April 25, 2024 – Chapter Eight and Nine of “The Bad Seed.”

Sam Cornell sat at his desk and looked over his ledger. He had not slept the night before. He was very concerned and wasn’t happy. It wasn’t good to make Sam Cornell unhappy.

He had no information that had let him know the reason for the failed delivery. He had wondered why his men had not arrived last night. He thought that perhaps they had taken the money and dope and did a runner. If they did, they would be dead before sunrise tomorrow.

The phone rang as he sat at his desk. He could her his wife cleaning up in the kitchen after breakfast. The family of six had breakfast together as usual.

The boy, Karl, was twelve. He was a good athlete and student, but small for his age. Sam wondered if the boy would be able to fill his shoes when he was gone. “Perhaps he’s just a late bloomer,” he thought.

Sam had taken over for his father ten years ago and grown the business quite substantially. He looked at his three daughters and wondered if one of them had the ruthlessness and the foresight of her father and might take the helm of this enterprise one day or at least be a co council member.

He looked into his oldest daughter Cynthia’s Eyes and thought that he saw something there, lacking in the other two girls. They were all beauties and would have the choice of any of the men in their highly placed circle. Perhaps they might marry a senator. Politicians and criminals being sociopaths, share a lot in common,” Sam thought.

His tech and flying skills had come in handy over several years of working for his father and uncle in the family business. He knew the routes from Miami to Mexico City, Panama, San Jose and other South American cities by heart as well as those in the Caribbean. He was an excellent pilot and had nerves of steel.

Sadly, his favorite uncle Benjamin had been assassinated by another cartel a few years back and so his father gained the majority share and work load of the enterprise. Now after his father Toby’s stroke, Sam had taken his place and was now the administrator. It was not as exciting as the other jobs had been, but the danger level had gone down some and his wife was happy about that.

Fifty thousand dollars and two kilos of very fine bud had disappeared on its way to his home. He had few facts to explain the failure of his delivery. It was just a small one, but that misstep made him look less professional to those around him and he hated the possibility of being looked down at. His pride and ego were his weakest parts of his personality.

The phone rang as he thought of the missing money and dope.

“This is Sam”, he said as he put the phone to his ear. He heard a man speaking in a large room. The echo sounded odd. “This is Jack.”

Sam recognized the voice instantly and he heard the tension coming from the other end of the call. Jack peters was his long time attorney. He had helped him avoid many unpleasant circumstances with his skill and deft handling of many matters involving the police and court system. Money had changed hands more than once in the parking lots of distant golf courses or hotels, when necessary. On other occasions, people had just disappeared.

“Those boys are in jail Sam.”

“What the hell happened. Did they try to take advantage of us? I don’t know them that well.”

“No, Cheeto says they are entirely trustworthy. Thomas is Cheeto’s cousin and the other guys are the cousin’s best friends.”

“Well I hope so for Cheeto’s sake. If I find out they tried to pull some crap, I’ll have their hands up on my den wall.”

Jack pictured that in his mind’s eye and wondered if it would come to that. He knew Sam could do it if pressed, but he didn’t think he enjoyed that kind of stuff like Sam’s father had.

“They have a hell of a story Sam, but it must be true. They couldn’t make this up if they had all night to try. And besides, they’ve both been shot. One in the knee and one in the toe. They did a stop at the hospital on the way to the jail. They weren’t serious wounds on the face of it, but I don’t think they would have done that to themselves if they were going to try and leave town.

They must be telling the truth, or mostly telling the truth. I saw them and they are really scared. The guy they described as the robber was a monster and heartless. He was huge and wore a mask and gloves. It was all planed out carefully or so they think.

The lookout was jumped by a couple of guys and tied to a tree for Christ’s sake. He was almost smothered. Someone must have found out about the delivery somehow. It happened inside your community, just two blocks away from your family.”

“Oh my God, that can’t fly. I thought I heard a few gunshots and some sirens last night. I thought it was just about the guard that was killed after I read the paper. We need to find those responsible and put things right.

