it’s just sittin’ there, y’know, the top flappin’ an all.” He finished the Dew, looked around for a place to trash it, gave up. “That’s when I dropped the spare on it an hauled ass.”

“Why’d you throw your phone out?”

“I was thinkin’ some deep shit was gonna fly, an the itch was comin’ on an I’m trippin’, knowin’, you know, I ain’t right an it’s gettin’ worse. So, I call Deeter, man, an tell him the tit bar trip was prob’ly shittered ‘cause a whatever was goin’ wrong with me, an to meet me at the trailer an we’d jam somethin’ out. He was all like dude, we’re supposed to be in fuckin’ Louisiana an how was I gonna go home an explain the itchy trippin’ thing to Ivy, him not knowin’ she’d done called fifty times already wantin’ to know the TV shit an I’d fucked that all up not answerin’… an I just dint want nobody tryin’ to call me anymore till I could figure out what the fuck, you know? So… Well, hell… There’s times when somethin’s gotta give…” His turn to catch an eye lock. “ ‘Cause the shit storm, it’s droppin’ so heavy you just cain’t deal no more.”

***

“Betty,” from Bash, standing in the hall behind reception. “Where the hell is everybody?”

“Deputy Reed, I would be remiss in my Christian duty if I didn’t tell you we needn’t inject references to Satan’s home in workplace conversation.”

“On Sunday you can tell your pastor you reprimanded a heathen savage for bein’ cavalier about the devil and proceeded to cast out his demons, but right now, could you please tell me where the hell everybody went?”

“The Sheriff and the grey-haired slick that smelled too good went off in the slick’s fancy black car without so much as a by your leave. Agent Cotton said she was goin’ out to hot-wire your little pickup and if you needed to go anywhere you could drive her Jeep,” she lifted the Barbie Jeep key out of her desk drawer. “Seein’ as how you seem to like it so much.”

“She didn’t really say that.”

“You’d best check the parkin’ lot before you go to callin’ fib on me, Deputy. She also said she wouldn’t be back today on account a she needed some air, away from men, before her meetin’ with a passel a young women this evenin’ about a dirty old man at the Wal-Mart. I told her Wal-Mart’s got no corner on dirty old men, but she was already out the door. If you’re needin’ somethin’ done,” She hunched her shoulders, head down, snort laughed. “I’m your Huckleberry.”

“Where the—”

“Our pastor said he’d heard that in a movie, about a fella who stepped up to help a friend abolish evil, and we should it make our Christian motto. If it’s good what needs doin’, the soldiers of Jesus are the world’s Huckleberrys.”

“Okay, Hucky. Call Karla Pierce for us. Tell her to come get her son.”

***

Bash led Karla Pierce to Aiden’s holding cell, explaining on the way it wasn’t as grim as it seemed, in fact it was five-star accommodation compared to the county lockup. She caught his arm on the way to punching in the lock code, pulled him back down the hall. She stopped, stared at him, her face tight, unreadable.

“When Betty called and told me he’d been in jail and had a rough time, I got the feelin’ he was havin’ some kinda other trouble along with whatever landed him in here. Is there anything I need to know, about how he is, or what he’s done…”

“He had a rough four or five days and just this mornin’ came out of a shocky allergic reaction and an accidental toxic chemical high.”

Accidental toxic chemical high?”

“Yes ma’am. The only thing he seems to have done on purpose was try to pick up some extra money and not let go of a bad cover story. He woke up this mornin’ clear enough to realize his father was dead, and we figured him good for it.”

“Christ on a crutch, that child… So he does know Jimmy’s passed?”

“Yes ma’am.”

Is he good for it?”

“No, ma’am, or he wouldn’t be goin’ home. And I’m only lettin’ him go with you because you’re his mother. The last thing he needs right now is to be alone in that empty trailer.”

“Ivy’s gone?”

“Yes ma’am.” Bash worked them back toward the cell.

“Good. At least there’s one kid in this county’s found some sense.”

“Could be. Sign this.” Bash handed Karla a clipboard he’d lifted off a hook by the cell door. “Aiden can wear the jumpsuit home. Betty’s got his ruined clothes in a sealed bag up front. I’ll tell you like I told him. Don’t touch, ‘em, don’t sniff ‘em, drop ‘em in a burn barrel and get some distance from it. Betty’s got his meds and personal items up there, too.”

“Meds? He has some kinda permanent damage?”

“Just antihistamines to get him over the reaction and anti-anxiety to knock him down some from the steroids. Another day or two he’ll be his old self again. He mighta lost a few brain cells to the dry-cleanin’ fluid, but he’s young.”

“He takes after his father, Deputy,” pulling on his sleeve. “By sayin’ that,” she tapped her temple, “I mean he ain’t got all that many cells upstairs that he can afford to lose any. And,” quizzical, “by you sayin’ he didn’t kill Jimmy, that means somebody did, though, right?”

“All I can tell you is yes, ma’am,” he punched in the unlock code. “Right now, it’s definitely lookin’ like homicide.”

“Hot. Fuckin’. Damn.” She shuffled her feet in a quick tap dance, ended with an arms out Broadway flourish. “Sorry,” sheepish. “I reckon it’s bad enough when you’re happy your ex is dead. And more likely worse when them gettin’ murdered makes your day. But in my world, Deputy? Homicide spells double indemnity.”

Published by

Phil Huston

https://philh52.wordpress.com/

15 thoughts on “Hot. Fuckin’. Damn.”

  1. I could see Val Kilmer saying that line in ‘Tombstone’. Still my favourite of the Wyatt Earp films. And then you got in ‘Double Indemnity’, one of my favourite noirs. That meant Val was pushed aside by Stanwyck .
    “Yes, Walter. He’s so mean to me. Every time I buy a dress or a pair of shoes, he yells his head off. He never lets me go anywhere. He keeps me shut up. He’s always been mean to me. Even his life insurance all goes to that daughter of his.”
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a huge Noir fan. And that is the best Earp film. There are some funny quotes from that film from the females on the set about a bunch of little boys having too much fun playing cowboy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I want to roll my eyes at the stretch that getting high off dry cleaning fumes in a costume *should* be…but you’d probably remind me that not long ago I took an unknown pill for congestion that turned out to be an allergy pill and chased it with an energy drink that turned out to be a high octane White Claw. And that was my real life version of poor Aiden’s misadventures. At least I was spared the indignity of wearing a Bigfoot costume?

    Like

  3. Enjoyed how the story unfolds and Deputy Bash not buying it. My favorite was the last paragraph with Karla doing the jig over her ole man’s untimely demise. That caused an involuntary snort laugh. My wife is Korean and anytime I survived a little near miss and told her she would say, “Oh no! I was almost a ritchie bitchie.”

    Liked by 4 people

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