When I found Skeeter Hyland he was a fuckin’ mess. Chucky Nuts found him before I did. All I was supposed to do was break a bone or two. Chucky had done more than that and now I would have to find Chucky. Shit, I didn’t relish that thought. I was liable to end up like Skeeter, sliced up like salami and left to rot in the sun on a dead end dirt road.
There was a time Chucky and me had been best pals. That was thirty years ago, when we were kids, a couple of real bad asses. He really was crazy. When we were eighteen we robbed a liquor store in Santa Rosa. Did it just for kicks, it was a Friday night and we were fucked up and bored. Instead of just showing the clerk the gun, Chucky grabbed him, shoving the barrel in the guy’s mouth. Teeth and blood were all over the counter and even after the guy gave up the cash, Chucky pistol whipped him then shot him in his right kneecap just to hear him howl.
Chucky had a record, I didn’t. The clerk was able to pick him out of a line up and of course Chucky was stand up. I walked; he got three to five in Chino. I didn’t see him for a long time after he came out. He laid low, living with his old lady up around Laytonville, growing a little weed. Sometime later he went to work for Hank Daggett selling crank to bikers. He was so crazy they wouldn’t even mess with him. Somewhere along the way old Hank just dropped out of the picture and was never heard from again. Suddenly, Chucky was the biggest dealer on the North Coast.
I guess Skeeter Hyland thought he was smooth. Thought he could screw over a lot of bad people and get away with it. All I know was that I was supposed to collect fifty K and hurt him a little bit. Now he was in a land far beyond hurt and the money was gone.
Danny Martinez was a guy who always had good information. He also had a problem with OxyContin. So I didn’t always trust him. He used to be a jockey at all the county fair meets up and down the coast. He was only in his late 40’s but needed a cane to get around. The ponies busted him up pretty good. He told me Chucky was shacked up with some woman and her kids in an old farmhouse outside of Willits. I paid Danny a hundred bucks and went looking.
Like I said, I didn’t always trust him and he gave me a bum steer. When I went back to beat some sense into him, Chucky had already been there. And Danny was in that great Winners Circle in the sky.
There was no two ways about it- I’d shoot him in the back from 400 yards if it came down to it. I’d seen enough of his handiwork to last me quite a while. I would have just turned away from it and left the state. But my people had connections and arms that reached everywhere. And Chucky knew I was after him which meant no matter where I went I’d be afraid of shadows for the rest of my days. I had no other choice.
Chucky’s mom had seven other kids. But Chucky was the only one from the man she had loved, a guy who died in Quentin where he was serving life for killing a sailor in Frisco who had whistled at her. She was a tough old broad and I had to slap her before she would call her favorite son. I tied her up, stashed her in a closet and waited with a cut down .12 gauge for her favorite son to come and visit.
He smiled when he walked in and saw me. Said he didn’t think I was chicken shit enough to use his mom to get to him. I smiled back and said I didn’t think I was chicken shit enough to use double ought buckshot either.
But, there’s a first time for everything.
Bio: Inspired to write by Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss and the poems of Brautigan and Hugo, Bill Baber has worked as a ranch hand, bartender, truck driver and, for a while, as a sports columnist. His crime fiction has appeared at various sites on the net. A book of his poetry, Where the Wind Comes to Play was published by Berberis Press in 2011.He lives in Tucson with his wife Robin and a spoiled dog. He has been known to cross the border just for a cold Mexican brew. A novel in waiting can be found somewhere on his computer.