Now Sam knew part of the truth of what had happened. Two men of his band of misfits had been shot and robbed and a third and had been roughly handled. One had tied to a tree just a few yards from his own home, like a dog, for Christ’s sake. Sam was more than disappointed. He would have to find out what and how this misfortune had come his way.

“Can you get them out on bail?” “Thomas and Felix are free as we speak. They’re heading over here now with Jason. Luther has an outstanding felony warrant from Nevada. They won’t let him leave.”

“Alright. Bring them over here so I can talk with them. I want to make sure that they are telling the truth. I will convince them that is in their and their families best interests.”

“Not necessary Sam, they’re on the level. They are really scared nearly to death. You can’t make him more frightened than they already are.”

“Do you think this is more than it appears to be? Perhaps a message from some of my competitors?

“I don’t know Sam. It might be but you’d know more about than I, surely.”

“Well see in time, I suppose I will. Bring them to me, and quickly. My son has a little league game today and I don’t want to miss it. He needs to see me there in the stands with his mother.”

“Well be there in half an our Sam.”

Chapter Nine

Jay opened the door of the cafe and felt the blast of the dry hot air hit him in the face. Susan Gardner was long gone. There was oil on the asphalt where she had parked. The traffic was light as he turned to the right and headed in the direction of Oscar’s.

The hot air reminded him of meeting his wife in eleventh grade in their ceramics class. She had been very supportive when he told her that he wanted to become a police officer. She had wanted the same thing for herself.

After Jay had become a cop, Julie decided to be a dispatcher instead. It didn’t make sense to have both of them in the line of danger. And she had wanted to start a family as soon as possible. They both thought that was a good idea and went on with their lives from there.

But now, Jay was putting himself in danger again and lying to Julie about this situation as well. Jay knew this might end badly in more ways than one, but he couldn’t stop. He felt a duty to his sister and nephew. At least he had gone to the chief and got a green light of sorts.

As Jay watched the traffic coming from both directions on the wide boulevard, it looked like a river in the far distance in both directions from the mirage of the heat vapors rising from the smooth, black asphalt. It was hot, as usual. Then the double yellow lines appeared near him and made it clear that it was a highway that he was going to cross over and not a river.

He watched the traffic signal change and then sauntered quickly across the street. He looked for black SUV’s coming his way. “None,” he thought gladly.

He walked past the entry to Oscar’s and over to the parking lot and saw the man standing at the back corner of the building as usual, in the alley. Then he saw it. A black SUV had pulled into the lot before he had crossed the street. He couldn’t see this part of the parking lot from his vantage point across the street. The driver was gone.

“How many of these things are in town? he thought. “They seem to be everywhere. That must be the vehicle that my buddy is driving,” he said to him self as he turned and walked away from it. In a few dozen steps he reached the rough door into Oscar’s. He opened it and was instantly in a narrow vestibule standing in darkness. He could her music off in the distance. He smelled cigarette smoke and stale beer. He heard the crack of balls on a pool table and men laughing loudly.

He took three steps forward and through another set of swinging doors and was in Oscar’s. It was a world of darkness and a vast space filled with two, green felt covered, pool tables in the center and tables along three walls. The bar itself had around twenty stools. Most were empty. Two men were playing pool. One table had two beers on it and the man Jay had been looking for sat in the middle of the bar.

He didn’t want to make contact with him yet, but wanted to size him up closely. It was hard to judge his size and strength from across the street.

He sat down a few stools away. The bartender came to Jay after a while and in a casual way asked if he wanted a drink. “Yes, a draft please,” was jay’s reply.

The man turned and picked up a glass sitting upside down on a bar towel and pulled the handle of the draft beer machine. He looked as if he was asleep. No thought was needed to fill the order. He had obviously done this a few million times before. Jay liked that the man seemed relaxed. If things went bad the bartender would be slow to react, or so Jay hoped. There might be a rifle under the bar. This seemed to be like that kind of place.

