The Exile: Episode 36

For longer than I could remember, I had been running on adrenaline with no rest. As I lay my head back on the seat of Heckle and Jeckle’s 4×4 Chevy, I slipped away before my mind could dispute the inevitable. Suddenly the sharp blast of an air horn jerked me awake. Standing outside the truck, Heckle tossed an air horn between his hands.

“Morning sunshine,” he smiled.

“I’m going to give him a gun to shoot you the next time you do that!” Jeckle said slamming his door.

“What?” Heckle protested. “He’s smiling.”

Jeckle walked around to Heckle and looked at me.

“Nope. That’s fear,” he said.

Heckle grunted, “Looks like a smile to me.”

Jeckle reached out a hand toward me.

“Come on, buttercup,” he offered.

I stumbled out of the truck and staggered for a moment until Jeckle grabbed my shoulders to steady me.

“He’s going to have to walk on his own eventually,” Heckle said, tossing the air horn onto the floor of the truck.

I  saw that we were outside a wooden, tin-roofed building, a bar with a big red neon sign that flashed “The Demon’s Bottle.”

“What are we doing here?” I asked.

“Picking up the Coyote,” Heckle said.

“Who?” I asked, tucking in my shirt. But when I looked back up, Heckle and Jeckle were headed for the front door.

I hurried after them, hoping for an answer to my question.

Stepping up onto the old wooden porch filled with rocking chairs, I followed Heckle and Jeckle inside to the ring of the bell above the door. The wooden dance floor shone with a high polish, and tables were arranged along the walls and concrete floor of the sitting area. Opposite the front door, a large stage held the band playing hard rock tunes for the dancers’ pleasure. Heckle and Jeckle walked past the tables to the bar just right of the stage and sat down. I followed and climbed atop one of the stools and swiveled around to watch the crowd.

The bartender, an old man with gray hair and lines in his forehead from a lifetime of scowling, asked,

“What are you two morons doing here?”

“This is Papa Smurf,” Heckle told me as he motioned to the bartender.

At this introduction, the bartender reached behind the bar and brought out a pump shotgun with a pistol grip. Pointing it at Heckle, the barrel pushed against his nose, the old man barked,

“What did I tell you about calling me that?”

Heckle smiled and said,

“I seem to remember you telling me to do so as much as possible.”

The bartender growled and said,

“Guess again.”

“Is Cazonetti free?” Jeckle asked.

“He’s finishing up now,” the bartender said, easing back on the shotgun.

“Thanks,” Jeckle said, rising from the stool.

Jeckle headed for the stage, motioning for me to follow. Looking back at Heckle and the old man, I asked,

“What about your brother?”

“Don’t worry about him. He doesn’t have brains to blow out. If gramps pulls the trigger, he’ll just be shooting Tupperware.”

Suddenly I felt a cold shiver run down my spine. My instincts turned me around to look toward the front door. The bell jingled as a group of five men dressed in matching suits stepped inside and froze, slowly scanning the room.

“Where’s this coyote person?” I asked.

“On stage,” Jeckle said, pointing toward the band.

The lead singer, screaming into the microphone, whipped his long mane of platinum hair as he strained against the seams of his tight leather pants. But Jeckle was pointing to the guitarist, a rail thin man about six feet tall. His arms and chest were covered with tattoos, and he wore a piercing in his nose. As he caressed the instrument’s strings, he wagged his black spiked head back and forth and with piercing green eyes glared at something far away in his thoughts.

“Is that him?” I asked.

“Yep,” Jeckle replied.

“We might have a serious problem,” I told Jeckle.

“Five man team?” Jeckle asked.

“You saw them?” I asked.

“Yep,” Jeckle said. “Been following us for the last mile.”

“They don’t look like the ones I’m used to,” I said confused

“Oh no,” Jeckle said. “Looks like they upgraded your status. They’re sending in professionals now.”

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Published in: on March 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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