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“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded collection of three short crime stories and this longer story.

CHAPTER 9

“There it is,” she’s saying, and it seems like her voice is miles away. “There. There! Stop, there it is. What’s the matter with you, you’re going by it?”

     I snap back from my trip down the tunnel of despair and slowly pull over to the side of the road. I look carefully in the rearview mirror and swing a u-turn. A moment later I’m pulling into an old, dirty white service station that looks to be left over from the early days of Florida. We park on the side of the building by a pile of rusted springs and mufflers and various other rusted parts. Dory grabs her purse and jumps out of the van. I stay inside in a daze, thinking I’d take off down the highway if I didn’t need her car. 

     But I need her and she knows it.

     Five eternal minutes go by before she comes prancing back around the corner of the building like she’s playing run around the Maypole. She’s fuckin’ skipping for Christ sake. And again looking to all the world like the damaged, frightened little buttercup I discovered at the café. Deeply now, I wish I had known when to keep my mouth shut. 

     Running off at the mouth, whether an attempt at friendly conversation or nervous spewing, can get you in trouble. Trouble of any kind can be caused by something you say. The wrong words to the wrong person at the wrong time and BANG—you won’t know what hit you.

     She comes up to the window and I can’t help but stare at the soft skin below her neck leading to those luscious breasts. The sunshine on her hair and the glint in her pale blue eyes almost make me forget how fucked up everything is. For a brief moment I start to believe that I might actually get out of this unscathed. 

     Dory comes in real close and presses her hips against the door. She looks into my eyes and smiles broadly, and for the first time, I get a look at her teeth. 

     Poor girl has what we Northerners call “hillbilly teeth.” Decaying, discolored and uneven, they resemble Keith Richards’ mouth in the early days of the Rolling Stones. Most likely the result of a one hundred percent sugar diet. And being too busy running away from her father to brush. I hate to be superficial, but it’s not a pleasant sight, ruins the picture.

     “Keith, darlin’, ” she says in kind of a drawl, “if you’ll come on in and bring along that Chevron Card and the rest of the wallet, we can pay the bill and get out of Dodge.”

     “I don’t even know if these cards are any good. And you better start calling me Elton. I don’t know why the cards are in here or what they’re for. For all I know, they’re on the Arrest Immediately list. Could be hot as sun-baked asphalt.”

     “Ya think these boys have all the fancy equipment to check on things like that? Shit, these dudes can barely turn on the radio without help. All they can do is fix cars and jerk off. You need to stop worrying. After I practically had to get down on my knees to get them to accept a credit card, we have to use it. I told them you were my fiancé from Colorado, come here to rescue me.”

     I’m feeling pretty much defeated now. “It’s a Chevron station, so I guess they have to take it.” My words come out low and soft.

     “I don’t know about that, but I ‘magine these boys do what they please around here. Ain’t a heck of a lot of competition. This is the only station for miles.”

     “In two years it’ll be a strip mall.”

     She crinkles her eyes at me and pulls on the door handle. I climb reluctantly out of the VW and Dory takes my hand in hers. My instinct is to pull it back but instead I swallow hard and keep walking along. What the hell…

(To be continued)

See all T.K. O’Neill’s books here: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B09HPBWMJF

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“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded collection of three short crime stories and this longer story.

Dory comes up to the driver’s window of the cruiser and hands the card to the cop. “I found it, honey,” she says, leaning in until her tits are damn near falling into the guy’s face.

     I see his eyes lock onto the luscious mounds. Then he looks distractedly up at her face and then over at me. And then back to the card. He stares blankly at it for a second before glancing at Dory’s chest again, and then back at me. I’m smiling sheepishly when I see Dory’s hand dart into her purse like a cobra going for an egg. And I stare, transfixed, as her pale, slender fingers pop out of the red bag and sunlight flashes off the nickel-plated barrel of a small handgun. Then quick as a flash she sticks it in the cop’s reddening face and squeezes the trigger. I duck out of the way as brains and blood explode onto the cheap brown vinyl seats.

     “FUCK,” I yell, as the sound of the blast drifts away on the breeze. I jump out of the cop car onto the yellow, sun-baked dirt, thinking she’s gonna hit me next. Instead, she reaches into the cruiser and plucks the registration card off the dead man’s thigh. I scramble to my feet, run back to the VW and jump in, hoping that Dory is lingering behind to admire her work.

     No such luck. 

     She climbs in—breathless—beside me.

     “I had to do it,” she says, matter-of fact. “The fuckin’ pig was going to bust us. Now let’s get the hell out of here so we can screw. I’m dying to see you naked.”

     Jesus.

     “What the hell is wrong with you, you crazy bitch? You killed a fuckin’ cop. We’ll fuckin’ hang for this. Worse than that. I—”

     “Did the pig call in your plates?” She’s acting like nothing much happened,

     “No. He never had time. He was too busy making fun of my name.”

