The opening part of my 2007 NaNo. He gets beat up a bit and kidnapped. Should be good.
It Might Be Wise to Avoid Letting a Man Named Curtis Die in Your Car
I never was much of one for running into large, immovable, and unfriendly objects at sixty miles an hour.
But for some reason, I had figured that now would be a good time to try it.
The bridge crawled slowly overhead, as time gave up on normal operation. I knew I was panicking, but I figured at this point it was pretty much completely forgivable. My car was desperately vying for traction on the wet, cold concrete beneath it, and I was desperately vying for control of the wet, cold car beneath me. We were both losing and were aimed quite for a large column supporting the bridge.
Life just did not seem exactly that usual. Pretty surreal. And I reasoned that what with how things were heading at this point, this moment or so in my life would always seem surreal.
If I lived through it.
The steering wheel cranked left, the vinyl exterior squeaking slightly under the vicious pressure of my clenched fists, and the car began to pull out of the headlong dive towards the heavy concrete barrier ahead, rising in the form of a gray white pylon—like a massive column of dead fish, bloated and hateful—and not likely to move from my path; but alas, the tires gave way under the sideways pressure and lost their traction, which left my vehicle and me inside it helpless against the sudden loss of space between, and suddenly glass was spraying like blood from the windows and a metal frame began crunching like bones around the car and I knew that some serious pain was less than a second away.
And it was.
Oh yes, it most certainly was.
The front right wheel of my little old Civic was wrapping itself around the concrete, and the bumper and hood were following a very rapid suit by the time the airbag deployed. It hit me in the face and spared me the forward momentum, but had no real protection to offer against the flattening right wall of my vehicle. It seemed to move in inches, slowly, compressing like a garbage compactor, encroaching in on me, towards my arm, towards the whole of me. Minute slices of glass had already danced at me by the time that the curving metal frame reached where I was.
The seat belt bit awkwardly into my pelvis. This hurt me more than I thought it should, seeing as how it was probably the only pain I was feeling or was going to be feeling soon that was not going to cause me to bleed or try to kill me. But still, my hip hurt, and I had the inane presence of mind to shift my weight at the last second to ease that pressure.
And then there was quite a blackness.
I have no idea if I was even conscious by the time the pylon actually did hit me. Either way, it did not hurt then, nor did I feel much of anything.
That was a feeling I was really going to miss, to be honest.
No one really appreciates waking up from unconsciousness in the exact same position they were in when they went under. When you find yourself struggling to reach the waking world once more, the prominent hope in the rising brain is that you will be lying in a soft bed, maybe with a soft sun beam shining over you and an attractive member of the opposite sex bringing in a warm breakfast. You never really hope to find yourself clamped in a heap of steaming steel, your own blood running from a dozen lines over your body. You never wake up hoping that reality had anything at all to do with the nastiness that just happened to you.
Funny how it worked, then, that the last way I wanted to come to happened to be the exact one I chose. Yes, I was lying in my tattered car, sporting a tattered body and a rather unhappy nervous system. My little silver Honda hugged the pylon like a little macaroni noodle, only instead of yellow and covered with tasty cheese, it was all sorts of ungainly colors and smells. As far as I could tell, I was more or less going to survive this one.
My head could move, this way and that, without much more pain than I would have expected. Probably nothing broken or cut up there, I reasoned.
My arms moved. They really did not appreciate it when I did, though. My right one especially was sliced and bleeding, glass wounds. I was still quite surprised to find it unbroken. I thought a concrete pillar at fifty some miles an hour might do a bit more damage to the human skeletal system.
My legs moved just a wee bit. There was not much room to check in here, to be honest. I decided that climbing out of this giant gray leech on the leg of the bridge might be a wise move.
And then the pain really started to roll in.
The first wave of agony hurt a very good bit. As did the next dozen or so. A very, very good bit, they did. I do not think I tried to move for at least five minutes after that. It made sense, really, but I was kind of hoping I would be able just to get up and walk away from this one.
That reminded me of something.
There was a darn good reason I wanted to get out of here. I was not even on the highway. There were only a couple of other cars around.
That was right. A storm drain.
Not the usual place for me to drive around in. I was more of a drive on the road kind of person.
Not that I was really a run into things kind of person, either, but I guessed that sometimes things just turn out funny.
