Shut Up Pete
|****Edited from the original entry****
Jimmy reached behind him, feeling for the lever, pulling it, reclining his seat back. He felt uneasy and tense, Pete’s talking always did that to him. His dark eyes drifted to the odometer, seventy-five miles down the road, seventy-five miles per hour on Highway 75 and he hadn’t shut up since leaving two hours ago. Inhaling slowly on the cigarette hanging from full his lips, he thought back to two days prior.
Pete’s saliva sprayed the face of the man tied to the office chair as he screamed at him.
“What did you tell that cop?” he screamed, his face red and sweaty.
“Noth..” the word ending unfinished as another swift smack from Pete smashed his mouth again, backhanded this time.
Pete straightened, leaned back against the desk in the small dimly lit bedroom and wiped the back of his neck and bald head with his hand. Sleeves rolled up over powerful forearms showing the size, and bruises, of an early life of hard physical labor. Those days were long gone, he’d moved up. Being a big guy had its perks. His size, useful for intimidation along with the occasional need for 'information gathering' of a more physical nature, had advanced his family standing as well.
“Jimmy, this guy, he ain’t talked to nobody,” said Pete, winded from the stifling heat as much as the throwing around of his bulk.
Not answering, Jimmy’s eyes took in the dingy apartment as he waited in the kitchen for an answer on the phone pressed between his shoulder and ear. Lighting his fifth cigarette of the morning he shook his head. He hated these weekly rental dumps, this one was called The Blue Hotel.
“Stupid name,” he thought to himself.
The only thing blue about this place was the pall of depression which had settled over it. Built cheaply in the late seventies it was decorated with now filthy green carpet and orange wallpaper with brown accents. Disgusting splatters, which he refused let his eyes linger on, speckled the ceiling. It felt close, the word his mother had often used to describe days of stifling humidity and no breeze.
After four rings, a voice on the other end answered, “yeah?”
“It’s me, he didn’t say anything.”
“To you or to anyone?”
Jimmy sighed, aggravated by the stupid word game. “He didn’t tell anyone.”
“Petey had a long talk with him, a very convincing talk, heart to heart.” He chuckled to himself at his own joke.
Pete standing off to the side listening in, smiled to himself. He liked his job and was pleased when others were frightened of him; no one messed with him and that’s the way he intended to keep things.
“Okay, clean it up.”
Finally, he thought, ending the call and shoving the phone back into a pocket. He walked into the dingy bedroom, Jimmy’s eyes searching his craggy face for direction.
“We’re done here,” he indicated with a nod towards the chair holding the pale, thin man.
Without a word Pete cut the gray tape binding the man to the old-style office chair.
“Not a word,” he whispered into the scared face, the knife used to cut the tape now pressing against the quivering lips. The man’s eyes darted to Jimmy looking for a hint of help.
“He can’t talk Pete, his mouth is taped,” Jimmy sighed, causing Pete to screw up his face in aggravation but saying nothing.
“Out” Pete said – pushing the taller man through the doorway roughly. Nodding his head to the left, “that way”, he indicated the motel’s first floor hallway side exit.
Parked outside was Pete’s mother’s car. The brown, nondescript sedan was unremarkable and blended in with the rest of the parking lot of beaters and near wrecks belonging to other tenants.
Jimmy opened the door and the skinny man slid into the front seat on the driver's side, moving to the middle without being told. Jimmy and Pete, sat on either side of him like two beefy bookends.
Jimmy’s thoughts returned to the present as he reached his exit. Another eight miles and he signaled left, turning onto Blurry Lake Road. He had come to this nearby forest many times over the years, never to camp or hunt, rather it was always for work. Creeping slowly down the dark road, keeping alert for animals or the occasional local, he made his way further into the overhanging canopy of evergreens that seemed to dominate and enclose the road as it snaked deeper into the gloom.
The thin man acted more nervous now, licking his lips, looking left and right, while trying to avoid Jimmy and Pete’s faces. The tape gag having been removed to negate any unwanted attention, he’d kept quiet during the ride, not that he had a choice with Pete ready to pounce should he dare open his mouth.
They pulled into a small clearing, the dense tree line obscuring the car from the road.
“Sit still,” Pete sharply told him as he and Jimmy exited the car.
Walking out of view, Jimmy opened the trunk and pulled out a small battery powered lantern. Leading, Pete close behind, he walked to an abandoned hunters shack. Weathered with missing boards and glass, Jimmy gave the ajar door a shove. The musty smell of rotten wood and the damp earth floor of the shack assaulted his nose instantly
“Check the hole, make sure it hasn’t been messed with,” Jimmy ordered Pete.
Pete looking at the dirt floor for fresh footprints and seeing none, walked to the hole already dug in the corner next to the remains of an old camp stove teetering on three legs, Jimmy held the lantern so he could see.
Crack! The shot startled Jimmy even though he knew it was coming. Pete toppled into the hole.
The thin man stepped to Jimmy's side, the gun hanging loosely at his side.
“Sorry for the beating, no other way to get him here,” said Jimmy.
"It was worth a beating to shut Pete up, only way it could have gone down. He never would have let himself get taken out any other way."