The strong black coffee was probably eating a hole in my stomach. It had sure as hell ruined two metal pans. Not so much ruined, as stained them far beyond simple scrubbing. The Delta coffee cup had turned a shade of brown never envisioned by the potter who had thrown it. Still the strong black coffee suited me.
I was sitting by what looked for all the world like a wok with a gas fire ring burning inside. It looked like that because it was just that. The wok came from Goodwill and the propane bottle fire ring came from a chain store claiming to be a modern hardware store. A single drill hole in the steel wok made the whole thing a kind of portable stove. At times I was forced to use a ring cut from a rather large green bean can as a stand. The bottom of the wok got far too hot for a wooden picnic table. It made a great little stove even if most of the cooking I did was the strong black coffee.
That night I was sitting at the edge of the parking lot located behind the Los Crux Church of the Living God Missionary Position, when I saw the car enter the parking lot. At the same time I saw the car, I heard a rustle as the thick undergrowth got rearranged. I ignored the noise in the brush but concentrated on the car.
The car was an older Dodge of some kind. A black sports model I suppose. It had always been hard for me to see two tons of metal as sporty. Nonetheless that is what the TV ads would have called the smoking metal monster.
The car stopped a few spaces away from my truck and camper. Since it was a church, I hadn't bothered to make any move to the camper. People who visit churches in the middle of the night tend to be cops or harmless congregation members. However there are exceptions.
"Hey old man," the nasty looking kid in his twenties said, as he climbed out of the passenger side. When I say nasty I don't mean dirty. I meant that he had that long hair, bad skin look of a redneck punk. I love rednecks, but I don't much care for the punks they spawn. A few of the second generation rednecks can be pretty violent and out of control. He struck me as one of them.
"Hello kid," If he had been a man in a tie or a grownup, I might have offered more explanation. Sometime you just know there is going to be trouble. He struck me as someone carrying about twenty-five pounds of bad ass with him.
"What you doing back here all alone."
"Having a cup of coffee and getting ready for bed. If you have your own cup, I'll give you some."
"Don't much like coffee."
"Then you would hate this, it ain't even good coffee. Why don't you have your little friends join us." Might as well get them all out, I thought. It's much easier to make a plan if you know the odds. Nobody said a word, the driver's door opened and a young woman stepped out. She looked to be cut from the same cloth. She was unattractive as hell. She had limp dirty blonde hair, a pale face without any makeup, and a body that was closer to a teenaged boy than a woman of twenty something.
She did have one thing that drew my attention. She had a pistol in her hand. It didn't appear to be a large one, but still a deadly weapon.
Not again, I thought. People always seem to be pointing things at me. It was almost never a woman's warm breast. To be honest it didn't happen all that much, but way more than the average person. I supposed that most of them had been at least partly my fault. I mean being a soldier in time of war, then a cop, then an insurance investigator is kind of asking for it. I had since changed my profession to storyteller, so why were they still pointing guns at me? I had no idea who I expected to answer my silent question.
"So, are you out to rob me or is this to be a thrill killing?" I asked it but they surely noticed that I didn't seem as frightened as I should have.
The young man moved to stand between me and the girl. Amateur, I thought. I didn't wait for an explanation. I spun him around by pushing hard on his right shoulder with my left hand, then pulling his left shoulder with my right hand. He was surprised as they always were. He turned like a drunken dancer but it didn't make any difference that he was clumsy. I held him up with my left forearm under his neck.
Now that move by an old man is hardly as crippling as it used to be. He might have thrashed about and injured me. I might have been forced to break his neck, if I still had the strength to do it. A couple of big ass heart attacks tends to take the wind out of your sales. All that might have happened while we waited for the girl to shoot one of us, but it didn't.
"What did happen was the rustling in the bushes became louder, then suddenly an aerodynamic dark brown shape shot into the firelight. The apparition was such a shock that the girl actually dropped the gun before he took her. He had her backed against the car snarling and hoping she would make an aggressive move. Max did love to show off for me.
From behind I whispered in the man's ear. "You are one dead motherfucker, you do know that?"
"Please don't." He sounded pretty scared. He should have been.
"Let me explain something killer. Nobody knows I am here. My guess is nobody knows you are here. When I pull out, I'm not leaving any evidence that I was ever here. Now, if I cut your throat right now, or just twist your neck, no one is ever going to know what happened."
"Please no." He was begging. I liked that, even if I didn't decided to do him, hearing the touch guy whine was a rush. Suddenly he recovered. He made a couple of moves and I felt a pain in my leg. Not just a pain a blinding pain. The pain brought an adrenaline rush of strength. I snapped his neck like twig.
I looked down and realized that I had been stabbed in the thigh. The prick had taken a long time to regain his mindset, It was my own fault I have given the time to him. Why I don't know, I surely didn't need an excuse to kill a man who came looking to kill me.
The commotion agitated Max. I staggered over to retrieve the girl's pistol before I called Max off. He was eyeing the chick's throat when I called him down.
Without the dog from hell snarling at her, the girl got real brave. "If it wasn't for that dog, Mike woulda killed you. He's twice the man you are."
"That would be 'was' twice the man. As for the dog, that's what he lives for sweetie. That and chewing on little girl's throats." At that moment Max punctuated it with a deep growl. "Now what am I going to do with you?"
"You better kill me old man. I am gonna hunt you down."
"From most people I would find that amusing, you I'm taking serious." I walked over, put the gun in her mouth and ended her life. Most likely it was a miserable life anyway I wiped my prints from the gun with my shirt, then I carefully arranged the scene. The accident suicide scenario had about a 60% chance of fooling a small town cop. Especially if the two of them were as well known and as much despised as I expected them to be.
I made sure that I erased any indication that I had been in the parking lot. I was way too calm as I drove away. I expected that I would be shaking like a leaf once I was clear of the site. I never happened. I also never went back or even thought of the couple at all.
"Hey Deacon, so you did make it?"
"Jake you old bastard. What do you mean I made it. You are the one who is too busy to make this kind of trip."
"Ah hell Deacon, you know how it is."
"Yeah I know. The live of a banker isn't easy." I made sure I said it just loud enough to get his attention but not loud enough to be overheard by my neighbors.
"Easy with that banker stuff. I don't want my old buddies lynching me."
"Banker by day, biker by night?" I asked it grinning.
"Reformed biker who backslides now and then." He paused then went on. "You still collecting those tall tales.
"Well hell, I'm not smart enough to have written them all."
"I hear you are doing just fine."
"You hear wrong. If it wasn't for the pension I would be eating cat food."
"Oh come on, It's me your talking to."