     “Yeah, your name. We’ll talk about that later. Now I think you should admit that I saved you—and you and I both know from what. When I was looking around for the registration card I found a brick of cocaine inside one of the cabinets. I think the penalty here in Florida for that much coke is more than it is for murder, so I definitely did you a favor.”

     There’s a horrible vomit taste in my mouth and my heart is dead. I’ve gone beyond sadness to eternal despair. I’m looking out from inside of a damp, dark cave and all I can see is the desert.

     “Just one less pig around to hassle people, dude,” she says. “Lighten up.”

     What the hell is this younger generation coming to?

     “Yeah, I guess. Maybe you’re right. But a car went by when we were stopped. And they saw this van pulled over by a cop that is now blown all over the front seat of his cruiser. We have to get out of this van and into something else. And without any money, that might be a bit difficult to pull off. If we’re lucky, we’ve got a few hours before they put it all together. Got any more bright ideas?”

     “It’s only a few miles to where my car is. If it’s fixed, we take that. No problem. Dump this thing somewhere and be gone like the wind.”

     “And how are we going to pay for the repairs to your car, offer to trade some coke?”

     “Probably could, with these rednecks. Everybody digs coke, don’t they?  I was going to offer them something else if it came down to that but now I think we should just use one of those credit cards in your wallet. Or should I say Elton Kirby’s wallet? And, ah, Keith?  It says Dan Bagley on the registration card. That you?”

     “No, that’s my brother. I’m Keith Bagley.” I give her a hard stare. “Jesus fuckin’ Christ, Dory, if you found the registration form, why did you have to kill the bastard? I think he was just going to give me a speeding ticket for fuck sake.”

     “I can’t afford to take any chances. I already have two felony drug charges on my record and I can’t take another rap of any kind. But everything is going to be all right, honey. We’ll get in my car and ride off into the sunset and the Honeymoon Hotel.”

     Fuck, I’m honey now.

     The muscles in my chest tighten up and my soul cries out for release.

(End of Chapter 8)

See all T.K. O’Neill’s books here: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B09HPBWMJF

ebook only $2.99 – through the summer!

Amazon/Kindle: https://amzn.to/3AzETuy

Barnes and Noble Nook:  https://bit.ly/3u24Y2O

Apple: https://apple.co/3D4kb6T

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3isQyUP

Scribd: https://bit.ly/3oskPXN

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“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded collection of three short crime stories and this longer story. Ebook available here.

I stare in the rearview mirror with disbelief as the white Chevy with the cherry on top comes up fast behind me. Everything turns to black and a sick feeling fills me up. I tell myself that I’m okay—it’s only a speeding bust, but then I remember the cocaine mirror lying on the floor in back, uncovered, and look frantically around for something to throw over it. “Dory,” I say, my head throbbing, “carefully reach in the glove compartment and get a map or something to throw over that mirror in back. We’re getting pulled over, so try not to show any movement, if you can manage it.”

     Her shoulders rise up and her skin gets a few shades lighter but she manages to slide out the Florida road map and skillfully work it between the shifter and the bucket seat to drop it on top of the mirror. As I come to a halt, I look back at the cop and out of the corner of my eye see an edge of the mirror sticking out under the map. But it will have to do; the cop is out of his cruiser and striding toward us now.

     He’s a big man, about six-four, with a small gut hanging over his belt. He’s a local—Levy County Sheriff’s Department, it says on the driver’s door of the cruiser—but has the aviator shades, trooper hat and jackboots that all the heat down here seem to wear. This one has an arrogant swagger like maybe he played football in college and misses the opportunity to hit people.

     “Driver’s license and registration please, sir.”

     I reach above the visor for Bagley’s alternative wallet.

     “Take it out of the wallet, please.”

    He holds a clipboard with one hand while studying us. I hand him the license. He puts it on the clipboard and stares into my eyes. 

     “Are you aware that the speed limit is fifty on this road, Mr. Kirby?”

     “Yes.”

     Dory shoots me a sideways glance.

     “You were traveling over seventy. Got your registration handy?”

     I start to feel the panic. “It’s not my van, officer. It belongs to a friend of mine down in St. Pete. He let me use it for a little sightseeing and camping trip, and I don’t know where the registration is.”

     The cop frowns. “Please step back into the patrol car with me, Mr. Kirby.”

     I get out of the van and start to walk back along the highway toward the cruiser.

     “Please step to the shoulder, sir,” the cop says with authority.   “Move around to the other side of the van.”

     I turn and go back around the front of the bus. “Dory, look for that registration card, will you please?” I say, passing by the passenger window. “I’m sure it’s in there somewhere.”

     The cop is lumbering along behind me and I sense him peering in the windows of the van. But he doesn’t linger and I’m able to calm down enough to stop shaking. I get into the cruiser and the cop slides behind the wheel. My shoulders feel like they’re up against my ears. Cop leans back against the seat and the scent of garlic and onions and cheap after-shave hit me like a toxic cloud. He lifts his shades and peers down at the license.

