The Old Geezer…Part V…unedited…

“Do you know what the problem with having an abrasive attitude is, kid?” Jayson Nom looked up from the floor and wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth. The tears in his eyes threatened to spill down his cheeks, and his bottom lip trembled. “The problem, if I might enlighten you, has to do with other people and their own abrasiveness. We’re not all wet behind the ears, kid.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to…”

“Forget about it, kid. Don’t worry about that rope. We’re talking for now. We might not even need that rope, but if we do, you’ll know first.”

Jayson swallowed hard, and the tears he tried to restrain rolled down his cheeks. This was not how he pictured this playing out at all, but as he looked around at the men looping the rope over a sturdy oak limb, he knew he had overloaded his mouth to the wrong man. 

He knew who he blamed for his current situation, Hank. If Hank hadn’t called him out in front of the entire township, he wouldn’t watch these men plan his murder. Hank made me angry, and it’s his fault I went nuts. Things escalated, and now I’m about to die because of his stupidity. If he had shut his mouth and let me do me, none of this would have happened.

Hank woke to his phone ringing, and he patted the bed in search for it without opening his eyes. His hands brushed against something, and he touched it again. It wasn’t his phone, but the book he’d brought to bed with him. The phone continued to ring, and Hank cracked an eye open to look around the room. Green numerals on his digital clock informed him it was 0138. Across the room on his dresser, he noticed the illuminated screen of his phone. 

It continued to ring. Hank grumbled and slid from his bed. He walked to the dresser and snarled, “What?” The quavering voice on the other end of the phone put aside any suspicion Hank held this was a prank call. 

“Mr. Tanner? This is Jayson Nom…”

“Let me talk to them.”

“Hello, Hank. Long time, no see.”

The smooth voice came over the airwaves, and Hank instantly realized his past had caught up with him. There was no emotion in the voice, but the sharpness was unmistakable.

“Hey, Drew. It’s been a minute. What’s on your mind?”

“Oh, you know, I’m hanging out with this kid, shooting the breeze.” Hank heard Drew cover the receiver with his hand. He heard Drew ask Jayson for his name. “You know a Jayson Nom, Hank?”

“Yeah, I know him.”

“Well, we’re not far from your house, and he’s looking a bit peakish. He keeps staring at this rope like it’s for him. You wanna come on down here, Hank? Or should we kill this kid, and then come see you?”

Hank frowned and sighed deep, he released his breath slowly and cleared his throat. Drew wasn’t the kind of man to leave loose ends, even when he promised to. Hank knew only one way to get the kid cut loose.

“I’m on my way to you, Drew. Let me make a cup of coffee, and I will head to where you are. Where are you by the way?”

“Call me back at this number when you get in your truck. I’ll give you directions when you’re on your way.”

“Will do.”

Hank put a pod in his coffee pot and pressed 12 oz. He slid his belt through the holster loops and pulled it tight against his right hip. Hank carried an Israeli made weapon called Jericho, chambered in nine millimeter and loaded with Hornady Critical Defense rounds. 

He had two other magazines in a mag holder on his left hip. Hank figured if Drew still operated the way he did in the past, he brought at least two more men with him. They carried either H&K g36 assault rifles, or some type of submachine guns-probably MP5s. Hank knew Drew hadn’t changed. He would carry the same weapon he always had, a Thompson Center Contender which fired a 45-70 round. A single shot weapon, it generated enough force to rip through a V-8 car engine. As Drew always said, “You don’t need multiple rounds when you can blow a man in half with one.”

No matter how Hank did the math, he didn’t see how he could escape his fate this time. 

Hank spooned sugar into his coffee and pressed the lid down on his mug. He shut off his lights and stepped out into the silent yet aromatic pre-dawn hours. Hank locked the door behind him and walked to his truck. With one look back at his place, Hank climbed into his truck and dialed the number.

Drew knelt beside Jayson and handed him a wet wipe, and then motioned to where the blood had pooled at the corner of his mouth. Jayson took it and dabbed at the blood. He winced, and Drew chuckled. Drew turned to walk away, but Jayson said, “Hank Tanner is the guy you’re after? Well, you guys can have that relic back. I won’t stand in your way.”

Drew turned back to Jayson and gave him a cold smile. He walked over and sat on top of a water cooler and shook his head. “You don’t like, Hank? Why not?”

“He’s a dumb old man, who is stuck in his stupid ways. If you guys don’t kill him, I am.”

The two men with Drew turned and looked at Jayson, then both burst into laughter. Drew grinned and nodded approvingly. “You’ve got quite the pair on you, old son. Do you know what Hank Tanner is, boy? Besides an old man, I mean.”

“What is he? He’s a stupid old man.”

“No, sir.” Drew said, as he pulled out his Thompson Center Contender. Jayson’s eyes grew wide when he saw the 14” barrel and the monster round Drew inserted into the chamber. “Hank Tanner has served this country with distinction for over 30 years. He’s our problem solver. See, you think you’re tough, hard, a paragon of strength.”

“Oh God…”

“But Hank Tanner, he’s all those things. He trained us in the art of problem solving. You should consider yourself lucky to have met him, much less had cross words with him and survive the encounter.”

“If he’s all that, why do you want to kill him?”

Drew started to answer, but his phone interrupted him by ringing. He forced a grin at Jayson, and Drew stood. “Excuse me, boy. I’ve gotta take this.”

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