Something still seemed a bit lacking in this whole scenario. I was forgetting something. Something quite important, that I knew. Something I really did not think I should just up and forget. Something apparently worse than crashing a speeding car into an unforgiving sort of barrier. Something that I just might have to get out of this reeking, leaking, dying hunk of dead iron and vinyl.
So I tore at the seat belt with my hands, trying futilely to depress that ever problematic fat and cold button on the buckle. Blood slicked hands made it into quite the endeavor. Eventually, the tension eased on my whining right hip, and the fat strip of safety slid up my chest like a glowing green blade does back into the little light saber handle after a Jedi turns it off. Excepting the part where the buckle itself trailed after the belt and slapped me upside the chin. Blood filled my mouth, and I felt rather cheated at having to lose more of the pretty red stuff due to a freak sort of happening.
Fumbling for the door handle produced an impeccably normal sort of result. The door more exploded open, as the inverse pressure on it from the car’s awkward new curve more or less demanded that it open as soon as possible. I spilled out onto the slickening ground like a giant sack of bleeding and disgruntled potatoes. When little glass shards have just danced along the surface of your flesh, the last thing you really want to do is dive onto the concrete, but I did not care so much.
I was out of that thing.
But there still was that something I needed to try to remember. By this point, thankfully, my mental faculties were sort of returning. I was driving my car, and my passenger…
There had been somebody else in the car with me.
What was his name?
Curtis. Curtis somebody. He had been wearing a nice suit, had been carrying a nice suit case, and had been smiling a nice, normal, friendly smile.
And he had been sitting in the passenger seat. Right where the column ate the car.
I spun around to look into the mangled frame. Sure enough, there was Curtis. And I had thought the car looked in pretty bad shape. If my Civic was a macaroni noodle, then Curtis was spaghetti.
And this was not good.
But there still was something I was forgetting. Like why Curtis was in the car. I did not drive a taxi. I was an amateur golfer. Definitely not a taxi driver. So the fact that somebody I did not know was riding shotgun in my—
Another wave of understanding. Shotgun. Just peachy. As in, the fact that there had been people shooting at me with shotguns. Never good news.
In a way, it was. Because I remembered that Curtis had died before he ever performed a sixty mile an hour head butt into that massive cylinder of death. Do not ask me why I found it more reassuring to think that the dead man in my car had been murdered by firearms in public than that I had killed him by squishing him in my car. I only suppose it was because this way, none of the blame had to come near me. Only, it still might look kind of fishy to the authorities.
But that once more dragged me into the present. There was still that minor detail that there had been people plugging away at my car with semi automatic shotguns. Somehow, that translated into me being very nervous and good bit skittish. Maybe it was because these people doing the firing happened to be in large trucks following us around.
Which, naturally, meant that they could not be too far away right now.
And, naturally, this was when I heard the car doors open and shut a few dozen feet behind me.
Well, and, naturally, this was also when I heard the distinctive bass clunking of several large, military grade firearms being loaded and cocked. I turned around, not in the best of moods, nor feeling all that personable. They made me crash my car, after all, and they made a man who I had thought seemed friendly and neat perish a foot away from me. After all, these were the dirt bags who thought that shooting at me would be a lot of fun for everybody.
Two dirty blue pickup trucks rested gently in the trench that marked the extra wide storm drain. Released from each of these vehicles were three men, making a total of six. Two were armed. The other four each merely had ridiculously big arms. All looked completely upset with me, and I highly doubted such a sentiment would mean that they were going to let me walk on my way to the hospital and the authorities.
Why exactly had I figured that driving in a somewhat off road sort of way in a little 1992 Honda Civic would at all dissuade a couple of F-250s from continuing their hell bent pursuit? Why did I not just drive down the highway for a really long period of time, until my superior fuel economy forced them to stop at the nearest 7-11 and allow me to make my escape?
I think I must be a complete idiot under pressure.
Which was entirely why I, instead of turning tail and trying to find a much smarter way to get some intense distance between several armed and violent rednecks and myself, more or less stood there with my mouth hanging open and my torso dripping blood into the very thin layer of water on the ground.
They, of course, did not really seem to mind. I suppose they, too, were tired of driving and running all over the place. I figured I might as well be friendly and give them a hand. I dropped to my knees, my hands on my head.