     “What kind of name is Elton, boy? Some kind of limey moniker, like that fruit Elton John? You a limey, son? They got all kinds of funny names over there in the U.K.”

     But no Billy Bob and Bubba.

     “No, I’m an American.”

     “And where in America do you reside then, Elton?”

     “In St. Pete. That’s where I’m headed.”

     “You need to get your driver’s license changed then, this one here’s from Colorado. You need a Florida resident license.”

     “Only been here for three months, officer.”

     “Then yer only sixty days overdue, boy. But I ’magine you and the missus have plenty of things to keep ya busy.” He winks at me.

     “Uh…well… ah, yeah. And here she comes now—the wife. She must have found the registration papers.”

     Dory is walking toward us; red purse slung over her left shoulder and a white card in her right hand.

     “Sure is a pretty one,” the cop drawls. “You are a lucky guy—even with a name like Elton.” He laughs, winks again.

     My buddy.

     “Yes I am, Officer. I surely am. Sometimes I don’t realize how lucky.”

(To be continued)

ebook only $2.99 – through the summer!

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“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded collection of three short crime stories and this longer story. Ebook available here. For all T.K. O’Neill ebooks and paperbacks, shop here.

“There you go, Dory. Have at it.”

     “How am I supposed to do this? Where’s the hundred dollar bill?”

     “Cute. You’ll just have to scoop some up with the knife or—. Say, ah, why don’t you come around here so nobody can see from the road? We’ll be two tourists stretching our legs.”

     “And packing their noses.”

     “That too.”

     She comes around. I put the mirror on the carpet and we lift little piles of powder to our noses with the knife blade. With this much coke, I’m thinking not snorting it would be like going to Studio 54 without a dick. Just plain sacrilege, man.

     So now we’re sitting next to each other, our feet dangling out the side door of the van like two fuckin’ hillbillies. We’re saying nothing and staring at the greenery. My lips and gums are numb and my brain is exploding like a bottle rocket in a fireplace. We stay silent for a long moment, long enough for me to try and think up something to say and not succeed, several times. Finally I turn to her, my nerves jumping: “So, what do you thi—”

     That’s all I get out before she jumps at me like a sea bird snaring a dead shrimp, slams her lips against mind and begins probing deeply with her velvety tongue.

     I don’t fight back when she puts her hand between my legs and feels the merchandise. In fact I encourage it by demonstrating my growth as a human being, an upstanding citizen to be sure. But just as she crawls on top of me and replaces her hand with her hot, throbbing crotch, a rush of paranoia rips through me like a blast of heat lightning. 

     Fuck if I don’t push her off me and climb out of the van onto the shoulder. I mean, that’s all I need, getting popped by some bible-belt cop for public fornication. These backwater cops have a way of taking other people’s sins so personally. I’ve got enough coke in the van to keep the discos on Clearwater Beach going for a year or more, and I tell you, that suddenly becomes more than enough for me to handle.

     Dory stares at me flabbergasted. She brushes down her dress, which is hiked up and revealing some of the prettiest thigh I’ve ever seen. It’s enough to make you want to cry. “I’m sorry,” I say. “We’re just too close to the road here. The drugs and all… you know what I mean. I just can’t relax.”

     She climbs out and grabs my shoulders, starts kissing me again and putting her hand back where I like it. I put my hands on her arms and slowly push her away. “Maybe we can find a better place down the way,” I say. “We can’t stay here.”

     The back of my neck is burning as I slide the VW’s door closed and walk around to the driver’s door. Dory climbs in the other side and looks over at me, throws her head back and laughs. I’m not quite sure what to think of the laugh; seems like a hint of mania riding its edge. I start the engine and pull out. My blood is boiling and I’m worried that the moment has passed. Hot beads of sweat plaster my forehead as I shift into fourth gear and put the gas pedal to the floor. I’m thinking I have to find someplace in a hurry or everything will to turn to shit. Cinderella will turn ugly and have to run home. 

     Somewhere there’s a place for us.

     Now I’m bobbing with anxiety, and searching the distance for a road that might lead to some privacy. There has to be a road somewhere. I’ve read a lot of stories in the papers about dead bodies being found on lonely Florida roads. Shit like that must happen all the time down here. I continue rolling along, so lost inside my head that I forget about my speed. My eyes are scanning the distance so much that I overlook what’s right in front of me. I know VW vans don’t go very fast, so it’s not something you usually worry about.

     Then my ears pick up a horrible sound.

     A siren, closing fast.  

(To be continued)

ebook only $2.99 – through the summer!

Amazon/Kindle: https://amzn.to/3AzETuy

Barnes and Noble Nook:  https://bit.ly/3u24Y2O

Apple: https://apple.co/3D4kb6T

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3isQyUP

Scribd: https://bit.ly/3oskPXN

Indigo: https://bit.ly/2Yo4PeC

Read Full Post »

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