Apart from her job as the house madam for Smiley Jack’s house of ill repute, Suzy was friends with Warren Fredericks. After Sheriff Salmon and Hillbilly Bob had departed, she dialed Warren’s number.
“Hello,” Warren said gruffly. Suzy loved the rough growl of his voice. She smiled.
“Hey yourself, darling.”
“Suzy? Aren’t you at work?”
“Always. I live to work and live at work. I had a visit from Smiley Jack’s crew. You haven’t done anything that will have long-reaching effects on my business, have you?”
“Well, someone has. Jack’s enforcer was here. He practically threw the Sheriff out.”
“Hmm. Ain’t that something?”
“Yep. I’m sorry to hear about Jacob.”
“Yeah. He deserved better.”
“When are you coming to see me? New girls are in, and they’re looking for love.”
“Well, we’re all looking for something, I reckon.”
“That we are. Take care of yourself, Warren. Don’t be a stranger.”
Warren hung up the phone and leaned back in his recliner. “So, they’re looking for Ned Watkins. Time to make another one disappear but first…”
Old man Isiah Wagner had lived in Fredericksburg his whole life. At the height of its popularity, he was there. When the nuclear reactor had melted down, he helped rebuild. Throughout the years, Isiah had lifted those who were destitute. He had a secret though. Throughout the years he’d followed popular American writer Mark Twain’s advice: Buy land. They’re not making it anymore.”
Just shy of his 85th birthday, Isiah Wagner had accumulated 3,200 acres of land in and around Fredericksburg. A veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, he lived alone in a small cabin that languished near the main creek that flowed through the area.
He was sitting on the porch when Warren pulled into his yard. Isiah scratched his white beard that rested just above his belly button. He grinned. He’d had the beard since he was a young man. Besides his initial piece of property, willed to him by his father, the beard was the oldest thing he owned.
“Howdy, old timer.”
“Hey, young’un. I see you brought an envelope with you.”
Warren waved the manila envelope at the old man and sat on the edge of the porch. He handed Isiah the envelope.
Isiah opened the envelope and grinned as he poured the money out into his lap. His eyes lit up.
“You sure you don’t want to buy it all, son?”
“No sir. Just the thousand acres that borders on the marshlands.”
“You know that land ain’t no good for nothing, right? It’s too wet to grow anything, you can’t build nothing because the ground is so soggy.”
“Well, you gave me prime money for it. Far be it from me to tinkle on your dreams. As promised, here is the deed and bill of sale for your tax records.”
“I couldn’t help but notice, you didn’t put it in your name. Why not?”
“Because I bought it as a gift to my friend.”
“Ah, I see. Well, I hope they enjoy it.”
“I’m sure they will.”
The old man stuck out his hand, Warren gripped it firmly. Isiah nodded; Warren nodded back. The deal was done, Warren could now get to work.
It’s been said the best intentions paved the road to hell. Hillbilly Bob thought as he drove to the Sheriff’s office. Bob had never intended for anyone to get hurt. They had. He’d never thought he would be an enforcer for a criminal quasi-organization. He was.
At every important juncture of his life, his intentions went in the opposite direction of his hopes. At some point, Bob decided to let things happen, and said screw his intentions.
His mind was consumed by the thoughts of Suzy’s radiant beauty. He was so entranced that he missed the curve and drove his truck into the ditch. At 65 miles per hour, his sudden stop broke his windshield. The seatbelt tightened, and the air bags deployed. Shards of glass flew into the cab and tore into his face. His head banged off the windshield. Cut, bruised, and battered, he crawled from his cab and fell to his knees in the middle of the road.
Warren watched from the woods.
October 07, 2020:
Jacob sat on the couch and waited for his appointment with Smiley Jack. He detested himself for having to come here, to seek help from a criminal who had killed a man in the ring was a source of frustration, but he had no other option.
A tall, buxom blonde stepped into the room. She gave Jacob a professional smile. He nodded at her.
“Jacob? Jack will see you now. Please, follow me.”
She escorted him into a large, expensive looking room. Jack sat behind a desk, everything in the room was a testament to his affluence. The long-legged blonde led him to a chair.
“Have a seat, please.”
She wrinkled her nose in disgust at his words. Without another glance, she walked away in a huff. Jack stared at Jacob like a bloodthirsty wolf.
“How can I help you achieve your dreams, Jacob?”
Jacob shuddered. He fought the urge to get up and run out, but he forced himself to stay seated. If he was going to make a deal with the devil, he would have the courage to look him in the eye.