I also sneezed pretty intensely, but I do not really know how that exactly fits into the narrative. It just kind of, well, happened. The abnormally large and muscular sestet of vengeance and fury all strolled casually towards me, several grinning, several others frowning, and one looking mildly uncertain if he would be more menacing if he were to grin or to frown. He just scrunched his face up a bit and stared at the macaroni car.
They reached where I was.
I closed my eyes.
I vomited on a boot, to a distinct sort of curse spraying spittle and tobacco juice on the back of my neck. There also was the beginning of a laugh, but I felt shock coming on something fierce.
I had just enough time to wonder why hicks like these sorts would be hunting businessmen and amateur golfers through the streets of Chicago before I passed out.
I really think that sometimes I appreciate passing out.
This time, when I came to, I was hogtied in the back of a speeding pickup truck. I did not stay conscious for very long. I mean, it really, really freaking hurt. I picked a very good time to pass out, on this occasion.
It must have been a long drive.
I drifted in and out of consciousness, which has a very funny way of completely abusing the entire notion of time, but the backwaters tough in the truck bed with me was more unconscious than I had been, though from sleep rather than from a massive car crash and more trauma than I really had the ken to deal with at the moment. He was snoring something fierce as well. Not surprising. Surely all redneck types snore, right? That was the impression Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy had given me. Based off that, I was pretty surprised to find that there were no empty beer cans back with me.
I really enjoyed making these minor and pointless observations, because they took my mind off the fact that I was still bleeding a bit, still studded with shards of my windows, and tightly hogtied. All while bouncing along a rough dirt road. I was about ready to start counting the man’s nose hairs just to keep my mind occupied when we finally pulled into a stop. I could not yet see over the edge of the bed walls, so I had no way of knowing whether this was a gas stop or a final stop.
And, God help me, I could not decide which one I would prefer it to be.
If I were a more rational, logical man, I would have decided that if they had wanted me dead, they could have thrown me back in the car and lit the whole thing on fire to cover their tracks. I pretty much made it very easy for them to erase me for a long time. But I was not a more rational, logical man. I was an amateur golfer. Men trying to make a living off an amateur golfer’s salary usually give up and upgrade to being a librarian or something.
I had reckoned the day before that I should move on in life. My application was still freshly inked on the library’s main desk. I liked books. I could have enjoyed myself.
Actually, at this point, I would have enjoyed being Curtis. Honestly. I am not much of one for pain. I really prefer hugs and Skittles and sleeping in on a Monday morning. And this really was hurting me quite a bit. Warm evening air flowed softly over my sticky flesh, and I had just the right angle to see a thin trail of my precious red inner juices meandering meekly towards the tail of the truck. I wondered morbidly if I had left a trail of sporadic crimson bread crumbs all the way from Chicago to… here.
And here was where? If I even had enough knowledge of what direction we were heading now, that still would not account for the hours (maybe?) we had been driving. You know, at this point, I was very seriously wishing that at least some of this would just go ahead and make sense. Unfortunately, fate was against me this day. No answers came. Just a memory of a fat, jolly businessman walking up to my car.
Cue the flashback.
I am leaning up against my nice little silver Civic, toying with my nine iron. Trying to look cool, as is pathetically common among young adult males. But today, instead of having a some random cute brunette walk up and talk to me (like that ever really happens anyways), I get to meet the dude. He is a really big dude, too. Not exactly in good physical shape, it seems, yet there also appears to be a thick layer of muscle somewhere hiding beneath all that caviar.
Yeah, caviar. I can tell he is incredibly rich just from the first impression. I do not really know why. It might have something to do with the spotless black suit he is wearing, or the random shine of a fancy watch flashing the morning sun, or maybe it could be attributed to that heavy duty silver briefcase in his hand.
Or maybe it could be the hundred dollar bill he has just handed me.
Crap always starts because of money. Have you ever noticed that there are not many movies or books or anything like that where the villains are not in some way motivated by money? Or the good guys? And so here I am, suddenly being offered groceries for the next two months, and I for no good reason decide not to question the inherent curiosity of the whole situation.