Jay listened with a sober face and looking straight ahead. The bar tender talked to the large man that Jay was interested in.

The man was six four or so and two hundred and twenty pounds, give or take a pound or two. “Police training never leaves you,” or so thought Jay at that moment. The man wore a long sleeved dress shirt that was too tight and a pair of tan Levi’s. His brown ostrich boots were capped in decorative steel tips. They could kill a man easily if they connected to his head. He was cleanly shaved and had brown eyes. His hair was straight and combed back over his head to cover a bald spot. Thus, the hat.

The man had the look of a cowboy in his Sunday best, but his hands were soft. Jay thought those weren’t the hands of a working cowboy. He was a poser. And it was what he might really do that troubled Jay. There was no place to hide a gun on him that Jay could see. The man might as well have been naked. “There might be a knife in one of the boots though,” Jay surmised.

Jay had a second beer after twenty minutes and soon saw David come into the bar. He was a little early but Jay was glad that he had arrived. It told him something about David. He wasn’t afraid.

A mirror ran the length of the back bar and a fellow could see behind him which was a nice feature, or so Jay thought after seeing David come in. Then he thought about it and realized that most bars he had been in, and he had been in many while working and while single, had that feature.

Jay thought back to when he had bought a few tankards for ale for his own bar at home and remembered that the bottoms were made of glass. He had no idea until he bought them. Perhaps the bottoms of those tankards were clear for the same reason. Alcohol and men often lead to unexpected results. The mirror gave a wise man a little edge if he paid attention, as did the clear bottom of the tankard.

David sat at a table near the pool tables and put a quarter up on the edge of the table. The two men playing looked a little upset.

The waitress came over and took Davis’s order and walked briskly to the bar. She was thin and didn’t need the exercise. She came back quickly with David’s beer and left to check on another fellow across the wide room. He heels clicked on the hard wood floors. This was an old building and built when hard woods were plentiful and cheap.

Jay went back to paying attention to the conversation between the bar tender and the man to his right. The voices were quite and measured. Jay heard little until the man stood to leave.

“See you tonight Cheeto,” the barman said cheerfully. Cheeto looked back at him with a scowl and left the the bar.

Jay now knew a few things that he didn’t before he came in to Oscar’s. He knew the layout of the place, the name of his contact and that Dave would most likely be dependable.

Jay got up off his stool and walked to the men’s room. On the way he counted the steps across the room and noticed the door to the alley at the end of the hall as he turned into the restroom. The door had a crash bar on it for easy exit in case of fire, but it didn’t have a knob. There was probably no way in from that door unless you brought some tools. He saw the door to his right as well. It was probably the saw a door to the office.

Jay left after his trip to the bathroom and headed home. Jay never looked at David. David kept is head down.

Jay now knew that he wouldn’t be driving his Corvette in town for awhile and that he would need to get rid of those paper bank bands on the money in his garage. If the money came from Cheeto’s boss, which Jay hoped it did, the bands on the money would tell everyone that he was the thief and the man who shot those two guys at his sister’s house. He didn’t need that information to get out and mess up his plans.

David played one game of pool and lost on purpose. He wasn’t a fool. Those two guys weren’t looking for any new friends to hang out with.

________ ___________ __________

I think this is going well. l’ll put more up tomorrow. By the way, I’ll be back on stage on May 6th to tell another short true story on stage at Mallaney’s Bar and Grill in Long Beach, Ca. along with several others. Come around six thirty pm for good seats. Its a small venue.

Don’t forget “Grandpa Ernie’s Secrets.” a fast paced romantic spy thriller with action and a beautiful woman who is a great shot. Ernie is Billy’s grandfather and college history professor as well as a man with loads of secrets. He raised Billy after Billy’s parents died in an automobile accident. How does Ruby know Ernie? Who is Ruby’s father? What country is she from?