I have no premonitions of trouble associated with this. Maybe it would have been nice to have one or two little forebodings or whatever, but that is pretty much a moot point. I am not about to tell the guy that neither am I a taxi driver, nor that a hundred dollars might just possibly be a bit much for a ride to anywhere short of New York. And I am not about to drive to New York, so I figure I will be making a great profit here. There are none of the usual signs of a guy on the run from cops.
He seems, well, normal. I figure maybe he is just a bit naïve, or not from around here.
“Morning,” I say, suddenly very cheerful. Money can do that to some people.
“Good morning,” he smiles back. Like a pal.
“Where do you need to be, man?” I try to sound as cabbie- like as I can, lest I tip him off and lose out on that pretty little paper.
“Across town. And fast. If I don’t get home soon, the wife will kill me.”
A chuckle between the two of us. And a meaty paw flying towards me, a friendly greeting. “The name is Curtis. Curtis D’Agostino.”
“I’m Joe. Er, Joe Burkoff. You may have heard of me? I’m a golfer.”
“No, pal, sorry. Haven’t. But then, I’ve never been much of one for watching sports.” I knew that was going to happen. No one has ever heard of me. I guess that is why they call me an amateur, you know? Local sports heroes kind of go out of fashion once they graduate from high school. But such is life.
And we climb on into my little Civic. He looks pretty uncomfortable in the distinct non- roominess of the cabin, but he maintains that incredible friendliness that he first approached me with. Joviality, almost. Kind of like Santa Clause, only without facial hair and a funny suit, and more in the age range of my father than my grandfather. But I bet he could be a department store Saint Nick if that job was not so painfully below his usual pay grade. I wonder if maybe he volunteers for community service that way? It does not really matter, though. Casual, polite conversation passes.
The usual. I guess.
I stomp on the accelerator, having thrown the car into gear. I even make the tires squeal to impress him, but apparently when you run in circles as high as he must, the horsepower of an economy car is maybe a little less exciting. I merge onto the highway, driving a good ten miles an hour over—enough speed to cut time, but not so bad that the coppers would pick me off the highway for speeding.
Curtis starts to look a little edgy, though.
“What, faster?” I ask. “Just when was your curfew?”
He lets out a light laugh. “Last week.”
“Oh, man, you are in it deep, I bet. If I were you, I certainly wouldn’t be hurrying home to that.”
Somehow, he smiles widely while talking, a skill I have heard of but never really seen done without being intensely creepy and unnatural. “Look,” he grins at me, “if you get a speeding ticket, I’ll pay the overage. Just get me there fast.”
This is the kind of thing I have always found interesting. A perfect excuse to hit 120 on the city freeway. I can dig it. So I do it. I am weaving in and out of traffic, enjoying myself. Curtis does not seem too unhappy with it either. I feel like lord of the traffic.
But, for a reason that makes no sense to me, traffic is very unappreciative of my domination. From the onramp ahead of me, a light blue pickup truck speeds into the middle of my highway, cutting me off. I try to go around, but the driver seems a bit peevish. He sticks with me, forcing me to slow to only about 70 or so. Curtis has gone a good bit red. I imagine I have, too. Talk about a killjoy.
Curtis says suddenly, and a bit coldly, “We need to get off the highway. There are other ways to get there quickly.”
I agree, because this man seems to know his stuff. I start to move to the nearest exit ramp, but all of the sudden, there is a second blue truck on my right. He must have been riding my blind spot. It is at this point that I realize that something is quite disturbingly wrong. This is not normal road rage or sheer ornery driver syndrome.
As becomes quite evident when a shotgun leans out of the bed of the adjacent vehicle.
“Get off the highway now.” Curtis is looking a good bit freaked out. Actually, it looks like he is about to jump out of the car and try rolling to the shoulder. I figure that it is my duty as his driver to give him a better option than that. I use my head for this one.
I punch it.
The two trucks keep pace with me. As far as racing goes, we are all in the boring boat. Nevertheless, they have more get up and go than a little old manual Honda. But that really is the point anyways. As soon as we all hit 90, I maul the brake with my foot and steer towards the shoulder. I get some fresh paint on my bumper as I barely squeeze behind the rear pickup, but the contact is minimal, and the escape almost perfect.
“What is going on!” I yell at Curtis, though I still feel kind of bad about yelling. He is a very nice guy, after all.
“I wish I knew!” he yells right back, no doubt as completely lost as I am. These last few minutes have made no sense. And I hate that. I am not stupid, but I am not always the quickest on the uptake, as my mother used to say. Thanks, Mom.
By the time we hit the shoulder, we have crossed two lanes. We are practically perpendicular to the road. And that is when the brilliant idea hits me. There is a storm drain just ahead. A good getaway idea. If we were their target in any way, and they were planning to look for us, I figure that they would be looking for us on the roads. Not in a storm drain.
My car suddenly hates me. This is not what she signed on for. Especially not the part where I hit the steep downward ramp into the storm drain. And most definitely especially not when my front bumper bleeds all over the flat surface. Not a big surprise. Civics are not known for having a very high undercarriage. But I grimace just the same, as Curtis most likely does, as he is probably starting to wonder just how much of this he feels comfortable to offer to pay for.
I nose the car to the nearest overpass and park underneath it. Take time to catch my breath.
“You’re sure you don’t know what’s going on?” Intelligent question from myself. No surprise there. I do not really have much of a tendency for deep conversation.
“No! No. Oh sweet Jesus, I have no idea.” And again I feel bad for asking. He is just too nice.
“Well, Curtis, what do you think we should do?”
“Wait for a minute. Yes. Just wait. Let me think.”
And I do. I like to talk, but I do not lack the power to shut up. Certainly not when I was almost just shot at.
And that is a very bad time to think such. Because it is at that very moment that we are shot at.
Okay, well, I am shot at. Curtis, more or less, is shot. I almost wet myself, I almost vomit, I almost take up nearly a dozen various religions. This is not normal.
Blood flies out of his body as a slug punches through the window and into his chest. I am a golfer. And not a very good one at that. This is not something I see very often. But his entire body jerks towards me, as the projectile sings in from the right. A blue pickup truck, one of the two seen earlier, is parked up at the top of the storm drain. I have no idea how they found us. I do not really think like someone who would be good at escaping. It just is not my skill set.
And here is Curtis, not even moaning. Certainly not jovial anymore. His face is already white, and his nice suit has been torn sideways. Well, so has his chest. A few ribs are visible, but mostly it is just a mass of draining crimson.
So I do what anyone here would do.
I bolt. I stomp on the accelerator, and the pickup starts up after me. I do not really understand why, but the very thin layer of water on the concrete floor of the improvised road kills any sort of traction I thought I had, and there suddenly is a very large column there before me...
Cue the return to reality.
So there I was, arms and legs bound behind my back, feeling more or less like Hulk Hogan mistook me for breakfast, when the man in the back with me stood up and walked over. I really was wishing that he would leave me alone. I was almost getting comfortable, now that the car ride from hell was over. I mean, I was never a big fan of bleeding or being hogtied or anything, but I could almost sleep like this.
Nevertheless, the jerk jerked me to my knees. Not comfortable at all.
“Don’t ya move,” he grunted. Twanged. Hicked, I suppose. He then proceeded to cut the bonds off my wrists and ankles. I was more than halfway tempted to leap up and hug the man for all he was worth, but I figured that if he were armed with a large knife and just as death- centric as his buddies, it would be best just to fall over and grunt.
Well, that was not what he wanted either. “Stand up, boy.” That was a serious twang there. Bowahh. What redneck sort of dialect was this? I decided to postpone linguistic musings in favor of keeping more of my blood in my body, so I placed my feet on the ground, and I placed my hands on the ground, and I did my best to make myself vertical.
I failed. Head butting the pickup bed, I drew an exasperated curse from the awkwardly muscled fellow standing near me. I noticed that his boots still smelled like vomit. Very well, then. I gritted my teeth, stretched out my legs behind me, and tried once more to stand.
Heck, I actually did it, too. I was pretty proud of myself. Mr. Smiles over here certainly could not care less if I felt that way. His massive hand grabbed my upper arm (oh, and thank the Lord it was the left arm, seeing as my right arm still had glass embedded in my weak man muscle), and he half dragged me out onto the ground. I did not land well, but we both expected that, and he compensated. I blinked a couple of times, sneezed again, and starting to try to take stock of where the heck I actually was.
It was a farm.
No, not quite.
It was a little town. Had to be the smallest town I ever could have imagined. There were a couple of farm style houses standing around, looking old and pretty well worn down. There was a pub (no surprise), a church (no surprise), and a sort of big old store. Likely it held every other function a building could have in a village this small. Probably was both the grocery store, the town hall, and the nearest place to use it if your little sister took too long in the outhouse. The other blue pickup was nearby, and there was a good sized crowd gathering around, well, me.
You know, when I imagine being nearly killed and taken captive and dragged to some random place to be hidden, I would never have thought that it would be a town full of women and children and farmers. They all looked a bit worried to see me, which I figured was fair. I was very worried to see anyone at this point. I had no idea who the next person to pull a shotgun on me would be.
Mr. Smiles, still with a death grip on my tricep, started to pull me towards the large building, the one I had assumed was multifunctional. A public hanging maybe? Who knows what they do here? The crowd parted for us.
A young lady smiled at me. It was a nice smile.
Weird, because I never really seemed to get girls to smile at me like that when I was not actually on death row, but oh well. It was a nice smile, and I figured whatever insanity was ahead, I might as well treasure it. By this point, my brain was firing in some very odd directions.
And I knew I did not look very pretty at all. Bleeding, limping, bruised, and who knows what expression on my face. I tried to look stoic, but I could have just as easily looked like a sulking two year old. I really was hoping that I was not doing that face. Good Lord, go out looking like a man. Square the shoulders, and—
Oh, screw it. I certainly felt like crying a good bit. I let my face settle into something between a scowl and a grimace, and by then we had reached the door of that large wooden building. The onlookers looked on, as onlookers are wont to do. They all were dressed like they had never seen modern day civilization in their lives. Not that they were wearing dresses or togas or anything, but they certainly were beyond out of date. Overalls on most of the guys. Denim latched onto every body. It was almost too much. But if I was still alive and walking after today’s ordeal, I doubted that a little bit of odd dress would finish me off.
But I still wondered about this town. It seemed like any small town should, I thought. It was, well, small, which was a good start. Judging by the horrendous amount of time spent being beaten to death by dirt roads on the way here, it was well out of the way. So, a small town in the middle of nowhere. And they did not even have a WalMart. This place was actually kind of depressing. It was almost surprising not to see huge herds of cattle or pigs running through the main road, if it could be called that.
Fifty or so people total, as far as I could reckon. Probably not even big enough to register on a state map. But none of that came near to explaining what was going on. Why would six rednecks come flying out of the middle of nowhere to gun down a rich businessman, kidnap a golfer, and return home? Maybe, just maybe, the answer might be inside of the building I was being led into. I thought I might possibly know what it might be.
The jail. That would make sense.
Indeed, it did make sense. Because I was walked straight through the doorway, straight down a flight of stairs (a very unpleasant task when your legs are hardly able to move and when you body just wants to go home and die), and straight into a dark cell with a heavy door. There was a wee pallet for sleeping, a bowl for some of my more base functions, a distinct lack of windows and lighting devices, and a more distinctive lack of room to accommodate anyone taller than five feet. Which, coincidentally enough, I happened to be taller than.
My guide pushed me into this little closet of a cell and turned around, walking out. This was just going to be more fun than I would know what to do with, I had no doubts. I turned to look as Mr. Smiles strained with those excessive arms and pulled on the edge of the door.
Quite unceremoniously, said door slammed shut. And it locked. It locked very loudly and with a sort of reverberating metal menace that says, “Bowahh, you ain’t getting out of here for a very long time.” Or maybe Mr. Smiles said this. I was busy collapsing onto the pathetic excuse for a bed. The pallet certainly hit the spot, though. It was not moving, and it was softer than the ground. That was all the spot that I possibly could need.
Contrary to everything I would have possibly imagined up to that point, I did not fall asleep. Nor was I alone. A light flickered on, and the door unbolted almost as dramatically as it had previously locked itself. Two redundantly large men walked in, along with a middle aged lady. She smiled at me pleasantly and walked on in.
“Sit up,” she ordered. Glancing at her accompanying duo of brutes, I decided compliance would be my safest course of action. I sat up, wincing a bit. She pursed her lips, stuck out her hand, and pulled a half inch shard of glass from my shoulder. I had no idea that it had even been there.
Oh, but now I did.
She pursed her lips even more, and said, “Hold still. This probably won’t be much fun, darling.”
Oh God. I hope I am not in Missouri.
“Well, dear, yes, you are.”
Oh, God, I said that out loud, didn’t I?
“Yes, you did. I think you are just a wee bit out of it, kiddo.”
This is so many kinds of wonderful.
And I chose this particular moment to fall on the floor in a fit of rather juvenile unconsciousness. I bet she pursed her lips half off at that one.
By the time I awoke once more, I was wearing more bandages than clothes. I really was not sure exactly how long I had given the little midwife sort of person to work on me, but apparently it was enough to remove a good half dozen slices of glass and to wrap me up like a ninja.
My head felt quite a bit too light, fluffy almost. I really am not much of a fan of feeling like I have a fluffy head. I noticed now a small window in the wall, which I missed earlier when I had first arrived. I reasoned that it might have to do with the fact that the window was facing east, and morning light was powering through.
That for some reason struck me as particularly not good. I had passed a whole night here. I had met Curtis nearly twenty four hours ago. He had died then nearly twenty three hours ago. Wonderful.
But this all meant that I had not been home in twenty four hours. I had not been to my Saturday morning golf match. Heck, that meant I had missed church this morning.
It all also meant that I had not eaten or drank anything in the last day. This new revelation nearly destroyed me. It probably would have, had there not been several fat sandwiches and three large water bottles sitting next to my pallet. It only took me a few short minutes to dive through all of these. I felt pretty crummy afterwards, too, but it was not like I was not already feeling ridiculously poor in the first place. Moving my body around was decidedly unpleasant, and sitting there was almost as bad. I guess crashing a car into a concrete column is a bad way to treat your body. But what can you do? It is not like I planned to do that or anything.
The food started to settle in my stomach. Little surprise, the sandwiches had been roast beef. I bet it came from the cattle that these redneck sorts raised around their farms in this place. Still, it was beginning to feel much better. My head was reducing itself to its normal size and weight, which was something I really could appreciate. I sat back, leaning against the wall, feeling almost human again once more.
Would it be any sort of surprise to say that I did not really feel like playing golf, either? For whatever reason, all I could really manage to desire was a nice day sitting behind a library desk, checking out books to young children. I guess it is kind of funny how sometimes ridiculous circumstances can make you wish for just about the most boring things ever. I would have liked a good bit of intensely boring, really.
My wish was granted, in a way. I sat there, alone and mostly in the darkness, for another few hours. You know how they put it, “left alone with one’s thoughts”? Well, I unfortunately was left alone and without thoughts. That is, I had no thoughts that really helped. I merely sat there for the eventless hours, daydreaming of driving around in a golf cart and not running into giant columns or anything like that. It was kind of nice, too, except when my pessimistic and ornery imagination decided to repeat yesterday’s events.
But then the door chunked open. Hooray.
In walked yet another massively muscled man, sporting old jeans and a mangy hoodie with the WalMart logo emblazoned across his chest. He had a pad of paper in his left hand and a pen in his other, wielding both like deadly weapons. His red and stubbled face was smashed into a very accustomed looking grimace, flat lips ground together as if the top of his head was heavier than normal and was forcing his mouth closed. Before he spoke, I almost expected a sort of Muppet movement, with only the top half moving.
Oddly enough, the upper half of his face did not move at all. It was only the jaw working, something like a cow chewing its cud. “Morning, boy.”
“Er, hello?” I asked.
“How are you feeling?”
Oh wow, somehow I doubted that this was actually real sentiment rather than a formality he felt he must fulfill. Small town sheriff, maybe? That would make sense. Especially considering the little copper star on his right pectoral. Right.
I mumbled some sort of answer, something conveying a general sense of overall physical well being and complete emotional outrage, something along the lines of, “Eh.” I am never very witty when I have been kidnapped and jailed, I suppose.
“I just have a few questions for ya, here. First, what is your full name?”
I pondered answering this question for a few moments. I really did not feel like letting these people know anything, but this guy actually looked like a legitimate, if partially abnormal, lawman. If anyone around here could help set things straight, well, here was to hoping it was this guy.
“Joseph Buchanan Burkoff,” I grunt out. My name just blows, really. Going by Joe works much better for me. People love to give me grief about my ritzy sort of middle name, and the alliteration, and all that sorts of nonsense. I did not pick it. And besides, I have always felt it was a pretty sweet name. It could have been a lot worse. He wrote that on his paper, and then proceeded with, well, his procedure.
“Joe. Just… Joe.” Intelligent time to be cordial. Too late, though. I had already said it. He gave me a pretty funny look, and then moved on.
“I’m Sheriff Potter,” he said, as if he felt obliged to swap names with me. Nevertheless, it made me feel pretty proud of myself. Right on both accounts: he was a sheriff, and he was a complete redneck. As far as I could tell, he was about as backwater as they could come. “You are in the jail of the town of Elvis, Missouri. Do you know why you’re here, son?”
“NO!” I answered about as empathetically as I figured would be safe. I was just mildly dying to know this answer. Unfortunate.
“Good. Let’s keep it that way. Moving on,” (and here he completely ignored my gape jawed and sullen glare of complete mystification), “when is your birthday?”
“If you don’t answer these simple questions, boy, you won’t get lunch. Now how does that sound?”
It sounded fair enough to me, I suppose. Answering questions for food? Sounded like dinner back at home in high school. I was not really hungry, but I figured a little bit of planning for the future would be a wise idea. I let him know that I was born on the fifth of January in 1984.
“Good. This is how conversations are supposed to go. Now, I’m gonna go run this through the system and see what else comes up. When that’s done, I’ll be back, and we’ll be figuring out what we’re gonna do with you.”
Well, that sounded ominous. But I had no criminal record, I always paid my taxes, and there was no reason any self respecting lawman would find fault with anything I had done. Excepting a minor bit of speeding on the previous day, that is, along with some various sorts of illegal driving, but I thought that trying to stay alive might just possibly help me out when it factored in to the whole thing. That is, I kept assuming that this was a normal sort of sheriff, but, based on the current track record of these people, there was a good chance that he was not remotely standard at all.
I tried my best to shrug that sort of thinking off, but even by the time Sheriff Potter had strolled back through the doorway and resealed my living container, I had already failed.
What worried me the most was the way he seemed relieved to know that I was totally lost and confused. I was more or less under the impression that such public servants were glad to help clear confusion and alleviate worries. Maybe that just was not how things worked down here in Elvis, Missouri. Good Lord. Elvis, Missouri, population less than sixty. For a brief second, I wondered if they were kidnapping eligible young bachelors to mix up the gene pool a bit, but I more than instantly dismissed that thought. Well, that was a lot less unpleasant than some of the potential reasons I had feared…
The light was getting weaker in my room, meaning that morning was giving up on its tenure on the day. And with the approach of afternoon, there was an implied approach of more food. And that I could live with.
My arm itched. I imagined that it was pretty common for glass wounds to itch, but that in no way relieved the tenacious nagging on my flesh. Well, scratching my thin and scattered wounds would likely result in me bleeding and whimpering, so I sat as still as I could and imagined the smell of old books and old people at the public library. It was almost comforting, really.
Escape certainly was not an option. Jack Bauer himself would have extreme difficulty in getting out of here, and Jack Bauer and my skill sets were quite removed from each other. Either way, I figured staying still and waiting for the due process of law in this place would be my safest course of action. Due process of law might have been a bit sketchy down here, but that did not really matter to me at the moment. Eventually, I could sort this out legally.
Think about it. I had already made a hundred bucks (to get my car wrecked and myself kidnapped), but all the legal recompense I could earn from being hogtied and driven five hundred miles in the back of a pickup might make up some of that. Only… my wallet was gone. And these were not even my pants I was wearing.
At least I had pants on. But that also meant that they had changed my clothes, which was never a good thing. I had never watched Deliverance, but the kind of social understanding that arose from that film and others like it permeated everybody’s thought patterns. Thankfully, I felt rather unmolested at the moment. I could only hope that such a state of being would continue and not be interrupted. I guess being locked in a dark cell in the middle of nowhere can lead to some pretty morbid thoughts.
My head was throbbing a fair bit by this point, too. Groaning pathetically to my feet, I stumbled on over to the little bed pan on the floor and released a bit of the pressure. Unfortunately, it reeked now in there, too. Just perfect. I always have amazed myself with my ability to take any bad situation and make it even more bad smelling. Here was to hoping that they would change out the pan at least every time I used it. I could really dig that.
I certainly did not want it around for lunch.